Katrina Meynink has flipped cooking as we know it entirely on its head.
When it comes to getting dinner on the table, being tasked with preparing a sauce, condiment or dressing alongside the meal can feel like an extravagance in the time-poor daily grind.
But haven’t you ever found that a herb-laden pesto, a heady spice mix, or a dollop of sweet relish has the power to totally enhance a dish?
It’s for this reason that in her new cookbook From Salt To Jam, Katrina asks us to start where we would usually end, and plan our meals around condiments letting them do all the hard work.
The author and Good Food columnist shows us how making four condiments—like bagel seasoning, green goddess dressing, chermoula and jalapeno jam—can unlock two weeks’ worth of meals. By batch-making a few seasonings or dressings, you have an arsenal of flavour at the ready and an endless sauce (ha!) of inspiration.
From Salt To Jam is the epitome of working smarter, not harder.
We spoke to Katrina about the light-bulb moment that led to this book, her favourite veg to cook with, and the importance of involving kids in cooking meals.
Firstly, congratulations on this genius cookbook—it’s created a new style of cooking that you call ‘condiment-first cooking’. Can you describe how the book works and what condiment-first cooking entails?
Thank you so much! You’ve nailed it on the head, this book has the work smarter not harder mentality front and centre.
From Salt to Jam works around key seasonings and condiments to bolster our everyday cooking. By batch preparing a condiment or seasoning we have a source of flavour to draw on and execute any number of excellent meals. The book is broken down into various condiment recipes and then recipes for dishes utilising that condiment.
How did you come to discover this method of cooking?
I am constantly asked for dinner inspiration, and I found myself always responding along the lines of “a decent condiment will always lead to a meal” and this book was the perfect opportunity to put that concept into practice. When we hoard condiments, we hoard ready flavour! Condiments make every dish - even the laziest snacks - taste special.
Did you create this book with a certain reader in mind?
It’s a book for time-poor lovers of good food and big flavours. It is for those that want to streamline their time in the kitchen without sacrificing flavour and interest.
On top of developing the recipes, you also undertook all of the photography and styling. What was this process like?
Absolutely amazing and challenging in equal measure. I am adamant about cooking and shooting my own work. If this is a book for home cooks, it should be cooked in a home, and I am proud of the fact that this was done without a studio or stylist or any special lighting. It makes it real and relatable. That is important to me, and it makes it feel more genuine – like the content comes directly from me to the home cook.
The challenge, after having complete end-to-end creative control, was letting it go into the world.
What’s your favourite vegetable to cook with at the moment?
Pumpkin or carrots. Both can be manipulated in so many different directions – soft and yielding to caramelised and crisp. And they are often the perfect vessel for so many different flavour combinations.
How do you like to involve your kids in your cooking?
In every way I can. I find if I engage them in the process from picking something to cook, to coming to the markets for ingredients or sitting on the kitchen bench and helping me prep – they will always eat what is put in front of them. They are developing their palates early, know the importance of seasoning, and know a basic pasta dough recipe off by heart. By ensuring they help make and eat a wide variety of foods I hope they will continue to try different foods and the joy found in cooking.
And lastly, what’s an ingredient you like to sneak into everything?
Yuzu or Oyster sauce. Don’t make me pick a favourite child! They both bring instant depth and interest to anything you add them too.
Make Katrina's Prawn Saganaki with Feta, Fennel and Ouzo.