Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 4.5 stars
Since claiming her title as the first winner of Masterchef™, Julie Goodwin has become a household name. Her brand is simple, hearty fare- easy to make and easy to eat- the sort of delicious food that feels like it’s made with love. Goodwin became famous on Masterchef™ before the push came to bring complication into the kitchen, and her dishes are far more CWA than croquembouche: though she can clearly rock the reality TV presentation and challenge cookery, outside of the Masterchef™ kitchen, complexity for the sake of showing off seems to hold little interest for her.
What that means is that Goodwin is building a solid reputation as a go-to teacher for those who aren’t overly confident in the kitchen. While other celebrity chefs are out to dazzle, Goodwin is quietly championing the cause of simple cookery as an art form anyone can master.
In ‘Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook’, Goodwin has set herself the task of teaching readers the basics that often get overlooked, or forgotten as we move beyond the basics to try newer, more complicated recipes. But if you’re thinking back to bland, basic dishes in school Home Ec textbooks, you’re in for a treat: these may be simple dishes, but Goodwin doesn’t believe simple should ever mean boring. ‘Essential Cooking’ is a collection of dishes that look delicious, and are easy enough to manage even when you’re low on time and energy. They’re even fun to try.
This would make a wonderful gift for the teen leaving home for the first time, or the friend who believes they’re never going to be able to cook. But even if you’re comfortable in the kitchen already, ‘Essential Cookbook’ is a wonderful resource to have on hand. It’s the sort of cookbook you find yourself leafing back through for inspiration, or a quick reminder on how to master a process.
If there’s a problem, it’s the highly gendered cover- part of a frustrating re-emerging trend within the genre. The problem, of course, is that cooking isn’t actually a gendered activity, though someone has clearly decided it should be. There’s no reason whatsoever why a general how-to collection should be visually marketed towards women, and yet, here we are. I don’t know many teenaged boys who’d appreciate a pink book, and yet, this would be the sort of book I’d want my son to have.
Still, if you can keep from rolling your eyes at the almighty pinkness of the cover, ‘Essential Cookbook’ is a brilliant collection to have on hand. There’s nothing overwhelming here- no hunts for exotic ingredients, no processes that seem intimidating- just simple to follow recipes designed to take the stress out of what can actually be an incredibly fun and rewarding daily activity. If you’re looking for the sort of cookbook you’ll use over and over again, this is definitely one you’ll want to check out.
‘Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook’ is published by Hachette, and is available at all leading retailers.