FOOD & DRINK; BRILLIANT WHITE DISHES

MARCO PIERRE WHITE'S CANTEEN CUISINE: PART ONE; The one chef everyone has heard of is Marco Pierre White - and not only for his food. But his cooking is superlative, says Michael Bateman, introducing our three-part series of recipes from his new book

IT IS RARE to call a chef a genius. He's a cook, that's what. And the word "genius" doesn't spring to mind to describe one with a reputation for a bloody temperament both inside and outside the kitchen.

But nearly every critic who has approached Marco Pierre White's various temples of art with reservation, not to say apprehension, has come away with nothing but awed praise for his cooking and his style. We're talking Mozart here, not Take That or Blur.

There cannot be many people in this country, even those supremely uninterested in food, who do not know that Marco Pierre White is a chef. Never has there been a cook upon whom so many column inches have been expended, whether telling of his explosions in the kitchen, the expelling of unwanted customers, or scattering papparazzi intent on pursuing his private life.

But most of these tabloid tales say very little about his astounding gifts as a restaurateur. For this year the 95-year-old French-based Michelin guide made him, at 32, the youngest chef ever to whom they have awarded three stars, their ultimate accolade. And he also became the first Englishmen ever to receive this rating (the other three-star perfomers are not English- born: Albert Roux and his brother Michel, Pierre Koffmann and Nico Ladenis).

This in itself would be a remarkable achievement, considering Gallic disdain on matters of food. But the honour is all the more extraordinary because, outrageously, Marco Pierre White has never visited a single starred establishment in France to see how they do it there. He has not even set foot in France.

He says it's a matter of pride. "I got my first star without going to France, and wanted to show I could get a second Michelin star without going there, and I did. Then I thought, why not the third star, too?"

In his fairly brief but exhausting career so far, he has opened three mould-breaking restaurants: Harvey's in Wandsworth, which he took to one star and then raised to two stars; The Canteen in Chelsea (in partnership with the film actor Michael Caine), which has one star; and now The Restaurant, in the Hyde Park Hotel (rented from the Forte hotel group), which achieved the famous third star.

He has also produced three stylish cookery books. The first, White Heat, matched his first star; the second, Wild Food from Land and Sea (published last year, Ebury Press, pounds 19 99), reflects the ambitious artistry which won him his third star. His latest, which we feature here and over the next two weeks, is Canteen Cuisine. It is based on the simpler cooking he created for The Canteen; there are fewer complicated stages and less expensive ingredients than the haute-priced cuisine at The Restau-rant. "We are profligate with caviar and truffles here," admits Marco.

Marco Pierre White is in every way larger than life. He is a towering 6ft 3in, weighing in at 17 stone. We meet in The Restaurant, a cool, calm oasis looking out on to buzzing Knightsbridge. The decor is uncluttered and understated, a proper backdrop for his collection of good paintings (19th-century style rather than Damien Hirst). The room is punctuated with restrained but monumental arrangements of bullrush and lily (Marco taught the flower arranger).

A food writer will approach him with trepidation. He doesn't like critics. "I have a policy of not admitting restaurant critics who are 5ft 2in and under," he says. Some might interpret this as a reference to Egon Ronay. But he also takes exception to others. We all know how he ejected the ex-editor of The Good Food Guide, Tom Jaine, who had in some way offended the great man (something he wrote - or wearing bicycle clips at dinner? Both? Neither will say.)

Finding Jaine eating in The Restaurant, bold as brass, Marco feels a molehill of resentment grow into a mountain. Taking advantage of a moment when the critic's companion leaves the table, he emerges from the kitchen and confronts the seated Jaine. "Look," he says, "you don't like me, and I don't like you. So when you've finished the meal, will you please leave? A bill will not be presented."

So Jaine finishes his meal and leaves; Marco swears Jaine uttered this imprecation: "May a thousand misfortunes fall upon this man."

