The Cook’s Companion app

screen1136x1136screen1136x1136-1from Stephanie Alexander and her team and other friends.

Review by Penny Woodward

Stephanie first published her bestselling book The Cooks Companion in in 1996 and since then has sold over half a million copies. Now we have the chance to purchase it as an app. The A-Z form of the book lends itself to the app format and this app is beautifully put together. Fabulous photographs by Simon Griffiths complement the text and recipes. I particularly like the A-Z ingredients. Touch Bananas and you get information about what they go with, where they come from, varieties, seasons, selection, storage, preparation, cooking and six delectable recipes where bananas are the main ingredient. I’m still having fun exploring the app but think I will mostly use the Vegetable and Herbs section, or maybe Fruit and Nuts? But hard to go past Pasta and Noodles or Rices, Grains and Pulses and so much more. Read more

Growing Honest Food

Review by Gail Thomas

Eager to keep their Italian traditions alive after coming to Australia in 1965 Lina and Tony Siciliano started a new life together in suburban Essendon. With only a small garden they yearned to grow their own food so in 1981 acquired a barren block of land in East Keilor where they planted fruit trees and vegetables and raised chickens. Thirty years on and the couple have transformed the site into a profitable business boasting a productive bounty of 400 olive trees, an orchard, vegetable garden and their Rose Creek Estate vineyard.
Taking a month by month approach author Gabriella Gomersall-Hubbard has documented the family’s sustainable way of life from preserving – think big tomato day and sausage making – to producing olive oil and wine. Colour photos throughout capture the essence of the Siciliano’s seasonal activities in the garden and kitchen while traditional recipes reinforce that achievable goal of growing organically, knowing where your food comes from and ensuring low food miles. Try a spicy pasta with potatoes and cavolo nero or the slow cooked capretto with fresh peas.

Review by Penny Woodward

This lovely book is full of delights. For those of us lucky enough to have visited Rose Creek Estate, to have met Tony and Lina, and eaten their food, this book is a wonderful evocation of their lives and lifestyle. Read more

Seasons at Home

Review by Gail Thomas

In her latest book house and garden expert Holly Kerr Forsyth has compiled a collection of seasonal recipes to celebrate the bounty of fresh produce from the garden.
Each chapter covers a season and along with contemplating a tomato and anchovy tart or rhubarb streusel cake for spring picnic hamper, there are plenty of garden-related hints on bringing flowers indoors, how to keep cut flowers fresh and skillfully arranging them. Summer sees grape and nectarine gratin or making an eye-catching moulded frozen ice bowl dotted with herbs and flowers, a perfect receptacle for serving prawns or an icy fruit sorbet. Getting into the festive spirit there are also details for making decorative flower wreaths, daisy balls and centerpieces for the festive table.

Carrot and ginger soup will bring out the autumn glow while quinces, with pork, baked, in a gooey cake or add to an aromatic autumn fruit pie packed with apples, plums and apricots show off their versatility in a season when it’s also the time to stock up the store cupboard. Preserves, fruit chutney or green tomato and chilli jam and don’t forget to think ahead and plant hyacinths, daffodils, tulips and other bulbs for spring flowering
Winter brings hearty offerings, an array of curries, poached pears with star anise and juniper or stuffed baked apples while you can also turn your hand to making potpourri, studded orange balls or pomanders, there’s even hints on keeping poultry – and the perfectly boiled egg.

Seasons at Home reflects Holly Kerr Forsyth’s unique style, passion for food and practical information on flower arranging, decorating the table to suit an occasion, and growing potted plants to bring indoors.

by Holly Kerr Forsyth, MUP $34.99

Delicious fresh tomatoes

Tigerella, tomato, vegetable, salad

Orange and red striped Tigerella tomatoes not only look great the flavour is superb too.

By Anne-Marie

A FRIEND has just arrived with that most treasured of gifts, fresh tomatoes, bless her glut. Black Krims, Little Sugars, Tigerella and Cherry Toms surplus to her own requirements, and a generous handful of fresh basil. She has had a good tomato season (mine was awful: I planted them in the wrong place, neglected them badly and missed one of summer’s pleasures). She is one of those natural gardeners who can grow anything without much apparent effort, and she has been a source of wisdom for years.

So I have immediate plans for them, involving garlic and basil and crisp salad greens and some proper rustic croutons warm from the oven, with a herby dressing and some warm, thinly sliced rare beef scattered over the top, and the pan juices poured over to mingle with the dressing. A very satisfactory meal, as long as everything is properly seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper. I don’t hold with a lack of seasoning: flavour is all. Read more

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