The author of The Heart of the Home, Julie Goodwin, was Australia’s first MasterChef winner. Now I guess that will probably mean more to you than me as I don’t watch that programme – not even the UK version. Yes, I do appreciate the talent of the competing wannabe chefs, but it’s the presenters I have a problem with.
Julie has penned a family cookbook. There are plenty of those out there and many of them seem to miss the mark by presenting dishes that are just, well, too cheffy. Unless your Granny was a chef your family recipes will be reasonably simple affairs that evoke memories rather than an urge to go and buy a Sous Vide – that’s a water bath to us mortals. Julie avoids all those posing pretentions and offers us food that we could honestly make for the family.
The Heart of the Home has dishes for those with real lives. Plenty for ‘im (or ‘er) and the kids, but lots for when the in-laws are around, and others for when people you like drop by. A raft of comforting puds as well as smart desserts. There are traditional roasts and pies along with some oriental nibbles. Julie’s recipes reflect the way we eat today and more importantly the way we cook today.
‘Tis the season to be making sausage rolls and Julie offers a filling that’s a bit more flavoursome than my habitual sausagemeat. A few extra spices make a big difference but the method for forming those bites is just the same as it’s always been. An alternative to the sausage rolls might be Thai-style Fish Cakes which will give the non-meat eater something to munch for a change; or Greek Spinach Pastries for those who are not keen on fish.
Oven-fried Chicken is practical and economic. I do confess to enjoying spicy fried chicken. Hot, comforting and moreish but I know it’s unhealthy and laden with guilt; Julie’s version is baked rather than fried, and could become your new regular Saturday night TV dinner. The results are superb with crispy coating and moist chicken.
White Christmas sounds an unlikely title for an Australian recipe but here it is. It’s neither a frozen dessert nor a dish of reindeer meat in a cream sauce. This White Christmas is a bejewelled candy of white chocolate, puffed rice, coconut and dried fruits along with marshmallows. This makes a change from the regular dark chocolate truffles and the kids can help with the mixing. This would make a lovely gift for anyone with a sweet tooth.
The Heart of the Home is a charming book with dishes you really can imagine yourself cooking. There are blank pages at the back for you to add your own latest favourite and a pocket for storing those recipes snipped from the Sunday papers. A book to keep in the kitchen and to use.
The Heart of the Home
Author: Julie Goodwin
Published by: Random House Australia
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018