"Nonsense," says Jaine. "I said something about how stupid this was. He does behave in a cavalier fashion. It's fine if you say, 'I think you're wonderful, you're a genius, you're God.' But The Good Food Guide isn't going to wear that sort of thing. I suppose I can't go back. His cooking is very, very good."

In Wild Food from Land and Sea, Marco asserts that food critics in Britain should not be taken seriously. "They lack knowledge. One critic's last job was on the sports page. And sadly there are many who lack style. Would you come to a two-star restaurant wearing a cricket sweater or bicycle clips!" Without singling him out by name, Marco focused on the Guardian's cricket-sweater- wearing critic, Matthew Fort. "I don't think someone who runs sausage-cooking competitions in a newspaper should be allowed within a mile of a top-class restaurant," Marco stated.

So Mr Fort smuggled himself back into Marco's restaurant to see what a sausage-eating critic might make of his new menu (he liked it) and only afterwards ruminated on why his booking hadn't been refused. "I think the clerk wasn't sure if I was a Forte rather than a Fort." (The Fortes are Marco's landlords).

Marco excludes the Michelin guide inspectors from his scorn. "When I was renowned for asking people to leave, when I had a bad press, Michelin were never influenced by that (most of my reputation is a product of exaggeration anyway). The Guide Michelin judges you entirely by what you put on your plate and on the service."

Marco Pierre White is Scottish on his father's side; his mother, who died when he was six, was Italian and he has happy memories of childhood holidays with his two older brothers near Lake Garda in Italy. Although he was brought up on a housing estate in Leeds, he feels he was reared at the tail end of the Victorian era, and absorbed those values. And if he was a townie his heart was in the country. Most weekends he and a friend would take the 36 bus to the Earl of Harewood's estate to poach pheasants; 20 years on Lord Harewood is one of his best customers.

Or his grandfather would take him to gather mushrooms and nettles. "Did you ever get stung?" Marco asked him. "I got stung the day I married your grandmother," he said.

At school he'd not been very academic, but was good at art and sport. At the age of 16 he was asked by the careers teacher what he'd like to do. "Become a gamekeeper." She said: "Have you thought of going into catering?"

It was the last thing on his mind, but he duly signed on at the Hotel St George, Harrogate. "Being quite artistic I responded to the freedom; I did buffets for 130 people. I did everything wrong. The most important thing to me then was presentation."

He'd heard about The Box Tree, at Ilkley, a restaurant making waves by winning a second Michelin star and run by two self-taught cooks, Malcolm Reid and Colin Long. He was thrilled by their extravagance and originality. "It was an Aladdin's Cave. They spoilt me." He considers himself very lucky to have been hired but quickly justified their faith in him by becoming a skilled baker and pastrycook.

An even bigger stroke of luck was getting himself taken on by Albert Roux at Le Gavroche in London, sharing the excitement when Mr Roux became, in 1982, the first ever chef in Britain to win a Michelin third star.

"I worked so hard for Albert that he used to call me the horse. Years after I left he told me that he used to boast that I was 'his boy who used to do the work of three men'. I wish he'd told me. I didn't think I was working hard enough." (Albert remains his "Godfather" and to this day continues to affirm he never met a "more naturally talented cook".)

Marco acquired further experience of this level of cooking with Nico Ladenis, Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc before getting a business enterprise grant of pounds 20,000 to start his own restauarant. Wandsworth Common was the unfashionable setting. "I started there with just two boys in the kitchen." But the fame of Harvey's spread fast, as did stories of his erratic behaviour. "I was mad, I was possessed, I fired on a lot of energy. But within seven or eight years I made myself very ill."

He didn't court publicity, but the press soon found him. With fame and a celebrity clientele came the first outburst, or provocation, depending on your point of view - he knocked the camera out of the hand of an unwelcome photographer, and became known as an enfant terrible. Journalists hurried to his restaurant, and he wasn't averse to giving them a pastiche of the eccentric figure they wanted to depict, making the kitchen air blue with his expletives.

