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The Real Food Companion - Book Review

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by KJ (subscribe)
Published September 3rd 2016
An essential guide written by Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans

Former chef and food critic, Matthew Evans is well-known for his SBS show, Gourmet Farmer, and for his books on food (he has written a total of nine books altogether).

The Real Food Companion is the largest of these books, and at 576 pages, the book is quite large and heavy, however it's one of those 'go-to' books (similar to Stephanie Alexander's books) which contain a lot of information on every aspect of food and cooking from scratch.

The Real Food Companion, Matthew Evans, Gourmet Farmer, Contents
The Table of Contents

Following the prologue, Evans discusses the need for a new food philosophy and the issues surrounding modern food, including the factory farming of animals, genetic modification, sustainability, and the introduction of 'functional foods' (foods with added nutrients, antioxidants etc).

This sections includes:
A campaign for real food
A new food philosophy: One degree of separation
The ethical issues: An overview

Evans is passionate about people growing their own food, sourcing local food, and making recipes from scratch from 'real' ingredients, and this is reflected in the recipes and information in the book.

The book is divided up into chapters on Dairy, Grains, Pulses and Flours, Poultry & Eggs, Meat, Seafood, Vegetables, Fruit, Wild Foods, Nuts, Olives & Oils, and Sweet Foods.

These chapter are then broken down into smaller sections (e.g. the 'Dairy' chapter has three sections: Milk & Yoghurt, Cream & Butter, and Cheese)

Each chapter has an introduction containing solid information on each topic, followed by the recipes. For example, the section on Milk & Yoghurt discusses ethical dairy producers, homogenisation of milk, pasteurisation and raw milk, permeate, hormones in milk, jersey milk, and yoghurt.

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Ricotta Recipe, Yoghurt recipe
The book contains recipes for things such as Ricotta and Yoghurt

The book contains plenty of 'from scratch' recipes, such as Yoghurt (p. 44), Ricotta (p. 45), Pastry (p. 147-150), Pesto (p. 529), Mayonnaise (p. 201), Apple Butter (p. 445) and Roasted Tomato Sauce (p. 383).

There are also lots of traditional recipes, such as Real Italian Bolognese (p. 230), Chicken, Leek & Oat Soup (p. 112), Slow-Roasted Pork Belly (p. 271), Coq au vin (p. 168), Bread and Butter Pudding (p. 144) and Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding (p. 559)

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Italian Bolognese
Real Italian Bolognese (p. 230)

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Chicken, Leek and Oat Soup
Chicken, Leek & Oat Soup (p. 112)

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Chocolate self-saucing pudding, flourless chocolate cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake & Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding (p. 558-559)

There are also many recipes that have been created with a twist on a traditional recipe, such as Cherry Breakfast Risotto (p. 441), 'Crashed Potatoes (p. 359) and Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Bread 'Lasagne' (p. 140).

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Cherry Risotto
Cherry Breakfast Risotto (p. 441)

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Crashed Potatoes
Crashed Potatoes - a variation on traditional roast potatoes

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Taxi Driver's lamb curry
Taxi Driver's Lamb Curry (p. 254)

Other tasty recipes include: Pear & Chocolate Tart (p. 555) and Sticky Mandarin Pudding with Maple Syrup (p. 546)

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Pear and chocolate tart
Pear and Chocolate Tart (p.555)

Matthew Evans, Real Food Companion, Gourmet Farmer, Sticky Mandarin pudding with maple syrup
Sticky Mandarin Pudding with Maple Syrup (p. 546)

The presentation of the book is beautiful. The book has a rustic design, and the photos by Alan Benson are beautiful. The book also has a red cloth bookmark on the spine, for bookmarking recipes.

Overall, I'd recommend it for people who are wanting to move towards a more sustainable and ethical way of eating, or who may want to learn how to cook from scratch (or expand their repertoire). Evans encourages readers to do this, and provides plenty of information and a good, solid base of recipes for this to be achieved.
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Why? To learn about food and try some 'real food' recipes
When: Any time
Where: Anywhere
Cost: RRP $89.95, however at the time of publishing this review it's available from online booksellers from around $45 upwards
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