Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Dining with Kermit, Gilligan, Darth Vader and a cast of many

September 15, 2011

I, like many other sandwich eating folk around the world, consider cooking to be a chore. And though I do it daily, I like to use my television as my inspiration for the food that I prepare. I am not talking about celebrity chefs here. Pffft! I can enter their restaurant and pay them to cook for me. I choose to cook the fictional character’s meal.

Eat like your favourite television character

If Mary Ann’s coconut pie from her Gilligan’s Island Cookbook is good enough for the other 6 castaways, it’s good enough for my family of four. My children have enjoyed Obi Wan Kebabs and Wookie Cookies from the Star Wars Cookbook. “Use the fork, Luke” is a commonly heard statement at our table. And how can I go past Gus, my butcher standing in for Sam the Butcher supplying the red meat for the House of Cards Hamburger in Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook.  We’ve had the Mini Eyeball Pizza from the Shrek Cookbook, I’ve saved the day with Bewitched‘s Cousin Serena’s I-don’t-cook quick-fixes, Phoebe’s Fabulous Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies from the Cooking with Friend’s Cookbook, and little do my children know that at Christmas time they are partaking in a little bit of DOOL Holiday Hot Chocolate (with an “optional” cup of brandy or bourbon which was needed by Roman Brady when he found out his wife Marlene was possessed by Satan) because I found the recipe in Cooking with Days of our Lives.

My children have enjoyed She Wore a Jello Ribbon from True Grits: Recipes inspired by the movies of John Wayne and they have eaten Liz Taylor’s Spicy Chicken from In the kitchen with Miss Piggy by Moi: Fabulous Recipes from my famous celebrity friends. Miss Piggy is a delight in this humour filled book, an adjective rarely used when describing cookbooks. In solidarity with her, I too won’t cook the pork and frog recipes that were contributed – for shame!

Sometimes my need to channel Hollywood on the dining table moves from the fictional movie or TV series and into larger than life stars. For I have cooked from the The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley (though I draw the line at barbequed pizza) and our Christmas Turkey is prepared with the recipe from the Last Dinner on the Titanic cookbook (Ok – not a hollywood star but certainly, it has inspired many movies).

I have yet to cook from The Soprano’s Family Cookbook, the Number 96 Cookbook or The Winnie the Pooh Teatime Cookbook but their time will come, I am sure. For my dining table will always pay homage to Hollywood.



for the love of ice cream

September 8, 2011

‘I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!’ was a constant refrain during my childhood…

I remember lots of ice cream adventures – from eating delicious Gooey Gumdrop ice cream at MacAndrew Bay on Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula (how did they make it taste like bubblegum?), the excitement of trying gelato for the first time, to the complete and utter tragedy of buying an ice cream on a hot day, only to walk out the shop door and watch two scoops of ice cream slide off the cone and fall at my feet.

Ice cream is still a major preoccupation.  Never have I been more excited than the day I saw the words ‘artisan gelato’ on the sign outside Cow and Moon’s new store in Newtown, Sydney – just across the road from my house!  And whenever I go to Coogee Beach, I make a point of stopping in at Love Coogee for some of their delicious Pear and Rhubarb ice cream, or the Salted Caramel with shards of Belgian White Chocolate.

My ice cream obsession reached new heights this last Christmas, however, when my mother and sister gave me my very own ice cream maker.  Some very messy Chocolate Sorbet making ensued.

Yes, things were getting serious.

This was the point at which I realised that I needed my own personal library of books devoted to the science of ice cream making.  There were so many questions to be answered… traditional custard vs Philidelphia style ice cream with just milk/cream or cream cheese?  the correct ratio of fruit to sugar syrup for a successful sorbet?  how many different kinds of alcohol can you put in ice cream?  (the answer… lots!), and what about mix ins?  I soon discovered that there were many delicious things that could be added to ice cream to make it taste even better.

Luckily, I found some experts to help me in my experiments.  My two favourite and most invaluable ice cream cookbooks have turned out to be:

The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (The Traditionalist who encourages experimentation)

David Lebovitz provides basic recipes for a finely curated number of ice creams and sorbets, but what makes his cookbook so great is that it offers variations and additions that allow you to get really creative and adapt even his most basic recipes to your own tastes and ingredients.  I’ve been desperate to try his Chartreuse Ice Cream, but haven’t been able to get my hands on any Chartreuse – so instead I made it with honey liquer and a few tablespoons of runny honey.  The result was delicious.  Same goes for his dairy-free Chocolate Sorbet, which I jazzed up recently for some vegan friends with fiery tastebuds by adding four red chillies and a pinch of chilli powder.  Lebovitz champions fresh ingredients and has a friendly, chatty writing style – which he makes the most of on his blog and twitter.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for the Home Kitchen by Jeni Britton Bauer (Innovator, and Girl Whose Life I Covet)

Jeni Britton Bauer begins her ice cream book with an inspiring description of her journey from small town Ohio college student working in a French bakery, to Ice Cream Queen.  I love the sense of community that she captures in her introduction, as she describes her initial start up selling ice cream at her local Farmers Market and her progress as she sets up a successful ice cream business.  Her commitment to scientific process and food best practice appeals to the food geek in me, and the ingredients she uses inspire me (she even has a section devoted to sorbets made with beer!).  This is a great recipe book for anyone who has an interest in making ice cream, but who has an egg intolerance or allergy – as all her recipes are made with cream cheese, without the traditional egg custard base called for in most ice cream recipes.

Thanks to my lovely Mother and Sister (ice cream co conspirators) and David Lebovitz and Jeni Britton Bauer, there will be plenty of ice cream parties this summer!  And yes, I may secretly dream of opening my own ice cream store one day.

The newest ice cream flavour I’m planning: Violet.


Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto

June 3, 2011
Springtime Kaiseki: Sashimi - Flounder Sashimi, Oil-blanched Prawns

Cooking Lecture - Springtime Kaiseki: Sashimi - Flounder Sashimi, Oil-blanched Prawns by flickr user panduh

I always knew there was a tea culture in Japan, but until I read Untangling My Chopsticks by Victoria Abbott Riccardi I had no idea that there is also a complex, elegant culinary tradition that is part of the Japanese tea ceremony.

Riccardi’s memoir recollects the two years she spent in Japan learning about Kaiseki – the highly ritualized form of cooking that accompanies the formal tea ceremony. It is a fascinating read that gives insight not only into Japanese food culture: from the myriad number of ways that it is acceptable to eat sushi, to unusual Japanese cooking ingredients like Kudzu, but also insight into Japanese culture and history.

And even better… the memoir contains 27 recipes!

I still think of this book every time I eat sushi, and if I ever travel to Japan I will definitely try and take a culinary tour of Kyoto, or stay in a homestay so that I can experience a traditional Japanese home meal.