Crema Catlana: The Catalan Kitchen – Emma Warren

The Catalan Kitchen

From The Catalan Kitchen: From Mountains to City and Sea – Recipes from Spain’s Culinary Heart

by Emma Warren. Photography © Rochelle Eagle | Food styling © Lee Blaylock (Smith Street Books, October 2018 – AU$ 55, NZ$ 65)

 

CREMA CATALANA

CATALAN CRÈME BRÛLÉE

 

Crema Catalana

Makes 4–6

1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) full-cream (whole) milk

1 cinnamon stick

peel of ½ lemon

peel of ½ orange

7 large egg yolks

200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

3 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)

 

Gently warm the milk, cinnamon and citrus peels in a medium saucepan over medium–low heat until just until simmering. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

 

Whisk the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl, then whisk in 150 g (5½ oz) of the sugar until creamy. Whisk in the cornflour until well combined.

 

Strain the warmed milk into a jug, then slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking to combine.

 

Pour the custard back into a clean saucepan and return to medium– low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula. Allow to gently simmer and bubble, moving the custard constantly to avoid scrambling on the bottom.

 

When thick and coating the back of the spoon, remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. This will pick up any scrambled egg from the base of the saucepan.

 

Evenly divide the custard among 4–6 ramekins, leaving a 5 mm (¼ in) gap at the top of each ramekin. Transfer to a tray and allow to cool slightly before refrigerating for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight.

 

To serve, sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the custards and caramelise to a hard crust using a blow torch or sugar iron.

 

You can also caramelise the set custards under the grill (broiler). Place the custards in a baking dish half filled with iced water, sprinkle the sugar over the ramekins and grill (broil) until well caramelised.

 

Authors note:

The French compete with Catalunya for the origin of this famous dish; however, there are some small differences. Quicker, easier and cheaper, the Catalans cook out the egg a little further on the stovetop and set their custards in the fridge with the help of cornflour (cornstarch), as historically many people didn’t have access to ovens. They also use milk, not cream – another peasant compromise.

Review: The Catalan Kitchen – Emma Warren

The Catalan Kitchen

The Catalan Kitchen

Emma Warren

Smith Street Books

ISBN: 9781925418842

RRP $ 55

 

Description:

The Catalan Kitchen is a celebration of one hundred authentic and traditional dishes from Spain’s culinary heart.

 

The Catalonia region is situated on the west coast of the Mediterranean and blessed with one of the richest food cultures in Europe. Although Catalonia is still geographically and politically connected to Spain, Catalans consider themselves independent with their own language, history, culture, and cuisine. Its food is considered unique in Spain, and it is home to one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.

 

Catalan cuisine does not centre around tapas, and although pintxos do feature heavily, they are not the mainstay of the region and most dishes are larger, stand-alone meals. Dishes are heavily influenced by pork and fresh seafood, with a focus on fresh, seasonal produce that varies from recipes as simple as crushed tomatoes smeared on bread to hearty, slow cooked stews. Famous dishes include calcots–large salad onions cooked on a coal barbecue and then dipped into nutty and addictive Romesco sauce, a unique paella made without saffron and the addition of vermicelli noodles, myriad types of Catalan sausage served with white beans, sauces such as aioli and picada, and multiple pastries and desserts including crème Catalan (a version of crème brulee). Beautifully packaged with stunning location and food photography, The Catalan Kitchen is the ultimate cookbook for lovers of Spanish and Mediterranean food.

 

 

My View:

 I live in the Margaret River region, an area that is often described as having a Mediterranean climate and perhaps this is why when I open a cook book that focusses on fresh, local ingredients from a Mediterranean region – such as Catalonia, I embrace the recipes and the ingredients; this book is no exception. Amongst the pages I find recipes for Quince paste with Manchego cheese (both the cheese and a home made paste are a favourite of mine), Pan Fried Goats Cheese Salad (this makes fabulous shared lunch or a spectacular entrée for a gathering if you are seeking to impress), Rabbit in Chocolate (perfect for Easter in our household), Ratatouille, Sautéed Chickpeas and Silver Beet (we have plenty of silver beet growing in  our garden at the moment and we are always looking to find ways to incorporate it in our meals, fresh is best), there is a recipe for serving wild olives – we have 5 olive trees that supply us with glorious fruit each year, the recipe (p.25) for serving wild olives is flavoursome and simple, the trick is warming the ingredients so the flavours infuse (now that is something I would not have thought of).  And that is just a start…

 

The Catalan Kitchen is a great resource for your home kitchen library.

