When New Idea had a chat with foodie Matt Preston, he was chuckling over the ‘big, fat lie’ in his scrumptious new cookbook Matt Preston's 100 Best Recipes...
'We started with 100,' chortles the MasterChef star ... 'Then we just kept adding a recipe here, and one there, all things we thought should go in, until my publisher told me we'd ended up with 203. This is the thinking of a greedy person cooking at home!'
The lavishly illustrated tome is a rich reduction of ’51 years of pigging out‘ around the world, combined with ‘old school’ family favourites from various mums and grandmothers - like the braised lamb with walnuts and pineapple that the Prestons eat every month.
Decades of late night trial and error in the kitchen, discovering what works together and what doesn’t, also went into the Logie Award-winner’s cookbook mix.
‘A lot of my inspiration comes from walking around the supermarket, seeing what’s readily available,’ Matt dishes.
‘If you can’t buy a certain ingredient at Coles in Toowoomba, it’s probably not a good idea to put it in a recipe. Those pantry staples are so important.
'It’s all about how you can do things simply at home, using ingredients you probably already have in your fridge or pantry, or just pimping easy things like a store-bought roast chook up with a sexy sauce or quick salad.'
And there’s extra icing on the cake.
At least 70 per cent of the recipes have pleased the toughest critics of all, wife Emma and their children - ‘foodie’ Jonathan, 12, pesto-obsessed William, nine, and seven-year-old Sadie, who’s a big fan of Coca-Cola chicken wings.
‘They don’t hold back in telling me what they don’t like,’ laughs the English-born food writer.
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‘The other week I tried to make a deconstructed lasagne and the kids were like, “Dad, that’s rubbish.” And it was!
‘They love cooking and trying out different things. One of the wonderful impacts of MasterChef is that children everywhere are having a crack at making everything from cakes to choux pastry.
‘But there are two things every parent should know. There’s no way in the world to stop kids making a mess in the kitchen. And you can absolutely guarantee that the stuff your children refuse to touch at home, they will happily eat at someone else’s house!’
Matt dreams that 100 Best Recipes will become a kitchen essential full of ‘sure-fire winners’ with tasty twists - ‘one of those cookery books you keep above the fridge and use so often that it gets all stained with cake mix.’
At the very least, he reckons, it should serve up some easy, fresh ideas using a minimum of ingredients or complicated culinary gadgets.
‘Look, I’m a cook, not a chef, and I cook to feed people rather than impress them.
‘But I’m lucky, because most chefs spend all their time in the kitchen cooking the same 20 dishes all the time - with a couple of specials - while I spend my time wandering around the world, eating at different restaurants and street stalls, experiencing different taste sensations.
‘That’s what I’m bringing to the table with this book. And hopefully, people will want to make the recipes themselves - just give it a go - and pass them on.’
''Matt Preston's 100 Best Recipes is published by Plum for Pan Macmillan, RRP $39.99. Available now.''