Quick and Easy Indian Cooking with Anjum Anand

Anjum_Anand_Quick_and _Easy_Indian

The stars are aligning, and in a irresistibly Indian kind of way. Six months ago I was sent on a food-writing assignment to India with British chef and television personality Anjum Anand; a friend recently gifted me a ticket to an Indian film called The Lunchbox starring, you guessed it, Indian food; I’ve just been asked to review a batch of Sydney-based Indian restaurants; and Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian recently landed on my desk for review. It’s a tough life, but I’m coping – one curry at a time.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Chefs, Cuisines

Travels with Tessa Kiros

Tessa_Kiros_The_Recipe_Collection

If like me you’ve coveted Tessa Kiros’ cookbooks for some time but have never bought one, for whatever reason – a moratorium on new cookbooks compounded by lack of shelf space, in my case – then this talented lady is one step ahead of you.

Kiros’ latest work, The Recipe Collection, is a celebration of her published works to date, including the poetically titled Falling Cloudberries, Apples for Jam, and Piri Piri Starfish.

This pretty, pink, floral hardback dips into myriad cuisines, including Italian, Greek, Portuguese and South African, from countries in which Kiros, of Finnish and Greek Cypriot heritage, has either traveled or lived.

It’s a lovely journey to be swept along on: so far i’ve traveled to Venice (spaghetti with tomato and scampi), South Africa (prawns with lemon, piri piri, garlic and feta), Portugal (roasted octopus in red wine with potatoes) and Finland (fish pie) – pretty much losing myself in the seafood chapter, as you can see. Continue reading

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Filed under Book Reviews, Chefs, Cuisines, Gastronomic Travels, Recipes

A survivor’s guide to community gardening: how to not lose the plot

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The quirkiness of community gardening

I’ve been a member of a community garden in suburban Sydney for about 12 years. I remember the day that the then coordinator proudly showed me around. He enthusiastically thrust tiny radishes and other earth-encrusted, often unidentifiable, edibles into my hands. I dusted off their soil jackets and obligingly popped one or two into my mouth. Others I surreptitiously dropped back to the ground.

I didn’t quite get it. But I had a romantic notion of toiling a small plot of land: pulling carrots, plucking pea pods, digging up bucket-loads of spuds. Continue reading

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Filed under Reflections, The Veggie Patch

Favourite food fiction

The_Grass_Harp_Turman_Capote_food_fiction

The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

I was one of those bookworm kind of kids who used to read into the night with a torch under the bed covers, completing entire books by 4am, them dreaming myself into them in for the last remaining hours of sleep. As my gastronomic interests flourished so too did my interest in food fiction. I now have a vast library of books that are thematically based on food: from novels, to memoirs, and manifestos that expose the ugly inner workings of factory farming, hierarchical restaurant kitchens, and multinational monopolies that have hijacked the world’s food basket for commercial gain. But it’s food fiction that gets me every time.

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Can I have a plate with my meal, please?

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Dear waiter: Can I have a plate with my meal please? Just a plate. Preferably a round one. Definitely not square, and i’d rather not a ridiculously thin rectangular one. Just a plain old plate. Actually, it could be patterned. I’m okay with that. Flowered or flecked with colour is fine, too. It could have a deep rim, a dimpled rim, or be more of a shallow bowl kind of thing. I really don’t mind. It could be made of bone china, chunky ceramics, be hand-crafted, or mass produced. But i’d like to have a plate, please.

Not a small chopping board, or rustic piece of wood. It’s no longer trendy; time to find another bandwagon to jump on. That piece of slate you served my steak on recently was just plain wrong. The steak knife that you kindly supplied (many restaurants don’t bother, I know) scraped across that piece of slate like finger nails on a blackboard. And I could have turned a blind eye to the faux baking tray you served my burger and chips on last week, if you hadn’t also used it to serve the paella.

I like the concept of serving certain dishes in the paraphernalia they’re cooked in: ochre coloured terracotta bowls for tapas, garlic prawns served sizzling in a small pan, stainless steel ‘balti’ bowls for curries — as long as plates are provided to eat from. But since when was paella made on a baking tray? Plus, that tacky piece of tin had no grip and spun annoyingly on the table top every time food was extracted from it. Stop trying to be trendy. You’re mostly just behind the times. Just give me a plate, please. Any old plate will do.

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Filed under Reflections