 

 

Review: The Slipping Place – Joanna Baker

The Slipping Place

The Slipping Place

Joanna Baker

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384581

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

A stunningly compulsive, darkly suspenseful Australian crime novel that asks how far we would go to protect someone we love.

 

Veronica Cruickshank’s youngest child Roland is her idealistic one – a fighter of lost causes, and the one that always needs protecting, particularly from himself.

 

So when she hears he is back in Hobart helping an old school friend, Treen McShane, Veronica tries to track him down – but all she finds are second hand reports, whispers of horrific abuse, stories of a small child being hurt.

 

Then Roland sends Veronica a text message, asking her to go to the Slipping Place, high on Mount Wellington, a picnic spot known only to their family. Here she discovers Treen’s frozen body.

 

Knowing Roland will be suspected of leaving Treen to die, Veronica resolves to find out what really happened. But as long-buried truths slowly surface, she uncovers a secret that brings the violence closer to home than she could have ever imagined…

 

 

My View:

An evocative read that conjures up the illusion of mania, psychosis and paranoia in a disturbing manner that will compel you to keep reading. I willingly followed Baker as she skilfully leads me away from the actual killer and entangles me in a web of deceit and half-truths.

 

The scene that describes the staircase incident is lyrical and gothic – images of floating fabric, the hysteria…no spoilers but this is a very visual scene.

 

A haunting read centering on the many facets, meanings of “family”.

 

PS – love the cover art.

 

 

 

Guest Review: The Reluctant Jillaroo – Kaz Delaney

 

The Reluctant Jillaroo

The Reluctant Jillaroo

Kaz Delaney

Allen & Unwin AU

ISBN: 9781925266061

Description:

Surf-loving Heidi impersonates her horse-mad twin to help Harper get a scholarship to attend the much sought-after agricultural school in this rural romance from Australia’s queen of teen, Kaz Delaney. Suitable for teen readers of Rachael Treasure.

Harper Gage has won the opportunity of a lifetime – ten days at Winmaroo Jillaroo and Jackaroo school. The camp could give her the recommendation she needs to go to the exclusive Agricoll for years 11 and 12. But when an accident leaves Harper hospitalised, her twin sister, Heidi, goes in her place. The only problem is that Heidi is not much of a country girl – not like her sister. And to make life even more complicated, her sister’s biggest rival Trent is going to be there. Will she be able to fool him?

And then the reality of the school hits Heidi hard. It’s all dust, snakes and heat – a million miles away from the surf she loves. When she meets the fun and handsome Chaz, life at the school suddenly doesn’t seem so bad, although with Trent acting up and trouble brewing with the other students, Heidi’s not sure how long she can keep her identity secret. And if her secret is revealed, will Chaz ever be able to trust her again

Brenda’s Review:

When Harper Gage injured herself the night before she was to leave for the ten day agricultural school course, which would hopefully set her up for a scholarship at Agricoll in Tamworth, identical twin sister Heidi didn’t think twice. Heidi would be Harper for the duration, and she hoped she could pull it off. Harper loved horses; anything country – while Heidi was a lover of the surf and city. But she had to try – it was her fault Harper was injured after all.

Winmaroo Jillaroo and Jackaroo school was amazing. But Heidi was terrified. When she met Poppy, her horse for the time she’d be there, she fell in love. Poppy was a delightful girl, quiet and secure; Heidi felt Poppy was the only one who understood her. With Trent at the camp – someone Harper went to school with – and the kind hearted and fun Chaz, Heidi’s stress levels climbed. But it was when things started to go wrong that Heidi was sure her secret would be exposed. What would she do if that happened? Would Harper lose everything she’d worked for?

The Reluctant Jillaroo is my first by Aussie author Kaz Delaney and I loved it! Laugh out loud entertainment, as well as some teary moments, plus the usual teenage angst – all set in the rural countryside of NSW around Scone, horse capital of Australia. And I had no idea who the culprit was until the reveal! A really enjoyable read, The Reluctant Jillaroo is one I highly recommend. 5 stars.

Review: Matryoshka – Katherine Johnson

Matryoshka

Matryoshka

Katherine Johnson

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384635

RRP $29.99

Description:

The award-winning author of The Better Son is back with Matryoshka – a beautifully written and haunting tale of family, secrets, violence, and refuge, set against the breathtaking backdrop of Tasmania.

 

When Sara Rose returns to live in her recently deceased grandmother’s Tasmanian cottage, her past and that of her mother and grandmother are ever-present. Sara’s grandmother, Nina Barsova, a Russian post-war immigrant, lovingly raised Sara in the cottage at the foot of Mt Wellington but without ever explaining why Sara’s own mother, Helena, abandoned her as a baby.

 

Sara, a geneticist, also longs to know the identity of her father, and Helena won’t tell her. Now, estranged not only from her mother but also from her husband, Sara raises her daughter, Ellie, with a central wish to spare her the same feeling of abandonment that she experienced as a child.

 

When Sara meets an Afghani refugee separated from his beloved wife and family, she decides to try to repair relations with Helena – but when a lie told by her grandmother years before begins to unravel, a darker truth than she could ever imagine is revealed.

 

Matryoshka is a haunting and beautifully written story about the power of maternal love, and the danger of secrets passed down through generations.

 

 

My View:

A contemporary read of exquisite design, beautifully crafted and guaranteed to connect to readers of so many levels: the settings, the dysfunctional family story(s) that is at the heart of the narrative, the contemporary issues surrounding Australia’s history of welcoming migration, albeit with the prejudices the “other” in the dominant
culture experiences (perhaps many of you reading this are the 2nd or 3rd generation Australians – you will know what I mean here) juxtaposed against modern prejudices of “other” and a culture of detention and family separation that is modern day Australia.

 

This is a gently written, poignant, interesting read that has great content for book club discussions around the world.

More Art- Transformation

Look closely – I dabbled with some fluro colours – loved them wet but not so much when they dried – they dulled. Today I revamped the painting ( that’s what I like about using acrylics – you can paint over if you are not happy with the outcome) – I added a top coat, splattered then used a method called sgraffito to reveal some of the original colours. I love it.

What do you see here? An underwater scene? Flowers? Something under the microscope – bacteria, amoeba? What does your imagination see?

An Insiders Perspective…Book Publishing: (Definitely) The Best Dogs of All Time

The Best Dogs Of all Time

(Definitely the Best Dogs of All Time

Jadan Carroll

Illustrations by Molly Dyson

Scribe Publications

ISBN:  9781925713510

Jadan Explains:

It happened in an all staff meeting in February this year. We were discussing our end of year list when Henry, our publisher, mentioned that he was looking for light-hearted gift books to publish in November for Christmas, and finished by saying ‘So if anyone has any ideas…’

He may have meant that comment to be taken rhetorically, but I took it quite literally.

Dogs are the best. There are, and have been, so many great dogs in this world. I reeled off a list of my favourite dogs from throughout history and suggested that we publish a humorous illustrated gift book about the best dogs of all time and call it (Definitely) The Best Dogs of All Time. I was happy enough just to make the rest of the office laugh, but everyone seemed to be very on board with the idea. I took a couple of nights to write up a proposal and it was jointly commissioned by our Senior Commissioning editor Marika Webb-Pullman and our Art Director Miriam Rosenbloom the following week.

The whole thing was turned around very quickly; I researched and wrote it in about three months at night or on weekends. Miriam Rosenbloom, our art director, suggested approaching Molly Dyson to illustrate it, I already knew Molly and was a huge fan of her work so I was quite thrilled by that happy coincidence and even more so when she said yes. She did such an amazing job working to a very tight schedule and the finished book looks amazing. She has such a unique style, and is fast becoming a highly in-demand designer and illustrator in the music and arts scenes in both Australia and Germany, so I felt very lucky to have her involved.

Our production manager Mick Pilkington described it as ‘shot-gun publishing’ and this seems like an apt description. It was such a fun project to work on and I’m very proud of it.

 

My View:

This is a fun and interesting read, the perfect gift for all dog lovers- however as the English Staffordshire Terrier is not represented on these pages – I have rectified that omission with this image of Bob the Dog – our furbaby and best friend.

Bob the Dog