Anna Gare, author of Eat In, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Anna Gare

author of Eat In: The Best Food is Made at Home

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Western Australia. I was the youngest of 4 kids. I was raised on Brown food- it was the 70s.

Mum cooked to fill us up; she had seven faithful dishes down pat. Tuna Mornay, meatballs, lamb stew, spag bog, sausage casserole, chops peas and mash. Every Sunday- she threw a big rolled roast into the oven and cooked it until it was grey. There was no such thing as medium rare back then!!! She was no gourmet goddess and was delighted when I took over the kitchen at the age of 11.

Yes I was schooled but left at 15 to cook in a restaurant and play music in a rock and roll band.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

When I was 12 -I desperately wanted to be 13, couldn’t wait to be a teenager!.

When I was eighteen I wanted to write a hit pop song. At 18 who doesn’t want to be a rock star?

When I was 30 I stopped wanting to get older and I wanted to be 18 again.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?

I thought that when I grew up I would get married have 2 children and live happily ever after with my husband.

A broken family was not in my script. But a combined family now is. Got a ripper husband take 2 and a few extra kids for free!

4. What were three big events in your life or the world around you that had a great effect on you and influenced your cooking?

Definitely visiting my Granny- she lived up in the hills and use to grow and bottle everything. Very inspirational.

Cooking on television shows and writing cook books has somewhat organised me. It was the first time I started putting my recipes down on paper.  My aim was to cook food that was delicious and easily achievable, food that people would want to make in their own homes. It has definitely shaped my simplistic style.

Having children and trying to get them to eat all the good stuff has been quite a challenge and has resulted in some very clever food marketing and cheeky sneaky creations along the way.

I’d be a fool if I didn’t say travel always has a huge influence!

5. What are some dishes you wouldn’t eat as a child that you love now?

Sweet potato- it use to make my glands tingle and I thought olives were disgusting.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Eat In is my second book and I’m really proud of it.  Its really a snap shot of the food I cook in my every day busy life.

From breakfast to sweet treats- feeding the kids to throwing a party- I like to think of it as some of my greatest food hits!

Grab a copy of Eat In here

7. If you had to create one dish to show off your repertoire, what would it be?

An edible food topiary tree., covered in little squares of my pretty frittata. Love a bit of food sculpture.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

There are many people I admire. This week/year its Stephanie Alexander for her endless work in getting the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden programs into more Australian primary schools.

If every school had a SAKG we would see, kids by the age of 12 educated in the growing and preparation of healthy foods and in the future a huge decrease in poor health and food related diseases in Australia.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I have several but here are a few. To raise 4 well-adjusted children and hope they all grow into happy, healthy adults and combine their passions with their work. And to be living in the South West on the great southern ocean by  2016. To grow all of our own food in high alkaline beach sand with windy conditions.

Definitely ambitious and possibly insane!

10. What advice do you give aspiring chefs?

Just remember the aim is yummy.

Anna, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Anna’s book Eat In here

GUEST BLOG: Chef Luke Nguyen on family and Vietnam (plus a recipe for salt and chilli squid)!

Luke Nguyen, beloved Australian-Vietnamese chef and author of The Food of Vietnam tells the story of his visit to Vietnam, and shares one of his favourite recipes.

the-food-of-vietnamGrowing up in Australia, food was an intrinsic link to my Vietnamese heritage and culture. Everything ‘Vietnamese’ I’d learnt as a child was passed on to me through the memories and knowledge of my parents, and the other families in my Vietnamese community. They shared these gifts with us, within our own ‘little Vietnam’ in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta. Our lifestyle, cooking and language were a version of our parents’ own upbringing.

Through all this, I was inspired to go to Vietnam. I felt a pull to discover the country and people on my own, and to hopefully understand more about the lives of my parents and my own life in Australia. But first I needed to follow the strongest of my passions — my dream of opening my own restaurant, where I could showcase traditional Vietnamese food within the contemporary Sydney dining scene. My restaurant, Red Lantern, is more than a restaurant to me. It has been my dream fulfilled, but it has also taken me beyond my dreams and around the world, to expand my life and love of food and culture — far more than I ever could have asked for.luke2

It brought to me Vietnam, where my journey to further understand my heritage, history and culture still continues, years later. Heavily schooled in southern cuisine, I wanted to learn about the country’s regional specialties, travelling not only to particular spots to visit my family, but also to areas where I had no relatives, links or knowledge: a discovery for the soul and the stomach!

