Date bread

dates, flour, bi-carb sodaPlacid eating, 152pp.
compiled by Climena M. Wikoff
Radio Magazine, Mineola NY, 1959
Cooking on page 132

This cookbook features recipes from the Mirror Lake Inn at Lake Placid, New York, as well as contributions from local residents.

Today the inn calls itself a resort and spa. The restaurant is still open and I wonder if they use any of the recipes in the book? Probably not after almost 60 years.

Page 32 is blank, so I moved on to page 132 which has three recipes for simple quick breads. I was tempted to share the corn bread recipe attributed to Grandma Moses of Eagle Bridge, New York, but there are already two corn bread recipes on this blog—one from Ghana and one with chilli. So instead I made one of the two date breads. This one is from Mrs Godfrey Dewey of the Lake Placid Club.

Date breadDate bread

1 1/2 c. pitted dates
1 c. boiling water
1 tsp. soda
1 egg
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 rounded tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. melted butter

mixture for date bread date bread loafMethod
Cut dates into small pieces; cover with boiling water; add soda and let cool. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Beat egg and add sugar and melted butter and vanilla. Combine the three mixtures. It should be rather soft. Put in greased bread pan and bake in a very slow oven for one hour.

How it played out
I love how some old-fashioned cookbooks are written so sparingly. Take the instructions here—short and to the point. I was surprised that the dates soaked up most of the water as they cooled. The recipe didn’t say to drain off any remaining liquid, so I didn’t. That worked fine.

I added the cooled dates to the egg mixture and then stirred in the dry ingredients. I baked it for an hour at 160°C (325°F).

I was glad the recipe called for whole wheat rather than plain white flour. For those of you who use kitchen scales, I used about 190 grams of flour, and packed the brown sugar.

Placid eating cookbookVerdict
A very nice, not overly sweet, quick bread that goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea. 
Also nice at breakfast or for dessert with ice cream.

It’s way, way better than the boring page-32 honey nut loaf I made last year. Luckily I managed to turn that disappointment into a delicious bread and butter pudding.

Our most recent exchange student liked this date bread and took most of the slices for his school lunches, although I think he preferred the extra sweetness of the banana bread I made earlier. Teenagers! 

But I’ll be making this again. I have a big bag of dates to use up. If you don’t have dates, I think this would work well with any other dried fruit.

Speaking of bread, we love trying new breads (really all kinds of food) on our travels. We enjoyed an interesting sandwich in Finland—the vety.

date loaf with butter

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The full works with easy poached eggs

tomatoes, mushrooms, eggsLeon: naturally fast food, 308pp.
by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent
Conran Octopus, London, 2010
Cooking on page 32

This is the second cookbook produced by the people who started the Leon restaurants on London’s Carnaby Street in 2004. Back then, their goal was to change the face of fast food.

Six months after opening, Leon was named the Best New Restaurant in Great Britain at the Observer Food Monthly Awards (by a judging panel that included Rick Stein, Gordon Ramsay, Nigel Slater, Heston Blumenthal, Ruth Rogers and Jay Rayner). In 2015, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent received MBEs for their work to improve the quality of school lunches. There are now 43 Leon restaurants.

I hadn’t heard of Leon restaurants before being invited to join Déwi and her family for dinner (beef and potato curry). I spotted it on her bookshelf and asked to borrow it.

Full English breakfastThe full works with easy poached eggs

2 tomatoes
2 large or 4 small flat portobello mushrooms
olive oil
2 free-range eggs
4 slices of your favourite bacon
2 fat or 4 thin link or patty pork sausages
1 slice of bread per person—optional
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage patties baking breakfast ingredients full English breakfastMethod
Turn your broiler on fairly high. Tear off a sheet of aluminium foil and put it shiny side down on a wide baking sheet.

Cut your tomatoes and put them at one end in a row, followed by a neat row of whole mushrooms. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season well. Place the sausages on the baking sheet as well. Put the baking sheet under the broiler—on the highest shelf.

Set up 2 teacups and tear off a piece of plastic wrap for each one. Line the teacups and crack an egg into each. (If you are a confident egg poacher with super fresh eggs, just do it your normal way at the end.)

After 5 minutes, put the bacon on the broiler pan and return it to the broiler.

