Is anyone else enjoying MasterChef Australia: Back to Win as much as me? How great is it to see our favourite contestants from the past 11 years back in the kitchen? While it's taking some getting used to, not having the lads around, the new judges, particularly Melissa Leong, are slowly growing on me.
But really, the show's less about the judges than it's ever been. We've all picked our favourites, we're all waiting to see what magical creation Reynold whips up, or whether Poh will stretch another challenge to its limits. How long can Hayden hang on for, serving shop-bought corn chips, for how much longer will Emila fly under the radar?
Yes, I'm hooked.
Dare you attempt Reynold's whipped chocolate ganache with a coffee ice cream and lemon jam? Or see if you can out Poh's pie in the same time she did? Go for it, I dare you.
But if you're looking for some recipes that you're more likely to be able to achieve in your own kitchen why not search out some cookbooks from our MasterChef favourites.
Here's a sample list.
Amina won our hearts in season four and now she's wowing the judges with how far she has come. Her dondurma semolina biscuits and apricot jam dish was something extraordinary. In Amina's Home Cooking (Lantern, $35, 2015) she explores her rich family history: her mother is Korean, her father Egyptian and she was born in Saudi Arabia. The book is full of Middle Eastern dishes such as lamb, prune and fig tagine and Korean staples such as kimchi. Most recipes are family-friendly and we love the stories attached to each one.
Callum's been a favourite since he finished second in season two in 2010 and now he's all grown up, married with a young daughter Ellie. It only seems like yesterday he was a fresh-faced lad. In the meantime he's set up a cooking school, a catering and nutrition consultancy and authored three books. All of which I actually have on my bookshelf. The Starter Kitchen (Murdoch Books, $24.99, 2012), I'd Eat That (Murdoch Books, $24.99, 2014) and Quick, Easy, Healthy (Murdoch Books, $39.99, 2018). The philosophy of all three books is encouraging home cooks to simply cook more. The Starter Kitchen is the perfect book for those setting up their first home.
The "beast and beer" - and hat - guy published The Entire Beast: From ear and beer to ale and tale (Lantern, $39.95 , 2010). It combined his love of beer and meat and focused on his nose-to-tail cooking philosophy: honouring the whole animal and minimising food wastage. Full of techniques for staples such as terrines, sausages and pies and original recipes for trotters, cheeks, ears and, of course, offal.
Quinn's found his niche on the small screen more than in print, with shows such as Surfing the Menu: Next Generation and Taste of Australia to his credit. But he's also published two books Dish It Up (Murdoch Books, $35, 2013) after his appearance in season three which is full of fresh healthy food. And he co-authored the accompanying Surfing the Menu: Next Generation (Simon & Schuster, $49.99, 2016) cookbook with MasterChef alumni Dan Churchhill, which followed their adventures across Australia.
Can't wait for the release of this one in June . A Gay Guy's Guide to Life, Love and Food (Plum, $34.99, 2020) is a quirky and joyful cookbook that celebrates life, love, family and friendship, all through the lens of outrageously delicious food. It's an explosion of fashion-led fun and influence, delicious food, with a touch of Khanh's distinctive tongue-in-cheek humour and Queer Eye sensibility.
Laura (nee Cassai) can make pasta. After finishing second in season six, the then teenager went on to publish My Italian Kitchen (Hardie Grant, $39.99, 2015). It's a cute little book, a nod to her rich Italian heritage but with a splash of her original MasterChef dishes.
Poh Ling Yeow
Where do you start with Poh? Just weeks after finishing runner up in season one she was offered a television show and Poh's Kitchen ran for three seasons. In 2010 she published her first cookbook Poh's Kitchen - My Cooking Adventures (ABC Books, $39.99, 2010) and it stayed in the top 10 Australian bestsellers list for six weeks. Four years later came Same Same but Different (HarperCollins, $,39.99, 2014) and then Poh Bakes a Hundred Greats (Murdoch Books, $39.99, 2017). You've got to love everything she does.
Sarah's something of a dark horse. We love her infectious curiousity and her astute judgement on things. Sweet, Savoury, Spicy: Exciting street market food from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and more (Page Street Publishing, PanMacmillan, $39.99, 2020) is another highly anticipated release, scheduled for later in the year. If that twist on sweet and sour pork is anything to go by, this will be a joy.
- MasterChef Australia: Back to Win airs Sunday to Thursday at 7.30pm on the WIN Network.