Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 22, 2012

Chefs of the Margaret River Region, by Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle and Lisa Hanley

As you can see from this shot of our recipe book collection chez T&L, we are not short of cookbooks.   I  cook the more traditional things from ancient recipe books which tend to be (pardon the pun) a bit battered – lime marmalade; Xmas pud and shortbread; scones, muffins and the occasional pavlova.  The Spouse (who does most of the cooking) is a more adventurous cook who likes trying out new recipes at every opportunity. The best present you can give him is a new recipe book (if you can find one he hasn’t got).

So when small publisher Margaret River Press contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing Chefs of the Margaret River Region, by Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle and Lisa Hanley of course I was interested.  The Margaret River region in Western Australia is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, and famous for its wonderful wines and fabulous food.  I expected the book to feature gorgeous photos of scrumptious dishes and spectacular scenery, and it didn’t disappoint.  Browsing through the pages made me want to pack my suitcase and take the next flight over so that I could sample the restaurants in person!

But chez T&L we expect more than that from a cookbook.  We are serious amateur cooks who don’t clutter up our limited shelving with pretty books known sometimes as ‘food porn’. We want books that are useful.  If you ask The Spouse what makes a good cookbook, his requirements are:

  • good photography that actually shows the finished food including ideas for garnishes and any steps that are tricky
  • clearly set out lists of ingredients, with ingredients that are not too difficult to obtain
  • clear and unambiguous instructions that are not too complex or time-consuming for a competent home cook, and
  • appealing, interesting, unusual recipes that are fun to cook and to eat.

It’s nice to have suggestions for accompanying wines too.

Chefs of the Margaret River Region meets all these criteria superbly.  What are we going to try first?

  • Maltese Rabbit stew (tomorrow, he says!)
  • Crispy Confit Duck with Spinach and Beetroot Salad with Persian feta and pomegranate glaze
  • Roast Barramundi with puy lentils and charred baby leek, potato fondant and jus gras (but not the smoked bone marrow, where would we get that from?  We can’t smoke anything at our place without the smoke alarms going off!)

There are only 19 recipes from the 19 chefs profiled: 5 entrées, 10 mains and 4 desserts but they are all interesting, and all the mains include those special accompaniments that you only get in restaurants but are actually quite do-able in a home kitchen.  So, for example, there is a recipe for cauliflower cream to go with the goat’s cheese soufflé; and a beetroot puree to go with the venison.  There are a couple of recipes that use marron, which isn’t legally available in Victoria (except at restaurants with a special permit) so you’d need to substitute some other kind of freshwater crayfish such as a yabby, but apart from that the ingredients are easy to source.

This lovely book would make a great gift for the foodie in your life because it’s so lovely to look at, but like all our favourite cookbooks, our copy is bound to be adorned with cooking splashes before long – because we’re going to use it!

Update: Sunday morning (the next day)

As you can see, The Spouse came home from the butcher with duck instead, so we tried the Crispy Confit Duck with Spinach and Beetroot Salad with Persian feta and pomegranate glaze.  It was divine, a brilliant combo of textures and flavours, and it took about an hour to make.  We had it with a Nicholson River cabernet merlot.

 

Authors: Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle and Lisa Hanley
Title: Chefs of the Margaret River Region
Publisher: Margaret River Press, 2011
ISBN: 97809872180-0-1
Source: Review copy courtesy of Margaret River Press.

Availability:
Fishpond: Chefs of the Margaret River Region
Or direct from Margaret River Press.


Responses

  1. You’ve put the cookbook criteria quite eloquently. That’s exactly what I look for too, but also toss in healthy.

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    • At home, I generally try to cook healthy food on an everyday basis, but I make an exception for the occasional indulgence of restaurant food. This cookbook is restaurant food, which you would not have time to cook every day.

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  2. This sounds like the kind of cookbook that I would love to look at, but I am not sure that it is one that I would actually cook from. The picky eater in my house would turn his nose up at some of the recipes you mentioned!

    One of these times when I go over to Perth, which I do quite regularly, I will do a trip down south to Margaret River.

    Like

    • Oh, picky eaters, they are the bane of an adventurous cook’s life! (On the other hand, when they do like something you’ve cooked, there is a real joy in that:)
      I’ve only been to Margaret River once, on a trip I did with The Offspring when he was 16, so it was rather a while ago. But even then it was a foodie’s paradise, and the scenery is beautiful. Try to take an alternative driver with you, so that you can enjoy the wine!

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      • I still have to do the wine thing in the Barossa still despite living in Adelaide for years!

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        • And then there’s McLaren Vale, the Clare Valley, the Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra and the Granite Coast – and that’s just the regions I know in South Australia. Never mind the iconic road trip round Australia, just visiting our wine centres is a lifelong task…

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          • You know, I should just start with the winery that is five minutes down the road from me. I have never been there either!

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  3. Oh this sounds divine Lisa. Obviously, the movers and shakers behind Margaret River Press know a thing or two about book presentation.
    It probably says a little too much about me but I can’t resist mentioning that the lovely little rack at the end of your cookbook shelf caught my eye as much as the books. LOL.

    Like

    • Ah yes, that is a very ‘tasteful’ little item!

      Like


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