Earlier this year, I responded to an email from last year’s Masterchef contestant and Sydney blogger Billy Law to apply to be a recipe tester for his first cookbook. A few days later I received an email saying that I was picked to be a recipe tester. I was tremendously excited to say the least. I had been following Billy’s blog since it’s inception, had a chance to meet him at the Sydney blogger’s Christmas picnic and later cheered him through Masterchef Australia Season 3. He was one of our own, I thought like countless other food bloggers and we were all very proud of him.
Billy sent me some recipes, he was extremely accomodating and helpful when I wanted to switch the recipes around. In the end, I had the task of testing two savoury recipes. The Twice Cooked Crispy Pork Belly With Apple Fennel Slaw and Otak Otak. While the first was a modern, sophisticated, time consuming and thoroughly comforting main course; the second was one of my favourite street foods from my time in Singapore. For the pork, I prepared a cartouche (a cooking pocket created with aluminium foil) and slow braised the meat over 6 hours in the most wonderful Masterstock recipe ever created. I now use that stock recipe extensively to braise poultry mostly and always have a bottle on hand in the fridge. After the pork was cooked, it was cut into large cubes, rolled in tapioca flour and spices and deep fried until crispy and golden. Although the recipe was to serve eight people, Nick and I made royal pigs of ourselves (please excuse the pun) that night and finished all of the pork between us. Yikes!! It was the most amazing pork recipe I had ever cooked or tasted. The second recipe I tested was Otak Otak. A spicy fish dumpling rolled in banana leaf and cooked on a barbecue. The spice, the texture and the charring were beautiful. An authentic recipe that finally sated my quest to find the Otak Otak that I miss so much. I tested both recipes twice but I never had to adjust the quantities and they turned out consistent every time. It was a fun and enlightening process testing recipes for a cookbook.
Fast forward a few months later and Billy’s book was ready to be released to the masses. In true Billy style, he sent out whimsy tea towel invites to his book launch at Chinta Ria in Sydney. The same week and prior to the launch, I received my advanced copy signed by the man of the hour. A personal touch, a lasting impression. The book launch was fabulous and the book – Have You Eaten? published by Hardie Grant was stunning in more ways than one.
Have You Eaten? by Billy Law fills a gap in the cookbook market especially for lovers of Malaysian food because there are very few beautifully styled books out there with genuine traditional recipes from that region. Billy draws his inspiration from his Malaysian heritage and his creativity bounds all over Australia and picks up tastes and recipes that are bold, modern and full of flavour. The book has an exciting mix of authentic Chinese and Malaysian recipes, an abundance of real food you can whip up in your kitchen every night and a few indulgences for the adventurous. The book’s tagline "My favourite recipes from lamb roast to laksa" although sums up the contents, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Billy’s forte besides his cooking skills is his photography and his background in design makes this cookbook a triple threat. He did it all himself in the space of a few months. His love for all things quirky and all things cheeky shines through in the clever recipe titles and unusual favour combinations. Holy Moly Guacamole!, Zing Beneath My Wings, Cola Chilli Chicken, Bloody Mussels Mary, A Little Beet Of This & A Little Beet Of That, Marmite Chicken, Buddha’s Bowl, Vegemite Cheesecake, Ribs Your Heart Out, Cereal Butter Prawns and You Saucy Thing You! are just some the recipes that make you pause, ogle, chuckle and dive straight in. Almost 300 glossy pages of striking visuals and crisp presentation is spread out over seven chapters ranging from Snacks, Sides, Easy to Sugar Hit and Over The Top. The recipes are clearly written, reproduce beautifully, are spot on the measurements and have helpful little notes peppered over the pages.
I have cooked versions of the Cola Chilli Chicken, Thai Prawn Salad With Nam Jim Dressing, Osso Bucco With Mash, Chewy Choc Chip Skillet Cookie, Lemon Myrtle Delicious, Aussie Damper Wagyu Burger and the Chorizo & Prawn Skewers. I have at least 15 other recipes bookmarked that I want to try out in the coming weeks. I seriously love this book! And having my name printed on the acknowledgements page has got nothing to do with it. I feel thankful to have been a tiny little part of Billy Law’s first labour of love and I say first because I know there will be many more.
Billy & Hardie Grant are offering Cook Republic readers a chance to WIN two copies of this gorgeous cookbook. Billy has also answered some fun questions for you guys. Check them out!!
To WIN A Copy (There are 2!!)
You MUST have an Australian Postal Address.
You MUST enter via the Rafflecopter Box below.
You MUST Leave a Comment answering the question asked in the box.
You MAY get additional entries via two other tasks in the box.
Winners will be picked randomly after contest ends on October 24, 2012 and announced on the blog and Facebook page on October 25, 2012.
For those that can’t wait and those who would like to buy the book anyways.