|Celebrated chef Gabriel Gat‚ has just written a book which he hopes will encourage men to cook for themselves for pleasure, and independence. Good Food For Men comes with an endorsement from the Anti-Cancer Council and, with permission from Gabriel and his publishers at William Heineman Australia, we reprint this edited extract from the book, together with three recipes. If you want to, you can order the book through our merchandise section. |
Not being able to cook has been a problem for too many men and women for too long. In all my time cooking and teaching, I have observed that, generally, men don't have as good a knowledge as women. When it comes to food, just as boys are not encouraged to contribute to the family cooking the way girls are.
Men love to eat, but they do less food shopping and cooking than women. In my own cooking classes, which are open to both sexes, there is, on average, one man for every ten women. Ultimately, the choices men make in regard to food, health and independence are affected by this lack of culinary experience and knowledge.
“Our food is our medicine.” “We are what we eat.” If we believe these two sayings, then the cook has a more important role to play in our wellbeing. In the role of the “cook as doctor”, a role that marries gastronomy with science, a good cook gives more pleasure than that of the doctor, and acts as a preventor of disease and illness rather than as a cure.
Eating should be a pleasurable experience from the time you begin the meal until the end of the digestion of the food. Before a meal you should have an appetite, but if you have been starving for the past hour it either means that you did not eat enough nutritious food at the previous meal, or that you left too much of a break between meals. Try to get into an eating routine so that each meal keeps you satisfied until the next. If you must have a long break between meals, try to plan for a nourishing snack, such as a sandwich, fruit or a healthy slice in-between. Above all, avoid quick fixes like fatty foods or foods high in sugar.
My 14 tips for Cooking and Eating for Pleasure
1. Shop for fresh food at least three times a week and cook food at its freshest.
2. Develop a friendly relationship with fresh food people.
3. Stimulate your senses by looking at, touching, smelling and tasting new foods.
4. Take notes, write down recipes and share your cooking knowledge with those around you.
5. Eat a wide variety of foods and learn to cook new dishes regularly.
6. Enjoy plenty of vegetables, fruit and high-fibre foods like cereals.
7. Cook using a minimum of fat and consume fat and fatty foods in moderation.
8. Alternate meat, fish and vegetarian protein dishes.
9. Limit salty, smoked, sweet and hot spicy foods.
10. Drink alcohol, coffee and sweetened soft drinks in moderation.
11. Sit to eat and eat slowly.
12. Notice the content, taste, texture and effect of what you eat.
13. Watch your weight.
14. Learn to relax, exercise daily and enjoy life.
And here's three dishes from my book to send you on your way.
Couscous with vegetables
Couscous is a coarse wheat semolina that is a staple of North African cuisine. It is really like pasta, and usually comes in packets already partly cooked. The cooking instructions usually say to add the couscous to hot water for a few minutes, but I prefer to finish the cooking by steaming as it gives a lighter, fluffier grain. Harissa is a hot chilli paste available from good delis and food stores. This preparation is beautifully spicy. Serves 4.
2 medium carrots, peeled and halved crosswise.
2 turnips, peeled and halved
1 red capsicum, quartered and seeded
2 zucchinis, halved crosswise
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon harissa or chilli paste
1 teaspoon ground cummin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained
2-3 silverbeet leaves or a handful of spinach, shredded
300g (11 oz) couscous
a few sprigs of coriander
In a large saucepan place the carrots, turnips, capsicum, zucchinis, tomatoes, tomato paste, harissa, cummin, garlic and olive oil. Cover with water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the drained chickpeas and silverbeet, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Place the couscous in a fine-mesh strainer and run cold water over it for a few minutes. Place a damp towel or muslin over the perforated compartment of your steamer and put the wet couscous over the cloth. Bring some water in the steamer base to the boil, and steam the couscous, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until the grains are soft. Stir with a fork to separate the grains.
Place the couscous on a dish and the vegetables and liquid separately in a serving bowl. Garnish with sprigs of coriander. Serve from the centre of the table for all to help themselves.
Veal or Beef Osso Bucco
This classic Italian dish, superb in winter, can be made with either veal or beef. Using veal will produce a more delicate meal than beef; it is, however, more expensive. Beef will also take about an hour longer to cook. Whichever you use, be sure to trim all visible fat from the meat. I suggest cooking the dish in a large saucepan or in a ovenproof dish. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ brown onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
4-8 slices shin of veal or beef cut into 3 cm (1½) slices
a little plain flour
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup beef or veal stock
400g (14 oz) can peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 sprigs of thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper
rind of ½ lemon, finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat half the oil in a wide saucepan and cook the onion, carrot and celery for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Lightly coat the veal or beef slices with flour. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and brown the meat on both sides for about 2 minutes on each side. Add the wine, stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and garlic to the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper and gently stir in the cooked onion, carrot and celery. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 1 ½ hours if you're using veal, and 2-2 ½ hours for beef. It can also be cooked in a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit) for about the same duration.
Just before serving, stir in the lemon rind and chopped parsley.
Williams Pears and Passionfruit Salad
For this easy, light, luscious dessert select Williams pears that are just ripe; that is, light green turning yellow. You can make the salad several hours in advance, but make sure the liquid covers or coats the pears. Serves 4-6.
4 oranges or 1½ cups best-quality orange juice
juice of ½ a lemon
3 heavy passionfruit
2 tablespoons sugar or orange blossom honey (optional)
4 just-ripe Williams pears
1 tablespoon kirsch or Drambuie or Brandy (optional).
Squeeze the oranges into a bowl. Mix in the lemon juice, passionfruit pulp and sugar or honey.
Peel, quarter and core the pears. Cut each quarter into 3 segments and add to the juices. Cover the bowl with plastic film and refrigerate.
Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Stir in the liqueur of your choice and serve.