Simpsons the cook book By Andreas Antona with Adam Bennett & Luke Tipping
RMC Books, £19.95
This is as much a coffee table book as it is a collection of inspiring recipes from Simpsons, the Michelin-starred restaurant which has been wowing customers and critics alike in its Edgbaston home in Birmingham for the past seven years.
With artfully shot images from photographer Jodi Hinds, the reader is given a good insight into the workings of a gastronomic restaurant, both front and back of house. There are also background essays from Andreas Antona, the chef-patron, on the journey that led to Simpsons, and his co-authors Luke Tipping (executive chef director) and Adam Bennett (head chef) on the inspiration behind the restaurant's cuisine. The 60 or so featured recipes have been included because they "really jumped off the page at us," say the authors. "Every recipe in this book is worth the effort of shopping and cooking."
When it comes to purchasing, Antona and his team go against the current grain of sourcing locally and head to Rungis market, on the outskirts of Paris. They believe that buying produce from the locality does not guarantee quality and curtails choice. Hence, Rungis is their favoured supplier.
Wherever the reader chooses to buy his or her ingredients, there is plenty here to inspire chefs and cooks at all levels, particularly when it comes to flavour combinations. However, if the recipes are going to be faithfully followed to the letter, be warned that some are of the kind which require the preparation, presentation and patience of a Michelin-style kitchen.
The meat recipes tend to be the most challenging dishes: among them fillet of pork, butternut squash purée, black pudding, crispy pig's head and capers; and roast loin and slow-cooked shoulder of Cornish lamb, radish, feta cheese, green beans, chickpeas and lovage.
When it comes to fish, one of the most appealing dishes for me was the fillet of halibut, sweet and sour cherry tomatoes, Portland crab, orzo, romaine lettuce and crab jus.
Desserts are a mix of recipes which are comforting (peach, cherry and Amaretti crumble) and inspirational (hot churros, coffee ice-cream, Kahlua mascarpone, espresso granite and frothy milk). I particularly loved the idea of the deconstructed tarte tatin in a glass.
For a glimpse of life inside one of the UK's most solidly established starred restaurants, Simpsons the cook book is hard to beat.
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