Remember Callum Hann? He nabbed second spot in Series 2 of MasterChef Australia when he was only 19. Since then he has founded Sprout Cooking School in Adelaide and just released his second book, I’d Eat That! Simple Ways To Be A Better Cook.
Recently I caught up with Callum to get the lowdown on his new book…
Hi Callum, what inspired you to write I’d Eat That!?
So many people I meet through my Sprout classes want to eat good, home-cooked food but they struggle for time. This book is full of recipes that are quick, easy and on the most part healthy, perfect for Tuesday night cooking when you get home from work. I avoided using any tricky-to-find ingredients or fancy equipment so everyone can get into the kitchen and give the recipes a go!
What are your top three tips for being a better cook?
1. Be organised. Having a rough plan of what you might have for dinner this week, writing a shopping list, having a well laid out fridge and pantry, getting your prep done before you start cooking and cleaning as you cook can all be huge time (and stress!) savers.
2. Buy yourself one decent chefs knife and a big, sturdy, heavy-duty wooden or plastic chopping board. These are the two most commonly used items in a kitchen. Forget fancy equipment, having a sharp knife and room to work will make a big difference in how you cook.
3. Apart from taste and the look of a dish, texture is super important. When you are putting together a meal, always think about how you can add a crunchy (nuts? croutons?) crispy (raw veggies? pickles?) or soft/creamy (avocado? cheese?) element to your dish to make it more interesting to eat.
What ingredients do you suggest a well stocked pantry or fridge should have?
It’s always nice to have a good array of aromatic ingredients on hand. These are the base flavour for many dishes and include garlic, chilli, onion, ginger and lemongrass. I also like to have some herbs on hand to freshen up a dish at the end. I’m a pretty crummy gardener but even I can grow mint, coriander, dill, thyme, rosemary and parsley!
Having an array of spices on hand is also worthwhile; making your own spice mixes always taste better than pre made ones. Cumin, coriander, fennel, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cardamon, cloves and tumeric is a great set of spices to have on hand for adding lots of flavour to dishes.
What utensils do you need if you want to be a better cook?
A heavy, non stick frying pan is great if you like cooking fish. A sturdy oven proof casserole dish is great for winter cooking. I love my microplane – brilliant for parmesan, lemon zest, ginger and garlic. I think a small food processor is handy to have on hand to whiz up pesto, hummus, crumbles and curry pastes. The knife and board I mentioned earlier though are the most important!
So, what’s I’d Eat That! really like? To be honest, it is actually one of the best (and best looking!) cookbooks that I’ve picked up in recent times. From big breakfasts and different salads to time-saving dinners and impressive yet foolproof desserts, I’d Eat That! has a ton of fresh, simple recipes to be inspired by.
Over the last week or so, I’ve been giving I’d Eat That! a run. Both the Crunchy Baked Chickpeas and Mango & Coconut Ice Cream recipes took me under five minutes to make. I also tried the Raw Beetroot, Orange and Lentil Salad which is so good it’s now on high-rotation in our house. And for a fantastic mid-week dinner that everyone loved, I whipped up the Ricotta ‘Gnocchi’ with Basil, Olive and Tomato Sauce which was on the table just 40 minutes are walking in the door.
Perfect for beginners and also confident cooks who are looking for clever shortcuts to make them even more of a foodie, I’d Eat That! is a must-have addition to any kitchen.
AU $19.95 Available from Booktopia.