As I mentioned in my last post, there are currently plenty of new cookbooks available for gift-giving and a few of them have found their way into our house (none of the ones from my wish-list, I hasten to add!). A cookbook is really a no-brainer gift for anybody even vaguely interested in food and those available seem to cover every possible field of food interest. Neither of the following two are books I would have necessarily chosen for myself and I have been very pleasantly surprised by both of them!
The first is restaurateur and TV chef Miguel Maestre’s “Miguel’s Tapas“, published by New Holland Publishers, Australia. Miguel Maestre is a Spanish-born Australian chef who got here the long way – via Scotland – and worked in some of Sydney’s best kitchens before opening his own restaurant, El Toro Loco, in Manly. He hails from the agricultural region of Murcia in Spain and an immediate and extended family practice which embraced the local food traditions and fostered his passion and skill. This book stars the tapas, or “little dishes”, approach to Spanish food that sits so very well with the relaxed and informal Australian way of life and dining. The recipes are divided into meals, rather than courses, beginning with breakfast and ending with evening snacks, with sections in the back devoted to some of the basics of tapas dining and a glossary of terms. Ranging from a simple, but sublime, three ingredient recipe for garlic prawns to the stunning Maestre family recipe for paella or a modern,deconstructed take on a Spanish omelette, the recipes in this book provide a brilliant and accessible window on this congenial food custom.
New Holland publish a diverse range of quality non-fiction and pride themselves on their design standards – as is immediately obvious when looking at this book. Competitively priced, this coffee-table edition is beautifully produced in hardback with gold page edging and is filled with gorgeous full-page photo’s of the food, the restaurant, the chef and his staff. If tapas tempts – go for it!
Before I go any further, I really must make a confession. I have never watched a full episode of “MasterChef”. I have caught glimpses of it and watched short sections, but never sat down from “go to whoa” for a whole show. Of course, I am aware of how enormously successful it has been and, having met some of the contestants, I am also aware of how life-changing it has been for them so I was fairly interested to see how a competitive cooking show would translate into a book.
I can certainly see how “MasterChef Australia Volume Two: The Cookbook”, published by Harper Collins, will be an indispensable book for the millions of followers who became so absorbed in this extraordinary television phenomenon. The winner of Masterchef 2010, Adam Liaw, opens the book with a foreward that is both modest and sincere and this is followed by a brief introduction to each of the remarkably varied 24 finalists.
Rich in photographs of the contestants, the judges, the guest chefs, the challenges and the wonderful food that was produced by this talented group of amateurs, this will be a winner in anyone’s Xmas stocking this year. Each of the contestants shares both some of their special moments and their best recipes and the book is dotted with helpful and practical tips and suggestions. Also included are the recipes for such milestones as Zumbo’s notorious macaron tower – even I heard about that! – and the ultimate challenge from Peter Gilmore – the Guava and custard apple snow egg!
If you are one of the many devoted fans of MasterChef and would like to win a copy of “MasterChef Australia Volume Two: The Cookbook” and indulge in some holiday reading and cooking, then you are in luck. I have a copy to give away and for your chance to win it, all you need to do is to leave a comment below with your favourite impression from the show, to give me an idea of what I missed! This competiton is open to readers from any country, too. If you are not in Australia, share with me your favourite moments from your own country’s version of “MasterChef”! I will announce the winner on Monday, January 3, 2011 and will get it into the post for you that week.
So let me hear from you all – what was it about “MasterChef” that you loved best of all?