Fill a small saucepan two-thirds full with water and put the pan on the stove to boil. Bring up the edges of the plastic wrap to a tight twist, leaving a little airspace next to the egg. After another 5 minutes, turn the sausages and bacon and put back under the broiler for another 5 minutes.

If you like to have toast, get your bread in the toaster.

Gently drop your egg packages into the boiling water in the pan, turn the heat down to a simmer; and set your timer for 4 minutes for soft eggs or 5 for hard.

Assemble your breakfast on 2 plates. The eggs will be fine out of water, in their plastic wrap, for a minute or two.

Tip: depending on the quality and size of your bacon and sausages, the time under the broiler will wax and wane to get perfect crispy bacon or the best browned sausages.

How it played out
I love a full ‘English’ breakfast. I don’t make one very often, but when I do, it’s probably one of my favourite meals.

Leon cookbookI used button mushrooms and shaped the meat patties from sausage mince. I’m okay making poached eggs, so didn’t follow the instructions for that, but I reckon it’s a good technique for anyone who finds poaching eggs a frustration.

The overall timings were good, but I found the actual layout of the instructions rather convoluted. As a result, I tweaked the presentation of the method.

Served with my homemade rye sourdough bread.

What a great way to start the day. Nice to be able to do most of it in the oven. I’d usually fry the bacon and sausage patties on the stovetop.

If you are a fan of eggs of all kinds, check out my travel blog for a look at the exquisite Fabergé eggs on display in Russia.

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Peanut butter milkshake (and salted caramel sauce)

peanut butter, milk, bananaAll day café: café-style food to make at home, 240pp.
by Stuart McKenzie
Murdoch Books, Crows Nest NSW, 2017
Cooking on page 132

We don’t eat out often, unless we’re travelling, and then we prefer café-style food over fine-dining. Maybe that’s because we live in camping clothes when we’re on the road. Can’t imagine us strolling into a posh restaurant in our shorts, t-shirts and sandshoes (Aussie for sneakers).

Stuart McKenzie ran a string of successful cafés and restaurants before opening his own café, called South of Johnston, in Melbourne in 2012. Two years ago, he and Simon Carver opened Oxford Larder, a grocery store and café, also in Melbourne. It also offers takeaway meals.

The recipes in this cookbook are from South of Johnston. Page 32 was for scrambled and fried eggs. I’ve already posted several egg recipes, so I moved on to page 132.

peanut butter milkshake

Peanut butter milkshake (and salted caramel sauce)

140 g (5 oz/ 1/2 cup) peanut butter
1 banana
1 tablespoon salted caramel sauce (see recipe below)
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
600 ml (21 fl oz) full-cream milk

Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix for about 30 seconds, or until the banana is not lumpy and everything is well combined. Pour into two large tall glasses, preferably chilled beforehand in the fridge, and serve.

Salted caramel sauce
125 g ( 4 1/2 oz) salted butter, chopped
1/2 vanilla bean
200 g (7 oz) light brown sugar
125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1 1/2 cups) thickened (whipping) cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Slit the vanilla bean down its length with a small sharp knife and scrape out as many of the tiny black seeds as you can into the melted butter.

All day cafe cookbook

Add the brown sugar, cream and salt and bring to the boil, stirring vigorously with a whisk.When all of the ingredients are well combined and the sauce takes on a rich caramel hue, set aside and leave to cool to room temperature before serving.

If you have leftover sauce, pour it into a storage container, cover with the lid and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Leave the sauce to come to room temperature before using it, or microwave for a few seconds until runny.

How it played out
I took some liberties with this recipe. I didn’t have vanilla ice cream on hand, plus I didn’t want to make a whole batch of caramel sauce, so I improvised.

As a shortcut, I used salted caramel ice cream and a bottled caramel sauce that I had in the cupboard. I cut all quantities back by one-third, and the resulting amount was just right for two very generous glasses of milkshake.

I love milk, but it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a milkshake. This one has great flavour and would be a real treat for kids who can eat peanut butter. In future, I would make the caramel sauce if I thought I could use it up within the week.

For now, I’ll stick to milk in my cereal and a glass of milk with some meals and snacks—chocolate chip cookies come to mind. Here’s a great recipe for those.

double-rich chocolate cookies

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Green tea panna cotta

Measuring panna cottaMarie Claire: sweet, 80pp.
by Jody Vassallo
Murdoch Books, Sydney, 2001
Cooking on pages 32–33

This is part of the Style series produced by Marie Claire. Author Jody Vassallo is considered to be a globetrotter, and her many cookbooks reflect her passion for combining food and travel. She has been a consultant to Jamie Oliver and has contributed to more than 40 cookbooks.

