A flawlessly presented cookbook perfect for cooks with some experience.
Spanish-born Australian chef Miguel Maestre already has a string of accolades to his name, from his co-hosting role on Channel Ten’s The Living Room to his past cookbooks, Miguel’s Tapas and Spanish Cooking. His latest cookbook Feast is a celebration of generous dishes to share and inspire nights in cooking for friends and family.
There’s a decent range of recipes here, many of them Spanish or influenced by a Spanish twist, such as My Favourite Chorizo Carbonara (page 85). The dishes are imaginative enough to appeal to passionate foodies, but not so much that they alienate those who prefer to keep things simple in the kitchen.
Beginning with a helpful section on essentials from the Spanish Kitchen, the book features a selection of chapters to cover all bases, from chicken to festive dishes. The dessert chapters were especially impressive, with the variety of enticing sweets serving as one of the book’s highlights.
The recipes are all tagged with personal notes, tips, and anecdotes, such as recipe inspiration, which brings a lot of warmth and personality to the book. The tips can also make quite a big difference to the outcome of the recipe, so I suggest reading them carefully.
Feast is presented impeccably; its beautiful artwork, design and photos make it the kind of book you’d actually use to beautify your kitchen, even if the recipes weren’t anything special (but these recipes are wonderful!). The large number of recipes means it doesn’t stay open independently, but that’s easily fixed with a page anchor. The matte paper is also the kind that you don’t want to dirty with spillages from the kitchen, so it’s best to go over the recipe a few times and leave the book a distance away from the action while you’re cooking.
Although there’s quite a large variety of recipes, this book seems better-suited to intermediate and seasoned cooks, due to some of the more difficult techniques required for a few of the dishes. I wasn’t game to pipe churros into a deep fryer this time, but that’s on my bucket list!
FUN GUY CHICKEN PIE (PAGE 98)
This chicken pie tasted utterly delicious. I swapped chicken thighs for breast fillets due to a personal preference. While chicken breast is usually drier and less tender, they were delectably succulent. I also couldn’t find crème fraiche at my local supermarket, so the listed substitute of fresh cream was very handy. It was also pretty quick to make, rendering it an ideal dish for a dinner party, when you’ve got endless other things happening in the kitchen, or even for a stress-free mid-week dinner.
Though it could’ve been my older oven, the pie needed more cooking time than the recipe states—at least 15 minutes. The filling was a little watery, so I would perhaps allow more time for the stock to reduce. It may have been better the next day, but would you believe the pie didn’t last long enough to find out!
FLOURLESS ALMOND-HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE CAKE (PAGE 212)
For the flavour alone, this rich chocolate cake gets full marks. The hazelnut meal adds a sweet nuttiness that helps this dessert to stand out from other gluten-free recipes (note that my local Coles didn’t have pre-made hazelnut meal, but it’s quick and easy to make from scratch).
Texture-wise, this was a spongey slice of heaven. The recipe states that it’s better to undercook this cake than overcook it, which I did. I found that it also needed more cooking time than the recipe suggested by at least 15 minutes, but again, this could be down to my older oven. It didn’t rise, but given its lack of flour, I wasn’t expecting it to reach any spectacular heights.
Even undercooked, this glossy, springy cake tasted professionally made. The orange zest is the perfect accompaniment that elevates this recipe into a new must-have.
Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan
Released: 28 September 2021