With The Natural Cook you have more than just a book of wonderful, modern fusion style recipes, based in natural foods, you have almost a complete cookery course based on years of experience, from a guy who came up through the ranks of the cuisine circuit, beginning as a kitchen hand rising to become as well-known as a chef, as he is TV personality.
In a few short years, depending on how you see it, Matt Stone has made more than a mark in the industry, he has helped, along with Joost Bakker, to create some of Australia’s most novel and environmentally friendly ‘greenhouse’ restaurants and more recently working alongside Joost, their ‘zero-waste’ restaurants Silo and Brothl.
Not too shabby as they say, and definitely the basis for an entire revisit of what we put on our plates and the best way to go about being environmentally conscious as we choose and prepare the foods we all do so enjoy.
Beginning at the beginning, after the little chat about Matt and how he fell in love with food, is the chapter Freshly Rolled and Milled, with a little introduction to grains and millets and the best way to go about preparing, cooking and serving what is considered worldwide as a staple. There is a little of something for everyone from Greenhouse Breakfast Muffins, straight from the Greenhouse restaurant’s menu, to Porridge, with flair, and Auntie Susan Lemon Myrtle Cake, created especially for Matt by his Aunt.
With this as a first chapter the rest is simply a foodie’s paradise as it deals with native foods, traditional ingredients and basic recipes, such as the one for Shortcrust Pastry. For the brave there is a chapter devoted to Edible Insects, which while many may consider is one step too far, many others delight to consider. Mind you it is not too large!
Foraging is once again becoming a very ‘on-trend’ thing to do, but as in all things you need to know the good from the bad. This topic is addressed with some seriously good advice on what to pick and how best to go about knowing where to look and what to cook. A word of warning though: before you set out foraging in earnest, go out with someone who is an expert in plant selection.
Underlying all the recipes is the desire to utilize whatever foods are in season for two main reasons, the cost and the freshness that cannot be obtained any other way, if you enjoy fresh seasonal produce and the best results from your recipes.
Finally, and as all good books about food should have, is a delightfully refreshing section on Drinks, recreating some of the classics such as Lemon Myrtle Martini’s and Native Fruits Whisky Sour .
Dotted throughout the pages are lovely little sections on drying and preserving, creating spice blends, making your own broths, all with the emphasis on using ‘bush tucker’ and fresh produce.
As stated, this is far more than just a cookery book, this is a course in preparing, using and creating with Australian ingredients, reducing waste in the kitchen and most importantly using foods in season to be able to produce the most tasty, enjoyable dishes with flair, panache and pizzazz.