31 October 2011

The Knives are Out!

Bought Borrowed Stolen is a big book full of big, bold and tasty recipes. It uses a very novel technique for guiding the reader through the different regions and recipes, that of the author's penchant for collecting kitchen knives on her travels. This was great fun and much like Allegra, we too find it essential to round off a holiday with a visit to a supermarket or homeware store to pick up a useful kitchen item. Much discussion ensued on this point, culminating in a show and tell style knife off! With Rose bringing an identical knife to one in the book (see photo) and Angie throwing (not literally) a fine Thai fruit carving knife into the mix.
Once all the knife discussion was over we dined on Pumpkin Stew which looked bright and colourful and just felt right for the end of October being both comforting and spicy. We followed this with a chicken, rice and peanut dish with an unpronounceable name. Equally tasty and with lots of textures. It's a really simple dish to put together for supper and can also be made successfully with leftover chicken. We rounded off our culinary tour in the USA with the West Coast Ricotta Cake, lovely and lemony and Oaty Pancakes served with maple syrup.
It's a nice book to pick up and read, although we didn't feel it needed the fact files on each country. The photography is a little uninspiring throughout and you'll need to get to grips with the lingo "chuck the corry in", but aside from this, there is much to inspire. Other recipes tried were Apple and Chicory Slaw, Pork Adobo and Green Juice. The book is very similar in concept to Orchards In the Oasis by Josceline Dimbleby, the travelogue cookbook is flavour of the month it seems.

16 October 2011

We Love Leon!

This book is fun, think Sergeant Pepper meets Barnum. You'll be quite happily meandering through the dairy section when you find a secret pocket with a colourful European cheese map or browsing through the beans and you suddenly end up in Brassica Galatica! There's so much useful information (including the Scoville rating scale for chilli's and a bright tear out seasonality chart) and it's presented in a such an exciting way that even if you are well informed about food, you'll want to read it anyway. This is also a no nonsense book, if you want to find out why figs are good for you, it tells you - "good poos".
The Leon mission is to bring healthy fast food to the masses and each of the recipes in part two of the book has a helpful food symbol or three to let you know what' going on in the dish. At the meeting we enjoyed the Leon classic chilli con carne, a rich and robust dish that really benefits from using chunks of steak rather than mince. The Leon superfood salad, again another classic that is still on the menu in the cafes. It's packed with good things and has great texture and flavour due to the interesting combination of just blanched vegetables, herbs and seeds. This was followed by the Leon Better Brownie which had all the necessary brownie qualities, moist, gooey, chocolatey with a slight crunch to finish. We also sampled the Leon Lemon, Ginger and Mint Quencher made, in the absence of fructose, with agave nectar and it worked just as well.
While we are in the drinks section and as it's nearly November I'll be making the Lemon and Ginger Coldbuster soon, just in case!
Other dishes we have made and loved are - Mother Buckle's Raspberry Cheesecake, Leon Gobi, Happy Carrot Salad and Magic Mackerel.