Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
Just when I had made a firm commitment not to get another cookbook, along came Cook and Feast by Audra Morrice. Now, I had no prior knowledge of Ms Morrice, but I can say, without a doubt, that I will be following her work in future. This beautiful hardback book (190 x265 cm), with stunning photography, is Audra’s collection of recipes from many cultures. It is all about colour and flavour!
Some people are just clever, and Audra Morrice seems to come from a long line of clever! Audra’s mother thought nothing of cooking for up to one hundred people, she was ‘the epitome of both skilled chef and charming host’. The most valuable thing Audra learnt from her mother was the importance of organization; from start to finish everything is planned in great detail. Audra continues to follow this strategy whether cooking for family or running her catering business. Consequently, the first few pages detail hints on how to be organized. Most helpful are the instructions on how to prepare a whole menu for a dinner party. Starting two days prior to the party she takes readers step-by-step from designing a beautiful table setting to the last dessert dish. She even factors in time to dress up, be glamorous, relax and have a drink! So, Cook and Feast has fabulous recipes and a lesson in economy of effort. Wonderful!
There are just so many delicious recipes it is hard to know where to start. Audra suggests a basic rule of thumb is to cook by cuisine, so there is a compliment of flavours. Selecting all Chinese, Indian or Italian dishes will ensure a good blend of flavours until you come to understand the groups of flavours that make up a cuisine and what can sit in between.
The contents are grouped as: Meats; Seafood; Greens; Grains; Tofu and Noodles; Condiments; and Baked Goods and Desserts. Audra heads up each recipe with her personal history of the dish, the culture it is from and preparation time. Many cultures are represented, there are recipes from: Indonesia, China, India, Singapore, Peru, Korea, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Malaysia, many of the desserts are from Europe.
I had to fly out to my local Asian spice shop and get a few esoteric ingredients – kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce), belacan (shrimp paste), mirin, dou ban jiang (fermented chilli bean sauce), grape molasses, date molasses and pomegranate molasses. Just buying these ingredients made me feel like I was a competent cook!
I picked out ‘Orange-Glazed Roast Chicken with Brown Rice and Quinoa Stuffing’ to get started, because it was super easy and, as it turned out, super tasty. This is a fabulous recipe, lots of accolades from greedy friends, who browsed through Cook and Feast and put in a request for Indian Slow-Roasted Spiced Lamb’ for the following week. Have not yet cooked from the fish section but when I do ‘Tamarind Chilli Crispy-Skin Salmon with Green Mango Herb Salad’ will be the first on the list and the second must-do, is Audra’s version of her mother’s ‘Home-Style Hokkien Mee Goreng’,
There are too many fabulous recipes in the ‘Baked Goods and Desserts’ section to mention. But I will say that Audra presents the great dessert recipes. I had great success with the ‘Cranberry and Pistachio Cookies’. I’m not the best biscuit cook so from now on these will be my go-to biscuit. Great flavour, the cranberries really zing, and the pistachios provide lovely crunchy biscuit texture, not overly sweet, so healthier. A small sample of other recipes on offer in this section are: – ‘Pear, Blueberry and Honey Cream Cheese Cake’, Flourless Vanilla Almond Cake, and ‘Macadamia, Apricot & Thyme Tart’.
In Cook and Feast Audra Morrice has given aspiring cooks a complete book of delicious dishes and many years of good eating.
By Audra Morrice
ISBN: 789814 189903