The meal I prepare on a Monday night is different to the celebration lunch I make from friends, but all my food is similarly pared back. The greatest sophistication is in simplicity, and the ability to create food is one of life’s most reassuring skills and is immensely satisfying. (p. 9)
Flip through his cookbook and look at the lovely photographs by Petrina Tinslay and Tim Brown and you will quickly understand what he means – vibrant colors, simple presentation, and plenty of bowls of food that beg for a fork and spoon. Best of all, Bill has a sweet tooth – and there are loads of recipes in which he explores cake and sweets for afternoon tea.
The cookbook is organized by meal – breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, etc. Almost all the lunch recipes are heavily loaded with vegetables – nothing would weigh you down and send you off for a siesta. If its summer, then Spicy Tomato and Fennel Soup (p. 60) would be just the thing – flavored with basil and served with ricotta toast (ricotta & olive oil on bread, heated under the broiler). If you are in the mood for something Asian, then try Rice Paper Roll (p. 63) and a t Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, or Shrimp and Rice Vermicelli Salad (p. 69) couldn’t be easier – noodles soaked in boiling water, cooked shrimp, and a lively dressing or Vietnamese Chicken Salad (p. 76). Or for a heartier lunch, Burger with Hummus and Potato Wedges (p. 78), topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and sumac. There are plenty of light pasta dishes, too, like Spaghettini with Lemon, Prosciutto, and Chili (p. 84) and Tagliatelle with Chicken and Green Beans (p. 92).
As good as his savory food is, Bill shines in the Afternoon Tea section from the Plum and Vanilla Cake (p. 134) to the Coconut Blackberry Bars (p. 141), they are tempting, rich, and fruity. Of course, there are chocolate recipes – Mandarin Chocolate Cake (p. 150) with mandarin zest or Lamingtons (p. 166) with chocolate frosting and coconut– but there is a joy here in highlighting fruit. Apricots feature in Apricot Slice (p. 145) and Apricot Bars (p. 163) and Fresh Apricot and Cinnamon Cake (p. 169). Bill must have an apricot tree in his backyard.
There are many wonderful recipes for good family dinners, special evenings – and of course, afternoon tea. Bill Granger cooks food that you’ll want to prepare again and again – simple, balanced, and flavorful without being silly or absurd.His recipes work – they are easy to follow and they’ll turn out just the way the photographs show the dishes Simple Honest Food is a cookbook that will take you through a summer and beyond.