Cookbook Review: Seasonal Kitchen by Serge Dansereau
Hello and welcome to the first ever All You Do Is Eat cookbook review!
I’ve been meaning to start up a cookbook review section for a long time now. I have so many cookbooks and like everyone else that loves food as much as me, I believe that you can never have too many. Just like shoes. Cookbooks make a wonderful gift to buy or receive, but with so many available on the market how do you know what’s a good one? This new section on my blog intends to give you feedback on the latest cookbooks (and probably some older ones too), including what’s inside, the quality of the recipes and who each book is suited for.
So, here it goes, the first of, I hope, many cookbook reviews.
I’m thrilled to launch this segment with Seasonal Kitchen, the new cookbook from Serge Dansereau.
I was given a copy of Serge’s latest book by my lovely friend Sophie who was lucky enough to be invited to the book launch at Bathers Pavilion a few weeks ago. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Serge Dansereau, he is the head chef and owner of Bather’s Pavilion on Balmoral Beach. He has had a number of cookbooks published, including Summer Food: Easy Recipes for Lazy Days and The Bather’s Pavilion Menu and Recipes.
I was so excited to get Serge’s latest cookbook and even more excited to see on the back cover that Seasonal Kitchen is the companion to French Kitchen, which I own and love already. If you’ve been reading my blog at all this year, you’ll know that I cooked from French Kitchen on Mother’s Day.
It’s immediately apparent that Seasonal Kitchen is a very beautiful book, filled with stunning photographs of dishes that made my mouth water instantly. As described in the blurb, Seasonal Kitchen draws inspiration from around the world, including flavours from Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean as well as Australia.
As you’d expect from the title, the book is divided into seasons each offering recipes based on fresh, seasonal produce. The seasons are then divided into Soups, Salads and Vegetables; Grains and Pasta; Fish and Seafood; Poulty and Game; Meat; and Desserts and Baking. There are so many scrumptious-looking recipes I can’t wait to try including Seared Squid with Chorizo, Chickpeas and Sicilian Olives; Chestnut Ravioli with Spinach and Burnt Caper Butter; and Tropical Ice-Cream Cake with a Coconut Gingerbread Crust and Mango (ohmagawd).
In order to properly review the cookbook I decided to test a few of the recipes. I figured I’d make it worth my while and cook for my family. We have dinner together every Sunday night and my mum usually cooks. This way, I was testing the recipes, giving my mum a break and cooking for my family. Triple win.
So, typical me, I bit off more than I can chew (pun intended) and decided to cook a recipe from every season. We’re talking four dishes, seven guests, all on one Sunday night. Never mind that I had work the next day. (Relaxing? What’s that?)
Here’s how it went…
From spring I made the Roast Corn and Spring Onion Puddings with Comete Cheese (p14). Only, I appropriated the recipe to make muffins instead. This involved halving the milk and the number of eggs. I also didn’t have Comete cheese, so I used a combination of cheddar and parmesan. They worked out perfectly. I was so proud of myself. These were a hit with my family and I loved them too.
From summer I made Chicken Paillard with Tomato and Zucchini Sauce, Broad Beans and Basil (p142).
Mm-mmm. This dish looked a lot prettier in the book than when I made it, but since I was making it for twice as many people as the recipe served, I suppose this was to be expected. I also didn’t have baby zucchinis with flowers which the recipe called for, so I just used ordinary zucchinis and it went fine.
This dish also very delicious, and a great one to serve for a crowd as you can (like I did) put it in a big serving dish for people to help themselves. There are heaps of veggies which made it a light and healthy dish – perfect for a summer evening.
My presentation probably doesn’t do this justice. I promise it was delicious. And there is chicken under all that sauce.
Probably a cheat, but to cover my (self-imposed) winter requirement, I made the crushed potatoes from the Beef Rib with Crushed Potatoes, Radicchio and Pistachios recipe. I forgot to take photos of these but they turned out great!
To fulfil the fourth season, I made the Corella Pear, Raspberry and Hazelnut Crumble.
I followed this recipe pretty much to a T (other than the fact that I accidentally cut up ordinary pears, rather than the Corella pears I had sitting on my bench. Gah), and all I have to say about it is that it was SO good.
We usually eat dinner at 6.30 on Sunday nights because my grandad comes over and my grandad is 95. I was half an hour late on this deadline, sorry Grandad, but I was impressed with myself that that’s all it was. Admittedly, I did have some help from my mum and one of my brothers who cooked the chicken for me.
All in all, everything turned out really well, everyone was happy (at least they said they were) and I was pleased with how it all turned out.
If I had to tell you who to buy this book for, I’d say that it’s for an experienced cook, not a total rookie. There were a few vital steps missing from the recipes that a seasoned cook would identify and rectify easily (for example heating oil in the pan before cooking onion, and draining the potatoes before crushing them in the pot), but a completely inexperienced cook might overlook.
Having said that, Seasonal Kitchen is a fantastic book filled with delicious recipes that work (so far so good anyway!) and which you can either cook exactly as instructed or use for ideas to create something that’s your own. The dishes are beautifully photographed and there is a perfect mix of sweet and savoury dishes across all four seasons. I can’t wait to try more!
The title: Seasonal Kitchen
The chef: Serge Dansereau
The format: Hardback
The publisher: ABC (HarperCollins)
The RRP: $59.99
Seasonal Kitchen can be purchased online here.