I have a bit of a problem with cook books. I own - probably - in the region of 100, and, even worse, I'm also one of those slightly spinsterish ladies who clip recipes from food magazines and keep them in a folder (OK, OK, multiple folders). I very rarely cook from them though, reading them for pleasure instead and then falling back on cooking the same old things every dinnertime, things that I can make up from whatever happens to be lying round the fridge. This is all well and good, but means that I don't ever bother making anything new - and thus, the arrival of a review copy of The Manchester Cook Book was a very fine thing indeed, forcing me to stop being so lazy and cook something different for once.
The Manchester Cook Book, written by Kate Eddison and in support of Hospitality Action, is the latest in a series celebrating regional food and drink - Sheffield, Nottingham, Derbyshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire are already available, although the Manchester one is, of course, the most important. It offers us a foreword by Aiden Byrne, over 55 recipes from some of Manchester's best-known pubs, restaurants, delis and food producers, and some truly stunning photography of our fair city and its cuisine. The book offers a pleasing range of difficulty and poshness levels, including tricky-looking recipes from 63 Degrees and a beauty from Manchester House that seems to require handfuls of straw; I must confess though that I tried out a couple of the easier recipes - both of which were very quickly knocked up after work and were easily adapted to what I happened to have in the fridge (which, as you will see, largely consisted of chicken and rocket).
First up, I made the Hot Coronation Chicken, from a recipe provided by Palate in Chorlton. I blame my age for the fact that Coronation Chicken remains one of my very favourite things (preferably as part of a buffet spread that also involves vol-au-vents), and this hot version is quite ludicrously easy (particularly as I ignored its breezy instruction to "make a timbale with the rice" and instead opted to "make a pile"). I added some mushrooms, and found that my tastes required a little more lime than the recipe suggested; I also substituted the mange tout for some of The Great Manchester Rocket Surplus. Otherwise, I promise I cooked from the book, and the result will definitely become part of my repertoire.
The other recipe I tried was almost as easy, although did require a little planning ahead. I loved the Mojito Chicken when I had it at the launch of Mish Mash in Chorlton (yes, there are quite a few Chorlton establishments in the book) and was keen to recreate this at home - a keenness that was slightly frustrated by the fact that the chicken needs to marinate in its sexy bath of rum, sugar, lime juice and fresh mint for 12-36 hours. In the end I left mine for about 30 hours and it was totally worth it - all it required then was a quick flambé and it was good to go. I made the jalapeno salsa (verdict: new addition) but changed the other accompaniments slightly as I had no wild rice but did have a lot of tortilla wraps, avocado and (yep) rocket. I took the leftovers to work the next day and had them cold rolled up in another wrap; if anything, the flavours were even better than the day before.
This is a lovely book, and it's hard to imagine anyone in Manchester with an interest in food not enjoying it. It's published by Meze and costs £14.95 from the featured establishments, Waterstones and Amazon. Before you know it, I'll be Aiden Byrne*
*I'll be cooking Hot Coronation and Mojito Chicken dishes until the end of days.