Why buy it?
Twin currents run through Heston Blumenthal at Home. The first: that there’s no reason why a more scientific approach to cooking shouldn’t be adopted in the home. And the second: that not all cooking need involve smokes, foams and erupting desserts. We’re familiar with seeing the owner of the three Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck as somewhat of a ringmaster in the kitchen, conjuring acts of amazement with weird and wonderful apparatuses and ingredients. But this compendium is rather more an exercise in cooking 101 with the science and appropriate application of techniques deftly and thoroughly explained. Of course, there is a chapter on sous vide, a garden salad with edible dirt, and a few simplified Fat Duck favourites, but you’ll find some classic fare here, too, such as pork scratchings, scotch eggs and fish pie, albeit with a playful Blumenthal stamp. There’s plenty to challenge and inspire, with all the foundations of cookery to ground your more fantastical endeavours.
Blumenthal doesn’t bring his full equipment arsenal into play, but there are a few tools, such as a digital probe, that he urges readers to employ for the sake of ease and precision.
The ultimate cheese toastie, using a washing up sponge to ensure the cheesy interior isn’t overcooked. It’s genius and perplexing all at once!
Most surprising dish
Although not surprising that Blumenthal himself would create his iced concoctions using dry ice, it is surprising how much sense it makes and how simple this technique appears to be. That is, once you’ve laid your hands on some dry ice.
It’s easy to dismiss Blumenthal’s Mad-Hatter-meets-Mad-Scientist techniques as a passing trend, but his attention to the finer details of cooking combined with obvious creativity, make him an impressive culinary artisan.
This book is as much for the beginner as it is for accomplished cooks, and it serves as an education for both. Detailed examinations, such as how emulsions work, and the science of taste and flavour are valuable to any cook, whether they’re up to the challenge of Fat Duck-style recipes or simply set out to master the perfect steak.
View Heston Blumenthal’s recipes here.
Heston Blumenthal at Home by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury, $65, hbk).