Mirazur by Mauro Colagreco

Mirazur

What’s the USP? A premium coffee table book celebrating chef Mauro Colagreco’s three Michelin star Mirazur restaurant in Menton in the Côte d’Azur, currently rated number three on the World’s 50 Best restaurant list.  Colagreco’s unique ingredients-led style is informed by restaurant’s location close to the boarder of France and Italy.

Who’s the author? Mauro Colagreo is an Argentinian-born chef of Italian and Spanish descent and a protégé of legendary French chefs Alain Passard and the late Bernard Loiseau. He opened Mirazur in 2006 and was named ‘revelation of the year’ by the Gault & Millau guide that same year. He won his first star in 2007 with the second star following in 2012.

What does it look like? In a word, incredible. Colagreco’s eye for presentation is unsurpassed and Eduardo Torres’s photographs make each of the 65 dishes included in the book look like Renaissance masterpieces. The Côte d’Azur landscape has never looked more magnificent and the shots of Nice, Menton and Ventimiglia markets that supply many of Colagreco’s ingredients will make you want to move to the south of France, or at least book a trip there.

 Is it good bedtime reading? An overall introduction, introductions to each of the book’s three chapters Méditerranée, Jardins and Montagne, supplier profiles (including an illustrated guide to mushrooms) and a laudatory preface by Massimo Bottura means there’s plenty to pour over to help you wind down after a hectic day.

 Killer recipes? Tortellini, almonds, smoked broth; baby squids, beans, pork consommé; goose barnacles, green beans, sea lettuce; squab, spelt, wild strawberries. 

 How annoyingly vague are the recipes? There are accurate measurements for virtually every ingredient in the book and methods are detailed enough to be followed by chefs familiar with how to use equipment such as a Thermomix and dehydrator.

What will I love?  At 372 pages and standing a foot tall, Mirazur is a big impressive book that does full justice to its subject matter. There are little surprises dotted throughout including Pablo Neruda’s poem Ode to Bread printed on transparent paper that overlays a shot of Colagreco’s signature pleated bread rolls, and a fold out illustrated guide to herbs printed on matt paper that contrasts with the high-quality glossy stock used for the main body of the book. The idea that Colgreco’s cooking is borderless (the book quotes Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl who said, ‘Borders? I’ve never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people) is a particularly attractive one in the current political climate of rampant nationalism.

What won’t I like? Apart from two double page black and white portraits, Colagreco is almost entirely absent from his own book, represented only by his dishes and recipes. The text is written by his wife Laura (who, at times, wanders perilously close to poetic pretention; about the Côte d’Azur, she says ‘Many describe the environment like a body transported by the surprise of two feelings in front of the marvels of nature and their singular disposition’), and the food was prepared by two members of the Mirazur brigade, Antonio Buono and Paulo Corsi. While it’s refreshing to read a cookbook that gives so much credit to a chef’s suppliers and the terroir he works within, it would have been nice to hear Colagreco’s own voice, either in the form of an interview or in recipe introductions which are sadly lacking.  In addition, there are no pictures of the restaurant itself which seems a bizarre omission.

Should I buy it? At £70 (although you can find the book heavily discounted online), Mirazur is quite the investment, but real effort has been made to elevate it above the level of souvenir. Colagreco is one of the most individual chefs working in the modern progressive genre and anyone who aspires to join him in the rarefied heights of gastronomy would be rewarded by reading this book.

Cuisine: French/progressive
Suitable for: Professional chefs/confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: Five stars

Buy this book
Mirazur (English)
Catapulta, £70

The French Revolution by Michel Roux Jr

French Revolution Michel Roux Jr

What’s the USP? Classic French home cooking updated to ‘suit the way we like to eat today’, cutting down on butter and cream, eschewing luxury ingredients like foie gras, lobster and truffle and focusing on simpler recipes that don’t require a full batterie de cuisine and a KP to wash it all up afterwards.

Who’s the author? Michel Roux Jr is restaurant royalty, son of the legendary Albert Roux, father of Emily (who has just opened her first London restaurant Caractère) and is chef/patron of legendary Mayfair joint Le Gavroche and oversees fine dining destinations Roux at Parliament Square and Roux at The Landau, where he also has his own pub The Wigmore. He is a regular on TV shows like Saturday Kitchen and has written seven previous cookbooks.

