With the BBC’s Masterchef now a couple of weeks into its ninth series, it is not surprising that the cookery book with the similar name is not far behind in reaching the shelves. Filled to more than 400 pages it has everything for the starter cook who cannot wait to get stuck into making everything from simple sauces or basic side dishes to more adventurous creations such as drink party canapés or an elaborate pear and blackberry cake. While the book is more of an in-house production with a team or writers (rather than a recognised author ), there are a number of chefy tips from regular Masterchef presenters John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
It opens with a glance at the basics, taking in what the perfect store cupboard should hold, how to choose fish and shellfish, meat, fruit and vegetables, while also offering advice on picking the right saucepans, knives, and pans, among other useful utensils. Then it is into the recipes, firstly looking at the ‘building blocks’ offering simple technical advice on roasting, stewing, frying, poaching and baking. There is also guidance on the ‘mother sauces’ such as tomato, béchamel, hollandaise, velouté, and espagnole and how best to use rice, pasta, salad, pie and bread. Everything at this stage is accompanied by lots of glossy photographs that capture most of what is the essence of essential cooking.
Such is the level of tutoring that it is more than 90 pages in before we encounter the first recipes, which are, firstly, divided into starters, mains, salads and sides, desserts, and bread and baking, before breaking down into a further seasonal format exploring what is best served during the four seasons.
The best of the recipes include those for New England clam chowder; gazpacho; lobster bisque; pâté de campagne; gravadlax; ceviche; bouillabaisse; roast lobster; chicken tikka marala; coq au vin; pot-roasted pheasant; rabbit Provençal; Irish stew; roast rack of lamb; beef Wellington; toad in the hole; crab ravioli; ratatouille brioche tart; venison with port and cranberry sauce; peach tarte tatin; sachertorte; and Swiss roll. Overall, a particularly good cookbook for someone taking up cooking for the first time, looking to include all the essentials in one leviathan blockbuster.