Cookbook Reviews – A Modern Way to Eat & Through the Seasons

10/10/2014 | By

If there’s one thing that makes my heart beat a little faster it’s a new cookbook, so you can imagine how pleased I was to get home from my travels and find two of them waiting in the post for me! The first is from a very reliable favourite of mine, Annabel Langbein, and the second from someone new to me, the vegetarian cook Anna Jones.

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Cookbook Review – Stéphane Reynaud’s “Pies and Tarts”

13/06/2014 | By

The late Carl Sagan,  renowned American astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist once said that “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” Well that’s a little too fundamental for a lazy cook like me, but with Stéphane Reynaud’s new book, “Pies and Tarts” (Murdoch Books), I have at last stepped away from the freezer and produced my own pâte feuilletée. Or puff pastry, as I like to call it.

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Cookbook Review – delicious. Spice, Slow & Indulge

02/05/2014 | By

These three little gems – the delicious. Spice, Slow and Indulge collection from ABC Books – arrived in my letter box just before Easter, in the same week as I received the brilliant KitchenAid Pasta Roller Set. The planets aligned, my cooking mojo was rising and the husband was away at the Byron Bay Blues Fest, leaving me with plenty of spare time, so both the books and the pasta rollers got a thorough workout!

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Cookbook Reviews – An Overdue Look at Some Inspiring Reads

24/03/2014 | By

It seems I’ve been so busy of late that I’ve neglected one of my favourite areas of food – cookbooks! I’ve amassed quite a little cache of them over the last few months and it’s time to take a look at a few of my favourites.

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Cookbook Review – Serge Dansereau’s “Seasonal Kitchen”

18/10/2013 | By

"Seasonal Kitchen" Serge Dansereau

I’ve been a fan of Serge Dansereau’s ever since I ate at his iconic Sydney restaurant, The Bather’s Pavillion, about ten years ago and was struck by the freshness and vibrancy of his food. A Canadian by birth and now an Australian citizen who has been a leader on our culinary scene for over 30 years, Serge has been called ‘the father of the fresh food movement’.  His long-held conviction that great food needs quality ingredients led him to be one of our first chefs to seek out and encourage the production of new and emerging varieties of fresh produce, blazing the trail for all those who value the diverse, high-quality, seasonal produce that is found so much more easily today.

Serge’s “Seasonal Kitchen” is his most recent book and is another lovely hard-backed edition from ABC Books and Harper Collins Australia. It features beautiful images from William Meppem (who has worked on several of Dansereau’s previous books) and focuses on the seasonal Australian produce which inspires him, with recipes grounded in his classical cooking techniques, but which embrace the wider world. Under the influence of the cuisines of China, India, Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia Serge shows us how to take a modern-day dish and turn it from a good recipe to a great one, no matter the season. Following a tried-and-true format, Serge takes us through each of the seasons in turn, highlighting the best produce of each and using his skills to help us make the most of them. He does this course by course, including a selection of the necessary basics and his chef’s notes at the end of the book.

Serge Dansereau's Roasted Salmon with Saba, from "Seasonal Kitchen"

The techniques he uses are well within the reach of even a basic cook, and with seasonal stunners such as artichoke & steamed lettuce with thyme and anchovy butter sauce for spring, apricot and ricotta lemon slice for summer, mushroom soup with ricotta and sorrel dumplings for autumn and roast pork shoulder with fennel and cumquat and ginger sauce for winter, there’s no reason why any of us can’t be wowing everyone who sits down at our table all year round. I think what I love best about this book is that Serge takes a few simple, fresh ingredients which we can all find relatively easily and, with a little imagination and skill, turns them into a sophisticated dish that anyone can be proud of.

The recipe I’ve chosen to share with you is a prime example of just that principle – fresh, quality ingredients, simply, but thoughtfully prepared to show them off to their best advantage. We had this roast salmon with green beans, pancetta and saba for our family dinner last night, but I’d be just as happy to offer this to dinner guests. Don’t be put off if you can’t get hold of saba – just substitute vincotto or a very good balsamic reduction. As you can see from my photo, I added some fresh asparagus I bought from the farmers market, so don’t be afraid to play with this a bit.

