Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 4.5 stars
If you’re a fan of Masterchef™, you probably already know who Julie Goodwin is. The original winner of the show, Goodwin has gone from home cook to iconic Mum-chef* with an ever-growing number of her cookbooks on the market. Look in the cooking section of most Australian bookstores, you’re likely to see her face on a book cover.
Her latest addition to the bookshelf is ‘Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook’. You know, in case her picture on the cover wasn’t enough of a reminder who brought you these recipes. But while it isn’t rocking a pun filled, hip-as-hell name, it’s the sort of collection that you’re likely to reach for regularly, given half the chance.
These are totally parent friendly, no muss no fuss recipes. They’re quick and easy enough for even the most harried and time poor of us, but look good enough that we can pretend to have gone to all kinds of effort. There’s something comforting about the ability to whip together a hasty, last second meal and having it look like you’ve put your heart and soul into the effort. Better yet, these are the sorts of foods that don’t require a slew of expensive trend gadgets or trips to the more expensive stores for ingredients, so time poor and budget conscious cooks are likely to find a bunch of recipes to try. They’re easy, and there’s a lot of them: over 300 if the cover is to be believed.
This is a whopping great collection of recipes, really.
The great part about ‘essential’ themed cookbooks is that it’s cooking scaled back to bare basics: it’s the simple stuff that often gets overlooked. I can’t help but think this would make a great gift for those about to strike out on their own for the first time, or those looking to re-find the fun of time in the kitchen. It’s easy, cost effective cooking that doesn’t feel like a lot of hassle.
If there’s one thing that bothers me, it’s the gendered cover design. I hate that even cooking has to be bludgeoned with the gender stick until books by girls are drenched liberally in pink, and cookbooks have to be labelled as being for men, and are all about the dead animals on plates. This isn’t a cookbook for girls- it’s a cookbook. There’s no need whatsoever to adorable it up, in the same way there’s never a need to put ‘man’ in a cookbook’s title. Especially frustrating is that it’s only the cover that screams ‘gendered cooking’. Sure, there’s some pink stylings from time to time in the food photography, but there’s nothing between the covers that feels a step away from being doused in glitter.
If you’re less likely to roll your eyes at the pink of the cover design than I am, you’re probably going to get a lot out of ‘Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook’, and truth be told, if girlishness is the only flaw I can bring to the page here, it’s a good sign it’s a really, really good book. ‘Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook’ is published through Hachette, and is available at leading retailers.
* Mum-chef: a female chef or cook whose branding is rife with the ‘here I am with my family, keeping them fed and happy’ imagery that makes exactly no sense with the tidy, organised scenery behind them.