This cookery book is split into seasons and then further subsections of soups, small and large plates and finished with a sweets category. The last part of the book is given over to new basics, which are completely fab and they really finish off the book well. There are also one page segments included with extra information about specific topics. These are interesting as well as informative. The ethnic influences in the book make for some very original ideas but there are also personal interpretations of more traditional recipes. There are very interesting uses of familiar ingredients here - stewing cucumber is one I'll be trying. The philosophy laid out by Parle is that simple is best, he states that you should know your ingredients well and then be curious, experiment with food. Use ethnic ingredients and ask grocers, butchers etc. for advice on unfamiliar ingredients.
It is a very easy cookbook to use, well organised and beautifully produced. The photographs are wonderful but there are quite a few without notes of which recipe they belong to and I would have preferred more of the final dishes rather than the raw ingredients.
Not all of the ingredients used would be seen every day, there are some exotic flavours in the book and Parle says that he wants people to become more familiar using them. They can all be found but you might need to look in specialist shops and a few may be tricky to find outside of London. The 'Dock Kitchen Cookbook' has a huge range from very quick meals to more complicated dishes that would take a lot of work, there is something for every occasion and time-scale.
The writing is exactly what is needs to be and is very straight to the point, avoiding the more flowery prose of many cookbooks. The notes are all about the food and cooking rather than personal memories, everything is direct and useful which was a refreshing change. Some of the recipe notes could use a little more detail, especially with more exotic recipes with explanations of terms or ingredients as well as more alternative ideas for hard to find products.
Unusually the meat recipes are in the minority here, with all of the main types covered but only a couple of each. There is a huge range of veggie dishes and they utilise a very impressive range of vegetables as well. The stand out recipes are the fish dishes, I rarely eat seafood but it just sings throughout the book. It really is great to see this front and centre in a cookbook.
I much preferred the savoury to the sweet recipes although the puddings were a nice mixture and there was always a dessert to match each of the mains and starters in earlier sections. Although they were all put together in one group at the end, Parle's philosophy of seasonality stayed true here as well.
My favourite recipes were the Ragoût de Légumes Spring, the Mexican Octopus and Pork Crackling with Tomato Salsa, the Roast Grouse with grapes, honey and Moroccan Spices and the Devils on Horseback.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Stevie Parle's 'Dock Kitchen Cookbook' from Quadrille publishing.
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