Killer recipes? Basque-style chicken; shrimp tartlets thermidor; red mullet pastilla; duck confit pie; lamb with haricot beans; roast pears with nougat and dark chocolate sauce; fig tarte Tatin.

How annoyingly vague are the recipes? Apart from salt and pepper, there are weights and measures for every ingredient. The methods are sometimes usefully vague – for example, for Duck Confit Pie the instructions say to ‘sweat the chopped onion until soft and lightly browned’ rather than claiming that they will be cooked in five minutes; onions never are.

Is it good bedtime reading? There is very little additional text in the book, even the recipe introductions are kept to a bare minimum.

What will I love? Roux Jr has included recipes from all over France, some of which only the most ardent of Francophiles will have encountered before such as Seiche a la Sétoise from the Languedoc-Roussillon (cuttlefish as prepared in the port city of Séte, slow cooked with white wine, saffron, tomatoes and olives) and Tourment D’Amour from the overseas French region of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean (sweet pastry cases filled with coconut jam, crème patissiere and genoise sponge). Roux Jr is a skilled baker and the chapter on boulangerie is a particular joy with recipes for goat’s cheese bread; garlic bread that’s baked with cloves of garlic confit in the dough; and speculoos, spicy biscuits made with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

What won’t I like? The lack of explanatory text is disappointing, and these are not Roux Jr’s restaurant dishes; you’ll need to pick up a copy of Le Gavroche Cookbook for that.

Should I buy it? The huge variety of dishes could easily provide inspiration for a dinner party, special occasion celebratory meal for two or something quick and easy for days off or when you arrive home hungry after work.

Cuisine: American/progressive
Suitable for: Professional chefs/confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: Four stars

Buy this book
The French Revolution: 140 Classic Recipes made Fresh & Simple
£25, Seven Dials

Pollen Street: The Cookbook by Jason Atherton

Pollen St_FULL TRADE v1.1

What’s the USP? After a string of books aimed at the home cook including Gourmet Food for a Fiver, Jason Atherton finally delivers the cookbook his peers have been waiting for; a collection of recipes from his flagship Michelin-starred London restaurant Pollen Street Social.

Who’s the author? Jason Atherton needs no introduction, but for readers who have been hiding under a rock for the last decade, Atherton is the chef that created and launched Maze for Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd, one of the group’s most successful concepts. In 2011, Atherton launched The Social Company which now boasts 15 restaurants worldwide from Hong Kong to New York and Dubai to Shanghai (with no less than seven of the group in London). He was also the first British chef to work at el Bulli and get paid for it, which is no mean feat.

What does it look like? From the cover reproduction of Ben Ashton’s Taste of Britain: The British Isles in Winter, an original artwork commissioned by Atherton to hang in Pollen Street Social restaurant, to John Carey’s beautiful food photography, Pollen Street is as classy and well stitched together as one of Atherton’s signature Saville Row suits. The pricey special edition is ‘luxuriously boxed and bound’ but is essentially the same book.

Is it good bedtime reading? At 400 odd pages, there is certainly the room for lots of Daniel Clifford-style revelations (which made that chef’s recent book Out of My Tree so exceptional) but Pollen Street is sadly lacking in engaging stories. There is just a single page introduction from Atherton and no introductions to the recipes which gives the book an impersonal feel, further accentuated by a series of short articles on Atherton’s favoured suppliers which are written by the suppliers themselves and which therefore inevitably read like marketing material that could have been cribbed from their websites.

Killer recipes?  There are outstanding dishes in each of the eight chapters (headed canapes, starters, shellfish, fish, meat and game, poultry and game birds, sweets and petit fours) including a ‘fish and chips’ canape of confit potato topped with taramasalata and salt and vinegar powder; a starter of pressed Norfolk quail with taco of the confit leg and truffle; St Austell Bay lobster with yuzu jam and savoury seaweed custard, and a classic game pithier with grouse, pheasant and wild mushrooms. Even the appendix of basics features a cracking recipe for pearl barley risotto that’s finished with mushroom puree and Madeira cream.