Roast Salmon with Green Beans, Pancetta & Saba
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Saba is similar to vincotto or balsamic vinegar, which are both appropriate substitutions.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch shallots (spring onions)
  • 4 x 180 gm (6 oz.) salmon fillets, skin off
  • 8 slices pancetta
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 400gms (14 oz.) green beans, blanched
  • ¼ cup saba
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Trim the spring onions, removing roots & green leaves, leaving about 8 cm of white part.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  3. Pat fish dry with paper towel. Lay 2 strips pancetta side by side & place salmon on pancetta. Fold one end of the strips of pancetta over the fish, then roll the fish over to complete the portion. The pancetta folds should be on the underside of the fish.
  4. Heat half the olive oil over a medium heat in large frying pan. Place the fish, service side down, in the pan, pressing to ensure complete contact with the pan. Cook for 4 minutes, before turning carefully and cooking for another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the fish from the pan, place on an oven tray and put into the oven for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Fry the spring onions in the remaining oil until golden, add beans and saute for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Divide the beans and place onto 4 plates, top with the salmon and drizzle with the saba.

 

 

 

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In My Kitchen – October 2013

09/10/2013 | By

Whoa – what on earth is going on here?!! It’s not like me to be organised enough to get an “In My Kitchen” post up to link with my friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, but nevertheless that seems to be what I’ve done. I wouldn’t want you to be getting used to this as any sort of a regular occurrence – I just had one or two things I wanted to show you, so here goes.

In my kitchen –

Lilacs

… are the very last of the lilacs. I just adore these flowers and the delicate way they scent the air, but their flowering time is so very fleeting. I thought I’d miss them this year as they were just ready to flower when I left, but they saved themselves for me and I had to share them with you.

Turkish table cloth

… is my new, Turkish table cloth. These designs and colours are found all over Turkey in different variations and, while I loved them, I just couldn’t see a way to fit them in with my (admittedly haphazard) home decor until I found this table cloth. I bought it from a delightful old couple who lived high up in a stone cave house in Cappadoccia (more on that at a later date). They very good-naturedly let a bunch of us troop through their sleeping, living and cooking areas and had a few souvenirs for sale on the way out. None of these people were wealthy so I was more than happy to pay my way and to secure a visual memory that I can enjoy every day in my own kitchen.

Turkish delight

… there is still just a little real Turkish delight in my kitchen. The taste of the real thing bears very little resemblance to what we get here and there is no way I was going to travel all the way to Turkey and not bring some back. I bought a few boxes as gifts and just a bit (okay, more than a bit) for us to enjoy at home, although you’d be surprised at how much that stuff weighs down one’s baggage allowance.

Greg & Lucy Malouf "Turquoise"

… down from the bookshelf and now on my table is my copy of Greg  and Lucy Malouf’s “Turquoise”, the beautiful book about their travels and eating inspirations in Turkey. Just the thing to keep the recent trip fresh in my mind and to help me share some of the amazing Turkish food with my family (who missed out, yet again).

Serge Dansereau "Seasonal Kitchen"

… waiting patiently for me to get to it is a copy of Sydney chef Serge Dansereau’s gorgeous new cookbook “Seasonal Kitchen”, from ABC Books, Harper Collins. My heart did a little leap when I found this in the post just before I left for my trip and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it – pun intended.

After Eight

… still in my kitchen, but not for long, is my secret addiction. For many years now I have had a distinct fondness for the wafer-thin, dark chocolate enrobed, post-prandial treats which used to be know as After Dinner Mints – that is, of course, when they were still available here in Australia. They vanished off the store shelves a few years back leaving me sad, bereft and just a little twitchy. Last year I was overjoyed to discover they are still available in North America under the name “After Eight” and I made sure I indulged whilst I could. I was equally chuffed to find them a few weeks ago in a candy store in Changi Airport in Singapore. The large box I bought on the way over to Bulgaria just lasted until I got back to Singapore on the way home and the whereabouts of these two boxes is a closely held secret. I won’t be sharing.

To check out all the other, more regular, “In My Kitchen” posts head over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

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