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Book review: James Tanner takes 5

March 20, 2012

My first taste of truly fine food was probably at Tanners restaurant in Plymouth. My best foodie friend for life, my Dad, arranged a meal there for my 21st birthday and I was impressed by the great range of local ingredients used and of course by the astounding taste sensations presented. Naturally I was really pleased when my mum sent me a signed copy of James Tanners latest recipe book for christmas this year and I’ve now had a good chance to try it out.

For a student there’s nothing worse than a cook book with recipes requiring millions of expensive ingredients, most of which will go off before you get the chance to use them again. So this collection of recipes with only 5 ingredients (plus oil, salt and pepper) is great. I like to use recipe books for inspiration mostly, however this one is so perfect and simple I’ve used lots of the recipes exactly. You’d think with only 5 ingredients to work with that this book would be based around traditional flavours and nothing too showy. However whilst there are some really great classics included, there’s also some really unique recipes. I’ve tried quite a few and all have been easy to follow and quick to make. The gnocchi from the “gnocchi with peas and bacon” recipe were particularly good – I served mine in a light caper, lemon and garlic dressing.

Simply mix a splash of olive oil with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp chopped capers and 1 finely chopped garlic clove. Pour this over the gnocchi after you pan fry them to give them a little colour and soften the garlic. Top with fried sage leaves and a little parmesan and serve with a green and mineral-ly sauvignon blanc!

I’ve also tried the carrot and coriander soup – delicious but I cheated and added a drop of tabasco as a sneaky 6th ingredient. But my favourite recipe so far is the thai roast chicken. Imagine the crispy skin of a delicious roast chicken complimented by soft, moist coriander and chilli infused meat. James suggests using a pre-made green curry paste and fresh coriander but for my latest variation of his idea, I made a paste from coconut milk powder, lemon grass, chilli, ginger and a dash of fish sauce to really capture all the aspects of a traditional thai green curry.

There are many more recipes for all occasions in the book and if you can get hold of a copy it’ll make a great addition to any home cooks collection.

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