Marcus at Home by Chef Marcus Wareing – Cookbook Review
Ever wondered what it is like to live with a chef? Marcus at Home promises the reader a little peek into the home kitchen of one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs. Whether Marcus Wareing is a familiar face as a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals or because his 2 Michelin starred Marcus at The Berkley is on your hit list, I can’t imagine any food-lover would turn down the chance to sample some of his recipes at home.
Naturally then, when Marcus at Home landed in TheTaste office I greedily clamoured to get my hands on it, as a failed former Masterchef hopeful I could do with the help! Divided into midweek, weekend, entertaining and baking, Marcus brings his combination of “exceptional talent with calm authority” to your kitchen..and I for one am quite happy to surrender to it.
Most chefs will tell you that in their downtime it is the comfort-food classics they crave most, and it would seem that Midweek Marcus is no different. That said, even the traditional dishes in this section display the little sparks of genius we expect from a chef of Marcus’ calibre – buckets of flavour with none of the faff. Marcus takes a ‘comfort in the familiar, hunger for the new’ approach meaning even the simplest dishes pop.
Rare Beef Salad with Asparagus and Yuzu calls the carnivore to attention, elevating the humble blushing beef to new heights. A spike of Asian acidity in with yuzu, an unctuously dark vinaigrette made with beef stock reduction and quick coated and fried onion strings mean this could well be the perfect light yet luxurious roast beef alternative.
Roast chicken gets a Masterchef update with pistachio, sourdough and citrus stuffing and a nice glug of sherry in the gravy. With Marcus in your corner, the chances of producing a run of the mill roast seem to be obliterated. Truffled Mac and Cheese features an inspired truffled mushroom puree swirled through the dish, layering the earthy tones of truffle with their natural forest bedfellow, wild mushrooms. All of a sudden an often mediocre dish can become magical.
Moving on to Entertaining, my desire to purchase a smoking gun reached peak levels spotting dishes like Lapsang Souchang Smoked Tomatoes with Pecorino. Home-Smoked Sea Trout with Parsnip Slaw and Pickled Pear will have you hightailing it to the garden with an old biscuit tin as a make-shift smoker and any dinner guest would be rightfully wowed.
This section is rife with simple, well thought-out tweaks that will enhance even the most seasoned home cook’s kitchen repertoire.Salt-Baked Celeriac with Hazelnut Butter is the stuff your veggie friends dreams are made of and will make you look like Mark Moriarty in the kitchen. Marcus also helpfully includes visual technique sections for things like Tagliatelle and Dumplings to arm you with the skills to execute his wishes and dishes.
There are plenty of basics with the volume turned up but also a vast collection of dishes with a little challenge to them, which makes it ideal for cooks of all levels. Also, it is quite rare you find a book which is as strong across both the savoury and sweet sections – often times the inclination of the celebrated chef towards the hot kitchen means the dessert/baking element is an afterthought, but I would recommend Marcus at Home for the dreamy desserts alone.
Think individual Gin and Tonic Cheesecakes – a dessert dishier than even Marcus himself and a sure fire winner with the ladies. Marcus’ take on Custard Creams, for your inner child, are pleasingly simple and dusted with nutmeg sugar. Sunday baking projects like Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart with Praline Crunch or Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse Cake make this a mini baking bible.
Most surprising of all was the discovery of vegan Virtuous Brownies – from Marcus Waering?! Crafted with aquafaba (chickpea liquid used generally to replace eggs) and coconut flour, it becomes obvious that Marcus is keen to ensure people of all dietary requirements can get their fix of deliciousness from this book.
With that in mind, I opted to test out two ‘free-from’ style dishes, the first a Middle Eastern style light veggie lunch of Harissa Glazed Aubergine with Lime and Coconut. Cutting out dairy means working that little bit harder to extract flavour out of the ingredients you use and therefore presents a little challenge. After all, anything tastes good with enough butter or cheese layered on top and we all know Marcus can deliver here, the true test is how tasty things are without the staples.
This dish involved charring aubergines to achieve that scorched edge we associate with baba ghanoush, before brushing with punchy rose harissa. Properly baked aubergines are an oozy delight and played beautifully with thick, luscious coconut yoghurt spiked with lime, crunchy peanuts and coriander.
I slightly bastardised the dish with some pomegranate seeds for colour but regret nothing – fragrant flavour explosions abounded and my usual want of cheese was eliminated. Fromage fiends, there are routes to rapture without resorting to reblochon. No dairy, it turns out, created no drama – this was delicious, inventive yet simple to achieve and will be made again.
Next, a familiar favourite Lemon Yoghurt Cake, promised a dairy and gluten free option worthy of putting the Wareing name to and therefore had to be tried. Cornflour was an interesting gluten-free flour choice, but added a unique lightness to a cake traditionally pound-like and dense, in addition to the moist crumb ground almonds impart.
Along with coconut yoghurt and oil and plenty of zest, this easy mix baked beautifully and after drenching in lemon syrup, popped on the palate like a citrus cloud. I immediately served myself a wedge with some coconut yogurt and berries, smiling from ear to ear at the sumptuous yet stodge-free slice.
Whether you have an amateur chef with unrivalled food trend knowledge, a picky palate-d parent or a suitor who’s heart is there for the taking via their stomach coming for dinner, Marcus has you covered. Embrace your inner Masterchef with this book today, your taste buds will thank you for it.
Marcus at Home is published by Harper Collins and is available to buy here.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law I undertook a PhD, but a preference for cookbooks to textbooks persisted. As a (self-confessed!) demon in the kitchen, I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.