I came to this book with preconceived ideas of what I'd find inside - salads, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, sandwiches and cold meals, light healthy recipes. The kind of food you'd eat if you were on a diet ! Well yes, that's all there but there is so much more. And even the expected salad recipes all have an unexpected twist with some surprising ingredients and flavours to tickle your tastebuds.
The cover invites you in but lulls you into a false sense of security - we have strawberries, fresh fruit, smoothies, so no surprises there. The contents page carries on this pretence of predictability - snacks, salads, sweet things, drinks. Yawn ! But then the first recipe comes in and blows your socks off ! Tomato, chili and coriander oysters. Not something I fancy cooking or eating but it's certainly different and unexpected. Next up - mini polenta muffins with prawns and dill mayonnaise. Hmmm that sounds ok, and it's all stuff I've got in the cupboards. Page after page, there are original, surprising recipes that all seem very simple and use, for the most part, pretty standard storecupboard ingredients.
The food is geared towards summer picnics and recipes to save you slaving over a hot stove on a hot summer's day but lots of the recipes (crabcakes, chicken skewers, thai noodle salad, I could go on ...) could be made into a hearty meal at any time of year. The beautiful photographs full of vibrant colours really complement the recipes and make you want to try them out. After a first flick through, I have loads of little bits of paper sticking out marking recipes I definitely want to try !
And then, already won over by the snacks and salads recipes, I come to the desserts section. OK summer desserts, fresh fruit salad in many shapes and forms, I expect. Wrong again !! Mango ice cream log, passionfruit swirl cheesecake gateau, licorice all-sort ice cream, chunky monkey chocolate peanut butter sundae ... hang on, did I really say diet-food in the first paragraph ?! The most innovative dessert recipe has to be basil gelato. Again, not sure it's one I want to try but you certainly can't say it's boring and predictable !
This has to be the most surprising recipe book I've looked at in a long time. Top marks for originality and yum-factor !
star rating : 5/5
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Murdoch Books (20 April 2009)