Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pretentious menus

Oh, Paul, thank you so much.
For those of you who haven't read this, please do.
This would be the 'Sweet Triage', surely.


Man, woman & child

I know Thanksgiving has come and gone...

...But just apply her philosophy to Xmas. I like the woman. Hilarious AND informative. And don't forget the Pinot Noir

Bill's Everyday Asian ~ Meatballs with a tamarind glaze

light flavoured oil, to brush and drizzle
600g beef mince
1 tablespoon finely shopped ginger
3 tablespoons coriander leaves
1 small red onion, grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 240 dedgrees celsius and brush a large roasting tray with oil. Put the mince, ginger, coriander, onion and soy sauce in a large bowl and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until well combined, then roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls. Put the meatballs in the prepared tray, drizzle over a litle extra oil and roast for 10 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven, pour a third of the  glaze over the meatballs and return the tray to the over to roast for a further 5 minutes. Repeat this step and roast for a further 2 miutes. Repeat once more before serving with steamed rice and steamed Asian greens.

Serves 4-8

Tamarind glaze

2 tablespoons light flavoured oil
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
200 ml honey
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Place the oil, tamarind paste, honey, 3 tablespoons water, lime juice and soy sauce in a small saucepan over the medium heat. Bring to the boi and simmer for 4 minutes. Set aside.

An afterword:  One thing I cannot stand on food blogs is badly photographed food. And I'm here to tell you I'm no photographer. So... I'll let other people's work (legally of course) do the photographic talking. This gorgous pic was taken by Kevin Connors, and I thought it lent a nice 'feel' to the recipe.  I found it here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Empress's new clothes

Found at iconoculture:

Mademoiselle Chi Chi is a new clothing line made from powdered milk. Developed by a Hanover microbiologist and fashion designer in partnership with the Bremen Fibre Institute, the cloth, called Qmilch, is reported to have positive effects on the skin.

The milk powder is mixed together with other ingredients in a type of meat grinder to produce a fibre that is made into yarn and then into a silky cloth to produce dresses with a luxury feel (and priced around €150-$200).

Bio-materials have an advantage over organic materials, which are limited in supply and could become scarce and expensive on the international market. The process alone could help to create more breakthroughs in the fashion industry, which is searching for cheaper and more environmentally friendly fabrics.

Sister company Qmilch has ambitions to take the fabric into other lines, including bed linens, T-shirts and automobile seats.


Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of the fashion industry on the environment and are keen to find alternatives to cheap throwaway goods.

Luxury is often undervalued in green products: Those that combine ethics and aesthetics will resonate with affluent consumers.

Now, I haven’t read deeply into the ins and outs of the fibre production but… It’s called a bio-material, and according to iconoculture has an advantage over an organic material…(as above). But am I missing something. Isn’t milk an organic material… produced by um… cows, eating pasture, on land?

I can just see it, high end fashion labels touting fabric from award winning jersey cows.

Who woulda thunk it? Fascinating stuff.

I've been a fan of Harris Salat and his Japanese Food Report for a long time. In fact, Harris very kindly helped me when I was searching for a way to replicate a miso marinated camembert (don't knock it til you try it!) I'd had at Emon, a Japanese restaurant in Sydney. Harris writes cook books as well as blogs, and he posted this little ripper the other day, and took the words right out of my mouth. 'Everything you wanted to know about Panko breadcrumbs but were afraid to ask.' Thanks Harris.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

First, catch your sweet potato

If A = Sweet Potato


B = Yellow miso, tahini, mirin, maple syrup, plum vinegar, water mixed to taste


C = sesame seeds


A (cut in cubes and baked til cooked through ) + B (poured over top) + C (toasted and sprinkled) = a D-licious quick dinner, or a great side dish with some sort of Asian inspired grilled meat.

And leftover B can be kept in the fridge for a few days. It improves over time.

And on its own, it's V* & VV**


If you don't have plum vinegar, use rice vinegar, or even sherry vinegar. If you don't have maple syrup, use honey or your favourite sugar. Really, you just need the miso and the tahini (1/3 cup of each), and you can play around with your other ingredients as you wish. Just don't be heavy handed at the beginning, so you can adjust the all important balance as you go. Would be delicious on pumpkin or parsnip as well.

Ready for some time in the playpen?

It's time to play Cheese or Font.

These are a few of my favourite things… for 2011

1. This is the message I see when I log in to
“Welcome… you have 413 cookbooks, 2 magazines, 7 blogs and 46,317 recipes on your Bookshelf.”
I find that very comforting. Now I just need somewhere to put them. But seriously, I now use a lot more of the 413 books than I ever did before. If you’ve got a problem with ‘Just saying no’ to a new book, you need this site.

2. Chef’s armoury. This store in Sydney thrills me to my tabi socks. Japanese food products, the most glorious barbecues and binchotan charcoal, knives, books. It’s a tiny wee place, but packed with great expertise and quality products.

3 feast magazine. New from our broadcaster SBS this year. It’s a cracker of mag and I hope it flourishes. Take out a subscription now.