Marco is philosophical about the press he gets, as well he might be, having had his life story serialised in the Daily Mail, and his second marriage, to model Lisa Butcher, the cover story in Hello! magazine. "They can write lies. Worse things have happened to me." What? "Well, the death of my mother."

When he decided to open a restaurant at Chelsea Harbour, Michael Caine offered to come in. Here, too, he was to have well publicised spats - most notably with the actor Nigel Havers. But his other partner in that restaurant, Claudio Pulze, dismisses these rows: "He's a passionate man who lives by his emotions and sometimes it gets him into trouble. But basically he's a pussycat."

Marco says, in the introduction to Canteen Cuisine, that if he hadn't met Michael Caine, "I suspect I could still be cooking in Wands-worth." Suddenly he made new contacts and friends. He met Sir Rocco Forte, who'd already installed Nico Ladenis at The Grosvenor Park Hotel and was thinking of a similar leasing for The Hyde Park Hotel. And so to The Restaurant and that third star.

This is Marco's analysis of the star-rating system. "The first star is for craft, method, skill. The second star is for extra effort; my legs took me to two stars, but personality comes into it: a nice setting, fine glasses, good wine cellar and cheese board, pleasant service. The third star is something else. You have to use your head. You have to suss out the system."

Hard work is not enough. "I've met people who work as hard as I do. You also need a certain amount of arrogance. No one's taken the risks I take. I go against the tide."

Having heard so many stories about this famous cook, I was surprised how calm he seems. He has never drunk alcohol, never did drugs. He gave up smoking, gambling and his (second) wife on the same day. Time passes. "I was wild." Now he's basically a family man; he has a daughter, Leticia, six, by his first wife and two sons, Luciano, nearly two, and Marco, four months, by his Spanish partner, Mati Conejero. Memories of his 15-week marriage to Lisa Butcher are buried in the tabloids' files, she having taken herself off briefly in the company of James (Princess Di's Squidgy tape pal) Gilbey. "He's a cockroach on society," said Marco at the time.

The era of the gossip pages is hopefully past. Now, having reached this pinnacle of success, there is no time to sit back. "Customers who knew us as a two-star restaurant are coming with greater expectations. Everything has to be tweaked and improved," he says.

And what exactly do these high-rollers pay for when they enter the hallowed portals? The day I'm there it seems packed with people loaded with money, talking of ways of getting more. As early as 11.30am two businessmen, intent on using the restaurant as free office space, swing in. "We don't open till 12.30," Marco says to me. I expect him to lead these unwelcome guests out by their ears, but no, he summons a waiter and tells him to see to them.

Apart from providing a venue for the world's most comfortably-off, what can be said about the experience of eating here? I had a wonderful lunch - scallops, salmon, veal, tarte Tatin - and every dish evoked a superlative.

The scallops were the sweetest and juiciest you could imagine, and were presented with a startling garnish of squid with crispy, deep-fried tentacles. The salmon had its skin replaced by a green herb crust, a technically skilful feat, but the revelation was the softness and tenderness of the fish ("poached in milk at 70C/150F"). A nugget of veal came with morsels of sweetbreads and brains, each with a few drops of a different sauce, almost like an essence. ("I'm using less and less sauce, more and more intensely flavoured. If the food is perfectly cooked you don't need sauce.")

To finish, the desserts, wildly generous in conception: a floppy apricot souffle omelette, a raspberry mille-feuille; a creme caramel of sweet perfection, and Marco's tarte Tatin, a sophisticated working of the Normandy classic (we give the recipe for this is two weeks' time). Yes, it's food worth paying good money for.

(How much good money? Well, pounds 103 each, give or take 50p. But it was top whack. I could have had his special lunch at pounds 29.50. It's a place for conspicuous consumption, and perhaps no one is as conspicuous as Michael Winner, who ran up a dinner bill for four of pounds 1,821.)

