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.

 

 

Zucchini Noodles with Herby Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon & Feta: Delicious Every Day – Anna Gare

delicious-every-day

Images and recipes from Delicious Every Day by Anna Gare (Murdoch Books) RRP $39.99

 

Zucchini Noodles with Herby Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon & Feta

  • SERVES 4 •

If wheat-based pasta leaves you feeling bloated and tired, improvise with zucchini noodles instead. I recently made this for my family to change things up and now it’s our preferred option. (You can make the noodles with a sharp potato peeler and knife but I highly recommend investing in a spiral vegetable cutter.) ” p. 108

 

3 zucchini (courgettes), about 750 g  (1 lb 10 oz)

3 tablespoons olive oil

4–5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

700 g (1 lb 9 oz) medley cherry  tomatoes, halved

zest and juice of ½ lemon

1 handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped

1 handful of dill, chopped

1 handful of sweet marjoram  leaves, chopped

20 g (¾ oz/1 small bunch) chives,  finely chopped

120 g (4¼ oz) Greek feta cheese,  crumbled

 

Zucchini noodles with herby cherry tomatoes, lemon & feta • SERVES 4 • If wheat-based pasta leaves you feeling bloated and tired, improvise with zucchini noodles instead. I recently made this for my family to change things up and now it’s our preferred option. (You can make the noodles with a sharp potato peeler and knife but I highly recommend investing in a spiral vegetable cutter.) 3 zucchini (courgettes), about 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) 3 tablespoons olive oil 4–5 garlic cloves, finely chopped 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) medley cherry tomatoes, halved zest and juice of ½ lemon 1 handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped 1 handful of dill, chopped 1 handful of sweet marjoram leaves, chopped 20 g (¾ oz/1 small bunch) chives, finely chopped 120 g (4¼ oz) Greek feta cheese, crumbled Cut the zucchini into manageable pieces for a spiral vegetable cutter. Make noodles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Bring a large saucepan half-full of water to the boil. Set a large colander over the top of the boiling water, put in the zucchini noodles, cover with a well-fitting lid and steam for 5–7 minutes until al dente. Don’t overcook the noodles or they will lose their shape and break. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Gently fry the garlic for 1 minute, or until soft. Toss in the tomatoes, increase the heat to high and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. Add the lemon zest and juice, the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes blister and are heated through. Strain the zucchini noodles, as they retain water. Serve the herby tomatoes over the zucchini noodles, topped with the crumbled feta.

 

Cut the zucchini into manageable pieces for a spiral  vegetable cutter. Make noodles according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Bring a large saucepan half-full of water to the boil.

 

Set a large colander over the top of the boiling water, put in the zucchini noodles, cover with a well-fitting lid and steam for 5–7 minutes until al dente. Don’t overcook the noodles or they will lose their shape and break.

 

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Gently fry the garlic for 1 minute, or until soft.

 

Toss in the tomatoes, increase the heat to high and cook for  3 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.

 

Add the lemon zest and juice, the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes blister and are heated through.

Strain the zucchini noodles, as they retain water.

 

Serve the herby tomatoes over the zucchini noodles, topped with the crumbled feta.

Post Script: Quick. Easy. Healthy. – Callum Hann & Themis Chryssidis

Quick.Easy.Healthy

Quick. Easy. Healthy.

Callum Hann & Themis Chryssidis

Murdoch Books

ISBN: 9781743367261

 

Description:

The first cooking class ever conducted by Callum Hann and Themis Chryssidis at their cooking school, ‘Sprout’, was called Quick, Easy & Healthy, and to this day it remains their most popular course.

Why? Because it is what people want. Good, healthy food with limited effort. Achievable food that people are happy to serve to their family on any given weeknight. Callum and Themis present over 70 simple, quick and convenient recipes for fresh, healthy, flavoursome food. Dishes that use easy to find, seasonal ingredients; that represent good value for money; and which require minimal preparation and clean-up time. Nutritional information is given for every recipe.

 

The book is divided into four seasonal chapters, each with a collection of recipes using readily available ingredients in season, with suggestions for variations and substitute ingredients.

