Yes, it’s true. I hate to admit it. I know I am alone with this one. I am not keen on MasterChef. There, I have said it and, strangely, I feel better for getting it out in the open. Having said that I should confess that this companion book to the show, MasterChef at Home, is a winner.
I have reviewed many books of recipes by home cooks. I am always astonished that civilians can cook to such a high standard. Not everyone included between these covers is a Grand Final winner but they are all excellent cooks with flair and imagination. Some contestants from the Professionals’ competition are featured here as well.
MasterChef at Home offers 200 of the best recipes from the series and they cover starters, main courses and desserts, with a few appropriate masterclasses from the experts along the way. It’s a cookbook to suit all degrees of talent but at least the novice cook will be supported in the knowledge that the inspiration for this book was ordinary folk with, for the most part, no formal training.
Lime and Chilli Salmon with Crème Fraîche on Black Pepper Oatcakes is a bit of a mouthful but a delicious one. Alex Rushmer was a 2010 finalist and this is his simply-prepared dish. Only 20 minutes preparation time and 10 minutes for cooking. This is a perfect summer lunch, and salmon is very reasonably priced these days.
Perhaps we are a bit optimistic with thoughts of balmy summer alfresco meals, so my second pick of the book is a heart-warming plate of Beef and Chorizo with Horseradish Mash and Roasted Rosemary Dumplings. This was presented by Dick Strawbridge who was a 2010 Celebrity Finalist. Only 20 minutes of preparation again but 3 to 4 hours of cooking time. You don’t have to hover while the casserole is cooking so this is ideal entertaining fare for cold winter nights. All the work is done before your guests arrive.
Natalie Brenner has penned a recipe for a dessert that is so good that one knows what it will taste like before the first spoonful reaches the expectant palate – Banana Soufflé with Blueberry Coulis. Such a simple and clean concept that I wonder why I have not tasted one before. Whilst the blueberry coulis is a marvellous foil for the banana I would think that there could be other flavour permutations that would work to create a different impact from that same soufflé. Rich chocolate ice cream or a toffee sauce would also work well. The star is the banana soufflé.
MasterChef at Home is a comfortable book. It has simple recipes and more technically taxing ones, but the reader is assured that they will work in a domestic kitchen. I have enjoyed the book immensely and the contributors are to be praised. Thoughtful recipes with a few surprises. A must-have for any fan of the series but equally for those who want to push the envelope of their own home cooking.
MasterChef at Home
Published: Dorling Kindersley
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018