Gujurati carrot salad

carrots, honey, lemon200 curries, 240pp.
by Sunil Vijaykar
Octopus Publishing Group, London, 2008
Cooking on page 32

Curries are some of my favourite dishes. It doesn’t matter whether they come from India, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma or many of the other Asian countries that are known for their curries.

This book, which I bought for $2 at a recent Lifeline Book Fair, covers curries from many nations. This is the first recipe I have cooked from it. Page 32 is from the Indian state of Gujarat.

Gujarati carrot salad

Gujurati carrot salad

500 g (1 lb) carrots, coarsely grated
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon clear honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons black mustard sees
4 curry leaves

Put the carrots into a serving bowl. Mix the lemon juice and honey together and pour over the carrots. Season with salt.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the chilli flakes, mustard seeds and curry leaves. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the dressing over the carrots. Stir well to mix. Serves 4.

Variation: replace 250 g (8 oz) of the coarsely grated carrots with 250 g (8 oz) peeled and coarsely grated freshly cooked beetroot and proceed as above.

200 curriesHow it played out
Made half a batch, using peanut oil and carrots (no beetroot). Earlier today, a friend gave me a bag of lemons, so I was all set for the juice. The honey was from the Tinlin family in Forbes NSW.
Used dried curry leaves. Wish I could grow my own. Maybe someday. Served with another page-32, a delicious chicken curry, that I will post soon.

I’m known for my Indian feasts and this will be a delicious and colourful addition. I reckon half a batch will be enough for most occasions.

One of my fondest memories of Gujarat is our visit to see the Asiatic lions at Gir National Park. You can see the lions here.

carrot salad with Burmese chicken curry

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Lamb cutlet spiced with fennel (Shahi chaap amber)

Indian spicesIndia: in search of the perfect curry, 320pp.
by Rick Stein
BBC Books, London, 2013
Cooking on page 232

Regular visitors to this and/or my travel blog will know that I love India and Indian food. So I was keen to borrow this book from friend and neighbour, Lyn.

Rick Stein has produced several country-based cookbooks that accompany his various BBC television cooking series. This one first aired a couple of years back. At the time, I saw and enjoyed several episodes. By chance, tonight I saw a re-run of the episode with this dish.

Stein learned this mutton-chop recipe, made with lamb cutlets, at Sanjiv Bali’s restaurant in the Amber Fort just outside the pink city, Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan.

Lamb cutlets spiced with fennel

Lamb cutlet spiced with fennel (Shahi chaap amber)

12 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a rolling pin
12 cloves
8cm piece cinnamon stick
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 Indian bay leaves
1½ tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp ground ginger
1.5 litres whole (full-fat) milk
1kg lamb cutlets (from a rack of lamb)
75ml vegetable oil

mixed spices batter and chillies batter for lamb cutletsFor the batter
250g plain flour
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom (seeds from 30 green pods)
1 tsp salt
3 green chillies, finely chopped, with seeds
2 free-range egg whites
Pinch chat masala, to finish

Put the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, bay leaves, black peppercorns and ginger into a deep, sturdy pan and add the milk and 500ml/18fl oz of water. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the lamb cutlets and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Leave to cool in the liquid (the lamb should still be pink in the middle at this stage).

For the batter, sift together the flour and cornflour in a bowl, then stir in the black pepper, fennel, ginger, cardamom and salt, followed by the chillies. Lightly beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until just frothy and then whisk them into the dry ingredients.

Strain the milk and remove the lamb cutlets from the pan. Add enough of the cool milky stock to make a thin batter the consistency of single cream.

Add the cooled cutlets to the batter and turn to coat evenly. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Take a few cutlets from the batter, add to the pan (don’t overcrowd it) and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden-brown. Keep these warm while you cook the rest.

frying lamb cutlets frying lamb cutlets

Sprinkle with chat masala, and serve hot.

How it played out
Racks of lamb were on special for $20 a kilo. I bought one that weighed just under a kilo, and sliced off the individual cutlets. There were nine (so Poor John would get an extra).

I cook a lot of Indian food, but this recipe and its steps weren’t familiar to me, so I followed the instructions. I even made a special trip to the supermarket to buy full-fat milk.

Served with steamed broccoli and roasted potato wedges. I normally would have made a couple of vegetable curries to go with this dish, but I ran out of time.

The finished dish was tasty enough and it wasn’t hard to make but, cripes, it was fiddly.

When I spend the good part of an afternoon simmering, sifting, frothing, straining, battering, frying and dirtying way too many dishes, I expect the end result to knock my socks off.

