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Maze: The Cookbook by Jason atherton

17 April 2008

Maze: the Cookbook
Jason Atherton
Quadrille, £20
ISBN 978-1844-00-597-0

Since it first opened its doors in 2005, Maze has been one of the undisputed leaders on the London restaurant scene, winning plaudits and awards for Jason Atherton's innovative modern cooking - including a coveted Michelin star.

Now Atherton has put pen to paper, gathering in his first book 27 of Maze's key dishes, plus another 54 simpler recipes aimed at giving the home cook a series of more easily achievable dishes.

It's a difficult thing to pull off - writing a book rated by both your peers in the industry and the enthusiastic amateur - but Atherton has been shrewd and refreshing in tackling the task.

He's kept the book's chapters down to two main sections: savoury and sweet. The savoury section is by far the more extensive (19 signature dishes to the sweet chapter's eight) but both halves of the book are packed full of Atherton's trademark light, tapas-style food. There are dishes which reflect his culinary experiences in the UK, Spain and the Middle East a witty modern twist on prawn cocktail (Cornish crab mayo with avocado and sweetcorn sorbet) mango parfait with orange anise jelly and mango sorbet. The list goes on - in fact, there's not a dud dish in sight.

Atherton has been particularly clever in the way he's incorporated less complex recipes within easy reach of home cooks.

But don't dismiss these as inappropriate for the industry they are not. Basically, to each featured restaurant dish, Atherton has tagged on two further recipes using the main ingredient. Often these recipes use offcuts of a meat, fish or vegetable that are left over from the main recipe, thus preventing ingredient wastage. Good for the balance books, that. For instance, the crab mayo recipe uses white crab meat its accompanying recipes (crab toasties, and crab chowder with sweetcorn purée) use up the brown meat.

There are other plus points in the book, such as a short but interesting cocktail section that includes some of Maze's best-selling mixed drinks (fig sour, crème brûlée - yes a cocktail version), and a set of basic, building block recipes (anything from tapenade to pickled ginger).

As a glimpse into the art of one of our leading contemporary chefs, this book is hard to beat.

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