TITLE: The Starter Kitchen: The Collection
AUTHOR: Callum Hann
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Methods > Quick & Easy
PUBLISHED: 01 March 2012
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon iBookstore
MOBILISM LINK: Read Here
Description Moving out of home? Setting up house with a few mates? Or just looking for inspiration to get started in the kitchen? 2010 Masterchef Australia runner-up, Callum Hann, challenges young people to learn to love cooking. Learn how to roast a chicken, cook the perfect steak and make the most of a few lonely eggs. Callum serves up a mix of kitchen tips along with sixty cheap, cheerful and super quick recipes and handy menu plans for all occasions. The Starter Kitchen will set you up for a life of good food.
Review: Callum Hann was 2010 Masterchef Australia runner-up. Callum's fan club (from his Masterchef days) will purchase The Starter Kitchen - but the humbling part is he doesn’t even mention his success in MasterChef at all in the book.
Even if you read The Starter Kitchen from cover to cover, I doubt you will become an expert at cooking by its end - but the book does make a decent first cookbook. For example the recipe below for No-Béchamel Lasagne, in which Callum provides a quick shortcut (rather than make a Béchamel sauce as per the traditional method)...
PREPARATION TIME 15 MINUTES
COOKING TIME 30 MINUTES
Béchamel is that thick gloopy white sauce in lasagne. It takes a while to make, and is a bit boring. I think it tastes like flour, regardless of how much you try and cook it out. If you use mozzarella and crème fraîche instead, you get a quicker (and tastier!) result. Crème fraîche was once difficult to find but most supermarkets sell it now.
1 quantity Bolognese sauce
375 g (13 oz) packet fresh lasagne sheets
400 g (14 oz) crème fraîche
125 g (4½ oz/1 cup) coarsely grated mozzarella cheese, plus 65 g (21/3 oz/½ cup) extra, for the top
70 g (2½ oz/½ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5).
2. To assemble the lasagne, find yourself a baking dish and spread one-third of the Bolognese sauce over the base. Cover with enough lasagne sheets to form one layer (feel free to tear or cut the sheets to make them fit). Spoon over one-third of the crème fraîche. Use the back of the spoon to move it around so it covers the lasagne sheets somewhat evenly, then sprinkle over one-third of the mozzarella. Repeat twice more with the remaining ingredients, finishing with a layer of lasagne sheets. Top with the extra mozzarella, the parmesan and a little pepper.
The book is organised into interesting sections such as The Quick & the Fed, Grab and Go, Cooking for a Crowd, Just Like Mum Makes, and Something Special Menu Ideas, which makes it easy to decide what recipe to make, depending on your mood or need.
COOKIES ’N’ CREAM ICE CREAM
PREPARATION TIME 10 MINUTES PLUS 3–4 HOURS FREEZING
COOKING TIME NIL
The best part about this ice-cream recipe is that you don’t need an ice-cream maker to make it; you get a beautiful creamy result by just chucking it in the freezer. This is a family favourite. I think mostly because it was simple enough for my sister and me to make as kids. It’s pretty versatile — we often made ‘hokey pokey’ ice cream by replacing the biscuits with bashed-up chocolate-honeycomb bars. You could use anything you have lurking around really. (Well, that’s not quite true; I wouldn’t chuck in a rack of lamb!) Other delicious additions, such as your favourite nuts or perhaps the pulp of 6–8 passionfruit, would work swimmingly too.
600 ml (21 fl oz) thickened (whipping) cream
395 g (13¾) tin sweetened condensed milk
150 g (5½ oz) chocolate biscuits (I like to use Oreos)
1. In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, then whisk in the condensed milk.
2. Place the biscuits in a zip-lock bag, then lightly bash with a rolling pin or saucepan until roughly crushed. Fold the crushed biscuit into the cream mixture. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 3–4 hours. It keeps well for quite a few days.
My favourite section of the book is called ‘Building Blocks,’ which consists of tips and tricks for getting the most out of the kitchen for the least effort - in addition to good advice on how to choose ingredients, a list of stuff to be kept in the pantry, and other helpful suggestions that make cooking more fun, less a chore.
The book is divided into sections that help explain the following: What are various cooking techniques and how to do it correctly? How to shop to save money? Where to buy your meat from? and How to choose your fish.
Last but not the least are the Food and Safety instructions! It’s very important but rarely seen in many of the cookbooks I have read so far! The section explains the Temperatures, How to Store Food Without Poisoning People, Tips on Prep and avoiding Cross-Contamination etc.
The concept behind the book is very good. A sort of How-to guide for a starter cook, set up your kitchen, cost-saving tips, how to buy your food, what you need and don't need, hints and tips for cooking etc. Callum explains all this in a very unassuming manner with nice simple recipes, written in laymen terms, non-cookbookish way. I would say it makes a great gift for any novice cook to have or for a young teen who wants to learn how to cook.