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Simple, fresh flavours
on 7 March 2011
Bill Granger reminds me of Nigel Slater in many ways, the same relaxed, informal attitude to cooking. I was not surprised to find that many of the books/authors listed in Bill's Library of cookery books which have inspired him also appear in Nigel Slater's bibliographies - Marcella Hazan, Elizabeth David, Claudia Roden, Alice Waters, Patricia Wells.
The book is divided into meals rather than following a 'starters, mains, desserts' format. It starts off with breakfast, although Bill's version of breakfast is much more elaborate than mine, except on special occasions. Indeed some of the recipes I would use as light desserts or lunches rather than for breakfast. Recipes include white peaches in rose-water syrup, crepes with ricotta filling & bitter orange sauce, potato cakes with smoked salmon & mustard dressing, gorgeous choc banana bread, French toast with fresh berry sauce (simple to make but a bit special and a great way to use up a berry glut in the summer).
Moving on to lunch, you will find poached chicken & asparagus salad; rare tuna salad with fennel & lemon dressing; prawn & avocado salad; crispy potato cakes with Greek salad; honey roast duck breast with orange salad; zucchini fritters with yoghourt sauce and crispy-skinned salmon with fresh noodle salad & soy dressing.
For afternoon tea there is apple & blueberry shortcake, mandarin & almond cake, plum & vanilla cake, coconut blackberry slice, peach & vanilla cake with custard, white chocolate cheesecake served with a passion fruit pulp, buttermilk cake with raspberry syrup and very nice lime slice that is simple to make and a bit different.
Finally, the chapter covering dinners includes recipes such as spicy tomato & fennel soup; corn fritters with sweet chilli sauce; individual lasagne with ricotta, zucchini & tomato; garlic prawns; saffron rice with prawns (in essence a simplified paella); grilled lamb with warm chickpea salad; lemon & parsley crusted fish with garlic mash; grilled chicken with spicy coconut sauce; veal cutlets with tomato, capers & polenta; lemon chicken with warm lentil salad; baked risotto with zucchini, tomato & parmesan; cannelloni with fresh tomato sauce; parmesan-crusted fish with braised potatoes & peas; meringue with fresh cream & blueberries; lemon mousse; champagne jelly with white peach salad (a very elegant summer dessert), and rustic cherry tart.
This is uncomplicated food with lovely fresh flavours, involving quick and simple preparation. Occasionally ingredients betray the author's Australian origins e.g. the parmesan-crusted fish recipe specifies blue-eye which won't be available in the UK but another firm white fish can be substituted. It is also fair to say that this sort of food is better suited to a British summer than a cold winter.