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Book review: On the Menu by James Mackenzie

Book review: On the Menu by James Mackenzie
On the menu. Seasonal recipes for a culinary life.
James Mackenzie.
Face Publications £30

Mackenzie’s is a story of sheer endeavour since he opened the doors of the Pipe and Glass in 2006.
A keen cook opens a new cookery book with a sense of anticipation and excitement and I am not disappointed by the alluring soft, black matte cover of James Mackenzie’s debut book ‘On the menu’. Each page presents an intriguing insight into the culinary adventures of Mackenzie, chef and proprietor at the Pipe and Glass Inn, an award winning traditional pub/restaurant in the village of South Dalton, East Yorkshire.
Mackenzie’s story is one of endeavour and great cooking which has delighted his fans since he and his wife Kate opened the doors of the Pipe and Glass in 2006. Inspirational photography by Jason Lowe helps tell this story with close up shots of elegant, meticulously prepared dishes, locally sourced, fresh natural ingredients and the dedicated team of chefs and waiting staff that make this acclaimed restaurant a very special place to eat.
The book contains over 70 tried and tested recipes selected
Book review: On the Menu by James Mackenzie
from Mackenzie’s carefully chosen repertoire and organised around eight simple themes: cow, pig, sheep, fish, shellfish, poultry and game, veg patch and afters. Showing there is something fabulous to cook from this book for everyone.
Meat chapters begin with a simple diagram illustrating different cuts. ‘Cow’ has 18, pig 7 and sheep 9. Mackenzie describes ingenious cooking techniques to transform secondary cuts, such as pig cheek and oxtail into fantastic dishes such as Crispy pig cheek with celeriac and apple coleslaw and grain mustard and Beer braised oxtails with deep-fried oyster fritters.
One really likeable feature of this book is Mackenzie’s recipes for whole meals rather than single dishes. For example, he explains clearly how to make each component of his crisp Pollock fishcakes, exquisite tartare sauce and pickled samphire. Gazing at Lowe’s shot of this dish in a hungry mood made me want to cook it immediately.
Mackenzie is a chef with a deep, enduring passion for food. He has spent time lost in the delights of ancient cook books and revamping his finds into dishes we can love today, such as a 200 year old recipe for sugar cake which has been adapted to go with his gorgeous pudding of Ginger burnt cream with stewed rhubarb.
So many chefs overlook the importance of vegetables and fresh herbs in cooking. Mackenzie is not one of them. He has built a kitchen garden, stocked with edible flowers (nasturtiums, borage, viola, unusual herbs (salad burnet, lovage, chervil, lemon thyme) which he uses to inspire his cooking and it shows the recipes for Wild garlic bread, parsnip dauphinoise, butternut squash puree, cauliflower champ and the breathtaking way he dresses a plate of food.
My only caution about this book is that when we cook at home we are usually multitasking – welcoming people, serving drinks, chatting, feeding the cat etc. which makes cooking multi-component recipes, like many in this book, a real challenge. Chefs cook, undisturbed behind the pass which is a very different experience to cooking in a domestic situation.
James Mackenzie is a very good chef and one gets the feeling that if you asked him to make any dish with an arm tied behind his back he would cook it to perfection.
Book review: On the Menu by James Mackenzie
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28 February 2012
By: Joan Ransley
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