What will I love? That depends on your perspective. The recipes are presented in all their complex glory; no shortcuts or simplifications for home cooks here. Atherton recently said in an interview with the iPaper that he didn’t necessarily expect anyone to cook from the book, “I’ve not dumbed it down. Those are the recipes and some of them are damn bloody hard. Do you have three days of your life to waste making my mushroom tea? Probably not.” A recipe might run to six pages (including a double page spread photo) so that you get enough detail to attempt to reproduce Atherton’s tightly controlled, precise modern cooking in your own kitchen, if you’ve got the time, energy and funds (believe me, it ain’t going to be cheap to make these dishes).

What won’t I like? Although Pollen Street delivers Atherton’s high-end food, it delivers very little of the man himself. Who wouldn’t love to hear a blow by blow account of his time with Ramsay and how and why it all ended; about his days with Nico and Marco, Koffmann and Adria (all of whom have written glowing tributes to Atherton for the book) and how he has built an international restaurant empire. Maybe next time.

Should I buy it? Jason Atherton is unquestionably one of the most successful British-born, post-Ramsay chefs currently working today and a book of his flagship restaurant recipes is a must-buy, providing a vital record of mainstream modern British fine dining in the early 21st century and a benchmark for all ambitious chefs to strive towards.

Cuisine: International
Suitable for: Professional Chefs/ competent home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: Four stars

Buy this book
Pollen Street
£50, Absolute Press (Special boxed edition, £250)

Quince tart with gingerbread ice cream by Simon Rogan

Quince Tart

MAKES 8

Gingerbread
80g unsalted butter
50g molasses
400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
50ml whole milk
80g preserved stem ginger (from a jar)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
50g fresh ginger
2 eggs

Gingerbread ice cream
500ml whole milk
2 egg yolks
25g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
125g gingerbread, from recipe above, roughly broken into chunks
Pastry
270g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g unsalted butter, softened
75g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg

Poached quince
1 quince
350ml red wine
250g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 195°C/175°C Fan/Gas Mark 5, grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin and line it with baking parchment.

To make the gingerbread, melt the butter and the molasses in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to one side. Mix the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together in a large bowl. Blitz the milk, stem ginger, cinnamon, ground ginger and fresh ginger in a small food processor until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix with the ginger milk, then add the molasses mix. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients little by little, until fully incorporated.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Once cooked (a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean), remove from the oven and leave to cool. Remove from the tin and cut into suitable size 125g pieces, wrap each piece in cling film and freeze.

To make the ice cream, bring the milk to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Combine the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl. Gradually pour the hot milk into the yolk and sugar mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return to the pan and cook over a low heat until the temperature of the mixture reaches 80°C (check with a thermometer), stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the fresh or defrosted from frozen gingerbread, then allow to cool. Blitz in a blender until smooth then churn in an ice-cream maker until frozen. Transfer the ice cream to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and keep in the freezer.

While the ice cream is churning, make the tart bases. Mix the flour and the butter together by hand in a bowl until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the sugar, salt and egg and keep mixing until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for 1 hour. Once rested, dust a work surface with flour, unwrap the dough and roll it out to a thickness of 3mm.

Cut to size with a cutter or upside-down small bowl to fit eight 4cm small tart tins. Line the tins with the pastry, pushing the pastry all the way down the sides, lightly prick the base of the tartlets and line them with greaseproof paper and a few baking beans. Bake blind for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Peel and cut the core away from the quince. In a small, heavy-based saucepan bring the wine and 200g of the sugar to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the quince and simmer for 18–20 minutes, or until the quince are just tender but still have a little bite. Remove from the heat and leave the quince to cool in the wine.

Cut the cooled quince into 5mm dice. Make a caramel with the remaining sugar: heat the sugar in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat, without stirring, until it begins to melt, then start to stir and keep stirring until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Cook for about 10 minutes until the sugar is a dark honey colour.

Remove from the heat and add the butter, whisking constantly. Add the diced quince to the pan and cook for a further 30 seconds. Remove the caramelised quince from the pan and allow to cool.

Place a small amount of the quince in each tart case then pipe a rosette of ice cream on top to cover and serve immediately.

