"This is for anyone who is currently thinking about their next meal, but can't decide in which direction to turn," writes Ed Smith in the opening pages of his third cookbook. A dilemma any food obsessive has faced on occasion, and Smith certainly provides some much-needed inspiration in the 256 brightly coloured pages.
He arranges his recipes by flavour in an attempt to "suit your mood and appetite". The six chapters are based on the flavour profiles fresh and fragrant; tart and sour; chilli and heat; spiced and curried; rich and savoury; and cheesy and creamy. Smith also includes a directory of alternative cravings at the back of the book, which breaks his recipes into other urges, such as fishy, soft, meaty, crunchy, wholesome, to share, and for a cold day.
This book is designed to help you find what you want, when you want it, and I went straight for the chilli and heat chapter and immediately honed in on the ‘nduja spatchcock chicken, which ticked all the boxes for a deliciously simple summer roast. Next on my list will be the ‘many chilli pepper squid' with chillies, peppers and pul biber, living up to the chapter's fiery objective. The way this book is cleverly organised would be helpful to any chef stuck in a rut and looking to cook outside their comfort zone and take their menus in a new direction.
Alongside ‘nduja you'll find current favourites like tahini, labneh and miso among the pages, but also some more unusual combinations, such as parent and child rice, a Japanese dish that uses both chicken and egg to create a loose omelette with a broth and rice.
Smith also offers a decent number of veggie dishes, including honeyed halloumi and apricot fregola and crunchy Jerusalem artichokes with cavolo nero and anchovy crème fraîche, as well as comforting bowls of kale and coconut dal, and mushroom, kale and tarragon lasagne.
For a chef looking to create a new menu which covers all cravings, this book is a great place to scratch that itch.
Crave: Recipes arranged by flavour, to suit your mood and appetite, by By Ed Smith (Quadrille, £25)
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