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One perfect ingredient by Marcus Wareing

12 June 2008 by

One Perfect Ingredient
Marcus Wareing
Dorling Kindersley, £16.99
ISBN978-1-4053-2004-7

This is Marcus Wareing's second cookbook in as many years - the first was How to Cook the Perfect, published in 2007 - and like its predecessor it displays all the qualities that are personified in his renowned two-Michelin-star cooking at Pétrus in London. The foremost of these is an attention to detail, something which both the amateur and professional cook can benefit from acquiring.

However, the book isn't a "best of" Pétrus dishes. Mostly it contains the type of dishes that Wareing might rustle up off-duty and its kick-off point is a clever one. Essentially, it takes a series of ingredients and then showcases each ingredient in three different dishes. Because of this approach, Wareing is able to emphasise freshness and quality of produce together with a reduction of wastage.

The book is divided into six recipe-bearing chapters (veg, fish and shellfish, meat, dairy and eggs, fruit, store cupboard), but each featured raw ingredient is not necessarily confined to either a savoury or sweet treatment. For instance, the humble carrot gets turned into a galette (with coriander), a salad (with feta cheese) and a carrot cake.

Like Wareing himself, the book is clear and concise, with an introduction to each ingredient preceding its recipes (eg, tips for best varieties and spotting quality) and, where appropriate, hints for adapting recipes.

In general, the recipes are a little more rustic than the Michelin fare that Wareing usually serves, but the book also delivers dishes that would work in fine-dining land. Tomato and watermelon gazpacho is a perfect summer amuse-bouche, as is, in the right portioning, tuna tartare with pickled cucumber. Spiced plums with sautéd foie gras is another dish that would work well on any elegant menu.

If you run a foodie pub with bar and restaurant menus, there's plenty to get you thinking as well: some good snacky food and tasty-looking grills for an outdoor barbecue this summer, for instance. And if banqueting's your area, take a look at mango and wasabi salsa in won ton cups.

In other words, there's plenty of inspiration in this book, no matter what sector of the industry you work in.

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