Cook more from this book
Radish stew
Smoked lamb shoulder

Read the review

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Rogan

Smoked lamb shoulder by Simon Rogan

Smoked Lamb Shoulder

SERVES 6–8

Lamb shoulder
400g coarse sea salt
1 lamb shoulder (about 2.8–3kg)
100g soft light brown sugar
200g granulated sugar
20g garlic powder
50g smoked paprika
50g sweet paprika
6 star anise
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp coriander seeds

Runner beans
500g young, tender runner beans, such as Tenderstar
40g unsalted butter
salt, for seasoning

enough wood smoking chips to create an even layer in the baking tray
Lamb Jus (SEE RECIPE AT END OF MAIN RECIPE), to serve

Dissolve 300g of the salt in 1.5 litres of water in a large bowl. Submerge the lamb shoulder in the brine and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. The next day, rinse the shoulder under cold running water and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl, including the 100g salt, and rub into the shoulder.

Put the smoking chips in a nice even layer in a large roasting tin lined with foil. Sit a wire rack on top, one that is a similar size to the roasting tin, making sure the wire isn’t touching the chips. Put the shoulder on the rack and cover the entire rack and tin with a tent of foil, so no smoke escapes. Sit the tin on the hob over a low–medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the covered tin from the heat and allow the shoulder to smoke in the foil tent for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C Fan/Gas Mark 2. Transfer the smoked lamb shoulder to a clean baking tray, place in the oven and cook for 4 hours until tender.

Top and tail the runner beans and remove the stringy sides. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the butter and cook the beans for 3 minutes. Drain.

Serve the lamb in the middle of the table with a jug of sauce for guests to help themselves and with the runner beans and confit potatoes in a large bowl alongside.

LAMB JUS

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1kg lamb bones
3 litres White Chicken Stock (RECIPE BELOW)

WHITE CHICKEN STOCK
3kg chicken wings

Roughly chop the chicken wings and put them in a large,heavy-based saucepan with 5 litres of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2–3 hours, skimming occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, the strain through a muslin-lined sieve. Keep the stock covered in the fridge and use within 3–4 days, or freeze and use within 3 months.

To make the lamb jus, warm the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the vegetables and cook for 2–3 hours, stirring regularly, until completely soft and no moisture is left in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7. Put the lamb bones in a roasting tin and roast for 40 minutes, or until deeply golden. Add the bones to the pan with the vegetables, reserving the fat for the potatoes. Deglaze the roasting tin with 200ml water and add it to the pan. Cover with the chicken stock and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours over a low heat, skimming it regularly. Strain through a fine sieve into another heavy-based saucepan then reduce the stock over a medium heat to a sauce consistency.

Cook more from this book
Radish stew
Quince tart

Read the review

Buy this book 
Rogan

Radish stew by Simon Rogan

Radish Stew

SERVES 4, AS A STARTER

Aubergine purée
1 large aubergine (about 450g)
½ tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
½ tsp roasted chopped garlic

Radish sauce
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 shallot, sliced
40g button mushrooms, sliced
1½ tsp tomato purée
250g red radishes, thinly sliced
500ml Vegetable Stock (see recipe at end of main recipe)
sherry vinegar, for seasoning
5g unsalted butter

Truffle granola
135g honey
35g black truffle oil
35g chilli oil
150g porridge oats

Radishes
12 mixed radishes, such as Cherry Belle,
Albena and Viola
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
8 stalks of rhubarb chard (or Swiss chard),
stalks removed and cut in half

salt, for seasoning
rapeseed oil, for drizzling
assorted radish flowers and sea purslane, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6.

First, make the aubergine purée. Wrap the aubergine in foil and bake it in the oven for 35–40 minutes until completely soft, then halve it lengthways and scoop out the flesh. Put the flesh in a blender with the tahini, yoghurt and garlic and blitz until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and season with a pinch of salt.

While the aubergine is cooking, make the radish sauce. Warm the oil in a medium, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallot and sweat for 5–6 minutes, or until translucent, stirring regularly. Add the mushrooms and sweat for a further 3 minutes, or until soft and tender. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the radishes and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender until smooth, then strain through a fine sieve. Finish the sauce by seasoning with sherry vinegar and salt and whisking in the butter.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/140°C Fan/Gas Mark 2.

