Top chefs launch cookbook that will help you cook your way around the world at home
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Paul Prinsloo, Elissa Abou Tasse, Marcus Gericke and Callan Austin have launched their own cookbook which provides plenty of inspiration and encouragement to try new techniques – the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Cookbook.
This cookbook features 41 recipes specially crafted by the regional finalists of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2019 – 2021 edition. It was simmered into being as a way to keep the young chefs connected, engaged and visible when the grand finale, which was set to take place last year, was postponed due to the pandemic. Their challenge was to create a personal recipe made from simple local ingredients that home cooks could replicate in a regular kitchen. This has resulted in a fascinating read. Each recipe is presented in an easy-to-follow format with great tips and step-by-step photos illustrating the whole process.
Below, the four finalists in the Africa & Middle East region share the stories behind their recipes as well as some extra tips.
Burst of Beirut
Elissa Abou Tasse won the Acqua Panna award for Connection in Gastronomy. Abou Tasse’s cookbook recipe, Burst of Beirut, takes a traditional Lebanese stuffed cabbage dish of rice and meat, flavoured with pomegranate molasses, and raises it to new heights. In her recipe, she commemorates the explosion of the grain silos in Beirut last year, symbolically using cracked wheat instead of rice in the dish. Abou Tasse gives detailed instructions on preparing veal tongue, an affordable and tasty cut that many home cooks no longer know how to use.
“We don't always need to buy expensive products. I take humble products and respect them to make an elevated dish.” Rather than using the complex techniques she would at the restaurant, she looked to home-cooking methods of the past. The finished dish is as pretty as a picture: “I made it as if my grandma was cooking it and I was plating,” she said.
Paul Prinsloo is the 2019 S.Pellegrino Young Chef winner for the Africa & Middle East region. Prinsloo’s cookbook recipe is a homely but creative take on the traditional Sunday roasts he grew up with. He hangs a rack of lamb in a chimney to slow cook and absorb the smoke flavour, confits potatoes, and purées vegetables for a beautiful, but much simplified version of his usual cooking style.
“The challenge was to cook it in a home kitchen that didn’t have all the tools I’m used to at work. Without a Thermomix, I had to try to get the texture of the purée using a home blender, which was both fun and a challenge,” said Prinsloo.
If you don’t have a suitable chimney, he recommends cooking the lamb in a Weber or a Big Green Egg on a low heat to get the smoky flavour. Failing those, Prinsloo advises caramelising the fat in a pan briefly before cooking slowly in an oven at 100°C until tender. He leaves the choice of spice rub to you, but he loves using a Moroccan ras el hanout spice blend which he says goes perfectly with the lamb.
Franschhoek valley verdure
Callan Austin won the S.Pellegrino Social Responsibility award. Austin's cookbook recipe was inspired by the spring ingredients found around him in the Franschhoek valley, trout, foraged wild herbs, and greens, plated beautifully into three dishes. It’s simplified from his usual restaurant techniques so that home cooks can buy ready-made Kewpie mayonnaise and Yuzu caviar which Callan would usually make from scratch.
“The herbed emulsion was also simplified by using mayonnaise as the base to blend in all the fresh herbs. In the kitchen, I would have made a coconut cream reduction or a buttermilk emulsion utilising a lot more aromatics and lengthy cooking techniques,” he said.
Austin gives easy instructions for curing and smoking the trout and, if you don’t have a smoking tray, suggests smoking the trout trimmings in a Weber.
“If people don’t have access to nature to forage various herbs, I would suggest replacing the wild herbs with fresh fennel, dill fronds, store-bought edible flowers or garnishes, coriander shoots or leaves, small basil leaves, and deep-fried curry leaves for texture,” he added.
Marcus Gericke is the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought award winner. For his recipe, Gericke reimagined the salad bowl as a celebration of summer. He said he wanted to do a dish that encapsulated a healthy lifestyle and to offer something different to take to a party or braai. Something that blends well with smoky, bold flavours.
“The addition of goat's cheese makes this salad a satisfying main dish in its own right. With roast tomatoes, fried eggplant, a pea yoghurt, and pea chimichurri dressing, it’s very much a showcase of summer ingredients, but can be adapted by using any seasonal produce available at the time,” Gericke said.
“Moving with seasons and time shows development and growth in a dish. The recipe name leaves it open to interpretation and allows for seasonal twists and personal taste,” he added.
The cookbook is now available as a free download on subscribing to the Fine Dining Lovers website.