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Cookbook Review: Philip Howard's The Square Volume 1: Savoury

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Things don't happen quick-smart in our kitchen. The fact that we own a sousvide machine and not a microwave speaks volumes. For me, cooking is both a blissful way to end a day spent staring at a computer screen and a creative ritual that helps to bring the priorities of life back into perspective. It's not something to be rushed.

Preparing Michelin-starred food at home, however, takes things to a different level. We've had a copy of Philip Howard's The Square Cookbook for months and it was only during the recent bank holiday weekend that we had a chance to road test a recipe. Any self respecting foodie knows that cooking at this level takes an abundance of skill, but until I chose to have a go at the Escalope Of Wild Salmon With Crushed Broad Beans, Asparagus And Jersey Royal, Pea And Mint Ravioli, I had no idea the exactly how much time and focus it took to create such extravagant dishes.

From start to finish, it took more than seven hours to prepare. And with 20 ingredients spread over four elements and 15 detailed instructions, it's no wonder. Not that I want to put you off with the numbers. What I love about this tome is the detail. Everything is broken down into bite-sized (no pun intended) chunks so that you have a fair chance of divining something similar.

Other elements of the recipes that make my tummy rumble are the 'Focus On' and 'Key Components' sections. Reading these first allows you to know which elements of the dish to treat with more concern than the rest. You must 'take care not to overcook the salmon,' for example and it's best to use 'only thick English asparagus spears, 1.5-2cm in diameter.' It's this attention to detail - even if for some of us it's stating the obvious - that gives you the confidence to go forth with your peeler.

Here's a few pictures of how we fared.

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We were super proud of the results - if not left slightly wanting by the lack of a crisp white tablecloth and a sommelier catering to our every thirsty whim when we sat down to dine.

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I wish we spent more time savouring the tastes and patting ourselves on the back, but it turns out that all that cooking works up quite an appetite and the food disappeared in minutes. Ah well, we'll know better next time.

Stay tuned for my review of  The Square Volume 2: Sweet by Philip Howard. It hits the shelves next month!

All photos were taken on the truly amazing HTC One.

For more related stories and recipes, please come and visit me at i am not a celebrity.