Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bill's Basics

The ever-popular Australian food writer, TV chef and restauranteur, Bill Granger, brings us his new book filled with over 100 of his favourite classic dishes. From lazy breakfasts to late-night suppers to lunch for a crowd, Bill’s simplified and unfussy approach to the recipes allows one to fit some enjoyable cooking into their busy lives.

I freely admit that I’m a cook book addict, so receiving this review copy had me all excited. At first, I wasn’t sure what the recipes would include, but I was inspired when I flicked through the pages. Many of the recipes, I discovered, were things that I already cooked on a regular basis, but that did not deter me from reading them. This is the whole point of the book. I read somewhere that on average, people will cook the same three meals, week in, week out and I’m no exception.
Most people lead a hectic lifestyle and they feel as if they’re running around everywhere with very little time for preparing a meal. In Bill’s book, the recipes are straightforward, yet the results are delicious, from lamb tagine to prawn laksa, Thai beef salad to chocolate brownies, chicken burritos to crème caramel, what home cook wouldn’t want to master these?

The sumptuous photography coupled with Bill’s relaxed and reassuring style, make this a book that I’ll happily keep within easy reach, as there’s few recipes that I won’t attempt to make.

I tried out three recipes, picking ones that were closest to those I make often and they all turned out rather well. I may even be making adjustments to my own efforts in future.

Chickpea Burgers
These have to be the best veggie burgers I’ve had, with their lovely texture, crisp on the outside and soft and nutty in the middle. The Chickpea Burgers (p206) were a breeze to make as they used canned chickpeas, so no soaking and boiling for hours.
I loved Bill’s suggestion to use flat-leaved parsley as a salad leaf in the bun as it gave a very refreshing flavour. The yogurt used instead of the usual mayonnaise in regular burgers made it light and healthy too. Just a little chilli in the burger and a dribble of chilli sauce gave a satisfying kick.

Sometimes, at the weekend, I like to make Pancakes (p13) for breakfast, buttermilk pancakes are by far the best, as they have a pleasant fluffy consistency, just right for a lazy Sunday morning. I hardly ever have buttermilk in the house, something even Bill himself, points out. Bill has a very effective solution, simply add some lemon juice to the milk and let it stand for five minutes before adding to the rest of the ingredients. The milk reacts to the acid in the lemon juice and thickens.
To eat the pancakes, all that was needed was a drizzle of runny honey, some juicy blackberries and natural yogurt on the side.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana
Pasta dishes have fast become a mainstay in most home kitchens. They are quick to prepare and tasty to eat. Bill’s Bucatini all’Amatriciana (p126) is no exception, rich and tomatoey with meaty bits of pancetta clinging to the Bucatini pasta. Bucatini has now entered my list of favourites, it looks like a slightly thicker spaghetti, but has a hole down the centre. I adore its amazing texture, although you can’t suck it up like spaghetti as the hole in the middle stops that!
The sauce was exceptionally delicious with the addition of a little red wine vinegar and sugar that gave a good sweet and sour effect balancing well with the saltiness of the pancetta.

Bill’s Basics by Bill Granger is published by Quadrille.
Hardback RRP £25.00
Order yours now

Food photos: ©childsdesign 2010
Book kindly supplied by Quadrille Publishing


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