4. Where I live being named the winner of the 100 mile food challenge at the Crave Festival. It’s an abundant part of the world, with award winning dairy, citrus dripping off the trees, oysters, mud crab and fish to die for.

5 .Jimmy’s Atta flour. Glorious for making flatbreads.

6. Eating at Hellenic Republic. Check out the menu here, and when you’re next in Melbourne, be sure to rustle up at least three other people, and go for dinner. You’ll need company so you can taste everything on the menu.

7. My local op shop and market for arcane utensils, including the Food Glamorizer. Angusf appears to have one too. It’ll be a very retro Christmas with a bit of assistance from this little treasure.

8. And just when you thought there couldn't be any more, new and wonderful cook books. And a high Australian dollar for a while there meant shopping at Amazon & Book Depository was even more fun.

Soft serve ice cream, I hear you say...

Not exactly. Find out here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

If ever a book needed

It's this one, all 1000 recipes of it.

It really is a bible of the subcontinent, and we have stumbled across some great dishes in here. In fact, we're making spicy potato stuffed parathas as I write. Why stumbled? Because the index only lists the Indian names for each recipe. Although there is an English title at the head of the recipe, there's no English language index. So if you can't remember exactly what your recipe's called, you haven't got a chapati's chance in Mumbai of finding it. God help you if you can't remember the name of the curry you cooked from it, or you run out of post-it notes! Please, eatyourbooks, please index this book.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Bill's Everyday Asian ~ Bill Granger

Billl’s Everyday Asian
Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780732291686

I’m not going to include the price, because wherever you are in the world, it could vary.

There’s a marked difference between the cook book that has grown out of a restaurant and the book which have the definite authorship of a person. This was thrown into sharp focus when I sat down with my cup of Japanese tea (well, it is an Asian cookbook) to thumb my way through Bill Granger’s latest offering. I read somewhere the other day that Bill is being touted as the new Jamie Oliver. Bill’s got a few years on Jamie, and has been around probably longer. And Bill is Bill, he’s a not new anybody. His food to date has been simple, achievable and bloody delicious. Let’s see what his foray into a book devoted to Asian food is going to be like, shall we? His scrambled egg recipe is sublime. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Takes scrambled eggs to a whole new plain. And his coconut bread is iconic.

The first thing I notice in this book is Bill’s voice. It’s reassuring, interested and helpful. He’s starting to sound like my pin-up boy, Nigel Slater. Maybe it's because he's not a chef, he's a self taught cook. So he gets how we want to, and need to cook... every day.

Design: Very pretty styling. Swathes of Asian pastels, celadon, duck egg blue, pinks, red lacquer. Mikkel Vang’s photography is clean and zingy like the food.

Typeface: Clear, if not a point or two too small.

Bookmarks: None. It’s not a huge tome, so not really necessary.

Country of origin/Travelability:
Australian, metric only. No alternative ingredient names given for US market. No special ingredients required. Just your basic Asian flavours. Get yourself a bottle of fish sauce, some ginger, coriander, soy sauce (both light & dark), lash out on a wok, and you’re good to go. I live in the country, but there’s not a basic ingredient I can’t find in my local supermarket. As Bill says, approach Asian food in the same way as Italian food. They’re similar. And we don’t think twice about cooking Italian these days.

Text: Delightful. Welcoming, encouraging, confidence inspiring, and downright chatty. Simple clear directions that won’t frighten a novice cook.

Yum factor: High.

Degree of difficulty: Low.

Recipe test:

Meatballs with tamarind glaze ~ easy, delicious, and the kiddies will like love ‘em. They’re a little bit sweet and sour. And the tamarind glaze lifts the slight bitterness of the bok choy. In fact, I’d make up the glaze just to have on bok choy instead of oyster sauce. And you could make the meatballs with pork, or even chicken. And if you’re in entertaining mode, make up two or three times the amount and serve them with drinks.

Banana batter cake with caramel sauce ~ Bill calls it an ‘Asian variation on sticky toffee pudding.’ Ooh, yeah. I have to say we had it with cream rather than coconut milk, but the coconut milk would make it ever so tropical. And a great recipe to tinker with… Palm sugar instead of brown, some pineapple on the top with the bananas. That sort of thing.

And in both of these recipes, you’re not going to kill it by substituting a little bit here or there. That’s the thing about Bill. He wants us to cook, not slavishly replicate. So I suppose he is a little like Jamie in that regard.

There’ll definitely be more recipe tests from this volume.


What I learnt: Bill predicts Korean food will be ‘the next big thing’. I actually predict it will be Peruvian food. Want a wager, Bill?

There’s no cutlet in the Japanese pork cutlet
There’s no soy in the Asparagus, chilli, garlic & soy,
And for crying out loud… There’s no salt in the Salt & pepper whiting. This recipe is also on the Lifestyle Food website, and still no one’s told us how much salt we need. Or am I missing something?

