Masterchef’s Gary Mehigan introduces his new book Favourites

Favourites

by Gary Mehigan

Sometimes it strikes me that my obsession with food is bordering on the unhealthy. Everything I do is centred around it: my work, obviously, but also evenings at home spent cooking for the family, watching food programs on television and tweeting and facebooking about food. Going to the growers’ market bright and early on a Saturday morning, followed by breakfast at a cafe, then same again on Sunday. Dinners out, too many coffee stops, long drives in the country that strangely enough always end with a food reward (cheese, chocolate or wine from the Yarra Valley; berries, cherries and olives from the Mornington Peninsula; or beer, bread and honey from Beechworth). I mean, who drives seven kilometres for a tub of the best, freshly churned ice cream? These are the forgotten food miles.

Holidays are worse. My first thoughts are always ‘Where haven’t I eaten?’ and ‘Where would I like to eat again?’ Whether it’s France, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam or New Zealand, the pattern is the same and, frankly, inescapable for my family. We went to Tuscany for our last holiday so I could visit the Amedei chocolate factory. I mean, you’ve seen one duomo, you’ve seen ‘em all, right?

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

My wife, Mandy, has succumbed to the inevitable (my daughter, bless her cotton socks, doesn’t know any different). ‘Any chance we can go out for a change?’ Mandy might ask. ‘What!’ I reply. ‘We go out four or five times a week, always trying the latest thing.’ ‘No,’ she says, ‘out, but not involving food. Maybe dancing, the pictures, a walk, the ballet or a museum?’ I’m still digesting that one!

Now and then I wonder if I should be doing something else with my time, like learning to play tennis or finally nailing my conversational French instead of making do with my culinary pidgin. But, on the whole, I’ve come to accept that my obsession with food is all – encompassing, and that’s the way I like it. I’m never happier than when I’m thinking about food, talking about food, shopping for food or eating. I love the generosity of spirit that comes with being a cook: feeding people and feeding them well, often to bursting point. Years ago I very deliberately stopped trying to draw a line in the sand to distinguish between work and play, and now I live by the motto ‘Always working, always playing’. This has helped me manage my condition considerably.

Not only do I love experiencing all that a good food life has to offer, but I also relish sharing my experiences and knowledge with others. For this, my fourth cookbook, I was inspired to sit down and write a list of my favourite dishes: absolutely everything I love to eat. I thought back to the meals of my childhood as well as those from my early career as a chef in London. I thought of the food I cook for my wife and daughter at home that have become family classics. And I thought of the wealth of amazing dishes from talented cooks and chefs, both here and abroad, that I have been lucky enough to try over the years as co – host of MasterChef Australia. As the list ballooned to over 200 dishes, I had to restrain myself! After much deliberation, I whittled it down to just over 100, and here they are – my all – time favourite dishes.

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

This is a diverse collection. I was classically trained in French cuisine, and there is no getting away from the fact that I love French cooking – the flavours are bold, satisfying and familiar. By contrast, living in Australia we are inescapably immersed in the pleasures of food multiculturalism; we think nothing of eating Thai or Chinese on a Monday night, Malay or Vietnamese on a Tuesday, maybe Spanish or North African on a Wednesday and roast chook on a Thursday. We love fresh food, we love sweet, sour, salt and heat and, above all, crunch. How lucky we are.

Good food always starts with good shopping – it’s where the inspiration begins. We are all guilty of trudging around the supermarket and putting exactly the same things in the shopping trolley each week (you know what I mean: skinless chicken breasts, lamb chops, a block of cheddar and some tinned tuna). It’s easy, let’s face it – but it’s pretty uninspiring too. I’ve found the secret to creative cooking at home is to buy at least a few different fruits or vegetables, cuts of meat, fish, spices, pastes or vinegars, get them home and have a go at a new recipe or two each week. I also find that a trip to the local Asian grocer always turns up a few surprises; things that add instant authenticity to a dish, like thick dark soy sauce, coconut vinegar, lily buds, black beans or rice noodles. Pop them in your basket and they’ll change the dishes you put on the family table.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a growers’ market, make the most of it. The stallholders are a wonderful source of information because they live what they do, and most often they love it too! You’ll easily fall into a pattern of buying the best the season has to offer. When a particular ingredient looks fantastic, seems to be everywhere at once and is at its cheapest, buy it and eat lots of it!

I hope this book is a little window into my life of food. Have fun, and remember to bite off small chunks of recipes, give yourself time to chew and always leave room for more. In other words, never get frustrated in the kitchen, take a little time if you are tackling something out of the ordinary and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Cook, Eat and Live Your Life Well!

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

I Eat Therefore I Cook : Guest Blogger, MasterChef’s Matt Preston asks, ‘What’s in a Name?’

The hardest thing about writing this book – that’s “Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes” by the way – wasn’t writing the recipes but on deciding the title. As this is a recipe book for people who like to eat, and who have to cook, perhaps I should have called it I Eat Therefore I Cook as one smart twitter follower suggested.

It is certainly a better title than Great Food Isn’t Posh Food which is my motto and one of the great truths about eating but is hardly inspiring. And way, way better than my original idea; Quick, Simple and Cheap! which I liked because it not only ended with a “!” but, also neatly refers to both me and to the recipes that you’ll find in the book. You see, if working for magazines like “delicious” and for the “Taste” section in your favourite metro newspaper has taught me anything it’s that if a recipe isn’t easily achievable, affordable and minimum fuss for maximum flavour then you and me just aren’t going to make it.

The actual title “Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes” does capture what the book is about as it is about how to make the best stuff I eat at home but it is also one big lie. Actually there are well over 100 recipes (well, actually it’s about 203 but who’s counting – well, other than some poor intern at the publisher’s!) using some of Australia’s favourite ingredients that are common from Albany and Ballarat to Cooktown and Darwin. This is affordable, easily-achievable, and delicious food that I hope you’ll want to try – and then cook again and again.

In fact, that’s really the only selection criteria for the recipes that made it into the book – that these are the things I love to cook regularly at home for my friends and family; and that they love to eat! And there are rather a lot of them because like I said… I like to eat and I like to eat well.

I promise that these recipes are free of any cheffy trickery unless it’s a wheeze or tip that will help you do something quicker or more easily. Oh, and you won’t need to fill up the tank to take a tedious trip around town searching out expensive, hard to find ingredients either. Here you’ll find great, easy and sometimes surprising recipes for using such much-loved staples such as mince, salmon, chicken wings, lamb chops, eggs, veg, and supermarket ice cream. You’ll also find great suggestions on how to lift everything from your chocolate brownies and banana bread to Bolognese or a favourite soup to new levels of flavour and texture with smart tips on how to accessorise or improve those familiar dishes. There’s also a really good meatloaf recipe.

Here is not the place to find recipes for preparing eel, making dusts of obscure forest mushrooms (that you have to forage for, obviously) or recipes that begin “please start this dish four days before you want to eat it”.

No, here are ideas for lunch, tea & dinner that you can throw together within minimum fuss for maximum impact. These are recipes for home cooks written by a home cook who actually cooks them at home, which I suppose makes this book a bit of a rarity these days! Even better, you’ll probably already have all the ingredients in the fridge or cupboards. (I’d say “pantry” rather than “cupboards” but I’m worried that if I do this might let slip the mask that hides my “Downton Abbey” delusions.)

So basically the best title for this book would have been Home Guide to Cooking Most of the Stuff that Most of Us like to Cook. Oh, and Using Readily Available Ingredients And Which Can Be Cooked Without The Need To Equip Your Kitchen with $8k of Lab Equipment. The trouble is that 38 word book titles went out in the 19th century so “Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes” it is!

So here’s the pitch: From the novice to the innovative cook, this book is destined to live above the fridge to provide inspiration and illumination for Australian cooks of all levels. Please buy it and feel free to stain the pages with your favourite recipes. I will take this as the greatest compliment. And please feel free to copy out your favourite recipe and pass it on to a friend. Recipes should be shared with an open hand; for only when you give away a recipe does it truly become “yours”.

Matt Preston, thank you very much for being a guest blogger
on the Booktopia Blog 

You may buy a copy of Matt’s bookHome Guide to Cooking Most of the Stuff that Most of Us like to Cook. Oh, and Using Readily Available Ingredients And Which Can Be Cooked Without The Need To Equip Your Kitchen with $8k of Lab Equipment

AKA > Matt’s Preston’s 100 Best Recipes - HERE

Matt Preston is a food journalist, restaurant critic, television personality and passionate home cook. He writes a national column for the Taste section for all News Ltd’s metropolitan papers. Best known as a judge on MasterChef Australia since 2009, Preston currently writes for delicious and MasterChef magazines. A keen home-cook, Matt Preston has written recipes for Delicious, MasterChef magazine and Taste for several years, taking home classics and adding his own Preston twist, bringing a whole new world of flavour to the everyday.

Click here to buy Matt’s Preston’s 100 Best Recipes from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Merle’s Kitchen by Merle Parrish (Loved her on MasterChef AUSTRALIA!)

Newest MasterChef sensation, and Country Women’s Association cake champion’s secrets shared!

One of life’s simple pleasures is the lingering aroma of a freshly baked cake, especially one you have made yourself. Cooks everywhere are rediscovering the satisfaction that comes from old-fashioned baking at home. And in this delectable world of cakes, scones, sponges and puddings, one home cook stands out from all the rest-Merle Parrish.

Merle is the latest MasterChef sensation, winning the judges’ admiration for her impeccable technique and near-perfect cakes. She has been competing from the age of 7 in state cookery competitions, and became a judge herself in 1988 when she completed her Country Women’s Association Judges’ Certificate. At 78 she shows no sign of relinquishing her crown.

Now she shares some of her prize-winning recipes in this irresistible book: her famous Peach Blossom Cake, her divine Chocolate Cake, her scones, tarts, slices, biscuits and sponges. With a little flour, butter, eggs and sugar, Merle creates unforgettable kitchen alchemy. Find out for yourself how to whip up some magic.

Merle lives in Cudal, near Orange in NSW, and continues to compete in shows. She recently won the inaugural Donna Latter Memorial Trophy for Supreme Chocolate Cake.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER MERLE’S WONDERFUL BOOK FROM BOOKTOPIA

About the Author

Merle Parrish is the 78-year-old newest sensation to come out of MasterChef. A supreme cake baker for more than 70 years, Merle has won just about every prize there is to win in the competitive baking world. Merle lives in Cudal, near Orange, in northern NSW, where she still competes regularly in CWA competitions. She recently won the inaugural Donna Latter Memorial Trophy for her Supreme Chocolate Cake.

SuperChef AUSTRALIA: A Parody by Ben Pobjie

A hilarious parody of Australia’s most successful tv cooking phenomenon

From the cooking show to end all cooking shows, comes the book of the show that makes all other books of shows look feeble and pointless. Finally fans of the worldwide ultra-smash SuperChef can take the essence of the program home in handy book form, preserving the experience of history’s greatest-ever televised cooking competition for all eternity. (buy a copy here)

SEE the backstage secrets behind the making of the most successful television show in the history of the universe.

DISCOVER what makes a cooking show judge tick-is it greed, or just anger?

GET TO KNOW the contestants in terrifyingly intimate detail.

LEARN how to cook like a SuperChef, if that’s really what you want.

Packed with helpful kitchen hints, signature recipes from the stars of the program, and fun activities for the whole family, SuperChef: The Book is perfect for foodies, aspiring chefs, and obsessive reality-show fans alike. Catch the kitchen-fever today!*

‘SuperChef is the one show I make all my apprentices watch-it’s the only way they’ll learn’ – Marco Zatapathique, head chef, L’Oiseau Deprime

‘SuperChef is so good that every time I watch it I am crushed beneath the weight of my own inadequacy’ – Helen O’Gortigan, host of Heating it Up with Helen

‘Superchef is the only valid reason to live’ – Charlie Stanwick, inventor of the chicken parmigiana

* Book does not actually cause fever (buy a copy here)

About Ben Pobjie:

During Masterchef series 2, journalist Ben Pobjie built up quite a following as he vented his thoughts via Twitter during each episode each night. Starting out as an uninterested outsider, he soon found himself deeply immersed in the world of Masterchef and has now become, not only a fan but also a well-respected commentator.

Order your copy today –
click here to go through to the Booktopia online bookshop


Adam Liaw, Australia’s MasterChef 2010 and author of Two Asian Kitchens, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Adam Liaw

author of Two Asian Kitchens

Ten Terrifying Questions

—————————

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born on Penang, an island in Malaysia, and moved to Adelaide when I was very young and studied at Prince Alfred College and The University of Adelaide.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a doctor like my parents, at 18 I was in 3rd year of law school and wanted to be an intellectual property lawyer. At 30 I was an intellectual property lawyer and wanted to be a chef and author. At 32 now, releasing my first book is a dream come true.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At eighteen I thought that getting old would be easy. Every year it gets harder and harder to keep the Continue reading

Junior MasterChef Australia The Cookbook : Volume 1

Junior MasterChef Australia was a revelation to me.

