Britain’s Best Dish takes its name from the ITV series. It showcases those recipes that have been successful in three series from 2007 to 2009. The competitions were judged by three of the British food industry’s most celebrated worthies in the guise of Ed Baines (chef and author), John Burton Race (chef and “star” of French Leave) and the effervescent Jilly Goolden who expertly fronted the liquid element of BBC Food and Drink.
This is quite a bumper volume and an eclectic mix of dishes which truly reflect British food tastes, and admirably reinforces the fact that British food is no longer dull and boring and to be shunned at any cost. British ingredients are top quality and they are put to good use in this selection of over 130 recipes.
We are talking British food rather than “traditional” British food. Yes, there are some good old-fashioned favourites like Trifle and Yorkshire Ginger Parkin and it’s appropriate that they are included, but this book takes a broad look at what Britain in general eats.
What you eat depends on where in Britain you live and your ethnic background. The subcontinent is well represented as one would expect. Lamb Biryani, Red Lentil Soup with Lentil Vadai and Lamb Tikka Masala are all listed but also several Caribbean dishes that are worthwhile: Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas and Caribbean Curried Goat. The Dumplings served with this are real comfort food.
We in Britain do smoked fish better than most and Craster Smoked Fish Pie uses both natural smoked haddock (that’s not the luminous yellow one) and smoked salmon. A cheese sauce and mashed potatoes top the pie which is served with spinach, watercress and rocket salad.
There’s a delicious choice of desserts here. Summer Pudding is a well-loved classic and this one is made even more special by the addition of crème de cassis. OK, so that’s not British but it travels well. And keeping with that theme of cross-channel exchange there is Orange Liqueur Tart with Chocolate Sauce. This has a chilli-spiked pastry which sounds amazing. A definite must-try.
Of all the sweet things Toffee Bakewell Tarts have my vote. The original has just a pastry base, some jam and a frangipane sponge. This new version has a toffee filling and a lemon syrup along with the sponge and is presented with a Champagne Lemon Martini. A great end to a dinner party.
Britain’s Best Dish is one of my Desert Island cookbooks… assuming the desert island has a good butchers and a fishmonger. This is a good solid book with delightful recipes which are written by home cooks for home cooks. I am happy to own this one.
Britain’s Best Dish
Authors: British Cooks
Published by: Dorling Kindersley
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018