His hope in writing this lovely cookbook was “that this book helps you cook, inspires you to buy quality ingredients and makes you want to cook for your friends and family.”
Yes thank you Mr. Perry – it does!
The over 100 different recipes for Friday night, Saturdays and Sundays – a daring division – range from Eastern to Western culinary influences and are typical of multicultural cooking in Australia. And that variety is what makes the book most attractive in my eye. There is fish, meat, vegetable, dessert, cake and even a recipe for making Pimm’s from scratch.
The vision of this cookbook to be a guide for those who like to get together on weekends and cook, including helpful notes and a good dash of honesty – works. The photos are simple and unpretentious; they perfectly suit the book, radiating the atmosphere of “normal” weekend cooking situations with good cheer and dirty dishes. The food looks delicious without seeming over-styled.
I cooked two recipes from the book to ensure its “cookability”, one sweet and one savory meat dish.
Spiced pork braised with prunes and apricots – page 57 – a nice braise with fruit to compliment the meat – it was good and the mixture of ingredients was simple and pleasing – I needed to only “tweek” the sauce with some cornstarch to bind it – but that can happen with any recipe since it depends really on the meat. I served it as recommended with soft polenta, which fitted perfectly with the polenta soaking up the fruity sauce.
The sweet dish I made was the Greek-style custard tart – a Greek breakfast cake that we had driven an extra 20 minutes daily to pick up fresh from the bakery oven when vacationing in Rhodos a few years ago. A cake I have been wanting to make since then but hadn’t found an approachable recipe for. Well here was my chance and it was well worth the wait. The semolina filling is to die for and the combination with the puff pastry and cinnamon sugar was perfect. This is not a light affair, but it is delicious warm as a breakfast/brunch dish or for afternoon coffee when you are only planning a light dinner.
Easy Weekends is a down-to-earth, hands-on cookbook for hearty eating well balanced with a variety of lighter appetizers and fish or seafood-based salads, vegetable dishes and all types of desserts.
It covers most meats (beef, pork, lamb, no veal), poultry with chicken and duck, and a good selection of fish and seafood. Egg dishes include i.e. poached egg variations and breakfast pancakes. The desserts and cakes are simple to make and you can choose from luscious creams, ice-cream, tarts, puddings and fresh fruit combinations.
The cookbok offers several complete menu suggestions or special occasion combinations:
- Summer celebration menu for 12
- Spring feast menu for 8
- Asian banquet menu for 8
So, any criticism you ask?
Well if you are the sort of person who likes tight and precise organized food categories in your cookbook this may not be the book for you.It tends to go back and forth between all courses and styles since the classification division is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
However, since I like to cook extemporaneously and “trawling” through cookbooks letting my fancy be tickled, is my thing – the order be damned. If this is your approach too, you’ll love it.
I let my foodie husband take a look at the book to get his reaction and he spontaneously said what he liked most was the international mixture of dishes represented in one cookbook. He thougth the recipes semmed simple and easy to make. It is a book he would readily use on his own as a less-experienced cook.
The bottom line:
This book is a great book to give as a gift as it is perfect for friends, families or large groups that get together and commonly decide what they feel like eating for the weekend. It is also perfect if you just let the pictures and recipes inspire you as to what to cook for a food-focused weekend in larger groups. And it will be avaibale as of Valentines Day! hint, hint….
It is furthermore helpful for less experienced cooks seeking more confidence and new dishes.
As Neil Perry says: “Nothing in life is more beautiful to me that sharing a meal with the people I love, it is what I live for.”
Yes it is and it is well reflected here.
The author’s suggestions on becoming a better cook are also worth taking note of: “If you enjoy it, simply cook more often and take notice of what you do. Every time you cook you can learn something – everyday. If you can be bothered jot it down.”
He concludes with: “Happy cooking is about memory, love, happiness and life.”
And I say: amen to that!
Notes from the Media Release by Murdoch Books UK:
Easy Weekends, by Neil Perry, Publication date: 14th February 2013, Hardback, £20
P.S. I received this cookbook from Murdoch Books UK with the media release letter – all comments are mine exclusively and were not remunerated or influenced in any way.