Thursday, 11 August 2016

Book Review: Toast Hash Roast Mash by Dan Doherty

One wonders whether Dan Doherty was having a little bit of fun when he named his latest cookbook. As a title, Toast Hash Roast Mash is a bit of a tongue-twister but in many ways it also reflects what the book is all about; - playful, unpretentious food that is easy to make and delicious to eat. This is a book designed to have wide appeal as most of the dishes are quick to prepare and use everyday ingredients that are widely available. Even someone possessing limited culinary skills will feel empowered under Dan’s guidance to turn on the stove and get cooking.

Dan Doherty
Born and raised in Shrewsbury, Doherty started his career working as a kitchen porter and also helping out in the kitchen where he developed a love of food and cooking. A three-year apprenticeship with the Academy of Culinary Arts followed during which he worked at the Michelin-starred 1 Lombard Street under Herbert Berger. He did stints in a number of restaurants, working his way through the ranks, before becoming head chef at The Ambassador in Exmouth Market and subsequently at The Empress in Victoria Park. In 2012 Doherty was made Executive Chef at Duck & Waffle, developing a menu packed full of his interpretations of classic British dishes.

Toast Hash Roast Mash is a change of direction for Doherty. In Duck & Waffle:  Recipes and Stories, his first and much-lauded book, he shared the recipes for many of Duck & Waffle’s signature dishes. This über cool restaurant is located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in London’s financial district and, with its high-altitude location, offers up spectacular views of the city. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and serves the type of food that you will want to eat at any time; - smoked haddock scotch eggs, savoury ox-cheek doughnuts and a plethora of decadent desserts amongst many other offerings. Throw in a cocktail or two and you can see why tables are booked out months in advance.
 
Toast Hash Roast Mash
In Toast Hash Roast Mash Doherty gives us recipes that he likes to cook at home when he is off-duty and, in keeping with the food that he serves at Duck & Waffle, these are dishes that can be enjoyed throughout the day and are not slavishly structured around starters, main courses and desserts.

The book kicks off with chapters on Toast and Eggs before moving on to Pancakes, Savoury, Sides & Salads. It finishes with chapters on Sweets and Drinks but my favourite section of the book has to be the one entitled ‘Hangover’ with its indulgent but comforting recipes. Food for the morning-after-the-night-before may all sound a tad laddish but I defy anyone to not want to try out these dishes.

The recipes in the ‘Hangover’ chapter (and throughout the book) are also great from a practical point of view; - so many cookbooks demand that you buy obscure and often expensive ingredients but in Toast Hash Roast Mash leftovers are regularly employed to create new and exciting dishes. In ‘Hash, Eggs over easy’ Doherty explains how hash is essentially meat and potatoes plus anything else you have lying around, all chopped together and fried. Think Bubble & Squeak with Smoked Ham or Black Pudding & Yesterday’s Potatoes. Think comfort food.
 
Smashed Avocados on Toast
The best way to judge a cookery book is by trying out some of the recipes so I decided to start with one from ‘On Toast’, the first chapter of the book. Doherty notes that toast is the perfect vehicle for so many other ingredients and judging by the thousands of photos of it that appear daily on social media I have to say that I’m inclined to agree with him. People love toast.

Doherty recommends using sourdough bread to make toast as it holds its crispness much better than other breads. Luckily, I always have a sourdough loaf in the bread-bin so in no-time-at-all I made the Smashed Avocado with Minted Goats’ Cheese. Consisting of slices of toasted sourdough topped with mashed avocado, crumbled goats’ cheese and some finely chopped mint; this was a wonderful breakfast and a tasty start to my day. I’m often a little drowsy in the morning, so an added drizzle of fiery sriracha upped the ante and kick-started me into wakefulness. Delicious!

Turkish Eggs
Eggs are something that Doherty states that he could not live without and he devotes a couple of chapters in the book to recipes including them. The ultimate in fast-food, eggs can be eaten at any time during the day, whether poached, scrambled fried or boiled. The recipes in Toast Hash Roast Mash use eggs in all these forms but along with his take on Eggs Benedict using salt-beef and mustard hollandaise, you will also find Baked Eggs, Coddled Eggs, Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Scotch Eggs and that favourite of the 1970’s buffet table – Devilled Eggs.

There are many other egg recipes in the book but the one that immediately jumped out at me was Turkish Eggs, Yoghurt, Chorizo Butter, Mint. Here, small cubes of spicy chorizo were gently pan-fried in butter until cooked through and releasing their spicy flavour. The were then served alongside a poached egg and some warm yoghurt with plenty of toast on the side to mop up the buttery juices. Although the combination of ingredients may sound strange, this was a superb dish and one that has already established itself as a personal favourite.

The PBJ
The problem with Toast Hash Roast Mash is that I wanted to try out ALL the recipes in the book for this review and the beautiful, very tempting photographs by renowned Danish photographer Anders Schønnemann didn’t make whittling down my choices any easier. Succumbing to pressure from my children who are addicted to pancakes, I quickly whipped up ‘The PBJ’ – a glorious concoction comprising Doherty’s fluffy American-Style Pancakes, peanut butter, jam, cream and fresh strawberries… topped with crumbled shortbread biscuits for good measure. This was sinfully good.

I decided to complete my recipe road-test with Doherty’s Queen of Puddings. This is one of my favourite desserts and is made up of a custard base containing breadcrumbs, topped with sweet jam and clouds of frothy meringue. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for me it conjures up childhood memories of delicious meals at my Granny’s house which always finished with something sweet like this. In this updated version, the custard is flavoured with Earl Grey tea which adds a subtle and fragrant background note of bergamot which cuts through the overall sweetness of the dish. Although this recipe involved a number of steps, it was relatively easy to prepare and looked stunning when it emerged from the oven.

Queen of Puddings
I loved Toast Hash Roast Mash. Despite all the plaudits and awards he has received Dan Doherty has an inherent understanding of the type of food real people like to eat and he presents his recipes with a sense of impish good humour which is immediately appealing. Most importantly, the recipes actually work which makes this a book that you will actually use. This is not some tome that will sit on a shelf getting dusty but rather, I can see it becoming dog-eared and stained as all the best loved cookbooks do over time.

Toast Hash Roast Mash: Real Food for Every Time of Day
Author: Dan Doherty
Published: 11 August 2016

Hardback. First published by Mitchell Beazley, a division of Octopus Publishing Group
Pages: 224.
 
American Style Pancakes