Celebrity chef cookbooks

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

My Kitchen: Real Food from Near and Far

Stevie Parle, Quadrille, £14.99 (paperback)

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Stevie Parle, chef and instigator of the popular Dock Kitchen in Ladbroke Grove, has also expanded and collated his Observer organic allotment blog pieces into a first cookery book. This now forms part of a new series from Quadrille that aims to introduce bright new writers on the culinary scene, and is aimed at a younger audience.

Like a food diary, Parle’s engaging book meanders through a year in his kitchen board his Hammersmith houseboat as he concocts feasts for friends from a glut of seasonal ingredients.

Eclectic recipes are gleaned from near – family, friends and old standard cookbooks – but also from his many far-flung adventures across Asia and Europe, embracing diverse cuisines. He takes inspiration from his mentors and former bosses at The River Café, Moro and Petersham Nurseries.

Instructions and knowledgeable tidbits are often illustrated, and recipes range from the quick and simple to more labour intensive. His take on tandoor chicken is for those who don’t have a clay oven. Instead, the chicken’s barbecued, and when we tested the dish it had an intense cumin hit that penetrated through the flesh.

Orecchiette sauce was punchy with chilli, fennel and anchovy but the pasta dough required more liquid than specified to bind it. The recipe given for cherry focaccia was excessively yeasty, but worked well with half the quantity  recommended, turning out as a sweet and savoury delight.

As can be with cookery books written by chefs, quantities given in recipes are occasionally optimistically vague and somewhat arbitrary. But Parle’s sheer enthusiasm to give it a go, to experiment with the balances of ingredients with sprinkles, dollops, drizzles and handfuls, is encouraging.

His writing entices the reader to try out new tastes and techniques, consider alternative shops to procure them and then invite friends round to share in the flavourful rewards.

Zoe Kamen, Time Out London Issue 2081: July 8-14 2010

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