Marco seems to have put all his oeufs in the Michelin basket. All should go well unless the French guide resorts to some terrible subterfuge and sends in an inspector dressed as a Chaplin tramp or as a gamekeeper. Oops. But they wouldn't, would they?

So, to the book. Marco himself wonders why anyone would buy chefs' books. "There is a gulf between what we do in the professional kitchen and what can be done at home. The home cook lacks the hands, the time, the facilities, the finance. No one buying a book is going to become a great cook overnight. But we can give people ideas."

And he insists these recipes aren't writ in marble. You don't have to follow them exactly. Change the ingredients, change the accompanying sauces. But he would hope the underlying basic techniques were worth learning, especially since he went to great pains to learn them from the very masters of the craft.

Beginning this week with starters, we introduce Marco Pierre White's incomparable style. Next week we will cover main courses and the third week puddings. Each week we set out half a dozen key recipes. At the end of each section we run appropriate basic recipes, some stocks, sauces and accompaniments. The recipes include contributions from Marco's chefs, Peter Raffael and Tim Paine.

Although the accompanying photographs suggest a level of sophistication you won't achieve at home, what is of real signnificance is Marco Pierre White's careful explanation of techniques. Follow his instructions carefully and you will quickly find your cooking improving. The photographs offer exciting suggestions for presentations but, Marco would say, express yourself in your own way. He believes if you follow the techniques shown in principle, you can vary ingredients to suit your taste or pocket. You might use oil or butter instead of goose fat or chicken fat. You could use chicken stock instead of veal stock, which can be difficult to produce. You might use bought puff pastry and not make your own. Use Marco's recipes as a guide, not as gospel.

You'll find his instructions admirably clear, though this should not be suprising. Every chef who reaches the top has to be more than a cook; his ability to communicate with every member of his troops is essential to success.

ROAST SEA SCALLOPS AND CALAMARI, SAUCE NERO

Serves 4

12 medium sea scallops, cleaned

24 baby squid, cleaned

salt and freshly ground white pepper

olive oil

lemon juice

To serve:

1 quantity Sauce Nero (see Basic Recipes, page 52)

1 Slice each scallop in half and season with salt. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan, and carefully place the scallops in to cook for one minute on each side. Squeeze one or two drops of lemon juice over each of the scallops, and remove from the heat.

2 Cook the baby squid in a little olive oil in another non-stick pan until crisp - a minute or so - then season with a little salt.

3 To serve, arrange the scallops around the plate, each with a baby squid on top, and dot the black sauce around them (this is most effective on a white plate!). This dish can be garnished with deep-fried vegetables or herbs.

OYSTERS WITH CHAMPAGNE SABAYON

Serves 4

20 oysters

salt

200ml/7fl oz Champagne

I quantity Veloute for Fish (see Basic Recipes, below)

To serve:

25g/Ioz caviar (optional)

20 tiny sprigs chervil

1 Remove the oysters from their shells carefully, and pass the juice through a piece of muslin into a bowl. Quickly wash each oyster in lightly salted water to remove any of the remaining bits of shell, and place in the juice.

2 Boil the bottom shells, and clean thoroughly.

3 Poach the oysters in the Champagne and a little of their own juices for no longer than 45 seconds on each side. Do not allow them to boil (they are best if kept below 80C/176F).

4. Remove the oysters, turn up the heat and rapidly reduce the cooking liquor by half. Lower the heat, add the veloute sauce, and cook until it reaches a coating consistency. Froth it with a hand blender.

5 To serve, place a hot oyster in each shell and pour some sauce on top. Put half a teaspoon of caviar on each oyster, plus a sprig of chervil.

MARINATED SALMON WITH DEEP-FRIED OYSTERS

This marinated salmon needs to be prepared two days in advance, but can in fact be done up to a week beforehand.

Serves 6

12 oysters

100g/4 oz Chinese self-raising flour

salt and freshly ground white pepper

iced water

vegetable oil for deep-frying

For the marinated salmon:

450g/1lb fresh salmon fillet in the piece, skin on

150g/5oz salt

50g/2oz caster sugar

5g/18oz coriander seeds, lightly crushed

5g/18oz white peppercorns, lightly crushed

1 bunch dill, chopped

juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons

juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

Dijon mustard

1 bunch lemon balm, chopped

To serve:

a little vinaigrette or 1 quantity Citrus Butter Sauce (see Basic Recipes, page 52)

fresh chervil

sea salt

1 Make the marinade for the salmon by mixing the salt, sugar, coriander, peppercorns, half the dill, and the citrus juices and zests. Cover the salmon with this, cover with clingfilm, and leave to marinate for 24 hours.

2 Wash off the marinade, brush the salmon thinly with mustard, and cover it with lemon balm and the rest of the dill. Cover with cling-film and press down with a heavy weight, to aid the absorption of the aromatics. Leave for another 24 hours.

3 For the oyster batter, place the flour in a bowl, with a pinch of salt, and whisk in enough iced water (about 150 ml/5 fl oz) to make a good batter consistency. Rest for five minutes in the fridge, then whisk again before use.

4 Dip the oysters in the batter and deep-fry them in very hot vegetable oil for about one minute until golden and crisp. (It's best to hold them in, carefully of course.) Drain well, then season with salt.

5 To serve, slice the salmon as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife, and arrange slices down the centre of each plate. Put the oysters in the centre, top and bottom. Serve with vinaigrette or citrus butter sauce. Garnish with fresh chervil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Chef's Note: Chinese self-raising flour can be found in any oriental grocer's (and in some large supermarkets). The batter made from it is especially crisp and light.

VELOUTE OF CELERY WITH POACHED EGG

Serves 4

250g/9oz celery, finely sliced

250g/9oz celeriac, peeled

I onion, peeled and finely sliced

1 white of leek, finely sliced

50g/2oz unsalted butter

salt and freshly ground white pepper

100g/4oz potatoes, peeled and finely sliced

500ml/17fl oz double cream

500ml/17fl oz chicken stock (see Basic Recipes, page 51)

To serve:

4 eggs

finely chopped chives

1 Sweat the celery, celeriac, onion and leek in the butter without colouring, until all the moisture has evaporated. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

2 Put the raw potato slices in a pan with the cream and stock, bring to the boil, and pour this over the rest of the vegetables. Cook on a high heat for about 10 minutes.

3 Liquidise the mixture, and pass it through a sieve. Check the seasoning.

4 To serve, poach the eggs and place one in each soup plate. Pour the hot soup over the egg, and sprinkle the chopped chives on top.

CAPPUCCINO OF MUSHROOMS

Serves 4

500g/18oz white button mushrooms, finely sliced

1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced

I white of leek, finely sliced

50g/2oz unsalted butter

I litre/134 pints chicken stock (see Basic Recipes, page 51

500ml/17fl oz double cream

100g/4oz potatoes, peeled and finely sliced

salt and freshly ground white pepper

To serve:

12 crayfish tails

a few sprigs of chervil

1 Sweat the onion and the leek in the butter over a low heat, without colouring them, then add the mushrooms. Continue cooking until all the moisture has evaporated, still without colouring them.

2 Put the chicken stock, the cream and the raw potato slices into a pan and bring to the boil. Pour this over the other vegetables and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.

3 Liquidise the soup, and strain it through a sieve. If it is slightly too thick, add a little more chicken stock. Season it with salt and pepper.

4 Steam the crayfish tails for one minute, and remove their shells. If not serving straight away set them aside in a warm place.

5 To serve, heat the soup until it is just short of boiling, then froth it with a hand blender for two minutes, to produce the "cappuccino" effect. Pour into bowls over the crayfish tails, and sprinkle a little chervil over each.

CABBAGE A L'ANCIENNE, SAUCE TOMATE

Serves 4

2 Savoy cabbages

salt and freshly ground white pepper

For the stuffing:

150g/5oz pork fat chopped

150g/5oz lean pork, chopped

25g/1oz chicken livers, trimmed

12 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

12 tablespoon chopped parsley

10g/14 oz breadcrumbs

25ml/1fl oz white wine

12 tablespoon brandy

12 egg

For the braising liquor:

1 carrot, peeled

1 onion, peeled

1 celery stalk

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

100ml/312fl oz white wine

500ml/7fl oz veal stock or chicken stock (see Basic Recipes, right)

To serve:

half quantity Tomato Sauce (see Basic Recipes, page 52)

1 Mince together the pork fat, pork and the chicken livers, then mix in the remaining ingredients of the stuffing.

2 Take 12 leaves from the outside of the cabbages, and remove the main vein. Then, using 10cm, 7.5cm and 5cm (4in, 3in and 2 in) cutters, cut out four circular pieces of leaf in each of the three sizes.

3 Spread each circular piece evenly with the stuffing mixture. Lay each 7.5cm/3in piece on a 10cm/4in piece, and put each 5cm/2in piece on top. Place each lot of leaves (in turn) on a square of doubled clingfilm. Pull the corners shut and twist so the clingfilm forms a ball with cabbage inside doing the same. Make four balls.

4 Dice all the braising liquor vegetables and cook gently in a medium pan in the oil until brown. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce by about half. Add stock and bring to the boil. Strain, discarding the vegetables.

5 Braise the cabbage balls in this liquor for about 1 hour 20 minutes.

6 Meanwhile, make or heat tomato sauce.

7 To serve, remove the clingfilm, place each cabbage ball in the centre of a bowl, and pour the tomato sauce carefully around it.

RISOTTO OF INK WITH ROAST CALAMARI

Serves 6

300g/11oz risotto rice (Carnaroli or Vialone)

50g/2oz unsalted butter

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

four 25ml/1fl oz packets squid ink

1 litre/134 pints fish stock, boiling (see Basic Recipes, right)

200ml/7fl oz double cream, whipped

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan

salt and freshly ground white pepper

lemon juice

fresh chervil

For the roast calamari:

100g/4 oz squid, cleaned and cut into julienne strips

100ml/312fl oz olive oil

a splash of white wine

25g/1oz chopped parsley

1 Melt half the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and sweat the shallot and rice in it for about three to four minutes.

2 Add the ink and half of the fish stock and cook the rice, adding more stock if required. Keep the rice moving as much as possible at all times to stop it sticking to the pan. When the rice is ready, almost all the liquid should have evaporated and the grains should be al dente.

3 Bring the rice off the heat and add the remaining butter in pieces, the cream and the Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

4 Meanwhile, fry the squid quickly in the olive oil to seal, but not to colour. Season with salt and pepper; add a little white wine and lemon juice, plus parsley.

5 To serve, place the risotto in a bowl, making sure it falls flat - loosely rather than solidly - and place squid on top. Garnish with chervil.

CHICKEN STOCK

We use this "single-cooked" chicken stock in juice-based sauces, as well as in soups. The recipe should be used as a basis for other poultry stocks - duck, guinea fowl, etc.

Makes about 4.5 litres/8 pints

2.75kg/6lbs raw chicken carcasses, chopped

about 5.75 litres/10 pints cold water

3 celery stalks

1 leek

1 large onion

12 whole head of garlic

1 Place the raw chicken carcasses in a large pot then cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then skim.

2 Keep the vegetables whole, but peel them is necessary. Tie the celery and leek together - this prevents them from breaking up, which helps to clarity the stock.

3 Add all the vegetables and the garlic to the pot, then bring back to the boil. Skim, then leave to simmer, uncovered, for four hours.

4 Pass through a fine sieve. The stock should be a light amber colour, and clear. Store in the fridge for a couple of days, or freeze (but for no longer than three months).

FISH STOCK

The best bones to use are turbot or Dover sole, although monkfish is good, too.

