You’ve watched them on TV, seen them in various ads, in magazines and might have even purchased their individual cookbooks. Now Matt, Gary and George have teamed up with Penguin publishers to create a series of simple and fuss-free books featuring new and classic recipes. We’ve all heard what they had to say about their contestants’ dishes, now the tables are reversed and these chef’s dishes better be crackin’.
In true Penguin style, you’ll easily recognize the classic orange covers and the straightforward layouts, lovely illustrations and simple instructions. There are plenty of mid-week options there served up with a good dose of more elaborate offerings.
Gary Mehigan brings his comfort, tugging-at-the-heartstring kind of food (rice pudding with strawberry jam or ricotta pancakes). To my delight, he features the most delicious pumpkin soup I have ever made – impossibly simple and heartwarming. With dishes like lamb tajine and roasted red capsicum with goats cheese, he introduces a mediterranean touch although, that side of things is really left to George to handle. Overall, the influences come from the classic French and English repertoires, with coq au vin and rillettes alongside the classic roast beef.
George (Calombaris) does his mother justice with a good selection of dishes inspired by his youth although most dishes are still clearly reinterpreted with a contemporary twist. Not a lot of moussaka there but rather, combinations of various influences meshed in together, like with his baked fetta souffle with smoked almond and grape vinaigrette for instance or his rhubarb and melamakarona (a greek biscuit) crumble. The slow roasted pork belly with compressed apple uses a classic combination of flavors with added texture and visual effects and the chocolate, walnut and salty caramel tart really doesn’t need any justification. This book seems to sit comfortably in a modern Australian section with an infusion of Greek sunshine.
Finally, true to form, Matt (Moran) is the ‘chefiest’ of the lot and offers dishes that range in complexity – from a hearty mushroom risotto to a more delicate carpaccio of tuna with king prawns and daikon dressing. The influences are diverse, from Asia to the Middle East (lamb and harissa sausage roll) to South America (lamb quesadillas) and, when it comes to desserts, the incontournable France (Poire Belle Helene or raspberry tart). The presentation, while visually appealing, isn’t over the top and the emphasis remains on generous and convivial entertaining.
So, who’s going home tonight?
The Essential Ingredient Newcastle stocks a great range of recipe books taking inspiration from home and the cuisines of the world.