I had had the idea that Curtis Stone was a bit ‘cheffy’ for me, but in the last week I’ve tried two recipes from his new book What’s for Dinner, and they have both been very good and happily, very easy.
The first was the Scallops with mint, bacon & peas which took all of 10 minutes from start to finish. It looked lovely and with some good bread to accompany it was delicious.
Last night I made Fish with spinach and orange vinaigrette which was equally lovely. I bought the fish at the market and had forgotten the recipe was for firm white fish and that it had tarragon in it. I got Atlantic salmon fillets with the skin on and parsley. But no matter. I got the skin on the fish really crispy then cooked it just through on the other side and used the parsley instead of tarragon (I’m not a huge fan of tarragon anyway). The fact that used different fish and herbs is all the better really, showing that the recipe is versatile. The orange zest in the vinaigrette gave it a lovely light zing and all in all it was a great hit. I made a pilaf to go with it which added to the cooking time, but the fish dish itself was only about 15 minutes all up.
I’m very impressed with young Curtis, and will definitely be using his book more. I forgot to take photos of my triumphs, but will do them again I’m sure and I’ll try and remember to photograph them. The book is $39.95
Our cooking section is quite literally overflowing with all these new books we’re receiving. There’s something for everyone here at the moment you can’t go wrong. If you fancy something Asian perhaps pick up Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong. There’s lots to suit anyone who feels like Italian; Nigelissima is Nigella Lawson’s new book, already proving popular. For pizza Pete Evans has a new one out and Theo Kalogeracos’ popular book from a few of years ag
o Theo & Co has been revamped in Theo & Co Take 2.
Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals is, we’ve heard, easier to use than the
insanely popular 30 Minute Meals; we’re sure it won’t last long as Christmas draws ever closer. Matt Preston is the last Masterchef judge to bring out a cookbook (perhaps because he’s not actually a chef) and I already want to eat (and make, I suppose) his macaroni cheese recipe. Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes is home cooking you can actually do! Yes please.
If desserts are more your style Darren Purchese of Burch & Purchese has Sweet Studio for you accomplished bakers and Gabriel Gate has picked his 100 Best cakes and desserts for his new book.
You need never look at the pantry feeling uninspired again, and I’ve only mentioned a fraction of the books weighing down our shelves at the moment. So many wonderful choices, so little time.
Two years ago a huge best seller for Xmas was Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals. This year, he has cut the cooking time down even further and we have 15 minute meals. It’s only just arrived so I haven’t road tested any recipes yet, but it’s sure to get a lot of people boiling their kettles and warming pans in preparation. As you would expect, you do need to have a well stocked pantry, and to follow the recipes carefully. Chapters are arranged by main ingredient, chicken, beef, fish, pasta etc.
So what’s for dinner? $50
Vegetables are experiencing a resurgence in our house, perhaps the time of year has something to do with it because of all the great fresh produce around. Another reason is another great book from Yotam Ottolenghi, author of our much loved Plenty. Jerusalem, unlike Plenty, isn’t JUST about vegetables so is perhaps a more complete cookbook of middle eastern inspired dishes. Ottolenghi really knows how to make vegetables the hero of a dish, not just an afterthought to have with your meat. Our entree was from another great cookbook; the recipe for Carrot and Coriander fritters with haloumi and sweet lemon dressing came from Vegetarian by Alice Hart and was motivated by a fritter obsession. These were a fine example of an easy to make fritter with heaps of flavour. You can even make the mixture ahead of time and it’ll actually make frying the fritters easier. My kind of recipe.
The salads from Jerusalem were the Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad and the Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad. The beetroot salad was unusual and a great mix of textures, the sweet and spicy balance was fantastic. The deceptively simple roasted cauliflower salad was also delicious, cauliflower isn’t my favourite vegetable but I’d obviously just never had it like this! Roasted simply in salt, pepper and olive oil the crispy golden bits added just the right amount of crunch. I couldn’t believe how much flavour was on my plate. We had these salads with a wonderful whole-roasted rainbow trout and it was a light, summery meal perfect for these warmer days we’ve been enjoying.
Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi is hardback, $49.95. Vegetarian by Alice Hart is paperback, $40.
To say master pizza chef Theo Kalogeracos, of Perth Pizzeria Little Caesar’s, is passionate about pizza would be an understatement! He has joined up with a group of pizza professionals who call themselves Theo & Co in a quest to find the perfect pizza. In his first book, Theo & Co, he tells us how he grew to love pizza so much, as well as sharing his wonderful pizza recipes. Theo & Co Take 2 continues the search for the perfect pizza, as Theo travels to Italy where he learns to make traditional pizzas from the experts. He includes a masterclass, in which he details hints on dough-making and cheeses, as well as information about wood-fired ovens. Then he heads off on a road trip through the United States, where pizza has been adopted with gusto, and finds lots of fascinating regional variations, before heading back home to Perth. The book is packed with delicious recipes and mouth-watering photographs, perfect for any budding pizza aficionado (or anyone who loves pizza, really!). Paperback, $34.95
My Kitchen: Slow Cooker, PB $29.95
Murdoch books have created a fantastic series of cookbooks called My Kitchen. Each book has over 100 recipes from various contributors and they are all triple tested in the Murdoch kitchen.