I’d always assumed that it was the kids who lolled about on the couch in front of the TV while their Mum or Dad made dinner.

What a fool I have been! Kids can cook and, for some unknown reason, they seem to enjoy it!

If your family has been living the wrong way around you need to get hold of this book – Junior MasterChef Australia The Cookbook : Volume 1

Don’t mess about.

Get your kids working in the kitchen today.

And you know they’ll do it, too.  Why? Because TV told them to.

I can’t wait for Junior MasterCleaner Australia:  the little buggers might be convinced to clean the loos with a whistling enthusiasm, vacuum the carpets gleefully and take the garbage out with a smile.

Ooh, ooh… What about Junior MasterLawyer Australia. Junior MasterElectrician Australia. Junior MasterMasseuse Australia. Junior MasterBuilder Australia. Junior MasterBaker Australia. (That’s baker, with a K, my fellow dyslexic brethren.)


From the publisher:

Recipes the whole family will love: Let′s get cooking! Now you can whip up fantastic cakes, roasts and desserts just like your favourite contestants on Junior MasterChef with The Cookbook Volume 1. Featuring 90 fabulous all-new recipes for all occasions, from Mother′s Day brunch to an easy pizza party, this jam-packed book has all the ingredients to turn you into a whiz in the kitchen.

Winner of Junior MasterChef Australia:

Name: Isabella

State: Queensland

Age: 12

Specialty Dish: Ricotta Gnocchi

Least Favourite Food: Meats like brains, stomach and tongue

Game Plan: “To try my best and to cook great dishes. As long as I do my best I will be happy.”

Biography

Wanting to show Australia how passionate she is about food and cooking, Isabella auditioned for Junior MasterChef and was absolutely delighted she and her twin sister Sofia got through to the Top 12. Isabella loves cooking Italian cuisine taught by her mum as well as cooking traditional Sicilian dishes she learnt from her nonna and auntie.

Cooking since the age of five, Isabella loves experimenting with different flavours and combinations and admits she now reads recipes more closely after a dessert dish she was making ended up a savoury dish.

Isabella dreams of one day opening up her very own restaurant with her twin sister which has already been named Issofia. Isabella will be head chef and Sofia will be the manager – Isabella is so passionate about this dream that she has already started making up menus and business cards.

Order your copy of Junior MasterChef Australia The Cookbook : Volume 1click here


UPDATE:

Junior MasterChef

Series Two Cookbook

Around the World in
80 Amazing Recipes

This lively, colourful cookbook takes young cooks around the globe to explore different cuisines through simple, achievable recipes.

Each chapter – Australia, China, England, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Spain and Thailand – features step-by-step recipes with tips, tricks and shopping information, guides to ingredients and techniques specific to each cuisine, plus a cooking basics section.

This is the perfect introduction for kids (and adults!) to
a vibrant world of cooking.

Click here to order Junior MasterChef : Series Two Cookbook : Around the World in 80 Amazing Recipes from Booktopia, Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


A MasterChef Cookbook in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bookshop

The MasterChef Finale: it all came down to this…

A Guava and Custard Apple Snow Egg

…the signature dish of Quay restaurant’s executive chef, Peter Gilmore.

I thought it looked like the result of a wayward shot on the back nine, (golf joke) but my family thought it looked intricate, delicate and delicious – I quickly found that my comments weren’t appreciated. I was told that if I didn’t take the whole thing VERY seriously they were more than happy to boot me out of the room. (Like to see you try, I muttered.)(SHHHHH!!! they replied.)

Then there was a hush – the two contestants entered the ring – Australia held its breath – the two made near perfect replicas of the impossibly difficult dessert (le golf ball in le rough),  and then, after twenty five commercials and lots of shots of people with open mouths, one contestant emerged as the winner.

How many people watched? Millions. Why? Who doesn’t like to watch grown men cry, who doesn’t like incredibly long pauses, who doesn’t love food? Well? Huh?

MasterChef is so successful our nation’s leaders were forced to reschedule their little debate to ensure they didn’t clash with the MasterChef final.

What did Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard do after their minor contest? We know what they did. They Continue reading

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