This is a welcome addition to Bill’s oeuvre. It’s a lively, joyful collection. I’m filing it under B for Bill, rather than the more anonymous A for Asian on my bookshelves. It’s that personable a book. A place to turn for bold Asian flavours that won’t send your carbon emissions skyrocketing trying to find ingredients.

Bring on Bill’s Tasty Weekends book please.

And just to get you started, although it’s not in this book, here’s the recipe for the aforementioned coconut bread:

Coconut Bread Recipe
Recipe from Sydney Food by Bill Granger
2 eggs
300ml of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 cup of caster sugar
150g of shredded coconut
75g of unsalted butter, melted
To serve: butter and icing sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and flour a loaf tin.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl and add the cinnamon, sugar and coconut. Stir to combine and make a well in the centre.
3. Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together and pour into the flour mixture and mix until just combined before adding the melted butter. Stir until the mixture is smooth, being careful not to overmix.
4. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes before removing and placing onto a wire rack to cool.
And my word on it: It freezes beautifully. Slice and wrap in foil and pop her in the freezer, then toast or put in a café press thinking

Thursday, December 01, 2011


At a time when publishers of that marvellous item, the book, must be under considerable stress, some of us a dedicated to save it from extinction. I for one, have pledged that the cook book will not be an endangered thing in my time. I suspect I’m not alone in this, but justifying an addiction as principled action can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Recipes for just about anything you care to dream up are now readily available on that all pervasive internet thingie. But there are still some die-hard cook book fans out there, committed to the book in all its glory. I am an unashamed collector of said cook books; nothing gives me a greater thrill than an addition to the bookshelf. They don’t have to be pristine, brand new, virgin, latest releases. I love them all equally… Actually, that’s not true. I love to open a new cook book that no woman or man has gone before me, and splotched with their attempts of cooking past.

And I don’t just cook from them. Looking back over the collection, I can see a real development in Australian cuisine, together with the influences, fads and fluffiness of a given era.

Design: The cover is mysterious and features the neon sign at the front of the Melbourne restaurant of the same name. (I also adore a neon sign). You feel like you’re walking into one of those atmospheric hole in the wall eating establishments where a culinary adventure awaits.

So, ready to dive in:

Bookmarks: Three! Count them, three. As the bulk of the book is shared plates, you'll probably cook more than one dish for a meal. Smart.

Typeface: Hmm, the Contents page. Text running vertically rather than horizontally and from right to left. Why, one asks oneself? And the chapter divisions with the wiggly migraine inducing lines, might just give an epileptic an episode! And there's something about the dark tones that is just ever so slightly menacing. Not my cup of cha. But hey, it’s about the recipes and the text.

The cocktails make an appearance at the front of the book. Yay! They’re usually buried at the back as an afterthought. And what delicious sounding cocktails they are: I Dream Of Lychee, Cucumber and Lemongrass Martini, and Ginger Girl. There’s 11 in all, and with the festive season almost upon us, I’m prepared to give every last single one of them a try, all in the name of research, you understand. They're all fresh, tropical and tangy, ideal for an Australasian Christmas.

The greater part of the recipes fit in the Shared Plates plates section and feature an abundance of seafood, but of course, beef and pork make an appearance, as does tofu. What sort of Asian influenced cook book would dare to exclude pork belly from its pages. Gingerboy’s take on that oft-abused Sweet and Sour pork sounds fab ~ Sweet and Sour Pork Belly with Cherry Tomatoes, Coriander and Peanut Salad.

WHAT I LEARNT: Prickly Ash is Sichuan peppercorns. Who knew? I discovered this in the Basics section. I’d seen it listed as an ingredient, and got a creeping ‘Oh, no! Where can I possibly get that?’ feeling . (I live in the country.) Also in the Basics are recipes for a Char Siu marinade, and Green Ginger Wine Dressing, which I can’t wait to try.

YUM FACTOR: Restaurant. High.

As the weather’s warming up, I was drawn to the parfaits in the dessert section. Mango, Chilli and Lime Parfait with Fried Sticky Rice and Blackberry Caramel. Yes, please. And the thing about this book is you don’t HAVE to make the Fried Sticky Rice and/or the Blackberry Caramel. The parfait alone would be just fine for dessert. But if you want to make an impression, by all means, hit ‘em with the frilly bits. And speaking of the Fried Sticky Rice Balls, you’ll find them in the Basics section, but for this recipe they’re finely ground and sprinkled over the parfait, kind of like a praline. Nice idea.

RECIPE TEST: I’m off to have a pre-dinner Ginger Girl cocktail now… Bye. I will post a follow up recipe test come the weekend when I can get to my regional town and get a few supplies. Perhaps a simple one to start, the Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu, and then when there's more time, something a little more complex.

While a lot of the recipes aren't at all difficult, there's something about the high end restaurant styling and photos that makes you think there might be. Compare it to Bill's Everyday Asian, and you'll see what I mean. For someone who's a fan of the gingerboy restaurant in Melbourne, I'm sure they'll love this book with a passion. So... note to self... go to Melbourne, eat at gingerboy, use book more often.

COMING UP: More on Asia with Bill Granger’s Bill’s Everyday Asian.