 

My View:

I like the principals this cook book is based on:

  • Food that doesn’t cost a fortune.
  • Food that doesn’t require expensive equipment to prepare.
  • Food that is simple and convenient to make.
  • Food that the whole family will enjoy.
  • Recipes that are about cooking delicious food that is good for you.

This book is a little different in design – it lists its recipes by order of the seasons –  buying seasonal foods is good for the budget; when foods are in season they are  usually plentiful and therefore cheaper to source. And when foods are “in season” they are bursting with flavour – another reason to buy and enjoy fresh, in season produce.  I am already sold on this idea; as many of you may know we grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables. I am always looking for healthy and delicious recipes to use up the abundance of home grown veggies – when something is in season we have it by the ton!  (This week sweet potatoes and pumpkins plentiful and we see the finish of the capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and onions).  I can’t wait to start making some of the recipes here, I think I will start with the Moroccan Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Chicken Salad (p.128) or maybe the   Chicken Korma with Cumin Naan, I have plenty of homemade passata I can use up in this. (p.142)

 

Pick up a copy and start cooking NOW!

 

Tomato Ricotta Tart – Good Life Great Food – Judy Phillips

Cover Good Life Great Food

When I reviewed this book a few months ago I said when it is tomato season I will make the  Tomato and Ricotta Tart. Yesterday I made the tart and tartlets.

Simple, easy, colourful and fresh.  I think I prefer the tartlets – they are easier to hold and enjoy. I think you could also cut the pastry into rounds and cook base in muffin or jam tart type tray and have the perfect starter/cocktail food/ finger food.

Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

I used store bought puff pastry sheets,ricotta, sundried tomatoes, eggs, cream and a dash of cream fraiche to thicken the base, three types tomatoes and basil from our garden. Once pastry base is just warm (cold works too) plate up with tomatoes mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.  Fresh, colourful, delicious.   ** Hint – cut tomatoes into bite size pieces and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow some of the juices to drain off.

Tartlet

Tadka Dhal – Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen – Anjali Pathak

Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen

Secrets From my Indian Family Kitchen by Anjali Pathak is published by Hachette Australia.

Hardback RRP $39.99, Ebook $19.99’

Tadka Dhal

This is probably the most famous lentil dish coming out of India – yellow lentils tempered with spices and the usual holy trinity of garlic, ginger and chilli. It has always been a favourite of mine and it would grace our family dinner table at least once a week when I was growing up. There are lots of different recipes for flavouring the oil (tadka), so play around with your spice pantry and see what you come up with. If you haven’t got half of these spices, then don’t worry; just add a tablespoon of
your favourite spice paste and it will taste just as delicious.
MY SECRET
When I’m tired I crave dhal – it’s like a hug in a bowl. To bulk it out and make it more of a meal, I stir through some fresh greens such as spinach or watercress – a great way to use up old veg.
300g (101/2oz) dried toor dhal (yellow lentils/yellow split peas), washed in several changes of water
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks
4 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2–3 chillies, any colour, deseeded if you don’t lik
e it fiery, some chopped and the rest left whole
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped fresh root ginger
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
good pinch of salt, or to taste
1 tsp sugar, or to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
lots of chopped fresh coriander, to garnish
Gently boil the lentils in a large saucepan of cold water (around 1 litre /13/4 pints will do) and stir in the turmeric and black cardamom pods (if using) – this will add a subtle smoky flavour. Allow to cook for around 45 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and started to break down. Skim off any foam that sits on the top and give the lentils a stir every now and again in case they begin to stick on the bottom. If they boil dry, add more water. Once the lentils have softened, turn down the heat
and make the tadka.
Gently heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cinnamon sticks, green cardamom pods and cloves. When the cardamoms
have turned white and the heads of the cloves have swollen, you are ready to stir in the mustard and cumin seeds. When they are sizzling, stir in the spring onions, chillies, garlic and ginger. After a minute, stir through the tomatoes and turn off the heat. Pour the tadka into the dhal so that it floats on top. This is the traditional way to serve it, with the scented oil sitting on top, but I prefer to stir it through. Season with salt, sugar and lemon juice.
Finally, stir through plenty of chopped fresh coriander and serve with some rice or fresh bread for the ultimate comfort food.
Tadka dhal - Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen - Anjali Pathak