Essence & Dessert by David Everitt-Matthias
Essence and Dessert are proper chef’s books filled with recipes from David Everitt-Matthias’ Cheltenham restaurant Le Champignon Sauvage. What makes them such a refreshing change to the horde of books brought out by the TV personality chefs is that there is no dumbing down. The recipes are exactly as you will find at the restaurant. In Everitt-Matthias’ case, this is particularly exciting since the recipes in question are just about as dynamic as they come. Though a look through the index did initially make me think that recipes may have been created with the specific intention of being unnecessarily quirky and different, the excitement soon regained control. The array of ingredients, many of them wildfoods such as silverweed and woodruff, which are used is enthralling – and Essence’s glossary of these less common ingredients and the accompanying suppliers list makes a useful reference tool as well as an aide to the recipes. The dishes themselves are equally intriguing. Ingredients are used in ways you would not imagine – and surely that is what a cookbook should do, inspire you to think of things that you wouldn’t otherwise. Everitt-Matthais plays with taste, texture and presentation, as well as our preconceived ideas of sweet and savoury. Dessert in particular does this with puddings including Jerusalem artichoke cheesecake, beetroot parfait and a swiss chard tart – all of which are high up on my list of must-try recipes. Though perhaps not ideal for beginner cooks, the recipes themselves are less complex than you might imagine. Split into their constituent sections, they are time consuming and protruded but very doable. The way they are broken down also means that they can be adapted easily to suit what you’re cooking. Accompaniments such as jellies, sorbets & sauces can be mixed and matched as desired or even made as stand-alones. If you’re as interested in different ingredients and flavour combinations as I am, then these books are must haves.