When it’s cold and miserable outside it’s time to bring out the slow cooker for some delicious, warming and super easy meals!
Slow Cooker is broken down into three sections; Family, Spicy and Friends for Dinner. Each recipe has a full colour photo to show the finished product and listed clearly how much time in the slow cooker is required as well as preparation time.
If you are stuck for lunch and dinner ideas then come in and grab a copy of My Kitchen: Slow Cooker and your problems will be solved!
*Other books in the My Kitchen series…
Love and Hunger is by Charlotte Wood, who is a well known writer of fiction with some very good novels under her belt. She is also a keen cook and has had a food blog for some time called howtoshuckanoyster where she posts recipes and her thoughts on food. Her latest blog post is on being a dinner party guest, how to be a good one and pitfalls to avoid.
Love and hunger has chapters that cover why Charlotte enjoys cooking and sharing food, food fashions, musings on different aspects of food culture as well as plenty of recipes. One surprise to me was that Charlotte rarely uses butter. She keeps some in the freezer for the times when she needs it, but doesn’t use butter as a matter of course. My life would be much the poorer without butter, but maybe that partly explains why Charlotte is slim and I am not.
There is a chapter about picky eaters and phobia’s and another where Charlotte confronts something she was not comfortable with, offal. I dislike offal intensely, but her thoughtful words on the subject were very interesting, as well as entertaining. I am still not, and never will be an offal fan though, her writing isn’t THAT good.
Love and Hunger would be the perfect book for someone who is interested in food, but for whom you don’t necessarily want to give another cookbook. $30
Borsch, Vodka & Tears by Benny Roff, HB, $36.95
Hearty polish food, great vodka, prime location on Chapel St; what more could you ask for!?
This beautiful cookbook from the popular Melbourne cafe/restaurant/bar is divided into three sections, opening with a lovely history of Poland’s food culture and a heartwarming story of the opening of Borsch, Vodka & Tears itself.
The second section contains everything you could possibly want to know about Vodka including it’s history, what food to pair it with and some fabulous cocktail recipes. Then we move on to the Borsch section with fantastic food like Potato Blintzes, Pierogi, Sauerkraut and of course, many varieties of Borsch.
This is a warm and delicious cookbook with a very personal touch and tons of great photos. The recipes are achievable in a regular home kitchen so that makes it a great gift for just about anyone!
Thought this title continues to remind me of Mr Rosenblum’s List this is in fact a cookbook. Any self-respecting inner-north cafe connoiseur will know Pope Joan, a fixture in the cafe scene for awhile. Matt Wilkinson is the co-owner and chef, formerly of Circa, and here we have his very first cookbook. About vegetables. For the guy who is responsible for a cafe I’ve personally been whigned to about for its serious lack of vegetarian options it struck me as an intriguing choice. “A cookbook to celebrate the seasons” is a catchy sub-title however and this book is set out really nicely. Chapters are devoted to each of Wilkinson’s 24 favourite vegetables* and there’s a double page spread at the start telling you a little about its subject. Varying from “Growing” to “Preparing” to “How to Avoid Getting Stung” this information is exactly what you need to know about an ingredient you rarely use or maybe haven’t even heard of. And you’ll definitely learn something about the history and varieties of some of your old favourites too. From horseradish to corn and nettle to radishes there is a wealth of vegetarian meals and side dishes that will keep you full and inspired, for a long while. And there are some optional meat additions thrown in making this not simply a ‘vegetarian cookbook’ but a cookbook with lots of vegetables. You’ll never have meat and 3 veg again. A lovely publication, hardback, $50.
*Yes, this is a man with TWENTY FOUR favourite vegetables.
I had a go at making the logically named “Some Different Beans As A Salad” which was easy to make and really tasty! The dressing is what makes it, I recommend making it a bit ahead of time as the dressing sort of soaks into the beans with time. Delicious. As it says in the book it is excellent the next day too! I would also add extra canellini beans next time…but I really like canellini beans.
The Sweet Life by Kate Bracks, HB $49.95
For those of you with a sweet tooth, 2011 Masterchef winner Kate Bracks provides the perfect cookbook to tempt you.
Over 200 pages of mouth-watering sweet treats of varying difficulties beckon. The book is organised into sections such as Syrups & Sauces, Ice-creams & Sorbets and Pastry among others.
From the basics of a really yummy Chocolate Cake or Apple Pie to beyond the basics such as Buttered Popcorn Ice-cream with bitter caramel and salted almond crumb or Rhubarb & Vanilla Semi-freddo, Kate’s book delivers variety and quality.
A lovely hardback gift for Masterchef fans or dessert fanatics!