Roast: A very British cookbook

Peter Morrell reports on one of the culinary highlights of 2013

I was at Roast in London’s Borough Market recently to celebrate the imminent launch of Roast: A Very British Cookbook written by Head Cook Marcus Verberne

Before dinner we had the honour of Marcus join us when he explained some of the dishes that were on the menu that evening. They are featured in the new book so it would give us an opportunity sample what we will all be cooking at home this winter.

The book is not just about recipes but also covers preparation and serving techniques with QR code links to online content. There are also pieces on some of the British Food Heroes who produce the raw ingredients that make eating at Roast such a unique experience. And any description of the book can’t pass without mention of Lara Holmes, whose photographs illustrate its pages so well.

At the dinner my hand-dived scallops with whipped apple mash and smoked black pudding were a case study in flavour and a sneak taste of someone’s creamed organic spelt with woodland mushrooms and hedgerow garlic was highly original. For the main I had breast of Yorkshire cock pheasant with halves of the bulbous top of the sprout stem, which held the sauce in its feathery folds. My fellow diners enthused over the slow roast belly port, while we all enjoyed the perfectly roast potatoes and baby parsnips.

Since it opened its doors back in 2005, Roast restaurant’s mantra has been a simple one: to use produce from the nation’s farmers and fishermen to bring a new level of energy to British cooking. Its customers have long reaped the benefits, but now Marcus, the prodigiously talented head cook at this acclaimed Borough Market based eatery, is sharing its secret with a wider audience with the publication of this book

There are dishes for all occasions, from breakfasts and brunches through to lunches and dinners, this stunning tome recreates for the home cook some of Roast’s most popular fare. Alongside all the classics can be found a host of new favourites in this best of British selection of fish, poultry, lamb, mutton, goat, pork, beef, game and vegetables, plus many ideas for puddings, cocktails and wines.

Over 100 recipes illustrate Verberne’s dual approach: to source the best local produce on offer and to let the flavours and textures speak for themselves. The result is delicious, fuss-free delights like toasted crumpets with poached eggs, Bath pig chorizo & sweetcorn; pan-fried gurnard fillet with clams in cider & wild boar pancetta; anchovy-rubbed, hay-baked leg of mutton with parsley & caper sauce and roast chicken with sage-roasted squash, smoked bacon & creamed sweetcorn.

Unlike many cookbooks, the recipes here are all accessible; some are for basic preparations such as roasting potatoes or poaching eggs for which Marcus has included vital tips and rules that will ensure perfect results time after time. Other recipes are a little more ‘cheffy’ and use techniques that may be suited to more special occasions.

For the more difficult, unfamiliar preparations such as opening a live scallop or oyster, butchering a duck or rabbit or carving large joints, the book offers both step-by-step photographic instructions plus the quick-response QR codes.

The focus here is not only on the preparation of the final dish, but also on the vitally important role of those who provide its ingredients. The ultimate celebration of quality indigenous produce, Roast: a very British cookbook is Marcus’ personal tribute to the farmers, fishermen, growers, winemakers and other producers who with hard work, knowledge, skill and passion, inspire us to do their produce justice.

With a foreword by Iqbal Wahhab, owner of Roast restaurant and a renowned social entrepreneur and campaigner, fund raiser and mentor, Roast: a very British cookbook will be published by Absolute Press on 7 November 2013. With an rrp of £25.00, the hardback will be available from all good retailers, online and in store.

Roast: a very British cookbook by Marcus Verberne (Absolute Press) is published 7 November 2013.
£25.00, Hardback

Buy Roast: a very British cookbook on Amazon by clicking here…

Roast, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London, SE1 1TL

About Marcus Verberne

Originally from New Zealand, Marcus Verberne has no formal training. He began his career in Wellington after bumping into an old friend who was working at a restaurant where they were in need of a dishwasher. After his first night in the role, Marcus knew that he was meant to be in the kitchen. The head chef took him under his wing and two years later, he had risen to the position of sous chef.

Moving to Melbourne, Australia Marcus worked alongside Bill Marchetti at Marchetti’s Latin and then Cecconi’s.  In 2001 he relocated to London and joined Le Caprice, leaving after five years to work at The Ivy and J Sheekey.

After a brief foray as head chef of The White Hart Inn near Colchester, where he enjoyed the foraging but missed the energy of the capital, Marcus took up an offer to become the head chef of Mark Hix’s restaurant at Brown’s and soon rose to be executive chef of the whole hotel.

Marcus took over the kitchens at Roast on New Year’s Day 2012.

Click here… to read top cooking tips from Marcus in AMGs ‘Top Tips from Tops Chefs’ feature