Celebrity chef cookbooks

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Time Out reviews the best celebrity recipe books to give you culinary inspiration

Dock Kitchen Cookbook

Stevie Parle, Quadrille, £25

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Stevie Parle runs kitchen affairs at The Dock Kitchen on Ladbroke Grove, and has made a name for himself by being creative with internationally sourced ingredients. Given his background of having worked at The River Café, Moro and Petersham Nurseries, it’s no surprise that he cooks with such confidence and creativity.

His new book, like the restaurant, is a celebration of world cuisines, and recipes are inspired by home kitchen offerings from as far afield as Morocco, the Middle East, Mexico, the Mediterranean, and India. Many of this book’s dishes feature on his menus, such as the chilled Iranian pistachio soup, chicken livers with Lebanese seven-spice mix, or the salt-caramel ice cream. An earthy approach runs through the photography too – the uncluttered, honest images providing a complement to the written recipes.

Parle encourages us to visit ethnic grocers and embrace the unfamiliar - freekah (wheat, picked when unripe and then smoked to remove its husk); pomegranate molasses (reduced, sticky and sweet-sour juice); and gum mastic (an aromatic pine-like resin, often used as a binding agent).  But once the ingredients are sourced, the hard work is done, recipes are a snitch to put together.

Chapters are punctuated by the seasons and tend to favour rustic chunky soups, robust stews, grills and spice blends. Dishes served on toast are dressed from a wardrobe of seasonal flavours which includes red chilli chick peas, sea-salty samphire, and fennel-spiced swiss chard. The thorans (South Indian stir-fries) are splendid – top marks for the simplicity of crunchy asparagus fried with mustard seeds, curry leaves and a shower of fresh grated coconut.

Parle’s repertoire is as wide as it is varied. Taste the world with a fragrant pilaf, mezze, tongue-tingling masalas, and such sweet gems  as elderflowers fried in grappa batter. This is a great read, and a tribute to the influences that are shaping contemporary British cooking.

Roopa Gulati, Time Out London Issue 2172: April 5-11 2012

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