From the pages of Eatstreets

Author: Luke Mangan

Publisher: New Holland

RRP: $59.95

At home and in the mood

01 December 2009.
Reviewed by Stephanie Clifford-Smith

There’s a lot to like about this handsome hardback from one of Sydney’s most prominent chefs. First, it’s accessible for the competent home cook. All too often when chefs get publishing deals they see an opportunity to show off what they do in their restaurants with their army of sous chefs and kitchen hands and it doesn’t translate to the home. Not Luke Mangan. As the title suggests, this is about what he does away from the restaurants. In the kitchen, not the boudoir.

A pleasing mix of ethnic influences, from Japanese (okonomiyaki) to Thai (snow pea and chilli salad with almonds), to Irish (potato bread breakfast burger) to Indian (garam masala chicken) and plenty of Mediterranean, covers all tastes and reflects what modern Australian cooking is all about.

Nicely timed for summer, it contains loads of excellent salads including a cracking Chinese shredded duck dish. Other recipes already splashed from testing in my kitchen are wok-fried calamari with soy, ginger and garlic and a gutsy baked ratatouille with mozzarella. They passed with flying colours, incidentally. There’s a section on dips and spices as well as a heap of snacks, wraps and sandwiches and some lovely classic tarts and puddings.

Just a few minor gripes: it needed a much sharper copy edit. Like so many cookbooks these days, it’s sprinkled with typos, misspellings and wrong words (using ‘sublimely’ where he meant ‘subliminally’). And I know this isn’t just Mangan’s problem, but can we please have a break from the cliches every chef gives us about the importance of seasonal produce and sharing food around a table with friends and family? It’s enough in the intro without it repeated in half-tones across double-page colour photos.

The endless photos of the author at home around the table with friends are a bit much, too. We’re unlikely to forget the chef’s identity. Still, it’s a good book with great recipes and, cliches aside, a worthwhile read.

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