Donna Hay’s latest cookbook is a wonderful reminder of why we continue to collect more and more celebrity cookbooks each year. The photography is stunning (I mean seriously- when did poached eggs start to look like airbrushed Hollywood starlets?), the food makes you want to nibble hopefully at the illustrations, and the writing is almost therapeutic.
Basics to Brilliance reminds me of another wondrous food bible, Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat, only with a better title (I mean, ‘How To Eat?’ – really?- you shove food in your gob and swallow it). Like Nigella Lawson, Donna Hay understands what it is like to be a home cook who doesn’t necessarily have the budget to sprinkle caviar over a salad (and yes, a certain celebrity chef did instruct me to do this), or find out where to track down ingredients so unique that I would have to do my grocery shopping on another continent. The ingredients are basic but the dishes are restaurant quality.
There is also a huge variety of recipes to choose from, from the perfect roast chicken to sticky pork ribs, to heavenly brownies. Donna Hay delivers on the ‘basics’ side by including recipes for food such as poached and soft boiled eggs. You may think this is cheating but for a cook starting out on their intimidating culinary journey, recipes like these are a godsend.
Donna Hay guides you patiently through the toughest times of your cooking life. In one instance she assures you that the ganache you are making will set so don’t be tempted to overwhip it (too late for me though sadly as I had already turned up the beater to its full potential amid much raging and cursing).
Donna Hay is often hailed as being Australia’s most popular home cook and her latest book cements this reputation. This doorstopper of a cookbook will certainly keep you in new recipes for all of next year- though of course you can actually never have enough celebrity cookbooks.
Basics to Brilliance
by Donna Hay
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand