Saturday, June 23, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Word of Mouth TV

I have soooo many Weekend Cooking posts in my head and have done for a couple of months, but the process of sitting down and writing one or more just hasn't happened. There was the post about eating while we were away in South Africa, the fact that I have become pretty good a making swiss roll style sponges in the last month or so, the fact that I made pastry from scratch, a few new recipes, the initial steps in an upcoming kitchen renovation and possibly more that I can't think of right now. Maybe some of those posts will still happen but probably not all of them.

Today, I want to post about Word of Mouth TV which is a relatively new Youtube TV show that has been put together by one of my favourite Australian authors, Kate Forsyth and her friend Sarah Mills (also an author).

The basic idea is to combine two loves, food and books, into one Youtube TV show. Each episode features an author guest who comes to eat delicious food but also to talk about their writing, their food loves, their favourite recent reads and favourite cookbooks.  The first episode featured husband and wife authors Graeme Simsion (author of The Rosie Project) and Anne Buist. Other guests have included Jennifer Egan, Richard Fidler and more.

On the Word of Mouth TV website, there are the recipes for the dishes that have been cooked for the show, plus details of the books that have been featured and by the authors that have been guests. There is a also a blog which includes a series of posts called  Iconic Literary Food Moments, which so far has included posts about Ernest Hemingway's Bellinis, fried green tomatoes (as in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg) and Charles Dickens' Sage and Onion Roast Goose

There already have been a couple of episodes that have inspired me to look for specific cookbooks, and to at least think about trying different authors.

In order to give you a taste of the type of thing you might see in this series I have included one of the Soundbites, a short video featuring author Kelly Rimmer recommending a cookbook that I have to get my hands on and soon!

My question to you all is..... if you could only recommend one cookbook that you own, which one would it be?

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thank goodness for audiobooks

As anyone who is still reading my blog knows I have had a long, long reading slump that has lasted years (no exaggeration). Whilst I am nowhere near reading as much as I did back in my hey day, I have rediscovered audiobooks this year, and so I am getting through a few books at least.

I thought that I would write a few words about the audiobooks I have listened to this year over a couple of posts. That's the plan anyway

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick - It took me more than 4 years to read this book, which is actually a bit of a travesty because that makes it sound like I didn't really like it. I actually started reading the actual book in my pre slump days but put it down and never picked it up again. Then last year I started listening to the audiobook but then holidays and life got in the way, but finally I finished it.

Like all of Elizabeth Chadwick's books we get a great glimpse into the medieval life of her characters - in this case Alienor of Aquitaine, the only woman to be queen of both France and England. We follow her life from her marriage to Louis as a very young woman, through trials and tribulations, including plenty of scandals. Alienor is a strong woman who faces the challenges life throws at her the only way she knows - head first. There are two more books in the trilogy which I will get to eventually I'm sure. The narrator is Katie Scarfe. It took me a little while to get used to her somewhat breathy narration but I got there in the end

Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows - I have previously enjoyed reading Deborah Burrows' books that have been set in Australia during World War II. This time, the setting has moved to war time London, but still featuring an Australian as a main character. Lily Brennan is an ambulance officer in the Blitz, having to put herself in danger time and again as the bombs rain down. I liked Lily but there were times when I felt like her insecurities were overdone and got in the way. The narration was good from Penelope Freeman although I didn't think all the accents worked as well as it could. Like all of Burrow's previous books there was a mystery element to the book which was interesting s well as a romance. There is a a sequel to this book but unfortunately it isn't available on audio so who knows if I will get to it or not.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman - I downloaded this book last year with the intention of listening to the book whilst on a road trip with the man. In the end, it ended up being just me listening to it on the commute. It was a complete change of pace to the books I had been listening to and it was a breath of fresh air. Whilst I have read lots of Pratchett books I haven't ever listened to one so I was very curious as to how this would work, and it was lots of fun. It starts when the Anti Christ is born, but unfortunately due to a case of mistaken identity he ends up living in England. When it is time for the end of the world, things don't quite work out as the gods and demons expect. I do think that the authors deserve an award for the most use of the word ineffable!

I did see that there is also a full cast performance available to listen to and then there is the TV adaptation that's coming next year as well.

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan- I actually wrote a full review of this. Shocking but true! There is a couple of more books featuring the same characters. I really should make an effort to listen to them.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer - As narrated by Richard Armitage - le sigh. Do I need to say anymore! I have listened to this maybe 3 or 4 times now and I love it every time. In fact, I think I only last listened to it last year (when I wrote a review). That's how much I love it.  I think that Mr Armitage has been busy recording lots of audiobooks including a romance, which I am definitely going to listen to at some stage. Listening to that voice whispering sweet nothings in my ear...mmm hmmm. Could be a bit awkward if someone else gets in the car with me.

Here's hoping for a follow up post to this one with the next few audiobooks

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Lasagne

Symply Too Good to be True - Annette Sym Used softcover low fat cookbook Book 1I am going to unashamedly admitting that I am posting this recipe for me, and for no one else. To be honest, I can't quite believe that I haven't posted it before as this is my go to lasagne recipe, mainly because I like to kid myself that it is a relatively healthy version that isn't too difficult to make and it tastes pretty dam good. I have been making it for a few years now after finding it in one of the Symply Too Good to be True cookbooks when I first bought them.

It is the kind of meal that I make a full 8 portions of, rather than scaling the recipe down, because I know that I can take some for lunch during the week, put some in the freezer and eat leftovers and it will still taste really, really good.

As I was typing this recipe up, I realised that I have become one of those people who make a recipe but then say, this recipe was really good, but I did this and this and this differently. At least I keep the key ingredients the same. I do find it amusing when you read a review of a recipe on a website, say for something raspberry and the commenter says I changed the raspberries for banana and this for that but it was really good. It may have been really good but it wasn't really the recipe that you are leaving a review of!! Anyway.....

For this, I always cook the onion and garlic first until it softens a little and then add the mince because I don't want to end up with not quite cooked onion. When it is all browned I just add all the other ingredients in and simmer. I also tend to add in basil as well as oregano.  I also cook the white sauce more thoroughly over the heat, stirring until it thickens rather than setting it to one side and hoping it thickens enough.



 Meat Sauce

750g very lean mince
Cooking spray
2x425g cans tomato puree
1x 140g can no-added-salt tomato paste
1 cup water
1 onion finely diced
2 tspn crushed garlic
2 tspn salt-reduced beef stock powder
2 tspn oregano
pepper to taste

White Sauce Mixture

1 tbspn light margarine
3 tbspn plain flour
2 1/2 cups skim milk
pepper to taste

8 instant lasagne sheets
1/4 cup reduced fat grated tasty cheese

To make meat sauce: Brown mince in a large saucepan that has been coated with cooking spray, drain well and remove to a plate. In same saucepan add all other ingredients, bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Return mince to pan, cook a further 5 minutes, leave to one side

To make white sauce: Melt margarine in a medium size saucepan, add flour, mix well with a whisk to avoid lumps. Slowly add milk, stir constantly until sauce boils, pepper to taste. Remove from heat, leave for a few minutes to allow sauce to thicken.

Preheat oven to 180C fan forced.

To assemble lasagne: Spoon 1/3 of meat sauce over base of lasagna dish, cover with 1/2 of white sauce. Top with 4 lasagne sheets. Spread 1/2 of meat sauce over lasagne, cover with remaining white sauce, top with remaining lasagne sheets. Spread with remainder of meat sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil (coat foil with cooking spray to stop cheese sticking). Bake 40-45 minutes, remove foil, cook a further 5-10 minutes until pasta is cooked and cheese is golden brown.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Pork and Pineapple Thai Red Curry

We are now at the end of summer now and we have had our first cool autumn day. Such an occasion tends to retrospectiveness about the summer just gone. Somewhat strangely, I found myself having a summer of pineapple. I like pineapple most of the time but recently we have had a lot.

Just the other weekend I decided to make an old favourite recipe (Thai Pork Burgers with a Pineapple Chilli Relish) and found myself trying to find a recipe to use the rest of the fresh pineapple up. There were plenty of options ranging from cakes to tarts and more but in the end we found this recipe for a pork curry with a pineapple twist.

The good thing about this recipe was that it was quick and tasty, which makes it ideal for a mid week meal.

Pork and Pineapple Thai Red Curry

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
500g pork fillet, thickly sliced (see Notes)
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
270ml can coconut milk
1 cup Massel salt reduced chicken style liquid stock
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar, grated
1/4 small fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/4 cup fried shallots
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Heat a large wok over high heat. Add oil. Swirl to coat. Add onion. Stir-fry for 3 minutes or until softened. Add pork. Stir-fry for 3 minutes or until browned. Add curry paste. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

 Add coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until sauce thickens and pork is cooked through. Add fish sauce, palm sugar and pineapple. Simmer for 2 minutes or until heated through. Stir in lime juice.

 Spoon curry into serving bowls. Top with coriander and shallots. Serve with rice

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Bake It Box

I don't typically spend a lot of time on Twitter anymore, but when I do I tend to see tweets from the same people. One of those people is Kaetrin from Kaetrin's Musings. A couple of months ago she posted a photo of a super impressive lemon mousse cake. It featured several layers, curd, filling and more, so I naturally said something along the lines of there is no way I could ever make that.

She then told me about Bake It Box.

This is the description from their website:

Bake It Box delivers a delicious, exciting, & new baking kit directly to your door every month. Each bakeitbox contains easy step-by-step instructions, pre-measured dry ingredients and all the decorations needed to create a standout baking masterpiece!

Now, I consider myself a competent baker. Most of what I cook tastes good, but I am not very good at making things pretty, but it's good to challenge yourself isn't it? I therefore waited for the announcement of the next box knowing that I intended to order it.  I also ordered a kit for my sister who already does a lot of cake decorating but I think this is a technique she hasn't used before.

I must confess that I doubted the wisdom of that decision when I saw that it was going to be a Red Velvet Cake with a Mirror Glaze. The red velvet part was fine. I mean, that's cake so it should be okay as long as you follow the recipe, but the mirror glaze part was far more challenging. It's the kind of technique you see on baking shows and think wow that looks amazing but I couldn't possibly do it. Part of the reason for buying this kit (and the other one I have bought but not yet made) is to challenge myself so this weekend I am finally biting the bullet and making it. There were a couple of reasons for doing it this weekend. One is that we don't have to do any moving furniture etc so there is time to do all the processes, and the other is that I have told myself that I can't buy the next box until I have made at least one of the two that I have here.

When I did decide to make it this weekend, I knew that I was going to my sister's for dinner on Sunday night, so I thought that I could take this for dinner. Ironically, she decided that she was going to make her box this weekend too so I see plenty of red velvet cake in my immediate future!

So what do you get in your box. Basically, you get your pre-measured dry ingredients, plus things like disposable cake tins and food colouring to help you with your creation. You also get an ingredient list so you know exactly what else you will need to buy, and a step by step instruction card that gives you all the ingredients so you can make the recipe again at a future date. In addition, there are resources such as online tutorials (this is the tutorial for this recipe). The instructions also tell you what the techniques are. For example, in this recipe you mix your gelatine into cold water and then mix that into hot liquid. This technique is called blooming (or so I learned from the instruction card!!)

Here are some pics from the process

I have to say I am really really pleased with how this has turned out. All there is left to do now is transfer it onto the serving board without messing it up and it will be done. Of course that might turn out to be the hardest bit yet!!

I will definitely be using the cream cheese frosting recipe in the future as it was the best I have ever made. And for all the leftover bits that we cut off to make the heart shape? Well, I think we are going to make a trifle type concoction next weekend with all the offcuts!

So, am I going to keep buying kits from Bake it Box. Absolutely!! I might even try and make them in the appropriate month too!

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Year One by Nora Roberts

I've been reading Nora Roberts books for a long time now. Whilst there are plenty of her books that I have really enjoyed, over the last few years there have been a number of her books, particularly the trilogies, where I felt like I had read them all before. Yes, the names have been changed, and the locations but there was a certain sameness that lead me to think that maybe, just maybe I was done with her books. At least the trilogies with a paranormal bent. I didn't necessarily feel that way about the standalone suspense titles, but I also haven't read any, mainly because I haven't been reading very much anyway.

Recently, a few of my online friends began talking about this book and how it was different from other books by her. After one person said it was different I wasn't interested, but after hearing several people saying the same my interest began to be piqued. I was looking for a new audiobook and I wanted something different from the historical fiction and crime I had been listening to so I thought I would give this a go.

So, was it different? It most certainly was, and yet there were also parts of the book where  it was definitely a Nora Roberts book.

The story basically unfolds as an epidemic called the Doom spreads around the world. It starts in Scotland but soon spreads all around the world as people travel and make contact with strangers who then make contact with others and and travel etc etc. Soon, law and order, government and communication collapses as millions of people die. For those who are immune, or who have special talents, survival becomes paramount, and it soon becomes survival of the fittest.

There are entire sections in this book where it is full of the horror of a world falling to pieces and it was really well done. The fear that the characters feel as they try to get out of New York, running the gauntlet through humans who fear the uncanny - the faeries, the witches and warlocks, the elves - but also the uncanny who are on the dark side and who prey on humans. Really, these scenes are the strength of the novel.

It is, however, this same uncanny element which had me thinking wait, this is definitely Nora writing here. For example, there are times when one of the main characters, Lana, lapses into trance and starts prophesying (for want of a better word) and that felt familiar and there were times when I wondered if maybe we weren't sure about what type of book it was meant to be. Is it meant to be a horror novel, or a paranormal fantasy, or a combination, or something different again.

While I was reading (or should I say listening?) I did find myself looking for the tell tale NR signs.  In a normal NR trilogy you have six people who come together and then pair off into romantic partnerships. There were times when I thought well here it comes, but in the end where ever this happened it was in effect off the page.

Now I need to wait for the next book in the trilogy which is due out at the end of the year.  I hope that the next two books are still in the same vein as this book. Undeniably Nora Roberts, but undeniably different, with the potential to be even more different if she could just step away from some of her  normal cliches.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Hot Cross Buns

Our continued adventures in baking...the Easter addition

As I have mentioned several times now that we have been making bread, and that continues unabated. For example, on Monday we are going to be making slow cooked butter chicken and we are going to be making the naan bread to eat with it.

I decided this year that I wanted to try making my own hot cross buns, just because we can, so on Thursday night we bit the bullet and made first ever attempt. Whilst they weren't perfect, they were definitely tasty in the traditional way, and they were very nice toasted and then spread with butter. They weren't as light and fluffy as they could have been, but we think that we know why that is. I was a bit worried that I was going to end up with hot rock buns instead of hot cross buns. Yeast can be a tricky beast, and we didn't quite get it right this time, but we will! Maybe just not for another year or so.

It's funny how divisive hot cross buns can be. There are those who hate that hot cross buns start to appear in the shops soon after Christmas, and those who look forward to them and have them regularly until Easter (that's the boyfriend). There are those who don't like sultanas in their buns, or the taste of mixed spice. There are those who like the newer flavours that include apple and cinnamon, chocolate and brioche style hot cross buns. For me, the only thing I prefer is that I like them toasted with butter. Other than that, I'm relatively happy to try anything.

Hot Cross Buns

2 tspn (1 sachet/7g) dried yeast
2 tbspn caster sugar
3/4 cup (185ml) warm milk
1 tspn mixed spice
40g spreadable butter
2/3 cup (110g) sultanas
1 tspn finely grated orange rind
1 egg, lightly whisked
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour, extra
1 1/2 tbspn caster sugar, extra
2 tbspn boiling water,
1 tspn gelatine powder

Combine yeast, sugar and milk in a small bowl. Stand in a warm place for 10 mins or until frothy.

Combine flour and mixed spice in a bowl. Rub in the butter . Stir in sultanas and orange rind. Make a well in the centre. Stir in yeast mixture and egg. Cover. Set aside in a warm place for 40 mins or until dough doubles in size. Grease and 18m x 28cm slice pan (I used a square baking tin)

Knead the dough on a floured service for 5 mins. Divide into 12 portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Place in prepared pan. Cover. Set aside in a warm place for 10 mins.

Preheat over to 220C. Combine extra flour and 2 tspn of extra sugar in a small bow. Stir in 2 tbspn cold water to form a thick, smooth paste. Place in a sealable plastic bag and cut off 1 corner. Pipe over buns to make crosses. Bake for 20 mins or until buns sound hollow when tapped on top. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Stir boiling water, gelatine and remaining 1 tbspn extra sugar in a heatproof jug until gelatine dissolves. Brush over hot buns. Serve warm with butter

Interestingly, I tried a recipe from our local supermarket magazine. In it, there was a link to the following video but the recipe above is slightly different to the one below

How do you prefer your hot cross buns? Have you ever tried to make them?

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP