Australian chef Neil Perry, of Rockpool fame, has produced a delightful collection of impressive yet simple recipes with his attractive Good Food cookbook. The book features simple ‘anytime’ food to share with family and friends and cook in the home kitchen. Time is not the focus here, although many of the recipes are quick to prepare, with stress on the fact that sometimes good food does take time to make, but the ends results are well worth the effort.
Neil Perry suggests that the recipes are not for ‘special occasions’, but simply food you could serve up to your family mid-week that is healthy and focuses on quality ingredients. On the whole I agree that the recipes are nothing spectacular or particularly unusual if you are looking to wow dinner party guests, but the simple presentation and great flavour combinations make for impressive dishes I would happily serve to the most discerning of guests.
Good Food starts with a small selection of brunch recipes featuring simple blueberry pancakes and Zucchini fritters with a spicy tomato sauce. It then progresses to soups, a collection of cold and hot offerings with small twists and additions setting them apart from run of the mill flavours. The salad selection is also impressive with a focus on good quality cheese and seafood as key ingredients, Asian flavours and even a revamp of the classic prawn cocktail.
Good Food also offers some fantastic pie recipes, some of which feature on the Qantas Business Class menu, (and we thought the flat beds was the only reason to fork out the cash for business class!). A particular hit is the Veal and Paprika pie, with a deep smoky paprika flavoured gravy and tender slow cooked veal, all topped with a buttery puff pastry top (Neil uses bought puff, but making your own produces even better results).
The pastas are varied and feature classics such as slow cooked Spaghetti Bolognaise and lasagne to the more unusual Spaghetti with crab, tomato and raw fennel. There are also a handful of vegetarian options. As with the pasta, the risottos in Good Food range from the classic to unusual, and feature a variety of delicious flavour combinations.
High quality fish and seafood is allowed to speak for itself in the next section, with offers an array of sauces, salads and marinades, (many with an Asian feel), to accompany a wide range of fish and shellfish. Chicken and other poultry is also offered with a variety of cooking methods ranging from one pot Saffron Chicken and rice, to Pan Fried duck with cherry tomato and oregano vinaigrette.
Good Foods’ meat recipes are just as impressive, again offering a wide variety of cooking techniques and utilizing various types and cuts of meat, all with innovative accompaniments. Roast Beef with Yorkshire puddings gets an airing out, as do other classics such as Rendang Beef.
The final selection of recipes in Good Food are the desserts, which again follow the simple home cooking vibe of the book. Wholesome yet eye catching, cafe style cakes such as White Forest Cake and Lemon tart could be a fantastic finale to a relaxed dinner with friends, or a show stopping afternoon tea centre piece. While Summer Berry Parfait or chocolate pots de creme are the perfect desserts to impress.
Good Food also includes basic recipes which are required by to to accompany various dishes throughout the book. Techniques are explained clearly and recipes are set out in an easy to read, comprehensive manner. Introductions to the recipes are engaging and add Neil Perrys personal touch.
This book is perfect for the novice cook looking to learn technique and classic recipes, but also for the more seasoned home chef wanting to try new flavours, experiment with different ingredients and produce impressive, tasty and nutritious food. Be it for a quick healthy week night meal or a three course extravaganza to impress Neil Perrys’ Good Food has something to serve.