Another cookbook? Ay ya yai! La Diva takes a look at Neil Perry's Asian cookbook "Balance & Harmony"

 Darlings, every time I go on holiday I always buy myself one nice gift as a souvenir to remind me of a wonderful trip.   The last time La Diva was in Sydney, I spoiled myself with a gift I had been wanting since I lived there:  a beautiful dark gray mabe pearl ring.  This time, I decided I was going to get a cookbook.  


I hear you say....I know, I know, La Diva needs a cookbook like a hole in the head.  But  I realized that after almost ten years living in Sydney, I did not have one cookbook from a current Australian chef!

After hearing that my brother in law was going to get married at Sydney icon Chef Neil Perry's restaurant Rockpool, my mind was made up to check out his latest endeavor.

The book was cloth covered and came in a box and cost a mere $135 AUD.  With the Yankee dollar being so weak, it I ended up paying $120 USD for it!

Neil Perry's cooking style is what is called "Modern Australian" or "Mod Oz" for short.  It's a combination of traditional foods and dishes fused with Asian and European styles and usually includes fresh local seafood, produce and of course,  lamb.  Just like how Italian and Latin foods have embedded themselves within American food culture so as to not to be considered "ethnic" anymore, so too has Asian, Lebanese, Greek and Italian foods within the average Australian home.

Beautiful printing, artwork, paper and cloth binding all make up for an expensive but high quality and gorgeous cookbook.  I'm almost frightened to use it!

I really wanted a Neil Perry cookbook that featured recipes from his restaurant Rockpool, but after looking at the selection at his restaurant (and giving in to the advice of the effusive general manager on duty who recommended it,)  I found that Neil's foray into Asian cooking, the recently published "Food and Balance," to be beautiful and intriguing.  I already had a classic Asian cookbook by longtime chef Charmaine Solomon from about 20 years ago, but when I saw Neil's recipes, I decided it was time to explore a modern Asian cookbook.

The reviews of the book were great and the recipes started out from easy to the most advanced.  I  also wanted this book because it had the recipes for the food I wanted to make, like the popular Kung Pao Chicken and Tea and Spiced Smoked Duck.

The cookbook is full of gorgeous vintage Asian art prints.

Additionally, the book starts off with basic techniques and recipes including various curry and spice pastes and you know La Diva is always more than willing to further improve my Asian cooking skills and knowledge.  This chapter includes instruction for braising and boiling, steaming, stir-frying, deep-frying and of course tea-smoking!

The next chapter is more advanced and offers banquet menus, which I look forward to making for company in the future, and includes recipes on tofu and eggs, pork, beef and lamb, poultry, seafood, vegetables, noodles and rice and then finishes with fruit and "sweet things."

Deep-fried leatherjacket fish with three-flavored sauce

Of course, with well over a dozen books either given to me or bought by myself within this last year, La Diva has a WHOLE LOTTA COOKIN' TO DO.  However, I have special guests coming for dinner next week and I plan on tackling one of the many delicious looking recipes from this book.  Of course La Diva will let you know how it turns out!


Yes, of course La Diva had to get this book signed!  I missed meeting Neil at the wedding (I was gabbing, naturally!) and when I told the GM of the restaurant that I would like the book signed before returning to the U.S. he informed me that I had "just missed him" as he was on a plane to Japan, but he would try when Neil came back in a few days.  As luck would have it, I received a phone call later that very afternoon telling me to come and pick up my signed book, Neil had just "happened to come in" on his way to the airport!  Ah, yes, La Diva DOES get lucky sometimes!

This is one of my fave prints of the book!  

Darlings, I shall leave you with a quote from the back of the book, as Neil's sentiments echo my own:

"One of the things I love most about Asian food is that it is made for the shared table, and that is how I love to eat.  A bowl of rice, a few dishes, some friends and family and a nice glass of wine or two; I can't think of a better way to spend an evening."

'Nuff said.  Ciao, darlings!

Darlings, would YOU like to learn more about Asian cooking?  La Diva offers a fun and sassy "small bites, BIG DRINKS" class with Asian appetizers and paired with flavorful cocktails!  Click HERE for more info!
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Making Space said...

What a beautiful book!! Thanks for sharing this... lovely.

Jill said...

Hi mother has been visiting for the last week, so not many visits to the blogosphere for me. This book looks beautiful. I'm glad your home safely! I'll have to tell you about my leg of lamb debacle!!

Heff said...

Classy lookin' book.


"Leatherjacket Fish" ? Do they wear "shades" too ?

Aunty Belle said...

La Diva C!!

Gorgeous book, darlin' girl--an' did ya luck out wif' the inscription--

I wanna learn about the tea smokin' thang--onc't made some "thousand year old eggs" wif' tea, but not smoked. Tea smoked duck in on the brain now.

I luv the Antique Asian prints too.
We'll all be lookin' forward to what comes outa yore kitchen wif this new book in residence.

moi said...

Wow, what a stunning book! I can't resist the lure of a beautiful or offbeat cookbook—I buy and read them like novels.

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Thanks for introducing me to a new cookbook. Great photos and lovely post!

I think that children need to be taught from very young about the importance of not wasting food. It must be a big deal in the home!