Kim McCosker strives to help families save time and money in the kitchen by improvising ingredients, using leftover food and reducing waste. She is well known for her 4 Ingredients cookbook series and now Kim has set herself the task of creating a wellness trilogy.
Colleen Thorpe talks to Kim about the first in the series, 4 Ingredients Gluten Free, Lactose Free
4 Ingredients: Gluten Free, Lactose Free is the first in your wellness trilogy. What is the inspiration behind these books?
As with all my titles, the wellness trilogy came about as a result of simple market demand. What many forget is that I am still the cookbook author in the aisles of supermarkets, in department stores, on cruises and at expos meeting people and asking them, "What would help you in the kitchen?"; "What kind of recipes do your family like?"; "What cookbook would you like to own to simplify your life?"
Resoundingly, over and over they ask for gluten and lactose-free recipes.
Diabetic friendly recipes, and recipes free of allergens were - and still are - asked for. If you are listening, you start to research and test recipes to suit people's needs ... like my Type 1 diabetic brother ... That is exactly how the wellness trilogy came to be.
What will the other two books cover?
4 Ingredients Diabetes has been my toughest book to write because of the stringent criteria Diabetes Australia set for endorsement.
Each recipe has its nutritional information tabled and broken down by kilojoules, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, carbohydrates and fibre.
The third, 4 Ingredients Allergies is a collection of recipes spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, snacks and entertaining.
Every recipe is free from the world's top nine allergens: cow's milk, hen's eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, sesame, soy, fish and seafood.
What is the key to flavour in cooking when using just four ingredients?
When cooking with four ingredients (or any number of ingredients really) the most important is flavour. Fresh seasonal ingredients such as herbs, garlic and good old sea salt are the best.
These are what I deem star ingredients and when cooking with four or fewer ingredients, you will find a star ingredient in nearly every recipe - it's the flavour provider and enhancer.
How did you decide on the recipes in this book?
They are all tried and tested and have a "wow" factor. Honestly, sometimes it is the simplest things that are the absolute best. You will be amazed at what can be made with so few, but cleverly blended ingredients.
What ingredient could you not live without?
There are two - butter and sea salt - for sheer flavour. It is very hard to pass these two by.
In the cooking world who do you most admire?
Jamie Oliver - he's just such a likeable guy, and seems super down to earth. He's clever with his recipes, creating something for everybody. He's on a quest to improve eating habits of children and adults alike, he gives back and somehow manages to juggle a successful family life. Annabel Langbein - I loved the fact she had the tenacity to produce her own television show - she has been my inspiration to do the same ever since.
What dish do you most love to cook?
At this time of year a simple, flavourful, home-cooked laksa.
What celebrity would you most like to cook for?
Oprah Winfrey - she loves food and I think she'd be amazed at what can be made with so few ingredients. Never say never, www.oprah.com featured my marzipan marbles on her website last Christmas to coincide with the release of 4 Ingredients Christmas in America - it was very exciting.
Have you a guilty pleasure?
Dark chocolate with sea salt and the very occasional Moet Ice with cucumbers - both send me weak at the knees. I love them in the guiltiest, most pleasurable way.
What did your school report say?
I was school captain at all three schools; primary, secondary and high ... I was very social (okay yes, maybe I talked too much) but pretty responsible, too. I had my 25-year reunion last year and got home at 5am ... What would my report card say now?!
If you were on Mastermind what would your topic be?
Fruit cake ... I hazard a guess I have made over 3000 in the last six years. There is nothing about dried fruit I don't know.
What three New Zealand foods are top of your list?
Kiwi fruit, lamb and 42Below [vodka]. Does that count as an ingredient? Like Moet Ice it should!
Avocado and Coconut Icecream
1 can (400ml) coconut milk
2 tbsp agave nectar
12 fresh cherries
Scoop out the avocado pulp, cut into chunks and put in a blender or processor. Add coconut milk and nectar and puree until smooth. Pour into a paper-lined loaf tin and freeze for 1 hour.
Remove and blend again. Pour back into the tin and freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until set. Serve on a platter garnished with cherries.-Serves 6
Creamy rich avocado is considered the world's healthiest fruit because of its nutrient content, including vitamin K, fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C and copper.
4 Ingredients Gluten Free Lactose Free
by Kim McCosker, Simon & Schuster, $19.99