Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Easy Weekends: Food by Neil Perry

 Hardback. RRP$59.99. Published by Murdoch Books.

As arguably Australia's best known chef, Neil Perry is often associated with the food served at his successful restaurants around Australia, from the flagship contemporary Australian fine diner Rockpool, to his popular Rockpool Bar & Grill steakhouses and the Asian flavours of Spice Temple. 
However this book is a celebration of cooking at home, with more than 100 recipes that focus on flavoursome food for any weekend occasion. Whether you're looking for an easy and delicious family stir-fry on a Friday night, clever ideas for Saturday dinner party menus, or preparing a slow-cooked Sunday feast for friends,you will find it in this book.

I liked Perry's introduction too - here is a sample:

I believe the healthy way to a healthy life is through a well-balanced diet comprising fresh food and variety. Noting is really bad for you in moderation. I love pork fat, but do I eat it everyday? No, of course not. Do I enjoy it as a treat in my bacon for breakfast or in an Asian stir-fry or braise? Yes, most definitely. Moderation is  the key to good eating; balance your diet with fruit, vegetable, grains,nuts, dairy and a good amount of fish. Then the big juicy steak, the chicken skin, the butter and a bit of pork fat will not hurt you. And boy oh boy is 
there flavour in those amazing ingredients.

About the author

Neil Perry is one of Australia's leading and most influential chefs. He has managed several award-winning restaurants in Australia, and today concentrates on his flagship brand, the Rockpool Group, which includes Rockpool Sydney; Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney, Melbourne and Perth; Spice Temple Sydney and Melbourne; and The Waiting Room, Melbourne. Neil has been creating menus for Qantas since 1997, redefining in-flight dining and service, and is the author of six cookbooks: Rockpool, Good Food, The Food I Love, Simply Asian, Balance & Harmony, and Rockpool Bar & Grill. Neil has been a television presenter on the LifeStyle Channel, and appeared as an Iron Chef on Iron Chef Australia.

The publishers have kindly allowed me to reproduce two recipes from the book.

King prawn and white bean salad with lemon anchovy dressing
This salad is also fantastic with lobster, crab or scallops. Instead of the beans, try chickpeas, lentils or any other pulse. Serves 8.

32 cooked king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
2 radicchio hearts, leaves separated and torn
2 x 400 g tins white beans, drained and rinsed

Lemon anchovy dressing
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 handfuls basil leaves, torn
2 handfuls mint leaves, finely chopped
1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, roughly chopped

To make the dressing, mash the anchovies, garlic and a little white pepper in a mortar with a pestle. Slowly pound in the olive oil, lemon juice and then, finally, the herbs until you have a thick green slush. Check the seasoning.
In a bowl, gently toss the radicchio with one-third of the dressing then arrange the leaves in the centre of a large platter or eight plates.
Place the beans, prawns and remaining dressing in the bowl and toss gently. Pile onto the platter or divide among the plates and sprinkle with sea salt and a grind of white pepper.
I also add blanched green beans, peas or asparagus, or braised artichokes when they’re in season.
This salad would go nicely with a wonderful aromatic wine – a very dry riesling would be my pick.
Extracted from Easy Weekends: Food by Neil Perry. RRP$59.99. Published by Murdoch Books.

Spaghetti with toasted breadcrumbs
This breadcrumb recipes is also good with a wide pasta such as fettuccine. Chilli adds great weight to the flavour of a dish. Dial it up or down depending on your love of heat. Serves 4.

400 g spaghetti
175 g fresh breadcrumbs
250 ml extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
2-3 jalapeno chillies, halved lengthways and seeded
1 small bunch tarragon, leaves picked
2 handfuls flat-leaf (Italian) parsley  leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons salted baby capers, well rinsed and drained
3 anchovy fillets
60 ml red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the breadcrumbs on a baking tray and toss with 60 ml olive oil and a little sea salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Place the chilli, herbs, garlic, capers, anchovies, vinegar and remaining olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Check the seasoning.
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for about 8 minutes or until al dente, then drain.
Place the pasta, herb mixture and three-quarters of the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and toss well. Divide among four pasta bowls and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs. Give a good grind of white pepper and serve immediately.

Extracted from Easy Weekends: Food by Neil Perry. RRP$59.99. Published by Murdoch Books.

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