My love affair with Bill began four years ago. For those of you who may not have come across him before, Bill Granger is the Jamie Oliver of Australia. Local boy - son of a butcher – made good. He is at pains to reassure that he is not a ‘chef’ but a self-taught cook. A self-taught cook who now owns five restaurants worldwide, with more to come, and has published 8 cookbooks.
For me, Bill Granger epitomises everything that is wonderful about Australia and her cuisine: fresh, simple, seasonal and that eclectic mix that reflects the melting pot of cultures that live there. And that’s how I discovered him. Knowing that we were moving to Sydney for a few years, I began to watch Bill’s series, bills food, on TV to get a sense of the place. Warmth, sea and sun. My husband bought me bills Sydney Food and that was it for me. A brilliant cookbook that not only described the best markets, shops and foodie neighbourhoods in Sydney, but provided delicious and simple recipes that made the most of the ingredients you could find there. I cooked from it almost every day for the first couple of months we were there. We even breakfasted at his Darlinghurst restaurant the morning we landed, making a pilgrimage to taste his world famous scrambled eggs, along with many other tourists and locals.
And so my library of Bill’s cookbooks has grown, these being the recipes I turn to most frequently for weeknight dinner ideas. Fresh, quick and healthy they continue to be, but also useful with weekend and entertaining meal ideas. Kirstin was converted a couple of years ago, and we were pretty excited when we found out that his new book was coming out this month. The lovely man himself sent us an advance copy and we fell on it, reading it cover to cover in one sitting.
The premise for this new book, Bill’s Basics, is a compendium of classic recipes that have been updated in true Bill Granger style – that being easy and healthy. So there’s everything from Pad see ew to Chicken Parmigiana, Roast lamb shoulder (the quick and the slow) to Steamed fish with chilli dressing. There’s no shortage of inspiration. This book is a slight departure, stylistically, from his previous books. There is less of a life-style focus and more emphasis photographically on the food itself. This is no bad thing, but if you are a newcomer to Bill I’d suggest pairing this book with one of his earlier publications in order to get the real sense of Sydney to suck you in good and proper.
One week in and we’ve made three dishes: “Tomato Salad with burrata and basil oil”, “Chicken Parmigiana” and “Peach and Blueberry Pudding”. The tomato salad was our last taste of summer, made with mozzarella substituting the harder to source, seasonal burrata. As we’d expect from Bill, it was simple and absolutely delicious. We chose the chicken because it is a dish that Kirstin has eaten at an American friend’s house, which she loved. This version is much healthier than the American version, but she loved it just as much. The pudding was a nod to the autumn that seems to have started, earlier than we’d hoped. Stone fruit and the last of the summer’s blueberries, all wrapped up in a warm and voluptuous pudding. Happy September!