For a perfect French onion soup, start with white onions, cook them gently until soft but not browned, then saturate them with red wine to give the soup color, body and flavor. For a melt-in-your-mouth roast chicken, turn the bird over several times, basting it with the cooking juices. Lacy crpes every time? Make sure your batter is lump-free and work with very small amounts. These are but a few of the insider insights that Marcus Wareing, a bright young Michelin-starred chef patron of two outstanding London restaurants, serves up in Cook the Perfect . . ., his lusciously illustrated new cookbook. Struck by how much professional know-how, acquired from long training and intense on-the-job experience, isn't included in most recipes, Marcus set out to deconstruct 80 elegant recipes, stripping them back to basics, pinpointing the how and whys, and even the pitfalls. Whether you're a greenhorn or a gastronome, there are tricks of the trade here that you'll want to learn and recipes you'll want to master from creamy mushroom soup to salt and pepper shrimp, couscous with candied lemon to corned beef hash cakes, broccoli and green bean sautŽ to blissfully buttery shortbread. Under Marcus' direction you're headed for perfection.

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