In this book, The Food of Vietnam, I begin my culinary discovery in southern Vietnam, where I trace my extended family. I meet my mother’s sisters — Aunties Eight and Nine, who show me where they, and my Mum, were brought up. After sharing their favourite family recipes and street-food spots, they introduce me to my cousins from the Mekong Delta.

nguyen foodLater I visit the fishing folk of Mui Ne, who work the ocean waters by night, and in the early mornings prepare tonnes of seafood by hand, expertly cutting, slicing, drying and packing their catch for sale right along the beachfront. In the quiet fishing town of Quy Nhon, I learn the ancient art of handmaking tofu, and visit the famous Thien Huong Pagoda, where I am taught age-old vegetarian dishes, before being blessed by the pagoda’s revered Buddhist monk. The terrace fields of Da Lat, filled with exotic vegetables, local flowers and herbs, reflect the colonial influences of the French, who introduced the coffee plantations that now flourish under local hands, and satisfy the country’s own huge appetite for coffee drinking, their coffee also exported around the world.

This first journey through Vietnam taught me so much, and I’m still learning something new every day. A lifetime of travelling, talking and eating throughout the country may not be enough to discover all that Vietnam has to share, but the people’s stories and their memories are all in some way tied up in any single dish that is prepared; each technique is the word and practice of someone before them. I love to listen and watch as knowledge, history and culture is told through the form of food.

Grab a copy of Luke’s wonderful The Food of Vietnam here

Chargrilled Phu Quoc salt & chilli squid

SERVES 4–6 as part of a shared meal

This dish was taught to me by a local Phu Quoc fisherman. He told me he would regularly make this dish on board his boat, while out in the deep sea, where he would not have many ingredients to cook with. It took him only 30 seconds to describe the recipe to me. I also made this dish on a fishing boat, after catching my own squid. So try to get the freshest squid you can — alive and kicking if possible. As you can see, the recipe is incredibly simple, but it is oh, so delicious.

  • 1 whole squid, about 600 g (1 lb 5 oz)luke1
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Lemon sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Pull away the squid’s head, slice it open and remove the guts, cartilage and ink sac. Pat both sides dry with paper towels or a clean cloth. Place on a chopping board, skin side up. Using a sharp knife, cut a crisscross pattern into the squid, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Pound the chilli to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Mix in the salt until well combined.

Evenly coat both sides of the squid with the salt and chilli mixture. Chargrill the squid over medium–high heat for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, put the lemon sauce ingredients in a dipping bowl and mix well. Cut the squid into bite-sized pieces and serve with the lemon sauce.
 

Grab a copy of Luke’s wonderful The Food of Vietnam here

GUEST BLOG: Rodney Dunn, author and founder of The Agrarian Kitchen, on the love of food

I often start my classes at The Agrarian Kitchen by saying “I like to cook, because I like to eat”. As a food tragic for me it is that next rush of flavour I crave. After eating in the best restaurants in this country and indeed around the world, as Food Editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine, the only logical step seemed to be to go back…back to the source, back to the earth, for this is where all flavour begins.

It became blindingly obvious to me, after my first feeble attempts at gardening, that what mother nature achieved in the flavour department could not be surpassed by man. My job was to respect it, not stuff it up by messing around with it too much, therefore I find the food I cook getting simpler, relying on harmonious marriages of flavour, balancing the work done in the garden with the work done in the kitchen.

It is wonderfully refreshing now living a life closely linked with the seasons and the weather. What we are growing, cooking and eating is like a marker of time from one year to the next as one season fleets you are looking forward to the next, whether it is the asparagus and artichokes of spring, the tomatoes, corn and eggplant of summer, the wild mushrooms of autumn, or the intensely flavoured root vegetables and sweet brassicas of winter that make up the wonderful tapestry of our world.

It is a little sad to think that one of the great pleasures in my life now is receiving the next instalment of seed catalogue and taking it to bed with anticipation of what new things can be grown in the garden.

Above all of this, food has the most meaning when it is shared and it is because of this that we chose to share The Agrarian Kitchen with the general public. It is no different to seeing the pleasure gained by others when eating a meal cooked by yourself.

For me taking people into the garden and seeing light bulbs erupt as they taste lovage for the first time or the expressions as a ripe raspberry explodes in their mouth. I myself crave inspiration around me so we love to serve in some small part as the providers of inspiration.

I would love to think our book helps with this cause, as with our philosophy it follows the seasons, with all the fruit and vegetables coming from the garden. Enjoy.

Grab a copy of The Agrarian Kitchen here

9781921382451 Agrarian Kicthen newsletter banner (450 x 143)Order The Agrarian Kitchen from Booktopia before 30th November 2013 to go into the draw to win an Agrarian Experience class for 2 people, worth $700 (flights and accommodation not included).

The Agrarian Kitchen

by Rodney Dunn

When former Australian Gourmet Traveller food editor Rodney Dunn moved from Sydney to Tasmania, he and his wife Severine set about transforming a nineteenth-century schoolhouse into a sustainable farm-based cooking school.

Nestled in a misty valley outside Hobart, The Agrarian Kitchen struck a chord with people seeking respite from fast-paced lives and a meaningful connection with the food we eat and the land that produces it.

