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Cookbook Review - The Carved Angel Cookery Book - Cooking Index

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The Carved Angel Cookery Book

Author: Joyce Molyneux with Sophie Grigson

Review

The Carved Angel in Dartmouth was one of the shining beacons of the British culinary landscape in the 1970s and 1980s. While so many London chefs were experimenting with nouvelle cuisine (or pumping out disgusting food), Joyce Molyneux was focussing on good quality, well sourced ingredients prepared simply. Along with her mentor, George Perry-Smith, who she trained under at the Hole In Wall restaurant in Bath, and with whom she opened The Carved Angel (alongside Joyce and Tom Jaine and Heather Crosbie), Molyneux was one of the most influential chefs in the early days of what is now called Modern British food.

Most of the 280 recipes contained in this book are strongly influenced by classical French cooking, although they are often adapted so they are not so heavy on the cream and butter as their French counterparts would be.

The book kicks off with the basics, including stocks, béchamel sauce and tomato sauce and then moves pretty much as you would have through the Carved Angel menu, from soups to puddings. It ends with some excellent recipes for biscuits and petit fours as well as preserves, including a superb lime chutney which I try to make at least once a year.

My copy of the Carved Angel Cookery Book is splashed with all sorts of kitchen debris and sauces, which is a testament to how regularly I use it. It is definitely more of a dinner party than every day eating recipe book as dishes like red mullet with anchovies and orange and ballotine of duck are definitely more in evidence than simple 20 minutes dishes. If you want to know how to make your own salami or prepare offal dishes such as Calves Liver with Gin and Lime Sauce then this is a book for you. The reason for such complexity is simply that all the dishes were served in the restaurant, which at the time was a relatively expensive destination for the location.

The key to this book is the passion about the ingredients and Molyneux’s clear love of the food she prepares. The hand of Sophie Grigson, who co-authored the book, is evident throughout the book and I suspect much of the quality of the writing is down to her influence.

The Carved Angel is now called The New Angel and is owned and operated by John Burton Race, the well known television chef.

[Update: 29 November 2007. While chef John Burton Race was stuck in the Australian jungle filming celebrity series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here his estranged wife Kim, joint company director, closed the £1.2 million Michelin-starred restaurant and sacked the 20 staff. A notice was put on the door stating the New Angel eatery and rooms had ceased trading.]

Publisher

Grafton, 1990, £6.99, 400 pages (paperback)

Reviewer

Joe Saumarez Smith (3 April, 2007)

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