Rick Stein's IndiaThis dish was nice but, in my opinion, it’s much better suited to letting someone in a restaurant do all the fiddly, messy work. No doubt, that’s why Stein got the recipe from a restaurant.

As a complete aside and in our experience, the condiment (and last ingredient listed) is also spelled chaat masala. It’s similar to garam masala.

Over the last few years, we’ve spent many wonderful months travelling overland in India. We’ve been east to west and north to south, and never tired of the food, adventures and especially the wildlife. One of our most memorable days was spending almost an hour following a lusty and lovelorn leopard.

I admit to being highly tempted by a trip towards the end of this year (2018). It’s in northern India and in search of the snow leopard. Anyone interested?

lamb cutlets before separating

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Creamed carrot

Carrots, walnuts, cream cheeseThe best of TV cookery, 144pp.
by various famous English chefs
from various TV shows and cookbooks
Cooking on page 32

No idea how I came to own this cookbook, but is does showcase recipes from 22 different, famous chefs from the United Kingdom.

I recognised five of them—Keith Floyd, Delia Smith, Mary Berry, Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey. All the rest were new to me.

Page 32 has five recipes by Leslie and Susannah Kenton. Their recipes extol the merits of a diet high in uncooked vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. Their TV series was called Raw Energy Recipes.

Carrot spreadCreamed carrot

2 carrots, roughly chopped
225 g (8 oz) tofu or cream or cottage cheese
25 g (1 oz) walnuts
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1/4 vegetable bouillon cube, crumbled
water or carrot juice, to thin
sliced carrots, to garnish

Blend the carrots well in a blender with tofu or cheese and nuts. Add the herbs and seasonings and water or juice to thin. Serve sprinkled with carrot slices.

The best of TV cookery cookbookHow it played out
I had everything on hand, so made this exactly as written, using cream cheese. Took it to a friend’s place where a group of us had nibbles and drinks before going out to dinner and to a play. Served with crackers.

Definitely a healthy dip, but really quite bland taste-wise. Would be even blander if made with tofu. You could try spicing it up with chilli sauce or Tabasco, or even the whole billion cube.

The play—a British farce called Don’t get your vicars in a twist—was good and full of spice and laughs.


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Chin-baung-pazun-kyaw (prawns and leaves)

Seafood cookbook and spinachcookbook and chilliesSeafood of South-East Asia: a comprehensive guide with recipes, 368pp.
by Alan Davidson
Ten Speed Press, Berkeley California, 2003
Cooking on page 232

I was delighted to find this guide in a bookstore during our overland travels from London to Sydney. I can’t remember which country we were in, but it was somewhere in South-East Asia.

The main reason I was keen to buy it is because I grew up in landlocked Nebraska and had little exposure to cooking seafood.

The first half of the book has three catalogues of seafood—fish, crustaceans, and molluscs and other edible sea creatures.

Each species is described and illustrated. Names are given in English, Latin and the languages of the countries in which the species is common. It’s a fabulous resource.

Pages 32 and 132 didn’t have recipes. Page 232 is in the chapter from Burma (Myanmar), where we lived for several years in the 1980s.

Prawns and leaves

Chin-Baung-Pazun-Kyaw (prawns and leaves)

1/4 viss (just under 1 pound) prawns
2 tablespoons of peanut oil
1 large bunch chin-baung-byu (a sort of sorrel—don’t buy the red kind, which is chin-baung-ni)
2 small red onions, sliced
3 or 4 green chilli peppers, chopped
salt and pepper

sautéing onions and chillies prawns and spinachMethod
Heat the oil, cook the onions and chilli peppers in it briefly, until the onions are golden. Add the prawns and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so. Then put in the chin-baung leaves (stripped from their stems) with the seasoning. The dish will be ready after 2 or 3 minutes more cooking. Serve at once or allow to cool and store in a jar.

How it played out
The chance of me finding chin-baung-byu leaves in Australia was virtually nil, so I looked up possible substitutions. The two options were spinach with some lemon juice for sour, or just rocket (arugula) if you didn’t need the sour. 
We like sour, so I went with the lemon and spinach option.

I followed the recipe instructions and was impressed by how quickly it all came together. I was puzzled by the suggestion that I could store the finished recipe in a jar. We ate it immediately.

I love Burmese food. The last month we lived in Burma, we had Burmese food for every lunch and dinner. This recipe brought back a lot of wonderful memories. It’s delicious, colourful, fresh, and super quick and easy to make.

Seafood of South-East AsiaTravel
I haven’t yet written posts about our time in Burma, but I have written about South-East Asia.

