When I wrote for the Telegraph I would be sent most, if not every cook book published. I would see books on every subject imaginable and those on some you really might have thought a niche market! Food from the North American Mennonite Communities volumes one and two anyone?
Now I buy my own books so they have to score quite highly to be worthy of sitting beside the 700 or so that survived my most recent cull. I am a huge fan of the “Salt Yard” restaurants, I eat as often as I can at Opera Tavern and slightly less often at Dehasa mainly as I find it seems always to be more expensive.
I love the food served at both. There is a real feeling that the skill base in the kitchen is high, the sourcing of ingredients is carefully thought through and that the cooking shows a clear intent to satisfy and delight.
So to their newly published cook book: Salt Yard Food and Wine from Spain and Italy with Recipes by Ben Tish and wine words from Simon Mullins. The book also credits Sanja Morris as co-ordinator, Sanja is co founder with Simon of Salt Yard Group so someone who knows a thing or two not only about this food but also about how to run a pretty decent restaurant.
It’s attractive black and silver cover and tempting pictures of food by Jason Lowe could make this the perfect coffee table book for there are pieces on the production of Jamon Iberico, how to wait on table and the diaspora of grapes and wine making from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean. But to leave this book in the sitting room would be a mistake as the recipes simple scream out to be cooked. I score cookbooks by their “jump off the bus factor” i.e. would I get of the bus to buy the ingredients on my way home as I simply HAVE to cook a dish, even if it was raining!!
Salt Yard scores at least an 8/10 , the recipes are approachable and seem to my central London eye made with ingredients that can be assembled without too much fuss. Nor are there too many ingredients in each recipe, another bonus. Out of towners might need to turn to the magic that is internet ordering for ‘nduja and such but then they might have a good local source of fresh crab, mackerel or pigs cheek, stuff we inner city folk have to search for.
I’ve made two dishes so far and both were simple: Mussels teamed with creamy Borlotti bean and basil and for supper tonight Chorizo stuffed baby squid. The finished dishes are tasty and look good and they both challenged me to make something I’d not tried before which is surely the point of a cook book.
I have my eye on the crab, squid and saffron arancini, the Trevise salad with fresh chestnuts and marjoram and the stunning sounding barbecued lamb served with a burnt butter and anchovy dressing.
There are lots of lovely puddings including churros but here I disagree with Ben, I much prefer my churros made with a yeast risen rather than a baking powder risen dough. I can see it takes more time but to me the texture is so much better.
So a definite yes to this book It will sit in the kitchen for a while yet and then graduate to the “much used” shelf in my cook book library.
Salt Yard Food & Wine from Spain and Italy is published by Piquillo Publishing