Makes about 1.2 litres/312 pints

1.8kg/4lbs fish bones

white of 2 small leeks, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

12 fennel bulb, finely chopped

12 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

12 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

200ml/7fl oz white wine

2 litres/312 pints water

1 lemon, sliced/2 sprigs parsley

1 Wash fish bones thoroughly, and chop up.

2 Cook the chopped vegetables and garlic in the oil for a few minutes to soften, but without colouring them.

3 Add the fish bones and white wine and cook, without colouring (the bones will turn white), for about five more minutes; then boil for a few minutes to reduce the wine a little.

4 Add water, bring to the boil and skim well.

5 Add the sliced lemon and parsley, then simmer for 20 minutes.

6 Pass through a sieve and leave to cool. Store in the fridge for a day only, or freeze (but for no longer than a month).

VELOUTE FOR FISH

This basic cream sauce for fish is best made on the day, although the reduction could be prepared in advance and frozen.

Makes 4 portions

6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

15g/12 oz unsalted butter

500ml/17fl oz white wine

500ml/17fl oz Noilly Prat

1 litre /134 pints double cream

1 litre /134 pints fish stock (see page 51)

1 Cook the shallots in the butter until softened, without colouring.

2 Deglaze with the white wine and Noilly Prat, and boil to reduce to a syrup.

3 Add the fish stock and boil to reduce by half.

4 Add the cream, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes to reduce to a coating consistency. Pass through a fine sieve. Chill, covered with clingfilm if not using immediately.

SAUCE NERO

This black sauce is served with seafood. It it the sauce that accompanies the roast sea scallops and calamari on page 48.

Makes 4 portions

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

25g/1oz unsalted butter

200ml/7fl oz white wine

200ml/7fl oz fish stock (see Basic Recipes, page 51)

200ml/7fl oz double cream

salt and freshly ground white pepper

50ml/2fl oz squid ink

1 Sweat the shallot in the butter without colouring until soft.

2 Add the wine and boil to reduce by half.

3 Add the stock and again boil to reduce by about half.

4 Add cream and cook for five more minutes.

5 Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add the squid ink to create a velvet black sauce. Pass this through a fine sieve.

CITRUS BUTTER SAUCE

The basis for this butter sauce, which is a perfect accompaniment for fish, can be made at least a week in advance, and the butter can then be added at more or less the last moment - about an hour in advance if the sauce has been kept in a warm place.

Makes 4 portions

juice and finely grated zest of 1 pink grapefruit, 1 orange, 2 lemons and 1 lime

200ml/7fl oz white wine vinegar

100g/312fl oz Champagne vinegar

1 stalk lemongrass

3 cloves

2 sprigs lemon balm

60ml/214fl oz double cream

60g/214 oz hard unsalted butter, diced

1 Bring the citrus juices and zest, vinegars, spices and herbs to the boil in a suitable pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then leave to cool. Chill for at least one week for the flavours to blend and mature.

2 Reduce the fragrant liquid down to about 200ml/7fl oz.

3 Add the cream, melt in the butter, and serve.

TOMATO SAUCE

A rich-tasting tomato sauce that is delicious with the Cabbage a l'Ancienne, or cabbage "balls" on page 51.

Makes 8 portions

40g/112oz diced carrot

40g/112oz diced onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

25ml/1fl oz goose fat

40g/112oz plain flour

10g/14oz Parma ham, chopped

400g/14oz plum tomatoes, skinned and seeded

salt and freshly ground white pepper

50g/2oz unsalted butter (optional)

1 Soften the carrot, onion and garlic in the goose fat, then stir in the flour and cook gently for 15-20 minutes.

2 Add the ham and tomatoes to the pan, and bring the mixture to the boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook steadily for 30 minutes, covered.

3 Blend the sauce in a liquidiser, then push through a fine sieve. Don't reboil it, but heat gently, and add the butter if required. !

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Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
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Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
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Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
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Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
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Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

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Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

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Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

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Who is taking the plunge?
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Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

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Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

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Morrissey, 1988

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