Nutmeg & Custard by Marcus Wareing
Marcus Wareing has repeatedly been cited as the most talented chef in the country, but Nutmeg & Custard is a surprisingly homely read. His aim in the book, as in his restaurant, is to create interesting, surprising flavour combinations, but you don’t need a team of sous chefs to make these dishes.
Marcus Wareing was rather busy last May. Busy with the photography for his latest book, and even busier doing the unthinkable – announcing he was withdrawing his critically acclaimed restaurant, Pétrus in Belgravia, from the empire of his mentor Gordon Ramsay.
The clattering of thrown saucepans could be heard from Chelsea to Mayfair, but a nice bit of celebrity rivalry never did anyone’s profile any harm. Six months later, Marcus was vindicated when restaurant bible Harden’s voted Pétrus (now called
Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley
) the best restaurant in London.
His aim in this book is to create interesting, surprising flavour combinations. Some might require a little faith – there’s a whole chapter devoted to popcorn, for example, in which it’s combined with Parmesan and prosciutto or chilli and lemon – but the rewards of these well-thought-out experiments are worth the investment.
And for the most part, these are the sorts of things that the majority of us eat at home, but with clever additions that make them enticing. French toast is stuffed with chorizo for an indulgent brunch, Yorkshire puddings are filled with leftover roast beef for a Monday-night treat, and there’s a simple but extremely clever technique for smoking beetroot in the oven, so it can become the star ingredient of a salad.
Marcus clearly has something of a sweet tooth, too. Aside from a chapter on puddings – in which he reinvents the cheesecake using Turkish delight, and the doughnut using tiramisu – there are separate chapters on baking and on making your own sweets and ice cream. You get the feeling that these childhood favourites, these steaming schoolboy delights of custard, sweets and sausage rolls, have helped Marcus to achieve a balance, bringing the brilliance of his professional cookery down to a practical level.
The result is a book filled with what’s important to people who love cooking – good ideas, things to learn and ways to make everyday dishes come alive.
Published by Bantam Press, priced £25.
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