This is the New Zealand Rugby Foundation’s second book, used to promote the message of Safety First and raise funds to support players who have been catastrophically injured playing the game, and their families. Royalties from the sale of this book go direction to the Foundation.
That alone is not a reason to rave about this cookbook, but the quality of recipes, bright positive design, and celebratory photos by Tamara West and Kieran Scott, are all reasons to dive in. There are a lot of smiling faces and comradery captured in the photos, celebrating the strength found in the togetherness of the rugby community.
Each recipe is provided by a player, former player or rugby personality, with a small paragraph about the person accompanying the recipe. The typeset is clear and easy to follow although the green titles and page numbering may cause some minor issues for anyone with colour blindness.
Standard groupings make the recipes easy to find: Light Meals, Seafood & Poultry, Vegetarian, Beef Lamb & Pork, Desserts, and Baking. There’s a great variety across just under 200 pages and the glossy paper makes the book easy to wipe away any spills.
Unlike many other cookbooks, this one stays open on the page you want, which is a Godsend when trying to prop open a book with messy hands.
To sample some recipes in this book, I got together with a group of friends and we each contributed to a pot-luck dinner that comprised of a curry, a vegan ramen, and a vegetarian mini-bake. It was a fun way to test out a book that honours mateship and togetherness, and the success of each dish was the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Chicken Tikka Masala (page 66)
John had never made a chicken curry before, but even he was impressed with his first attempt of referee Paul William’s recipe. He avoided the heat of too much chilli and served it with some plain rice. This dish was rich in colour and flavour, and enjoyed by everyone (except the vegetarians!).
Spinach & Zucchini Mini Bake (page 82)
This recipe from player Sione Molia was a last-minute addition to the pot luck menu to give us an extra vegetarian dish. It was cooked by Johanna who shared these thoughts on the dish:
“The recipe was easy to follow and the dish was easy to make. You can even prepare some of it the day before, if time poor. All in all, took about 50-60 minutes.
I grilled the zucchini under the grill, as I’ve no BBQ, and it was less messy than in the frying pan. I just brushed both sides with oil and placed it under the grill on a tray. I didn’t add any salt to the ricotta mix, as suggested, because the cheese was salty enough.
My only issue was that the recipe didn’t specify how deep each layer should be, so I went with what I felt was okay. Perhaps next time I won’t cover it with grated cheese – instead I could just use mozzarella slices as I did find the grated cheese a bit too much on top. (And I love mozzarella!!!!).
All in all an easy and great recipe.”
Vegan Ramen (page 96)
Andy was a little apprehensive about making his first Ramen but here’s what he had to say:
“The dish I made for the pot luck dinner was really easy to make. The hardest part was sourcing the mushroom stock. I couldn’t locate any to buy so had to google a recipe and make it separately. The misu paste was also a little tricky to find in the supermarket but I got there with a couple of Google searches. Changes I made to the dish were using Japanese pre-marinaded tofu instead of plain organic tofu, this is simply due to my preference of tofu. This also made the dish much easier to make considering I had to make the mushroom stock.
I would make this dish again. It was tasty and very cost effective, coming in at about $10 for all the ingredients, which still left me with plenty of paste to use again.”
The Ramen recipe is from Tim Bateman of the Maori All Blacks.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis (and friends)
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2018