Like this piece about On the Side, this isn’t a review … because I wrote it. But perhaps the summary that follows will prove a useful insight, and maybe event tempt you to add the book to your kitchen shelves.
The aim of The Borough Market Cookbook is to capture the essence of the place, while also inspiring homecooks to bring seasonal market produce back into their kitchens.
There are four sections, focussing on shopping and eating through spring, summer, autumn and winter, with each season offering a set of recipes based on market ingredients at their peak at that time. In addition, at the end of each seasonal section there are recipes highlighting key categories of traders, which should help provide inspiration should you find yourself with an urge for a particular type of ingredient.
Some of the recipes are simple and humble, others require a bit of effort and are celebratory in nature. Some are of a classical style of cooking, others more contemporary. Some recipes feature ‘hero’ Borough Market products, yet they could still be cooked even if you can’t make it to London Bridge. And all are united by the fact that they celebrate and benefit from the kind of ingredients that Borough’s stalls specialise in: the seasonal, sustainable, slow and sustaining.
Interspersed through the book are trader profiles, key events and scenes from a year at the Market. In addition, there are essays that touch on Borough Market’s history and core values, by celebrated writers and experts in their fields who are friends of the Market. It’s just a snapshot, but these pieces give a sense of place and atmosphere, and, along with all the images taken over the course of a year, help bring the Market to life in all its diversity and abundance. Primarily though, this is a cookbook that promotes inquisitive shopping and cooking from scratch; one that encourages us to take full advantage of the amazing things on offer at markets specialising in fresh, quality and artisanal ingredients.
Borough Market is an inspiring cornucopia of world-class ingredients. More than that, it’s a vibrant and energising community, a real mish-mash of personalities, cultures and influences, yet distinct and defined values. If you’re not a regular already, come for a visit, or head to your nearest produce market, find out where your food comes from, buy something you’ve not seen before, then cook and enjoy eating it.
Format and design
Classic crown quarto. Weighty. 120 recipes, about two thirds of which are photographed. But there’s a plethora of other material too, capturing the convivial nature of Borough Market, and much of its bounty. It’s busy but useful, appealing but not over-designed.
Recipes that tempt
Feedback so far suggests that favourites include: roast plum and tarragon pavlova; a Brindisa chorizo bake; Monmouth espresso and chocolate tart; tomatoes on tahini; confit duck tacos; smoked haddock bake; aged Comté soufflé. Plus simple market assemblies, like: burrata with toasted seeds and extra virgin olive oil; whipped hot smoked salmon; and quick pickled radish to go with your charcuterie platter.
Who is it for?
Home cooks — whether beginner and seeking guidance, or advanced and in want of new inspiration. People who know already that the best meals come from simply making the most of quality ingredients.