In a drive for authenticity, I download some bleepy minimalist techno, bang a few kitchen utensils together in an approximation of a high-pressure percussion soundtrack, and gather a couple of mates to offer a shouty commentary on my cooking abilities. In the process I ruin two pans, almost sever a finger, and, in short, feel every inch the archetypal MasterChef contestant.
But this book is entitled MasterChef Everyday. And this sort of behaviour clearly can’t go on regularly, what with the rising cost of both cookware and personal insurance. Lucky, then, that a selection of the recipes have been reworked for the likes of you, me and the rest of the laymen with a mere 20 minutes to appease the baying hungry hordes- not to mention a low tolerance threshold for bleepy minimal techno.
My ultimate aim as a contestant would be to elicit a sugar-induced, ear-to-ear grin from the life-sized, jolly jelly baby that is Gregg Wallace. In pursuit of that goal, I’ll be trying out Kirsty Wark’s Clementine cake with passionfruit and limoncello ice-cream, orange and star anise sorbet, and lime chantilly cream, and rustling up a quick Quince Compote croustade with a caramel cage, pistachio kulfi, coconut sorbet and berry coulis. Hmm… Perhaps I’ll just stick to Gregg’s own easy-peasy rice pud.
It’s all here- recipes from the sublime to the quite frankly ridiculous. Although many of the titles might serve to send even the keenest of cooks straight to the cooking sherry, the methods themselves break the complex dishes down into achievable component parts. Cheffy, sure, but at least not impossibly so. Few guests could fail to be impressed that you’re feeding them Ballotine of rabbit stuffed with Alba truffles and porcini with fontina fondue and canderli- not least by the fact you can say it all in one breath.
But when trufflle- and energy-stores are low, opt for one of Gregg and John’s ‘Everyday’ versions. Here, techniques and tricky elements and stripped down, whilst the key flavours and essence of a dish are maintained. There are also shortcut tips for simplifying the contestants’ real showstoppers- although to my mind, if a recipe’s worth doing, I’m doing it well, tuiles and all.
And when my overly gung-ho attitude means it all goes horribly wrong, I’ll just flip straight to the back section, offering a plenitude of ideas for using up all those leftovers. A perfect omelette can, after all, soothe the most savage of beasts. If only the same could be said for that bleepy minimalist techno.