So has our daughter, Petra, who now lives in Vietnam. Here’s her story about an unexpected concert she was treated to not long after she arrived.


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Beef and barley soup

soup ingredientsThe big book of slow cooker, casseroles and more, 336pp.
by Betty Crocker Kitchens
Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2011
Cooking on page 32

For eight decades, Betty Crocker cookbooks have been popular in kitchens throughout America. I own several—including her first, Betty Crocker’s Picture cook book—and have cooked from them regularly over the years.

I even have a copy of Finding Betty Crocker: the secret life of America’s First Lady of food by Susan Marks. Fortune Magazine gave her that title in 1945, when it named her the second most popular American woman, after Eleanor Roosevelt. Not bad for a gal who never existed.

This recipe tempted me because we’re at the tail end of winter in Australia and I thought this recipe was perfect for the still chilly evenings.

Beef and barley soup

Beef and barley soup

1 1/2 lb beef stew meat
3 medium carrots, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1 large onion, chopped, (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2/3 cup frozen corn, thawed
2/3 cup uncooked medium pearl barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
5 1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

gravy beef, barley, onion, tomato soup in slow cooker peas added to soupMethod
Spray 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Cut beef into bite-size pieces, if desired. In cooker, mix beef and remaining ingredients except peas.
Cover; cook on low heart setting 9 to 10 hours.

Stir in peas. Increase heat setting to high’ cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes longer or until peas are tender.

How it played out
My slow cooker holds only 3.5 litres (about 3.5 quarts) so I worried whether everything would fit in, but it all did just fine.

In fact, I used a little extra gravy beef (cut in bite-size pieces), fresh corn cut off the cob and 4 1/2 cups of beef broth. There was enough room for the extra cup of broth, but the mix was looking wet enough for my liking. I let everything cook for the full 9 hours and then added the peas.

I checked after about 6 hours and worried that the dish might not cook enough in the 9 hours, but the timing turned out to be perfect.

The end result was soupy enough, but I served it over mashed potatoes. Would also be nice over rice or noodles.

Slow cooker cookbookVerdict
This is a perfect recipe for a slow cooker. For starters, there’s no need to mess around with half the ingredients before just chucking them into the cooker. So for about 15 minutes of effort in the morning to chop the meat and veg, I had a delicious soup ready in the evening. The meat was beautifully tender, and the smell in the kitchen had everyone hanging out for dinner.

I also liked that there were so many veggies included. The recipe makes lots, so serve it to a crowd or be prepared for leftovers.

If you have a moment, Id love it if you would check out my travel blog.

Barley and beef stew

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Moist buttermilk cake with strawberries

Cake ingredientsSpring harvest recipes, 176pp.
by Maggie Beer
Lantern, Penguin Group, Melbourne, 2015
Cooking on page 132

This is my friend Chloe’s first guest contribution. That said, she and I have cooked several page-32 recipes in the past including the amazing Negroni tart, chocolate truffles and green tea panna cotta.

This cookbook brings together the signature recipes from the spring chapter of Maggie Beer’s book, Maggie’s Harvest, including detailed descriptions of seasonal ingredients and accounts of memorable meals with family and friends. This recipe is in the section on strawberries.

Buttermilk cake with strawberries

Moist buttermilk cake with strawberries

butter, for greasing
vegetable oil spray, for greasing 1½ cups (225 g) self-raising flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (125 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups (275 g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
finely grated rind of 2 lemons
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
really ripe strawberries, to serve

Sifting flour Lemon butter icing
100 g butter, softened
finely grated rind of 2 lemons
¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice, plus extra to taste
2 2/3 cups (430 g) icing (confectioners sugar), sifted

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease an 18 cm cake tin with a little butter, then line with baking paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. In a separate bowl, add the vanilla extract to the buttermilk. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for 2–3 minutes or until pale, then, with the motor running, add the sugar in a steady stream. If the mixture is not well combined, scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix for another 3 minutes.

Mixing cake batterAdd the whole eggs, one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds after adding each one. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds after adding each one. Add the lemon rind, then pour in the oil and mix well with a rubber spatula. Fold in half of the flour mixture, then scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in half of the buttermilk mixture. Fold in the remaining flour, scraping the sides down well, then fold in the remaining buttermilk. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the edges begin to come away from the sides of the tin. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack covered with baking paper. Peel the baking paper from the base of the cake, then turn, right-side up, onto another rack. Leave to cool before icing.

For the icing, add the lemon rind and juice and the icing sugar to the butter and stir to combine; add extra lemon juice to taste, as desired. Once the cake is cool, spread it thickly with the icing. Alternatively, you can leave the cake un-iced and top with really ripe strawberries. It is wonderful sliced and served with a dollop of mascarpone.

