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| 29 November 2016 | Reply

Simon & Schuster Australia – rrp$39.99
August 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 /10


Excepting what Whaite terms the “essentials” – oil, butter, salt, pepper, water – this book attempts to create a collection of ‘perfect’ recipes which only use five ingredients.

To some, this is a sacrilege – certainly many chefs around the country, and perhaps the world, could do with a lesson in simple flavours which perfectly complement fresh ingredients, to detract from the muddied dishes they create with all the confused pretentious panache they can muster. All too often it’s this cheffy wankery which detracts from a night out at an otherwise nice restaurant.

Whaite, in fact, hits the nail on the head in his introduction when he declares that “food at home isn’t perfect, and that’s what is perfect about it.” Home cooking is simple, often handed down from generation to generation. It utilises one or two star ingredients, and the rest of the players are there to serve them.

It’s a basic simplicity which has long been understood and embraced in my home kitchen, and on my catering menus: K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Right now, no doubt some of you are reading this horrified, thinking “it’s not possible to use ONLY five ingredients to create special meals!!!!” But you’re so very wrong.

By leaving items OUT of a dish, you have the luxury of focussing on simplicity – and your palate will rejoice at the bursts of simple flavour to be found in something as straightforward as a brunch dish of fried eggs amongst a crashed mess of butcher’s sausages, capsicums, spring onions and Manchego cheese. Garlic, anchovy & olive flatbreads are not only easy and delicious, but they are evocative of far away and exotic lands. Puttanesca-style Monkfish stew is the very best of what ‘peasant food’ stands for. Cod with pineapple salsa and a warm salad of Lamb cutlets with potatoes, figs and sherry prove that restaurant-quality dishes can be made with only five ingredients.

I once enjoyed one of the best meals of my life on a hillside in Beaujolais, France. Overlooking vineyards that stretched for miles and miles, a few of us tore chunks of bread off a fresh baguette, sliced up a block of farmer’s cheese with my Swiss army knife, and smeared on a locally made chutney of some sort. Magic food doesn’t need to come from a restaurant, and it certainly doesn’t need a dozen fancy ingredients all vying for your attention. All it needs is fresh, natural produce and a loving touch. Well, having those you love with you to enjoy it just makes it taste so much sweeter.

Category: Book Reviews

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