Good Reading : August 2007
AUGUST 2007 ı goodreading 41 REVIEWED BY MEG THOMASON food & wine word of mouth Pete Evans is not only a television chef and the man behind the trio of smart Sydney eateries called Hugo’s, but also a man who lives for surfing and fishing. Fish, the book, goes with his new TV series of the same name but has much more longlasting value than that might suggest. Evans has poured his solid first-hand knowledge of just about every fish and shellfish of our region into a wealth of inspiring recipes that lift quite simply cooked fish to another level by giving it great companions.These range from imaginative combinations of fresh produce to easy but brilliant sauces, dressings, relishes and butters to risottos, polenta, pasta and a splendid salt-cod mash.There are good ideas for main or first courses, barbecues, light meals and snacks, and also an invaluable section giving an a–z of fish and shellfish: when each is at its best, whether it comes in different varieties, the different names under which it may be sold, and how to choose, handle and cook it. Seasoned fish cooks will love this book and the less experienced will find it just the clever and encour- aging book they need. Admired British food columnist and cookbook author Lindsey Bareham has made rather a speciality of after-work entertaining, having written weekly columns on the subject for both the London Telegraph and The Times. Her proposal in Dinner in a Dash is that you can produce a guest-worthy three-course meal for six in just one hour after you get home, and she gives 50 menus, all of which she herself has cooked, with recipes and work plans, divided into blocks of 15 minutes, to prove it. The menus include soups, roasts, a potato- topped salmon, prawn and spinach pie, a mezze spread and tarts both sweet and savoury. Short-cuts such as ready-made pastry shells and sauces are part of the deal, but Australian readers would need to check the ready-mades and, if necessary, have a home- prepared equivalent on hand: for instance, Bareham relies a lot on canned fried onion, which I don’t think we can get here.Whether you could really make any or all of these dinners in just an hour depends, of course, on your natural work pace and the efficiency of your kitchen, but even if you don’t come in under the 60 minutes, this is a goldmine of ideas for every time-poor host. In The Pig, the Olive & the Squid, wine writer Greg Duncan Powell turns his attention to peasant foods – the frugal, nourish- ing ingredients which have sustained the poor for many generations. As well as the ig, the olive nd, perhaps urprisingly, the squid (‘for the creative, cash- strapped cook,’ he says, ‘this ugly, intelligent cephalopod is a boon’), there are chapters on The Legume, The Chicken, The Sheep and The Cow (the economical bits), The Vegetable (cabbage, cauliflower and potato),The Lemon, The Apple and, most important, The Grape, which supplies the wine that makes the simplest meal a delight. The recipes range from utterly simple soups and pastas to richly flavoursome beans and lentils, rustic meat dishes and lemony and appley cakes and desserts, with advice on the style of wine to drink with each one and loads of history and basic infor mation packed into each chapter. ‘If you never had an Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Indian, French (or any other non-Anglo nationality) grandmother to take you in hand and show you the ancient secrets of her kitchen, and you like to drink wine with food, this is the book for you,’ says Duncan Powell, and he makes his point well. Fish | Pete Evans ★★★★ Murdoch Books $34.95 Dinner in a Dash | Lindsey Bareham ★★★ Quadrille $39.95 The Pig, the Olive & the Squid | Greg Duncan Powell ★★★ Murdoch Books $36.95 www.goodreadingmagazine.com Find a book event happening near you!