Book review: The Magic Fridge, by Alex Mackay

16 September 2017 by
Book review: The Magic Fridge, by Alex Mackay

The Magic Fridge
By Alex Mackay
Bloomsbury, £26

Hundreds of cookery books pass across my desk every year, but it is rare that I come across one with a significant point of difference. Alex Mackay's The Magic Fridge, however, most definitely does have a USP and it is very simple.

Originally from New Zealand, Mackay worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in France, Italy and the UK at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons, before turning his attention to cookery teaching, most notably at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School and alongside Delia Smith.

Drawing on his vast experience, Mackay has compiled a collection of recipes for stocks, sauces, butters, broths and preserves that can be stored in the fridge or freezer and can readily be turned into a meal at a moment's notice.

Although aimed at the domestic cook, the recipes could easily be scaled up within a commercial environment to provide the starting point for any number of dishes, maybe in a pub, bistro or contract catering unit.

Essentially, Mackay has taken the concept of mise en place one step further by creating 10 savoury and 10 sweet bases, with each one used as the building block for five featured recipes. Chicken broth, for instance, is the base for beetroot, kale, quinoa, seaweed and lime broth, as well as for prawn, orange, basil and bean broth.

In the sweet section, chocolate mousse provides the base for chocolate and chestnut purée Mont Blanc, as well as upsidedown chocolate banana and maple syrup tarts. Other bases include basil pistou, lemon butter and red curry paste on the savoury side, and almond cream, lemon curd and crème pâtissière among the sweet selection.

For Mackay, the essence of The Magic Fridge is to create convenience foods out of fresh ingredients, giving chefs and cooks working in high-turnover environments the means to provide customers with a meal that can be cooked swiftly and to order without resorting to a ready-made sauce or base. A straightforward, win-win solution to anyone who would always prefer to cook fresh, I'd say.

By Janet Harmer

If you like this, you may enjoy these

Cooking in Provence, Alex Mackay with Peter Knab
Not Just Jam: The Fat Pig Farm Book of Preserves, Pickles and Sauces, Matthew Evans
Kitchen Secrets, Raymond Blanc

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