Time for another instalment of TPB book club and this week we're keeping it local with Melbourne-based chef, Matt Wilkinson, and his sort-of new book, Mr Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables. A celebration of good design, good food and good fun, MWFV is an example of what happens when someone with a keen interest in growing and sourcing quality produce, and a knack for turning simple combinations into something exquisite, sits down and makes a few notes. It's a lovely demonstration of how working with the seasons can enhance any dining experience and offers recipes that aren't overly technical or challenging, but rather well-considered executions with a few added surprises that make it easy for us home kitchen hacks to step things up and take our eating to the next level.
This braised goat neck, for example, was the perfect solution to a crisp autumn evening, being all comforting and rich after a slow afternoon on the stove. Meat so soft it simply melted off the bone, this braise paired superbly with the suggested shaved fennel and mozzarella salad. Equally beautiful by itself, this dish was not only crisp and fresh but carried the added revelation of preserved lemon dressing - a true winner in its own right.
For supper, carrot cake, in what has inadvertently become my standard go-to recipe when tackling the where-do-I-start new cookbook dilemma. Not only was this a particularly worthy specimen, with its striking orange flecks and crunchy walnut studs, but was presented with the most curious serving suggestion I've ever come across - pickle and a wedge of brie (no, not this sort of pickle).
Covering the sweet or savoury, cake or cheese course options all at once, despite earlier reservations this eccentric combination naturally worked, with the sweet cake and creamy brie balanced perfectly by the punchy zing of the grated carrot, preserved lemon, raisin and ginger pickle.
Now, if somebody could please pass the port?...