'This is a foam-free book... you won't find anything molecular in here. Open the book on any page, and if you love to cook, you'' be able to cook the recipes you find there... [they] are home cook and kitchen friendly.'
Refreshing words from one of Australia's leading chefs and restaurateurs, Luke Mangan, in the introduction to his latest cookbook, Salt Grill : fine dining for the whole family. Mangan runs eight successful restaurants, which range from casual to fine dining establishments. Each reflects his simple cooking philosophy: to source the finest and freshest local and Australian ingredients and showcase them with a contemporary twist that enhances and accentuates the natural taste of the ingredients.
Tapas and breads, soups and starters, mains, desserts, sides and basics are on the menu in this new cookbook, recipes for dishes that are designed to be shared. 'And sharing is what this book is about,' Mangan says. 'One is the Chinese way: the big plate in the middle of the table... the other is with small plate, the tapas idea, borrowed from Spain.' There are also recipes for Salt Grill signature dishes (such as Sashimi of Kingfish and Sydney Crab Omelette), as well as old favourites (like Lobster Thermidor, Salt and Pepper Squid, and Floating Islands).
In terms of breads, there's Brioche, Naan, Ginger Bread and Lavosh, among others, all with clear, concise instructions. Mangan draws on his childhood experience of enjoying freshly baked wood-fired bread and recommends that home cooks should invest in good quality kitchen scales, which he says will 'stand you in good stead when baking breads.'
Among the starters and soups are Barbecued Prawns with Avocado and Mango Salsa, one of Mangan's favourite dishes. With summer approaching, I think this fresh-flavoured dish will be a keeper for sure. There's also a Baby Vegetable and Goat's Curd Salad with a honey thyme dressing (I love that there's no 'turning' of the vegetables); and the Smoked Salmin and Potato Terrine is another that caught my attention, again the instructions are clear and concise. Mangan's Thai-style Pumpkin and Coconut Cream Soup made with French shallots, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime and macadamia nuts is also one I've flagged.
Over to the mains, the simplicity of a Baked Flathead (fillet) with Prosciutto, Tomato and Parsley is looking delicious, along with Roasted Pork Belly with Roasted Pears and Swede Mash (yum!), and Snapper Curry Pies with Raita and Mango Chutney. Many of the meat dishes can be cooked on a barbecue, making things even more achievable.
I find it hard to believe that I've turned to the desserts pages last. Here you'll find cheery sweet treats such as Lemon Sunshine Pudding, mixed Berry Fool, Mini Lemon Tarts, Affogato, Biscotti, Turkish Delight, Raspberry Marshmallows and Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding. Mangan has included recipes for his signature and apparently highly popular Salt Liquorice Parfait (which is one for the more accomplished cook, methinks), and a Pear and Cinnamon Bombe Alaska that looks and sounds amazing.
Sides are an important component of every good cook's repertoire and on this point Mangan's recipes certainly won't disappoint. There are Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Rosemary, Baked Celeriac (road tested and rated as a winner by yours truly), Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Dukkah, Roasted Potato Mash and Mushy Peas with Mint Sauce, and more. Of course, Mangan has included basics, such as Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Veal, Fish and Pork stocks, Madeira Sauce, Miso Broth, Sugar Syrups, Pastry, Pasta Dough, and Onion and Garlic Confit.
Accompanying the beautifrecipes are photographs by Adrian Lander, making this hardcover book a very fine investment.
Salt Grill : fine dining for the whole family by Luke Mangan, $59.99 (Murdoch Books). Thank you to Luke Mangan and the publicity team at Murdoch Books for giving me the opportunity to road test and review this title.
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