Baked cakeHow it played out
The recipe was straightforward enough to put together and only took me about 20 minutes one morning. I followed the instructions, but made my own buttermilk by adding a splash of white vinegar to the milk to make it curdle. The cake was a bit crumbly on the sides as it came out of the pan so make sure you leave it for 5–10 minutes before tipping it out onto a cake rack.

Recipes that leave me with spare bits are annoying. This recipe resulted in 3 leftover egg whites. Plus if I had added zest to the icing then I would have had an extra couple of ‘naked’ lemons lying around. As it was the icing, I decided it would be lovely with just lemon juice (from a lemon I used for the zest that went in the cake batter). I recommend people make this icing.

Icing ingredientsI was tempted to make Swiss meringue butter cream as icing for this cake to use up the extra egg whites but, as it turned out, my sister asked me to make a cake for my niece who is turning 3 later this week when they visit Canberra. So I will make garish pink butter cream icing for her birthday cake instead, and that cake recipe won’t leave me with any spare bits.

I took the cake to work and the people have spoken. Words like ‘the best cake you’ve made for us so far Chloe’ came out!

It’s a really tasty and moist cake. It’s got a nice subtle lemon flavour. Maggie Beer is right about the icing—it’s great—and strawberries on top keep it from feeling too sweet or lemony.

Spring harvest cookbookTwo cents from Peggy
Wow, such a beautiful cake. A big thank you to Chloe for contributing a dessert recipe that is so delicious.

Guest contributions are always welcome, so feel free to share some of your own page-32 gems. I can be contacted on peggybright @ hotmail . com (just delete the spaces in the email address.

We love strawberries, including the delicious ones we bought in Germany on our travels. Wish I’d had this recipe then.

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Spinach and coconut prawn curry

spices for prawn curryThe veg patch cookbook through the year, 192pp.
edited by Caroline Bretherton
DK, Penguin Random House, Melbourne, 2017
Cooking on page 32

This practical cookbook is divided into sections for the four seasons. Each chapter includes recipes for the most common vegetables and fruits that are available in that season. Of course, the chapters are aligned with the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere.  Everyone above the Equator would have to adjust the recipes by six months.

The book also includes useful tips regarding when to harvest, how to store, how to preserve, how to freeze and such. As I thumb through the book, I can imagine cooking almost every single recipe. Page 32 has ingredients we love and usually have on hand, even when not in season.

Spinach and prawn curry

Spinach and coconut prawn (shrimp) curry

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
large thumb-sized knob of ginger, finely grated
1/4–1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
4 large tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
400ml (14 fl oz) coconut milk
10 fresh or dried curry leaves (optional)
150g (5 1/2 oz) spinach, rinsed, stalks removed and leaves finely shredded
400g (14 oz) raw king prawns (shrimp), shelled weight
1/2 tsp caster sugar
sea salt

spinach, onion, garlic spices for a curry spinach and prawn curryMethod
Heat the sunflower oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan or wok. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook for 2–3 minutes over low heat until soft, but not brown. Add the spices and cook for a further 1–2 minutes to release the flavours

Add the tomatoes and continue to cook over low heat for another 2 minutes, until the flesh starts to break down. Add the coconut milk and curry leaves (if using), and bring to a boil. Mix in the spinach and lower the heat, continuing to cook until the spinach has collapsed. Baby spinach will take 1–2 minutes, bigger leaves up to 4 minutes.

Add the prawns (shrimp), sugar and a pinch of salt, and cook for a further 2 minutes over high heat, or until the prawns turn bright pink. Serve with basmati rice, nan bread and lime wedges on the side.

How it played out
Other than using tinned tomatoes and coconut oil instead of sunflower oil, I followed the recipe’s ingredients and instructions.

I used baby spinach, dried curry leaves and a 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder. Everything came together easily and the cooking times were accurate. Served with rice.

This made a delicious weeknight dinner. Quick to put together and loaded with flavour. In future, I would use only 1/4 teaspoon of chilli. As much as I like chilli, the 1/2 teaspoon seemed excessive in this recipe. If you make it, let me know what you think.

Veg patch cookbookAs an aside
Hope you noticed the knife in the middle photo above (with the ground spices). I bought this amazing custom-made knife from New West Knife Works in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In fact, I lashed out and bought five knives and three potato mashers. Wish I’d bought more of everything.

I have given away three knives and two mashers as gifts. One of these days, I’ll do a post on the knife shop. Have to say that I really appreciate good craftsmanship.

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