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Inside Matt Preston’s Secret Tips To Fail-Safe Flavoursome Cooking

matt preston
Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Editor

Nov 16, 2021

If you think spaghetti bolognese comes from Italy, pavlova was dreamt up in New Zealand or that tuna mornay came here from the United States. . . then you’d be wrong. As strange as it sounds – as Matt Preston tells us in his new book – all three popped up in Australia first.

Matt Preston
Matt Preston is an author and award-winning journalist and foodie

It’s some of the fun facts the renowned foodie and TV personality provides us with with fabulous Aussie-style recipes in his new book – Matt Preston’s World of Flavour.  Personally, I love the interesting facts he’s gleaned such as Australia’s most-searched-for dishes, and other myth-busting tidbits about their origins and setting the culinary record straight.

But what counts most for Matt is his love and appreciation of flavour and there’s 100 recipes in his book bursting with it and he explains to The Carousel why the ‘pursuit of flavour’  is one of his most enjoyable endeavours.

Here, we asked Preston a few more questions and here’s what he had to say:

Layered Prawn Cocktail
This is a recipe from the book for a layered prawn cocktail.

You describe the “holy grail” as passing on recipes with an amazing flavour in your foreward. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

“We’ve favoured dishes with resonance for the modern Australian kitchen, because I want as many of these recipes as possible to become beloved regulars on your table and, more importantly, for you to subsequently identify them as ‘your’ recipes. That’s the holy grail for any recipe writer: to pass on the amazing flavours we’ve tasted and loved ourselves.”

What are the most flavoursome recipes that have been shared by you and can you describe the meaning they have for you?

“The spaghetti bolognese is a recipe I’m particularly proud of – it’s wonderful to have people come up to me and tell me it’s their kids favourite. The superior flavour comes from long, slow cooking and a couple of insider tricks!”

When it comes to food, has the ‘pursuit of flavour’ been the most enjoyable endeavour?

“Totally – and it doesn’t matter whether that comes in a dodgy lane way in Mexico City or some posh gastronomic temple.”

You talk about your beloved recipe books – do you have many that were published before your were born? What are they and why do they still resonate? Is there a favourite in your collection?

“The oldest family recipe book I have is a handwritten one from 1765. I always get a thrill cooking the ‘macherony’ cheese from this book knowing it’s 250 years provenance. It’s an amazing way to feel a direct connection to my culinary heritage and my ancestors. With the other books in my collection, I especially cherish those with handwritten notes written in the margin of the printed recipes – ideas on how to improve it!”

How would you sum up Australian cuisine?

“Tasty, welcoming, fresh and bright.”

What’s the best way to eat oysters?

“Simple, uncooked with a few carpels of finger lime for the contrasting acid pop…  Oh, and as close to the lease as possible. Eating shucked oyster just pulled from the sea – that romance just enhances the flavour and whole experience.”

Puttanesca
Another recipe for Authentic Puttanesca.

You’ve made an Aussie prawn and fish pie? What’s the secret to making seafood pies? 

“Just use properly fresh seafood. Don’t overcook the seafood – remember different seafood can take different times too cook. Be generous with the herbs and follow a good recipe – like the one in my new book, World of Flavour.

The fish pies I grew up with were grey, fishy-smelling monstrosities that scarred me! Also, try making them with celeriac in the mash or hard boiled eggs in with the seafood – that’s a Mrs Beeton trick from 150 years ago!”

What’s the most underrated Aussie recipe? And why?

Lemon delicious – it’s a magic, self-saucing pudding that can hero any of our signature flavours like passionfruit, lime or any number of different lemons.

Your avo smash on corn fritters is sublime. Can you explain our obsession with avos – is it one of your obsessions too?

“I so love avocados – I love that they used to be called ‘alligator pears.’  I love them sliced, mashed or even turned into a dairy-free dressing for salad with lime juice, salt and oil.

The fact they grow so well here is part of the attraction — but also avocado is such an easy vegetable to add to any breakfast. And they add such delicious creaminess! They are like nothing else raw in the veg world.”

When it comes to flavour, what are among your favourite international cuisines and what’s the flavour that attracts you most?

“Well, here are my favourites:

Indian – caramelised ginger and garlic as the base for so many gravies – the sourness of tamarind and kesuri methi. These dried fenugreek leaves are so good in any barbecued meat.

Thai – I love the alchemy of blending the flavours of fish sauce, Thai basil, lime, palm sugar and chilli together, especially with toasted pumpkin and roast peanuts, or with prawns.

Mexican – lime, chilli, corn, avocado, smoked chilli – like chipotle – all so good with a little pork action.”

I love Knickerbocker glory…what does this recipe evoke for you?

“Childhood – when the tall glass of the sundae used to seem to tower above you and you had to stand up at the end to get your spoon right in there.”

What’s the secret to your amazing pork crackling?

“Prepare the pork skin – dry it, salt it and then rest it overnight. Then rub it clean and dry.

Apply enough heat. I used to smash the pork in a very hot oven first up but now I favour the reverse sear method and do that at the end. Remember the power of your grill function too but it’s risky as the crackle will burn if not watched closely.”

matt preston pavlova
Matt Preston’s Pavlova

How do you stop your Pavlova from going flat?

“Don’t over or under whip your eggs. Set a boundary for where you’ll pile your meringue – and stick to it. Sweep upwards with a palette knife around the edge! Above all, Follow the recipe in the new book!!!”

Cookies – is there a tip for making crunchy cookies?

“For crispy cookies, it’s all about the recipe, the heat, especially the sugar – you need white for crisp; and brown for moist – and the length of time in the oven. Cookies that spread out when cooking tend to be crispier so don’t chill the dough before baking. The best crispy cookies in my repertoire are my ‘dinkel cookies’ from a Swedish recipe. Lace thin and crack like thin ice on a winter puddle.

You want crunch – just add macadamias!!!”

Matt Preston World of FlavourFor more information on Matt Preston’s new cooking book published by Penguin Books RRP $39.99, visit here.

For more recipes from The Carousel, visit here.

9 Healthy Recipes From Award-Winning Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Editor

Robyn Foyster is the owner and publisher of the lifestyle websites TheCarousel.com, GameChangers.com.au and WomenLoveTech.com. She is the only person to edit and publish Australia's three biggest flagship magazines - The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day and New Idea. Robyn was Group Publisher of Bauer Media's most successful and prestigious magazines including Woman's Day, Good Health, Grazia and ran Hearst in Australia including Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan and madison. Voted one of B&T's 30 Most Powerful Women In Media at the Women in Media Awards Robyn was a keynote speaker at Pause 2021, Cebit & J&J Women In Leadership. Robyn was also the winner of the prestigious Magazine Publisher Association’s Editor of the Year award.

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