She has written six other books in the Style series, including Supper, Pasta, Brunches, Noodles, Seafood and Drinks. Sweet is the only book I have from the series.

Green tea panna cotta

Green tea panna cotta

1/3 cup Japanese green tea (sencha) leaves
1 cup milk
2 cups cream
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 leaves gelatine or 4 teaspoons powdered gelatine

milk, cream, sugar, green tea panna cotta base panna cotta mix

Put the green tea, milk, cream and sugar in a pan and heat slowly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is just about to boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain the infusion back into a clean pan.

Soak the gelatine in 3 tablespoons warm water until spongy. Which into the cream mixture and heat gently until the gelatine has dissolved.

Pour into four lightly greased 150 ml (5 fl oz) moulds or Japanese teacups and refrigerate until set. Serve in the cups or turn out onto plates.

Serves 4.

How it played out
Our friend, Chloe, did most of the work on this recipe when she was living at our house and waiting for tenants to move out of her place. She/we used titanium strength gelatine leaves and Indian green tea leaves.

We followed everything else, and weighed out the servings so we could have enough to share across five people, rather than the four suggested in the recipe.

Chloe also made a cherries jubilee recipe (another page 32 for the future) to serve on top of the panna cotta. The dish was much prettier than shown. The pic is yellower than real life because it was taken at night under artificial light.

Sweet cookbook

The recipe was easy enough to make, but it never quite set. We left it in the fridge overnight and the next day it was still wobbly enough that we couldn’t have turned it out on a plate.

Not sure what the problem was. I don’t think the fact we used Indian rather than Japanese green tea made a difference. And titanium strength gelatine should have done the trick.

Unlikely to make this again unless a guest especially requests a green tea dessert.

Speaking of tea, we’ve drunk lots of tea on our travels around the world. Here’s a post about a great chai/tea stop we had in India.

Posted in Dairy, Dessert, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments


Guacamole ingredientsThe fruit cookbook, 238pp.
by Stephanie Jonas
Reed Books, Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia, 1985
Cooking on page 32

Stephanie Jonas’ interest in fruit is hardly surprising. Her grandparents, Alfred and Louisa Jonas, established a fruit shop in downtown Melbourne in the early 1930s.

They were passionate about selling only the best, and the shop became renowned for its quality produce and the availability of out-of-season fruits.

Chapter by chapter, this book covers 40 different fruits and includes 450 recipes. Page 32 is still at the beginning of the alphabet with avocado.



1 tomato
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 avocados
3 tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste)
3–4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon diced pimento
salt and freshly ground peppeer to taste

Mashing guacamole Taco ingredientsMethod
Peel the tomato, remove the seeds and chop. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Halve the avocado, remove the stone, peel and chop. Mash all the ingredients together using a fork or blend in a blender, remembering that the mixture must be chunky not smooth.

Serve in a bowl surrounded by corn chips or slices of raw vegetables. It may be prepared a few hours in advance. Just sprinkle with extra lemon juice, cover and chill.

Alternative: add crispy bacon bits, chopped hard-boiled eggs or chopped anchovy fillets.

Serves 8–10.

How it played out
I had two small avocados that were quite mushy, so I treated them as one avocado and made half a batch of this recipe. I followed the instructions, using a red onion and mashing the ingredients together with a fork.

Instead of serving it as a dip with corn chips, I used it as a topping for tacos.

The Fruit CookbookVerdict
I was so glad to find a recipe that used up a couple of avocados that were almost ready for the compost bin. The result was a delicious version of guacamole.

I usually add a finely chopped chilli to my regular guacamole recipe, but this works very well with the Tabasco. It was perfect served with tacos.

In future, I’d skip the pimento (not necessary) and add my much loved fresh coriander (cilantro).

And check Sharon’s comment below for lots of ideas on how to use avocados and guacamole.

Guacamole always strikes me as a Mexican or Spanish recipe. One of my favourite international markets was the La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain. You can see some of it here.

Taco with guacamole

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Beef and potato curry

curry mealMarie Claire fresh and easy: simple food for relaxed eating, 256pp.
by Michele Cranston
Murdoch Books Australia, Millers Point NSW, 2011
Cooking on pages 132–33

This recipe came to me in an unexpected way. A little while ago, Déwi invited Poor John and me to join her and her two daughters for dinner.