To make the granola, warm the honey, oils and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan over a low heat until the honey has melted and the salt dissolved. Mix in the oats.  Transfer to a baking tray, spread it out in an even layer and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then break into small pieces. Leave the oven at the same temperature.

Put the radishes on a baking tray, chopping any larger ones in half, season with a pinch of salt, drizzle over half the oil and roast for 10–12 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium, non-stick saucepan and add the rhubarb chard leaves along with a splash of water. Cook gently until the leaves have wilted and season with a little salt.

Warm the radish sauce. Put a spoon of the purée in the centre of four plates and place the roasted radishes on top. Add the chard, purslane leaves and flowers. Spoon the sauce around the outside and sprinkle with truffle granola. Drizzle with rapeseed oil.

VEGETABLE STOCK

3 onions, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, halved
15g chervil
15g tarragon
15g flat-leaf parsley

Put all the vegetables and the garlic halves in a large, heavy-based saucepan with 4 litres of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, add the herbs and leave to cool, then chill and infuse in the fridge overnight. The following day, strain it through a muslin-lined sieve. Keep the stock covered in the fridge and use within 3–4 days, or freeze and use within 3 months.

Cook more from this book
Smoked lamb shoulder
Quince tart

Read the review

Buy this book 
Rogan

Roots by Tommy Banks

roots tommy banks

What’s the USP?  Fans of Kunta Kinte will be disappointed to learn that this is not another  update of Alex Haley’s famous slave saga. The title actually refers to the ‘root ingredients’ used fresh or preserved by acclaimed young chef Tommy Banks, who divides the year into three rather four seasons which he calls The Hunger Gap (January to May); Time of Abundance (June to September) and the Preserving Season (October to December) which reflects the way he cooks at his North Yorkshire restaurant The Black Swan at Oldstead.

Who’s the author? Tommy Banks has had something of a meteoric rise since taking over the kitchens of the family restaurant in 2013, aged just 24. He’s one of the youngest ever Michelin starred chefs in the UK and has become something of a TV personality, appearing on the Great British Menu where he cooked turbot with strawberries and cream (recipe included in the book) at the grand banquet at Wimbledon and was a featured chef on Masterchef the Professionals where he demonstrated his signature dishes including crapudine beetroot cooked slowly in beef fat with smoked cod’s roe and linseeds, also included in this, his debut book.

What does it look like? Bucolic. The North Yorkshire landscape looks stunning and there are plenty of shots of Banks posing in fields and on the family farm gathering his beloved ingredients. The food is colourful and attractive without being too tortured on the plate.

Is it good bedtime reading? The short autobiographical introduction is bolstered by chapter introductions and essays on favoured ingredients such as elderflower, summer berries and ‘hedgerow harvests’ making Roots more than simply a collection of recipes.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? If you’re not a keen gardener then you might find it tricky to lay your hands on things like crapudine beetroot and courgette stalks, and you’ll need to follow Banks’s recipes for fermenting vegetables to make a number of dishes, plus you’ll need a good fishmonger if you’re planning on serving raw red mullet, and a decent butcher who can sell you sweetbreads and mince pork back fat for you, and you’ll need to get out picking elderflowers in June if you want to make elderflower drizzle cake, and…

What’s the faff factor? This is fundamentally a collection of restaurant dishes so expect to put in a fair amount of effort for your dinner.

How often will I cook from the book? This is more weekend project than mid-week supper cooking.

Killer recipes? See above, but also crab, elderflower and potato salad; scallops cured in rhubarb juice with Jerusalem artichoke, and potato skin and brassica broth with cheddar dumplings.

What will I love? All the recipes are rated either 1,2 or 3 for complexity which makes choosing what you want to cook from the book, depending on the time you have to hand easy. But this is more than just a collection of delicious sounding, interesting and characterful recipes, a real effort has been made to give a sense of Banks’s cooking ethos and life at The Black Swan.

What won’t I like? Some readers may feel they’ve been-there-and-done-that with the pickling, fermenting and foraging aspect of the book.

Should I buy it? Roots is a substantial debut effort from one of the UK’s highest profile young chefs with his own take on field to fork cookery which makes it well worth investigating.

Cuisine: Modern British
Suitable for: Professional chefs/Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
Roots
£25, Orion Books