I’ve known Déwi since she was a teenager. That’s when I first came to Australia and lived next door to the wonderful Adam family.

I was completed blessed and Déwi’s mother, Ronnie, was like a sister to me. Last year, we lost Ronnie to a tumour when she was way too young.

But I mustn’t linger in sadness. Sharing dinner with Déwi and family was a special treat, and imagine our surprise to discover that the main dish she was cooking was from pages 132–33.

Beef and potato curryBeef and potato curry

350 g (12 oz) waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried red chilli
2 onions, sliced
750 g (1 lb 10 oz) diced beef
6 green chillies, seeded and cut into long thin strips
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
steamed rice or couscous, to serve

Beef and potato curry Parathas cookbookMethod
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of sea salt and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the liquid to add to the curry later.

Put a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the ginger, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and dried chilli. Cook for a minute or until the spices are aromatic, then add the onion and the remaining olive oil. Cook the onion until it is soft, them remove it with a slotted spoon. Add the beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Return the spiced onions to the pan, and add the green chilli, tomato paste and tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, adding some of the reserved potato water if necessary.

Add the potatoes at the last minute and cook for a further minute.

Serve with steamed rice or couscous. Serves 4.

How it played out
We arrived 20–30 minutes before dinner was served, so I can’t claim to have watched (or photographed) the cooking process. I simply asked ‘What are you making’. Demi showed me the cookbook and I instantly spotted the magic number 32.

Fresh and easy cookbookDéwi said she followed the ingredients and instructions as written. She found everything to be straightforward.

It was a wonderful meal in every way. Delicious food—including the curry, steamed rice, two colourful salads and parathas—perfect company, lots of laughter and the sharing of many memories.
As it turned out it was the 21st anniversary of the day Déwi served as postmistress in the small Japanese village she was living in at the time.

We’ve promised to get together again soon.

Beef and potato curry

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Sardine pâté

sardines and olivesQuick, thrifty cooking, 312pp.
Reader’s Digest Kitchens
Reader’s Digest (Australia), Surry Hills, 1985
Cooking on page 32

Most of us are familiar with the magazines and condensed books published by Reader’s Digest, but did you know they do cookbooks too? I’ve already cooked a page-32 recipe—brussels sprouts and chestnuts—from one of their books, which just happens to be one of the first cookbooks I ever bought.

I bought today’s book several years ago for $1 at a local op (charity) shop but this is the first time I’ve cooked from it. It has almost 500 recipes covering almost all the ingredients you can think of. There’s even a chapter on cooking for one.

Each recipe is comprehensive with easy instructions, time to make, number of serves and kilojoule/calorie count.

Page 32 takes 30 minutes (15 minutes of that to chill) and has ingredients I love.

Sardine pate

Sardine pâté

1 can (125g) sardines, drained
60g butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup finely chopped stuffed olives
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon French mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (optional)

ingredients for sardine pate pate mixtureMethod
In a mixing bowl, mash the sardines with a fork, then blend in the butter to make a smooth paste. Add the lemon juices, olives, horseradish, garlic, mustard, paprika, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper and the walnuts if used. Blend well and taste the mixture for seasoning.

Chill for 15 minutes. Serve as a spread for savoury biscuits or toast, or use as a stuffing for celery.

Tips: You can make this spread ahead and refrigerate it for 1 or 2 days. Try this with a 100g can of tuna instead of the sardines. 

How it played out
I made this mostly as written, using a 115g tin of sardines, butter and largish green olives because I didn’t have any stuffed ones. Sadly, my olive pitter wasn’t up to the task, so I had to use a knife. Took a little longer, but still did the job. We’re nut lovers so of course I added the walnuts. Oh, and the finished recipe didn’t need salt. 

Quick, thrifty cooking by Reader's Digest

A real winner and so easy to make. I shared some with my friend, Maggie. A few hours later she called to say another friend, Louise, had stopped by and loved it so much she had to have the recipe ASAP. So here it is.

P.S. I’ve been thumbing through this book and it really is loaded with tempting recipes.

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

P.S. My friend, Sy, in New York has already made this recipe (using celery) and has kindly shared his photo with me. You can see his comment below.

Sardine pate

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