This collection of recipes from the phenomenally popular cooking school celebrates the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rhythm of a life lived close to the earth.

Grab a copy of The Agrarian Kitchen here

The Agrarian Kitchen-1The Agrarian Kitchen-3The Agrarian Kitchen-2

The Agrarian Kitchen-5 The Agrarian Kitchen-4

Why I Love Books: By Guy Grossi, author of Love Italy

There is something about the smell of a book I love. That smell when you turn the fresh crisp pages and the feeling of the paper. It’s usually the first thing I do when I pick up a new book, run my hand along the pages. While I love technology, there is something special about holding and feeling a book. Seeing someone’s hard work bound together into the final product. Something you can’t get from reading the same print online.

I love the romance about it, getting caught up in a story or lost in the images printed on the pages. I like having books to use as references when I need. Both at home and at work I’m surrounded by all kinds of books. As an educational tool, I love reading and using them to better my knowledge, there is nothing more important than constantly learning. Also important is their ability to share a story or paint a picture and engage the reader.

I hoped to achieve all of these things in Love Italy. I wanted to create a publication that was educational, teaching about the traditions and history of Italian food. I also wanted to share the stories of some very special people who work every day to preserve the techniques that bring the Italian food culture to life.

The last thing I wanted to achieve with this book was somewhat a piece of art. The photos and words used have created a beautiful masterpiece that evokes all kinds of emotion as it takes you on a food journey through Italy.

Click here to order Love Italy from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Love-Italy-1b2Love-Italy-3dLove-Italy-6Love-Italy-12 Love-Italy-8

Win Two Passes To The World Famous Agrarian Kitchen

9781921382451 Agrarian Kicthen newsletter banner (450 x 143)Rodney Dunn, the man behind the world famous Agrarian Kitchen, has put together one of the most beautiful cookbooks of 2013.

Order The Agrarian Kitchen from Booktopia before 30th November 2013 to go into the draw to win an Agrarian Experience class for 2 people, worth $700 (flights and accommodation not included).

The Agrarian Kitchen

by Rodney Dunn

When former Australian Gourmet Traveller food editor Rodney Dunn moved from Sydney to Tasmania, he and his wife Severine set about transforming a nineteenth-century schoolhouse into a sustainable farm-based cooking school.

Nestled in a misty valley outside Hobart, The Agrarian Kitchen struck a chord with people seeking respite from fast-paced lives and a meaningful connection with the food we eat and the land that produces it.

This collection of recipes from the phenomenally popular cooking school celebrates the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rhythm of a life lived close to the earth.

Click here to buy The Agrarian Kitchen from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Agrarian Kitchen-1The Agrarian Kitchen-3The Agrarian Kitchen-2

The Agrarian Kitchen-5 The Agrarian Kitchen-4

Click here to buy The Agrarian Kitchen from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Incompetent Cook Road Tests… Eat In by Anna Gare

Every month Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach reviews a cookbook.

He is an incompetent cook.

He is The Incompetent Cook.


9781742663890Eat In
by Anna Gare

The meals:

Tomato and Pesto Soup

Chermoula Chicken with Harissa & Minted Yoghurt

Lemon and Lime Pudding

Continue reading

Dinner with Serge – Booktopia and the Seasonal Kitchen Experience

In Australian cuisine, they don’t come much bigger than Serge Dansereau.

Dansereau started work in Sydney at The Regent in 1983, spending 18 years there while shooting their flagship restaurant to three-hat fame. Serge encouraged a greater knowledge of what we can produce in Australia and worked hard to get it from paddock to plate.

In 1998 Dansereau was approached to head up the kitchen in the iconic Bathers’ Pavilion on Balmoral Beach. A local himself, the offer proved too much to resist. The Bathers’ Pavilion is about the locals, the ocean and the food – bringing his customers the best of Australia from the outside in.

Recently some of us were lucky enough to dine with Serge and hear his story, and his passion for fresh Australian produce is exhilarating. We thought we’d share some of his book, and well as some of the dishes that came our way at his incredible restaurant.

Bon Appétit!

Seasonal Kitchen gives you 220 new recipes that celebrate Australian produce. In this eclectic collection of recipes, which draws its inspiration from the Mediterranean, as well as India and China, Serge continues to use his chef know-how to demonstrate how to turn modern-day classics from good dishes into great ones.

Barra

Capitalising on his reputation as the ‘father of the fresh food movement’, Serge moves us through the year, listing in-season produce and offering us recipes that will show them at their best.

Duck Breast

In Autumn, there is cauliflower,leek and cider soup, chicken piccata with lemon and parsley and lavender pannacotta with pistachio biscuits.

In Winter, eat Serge’s pork belly with ginger and shallots, with a raisin and treacle tart. Spring heralds artichokes with parmesan, thyme and anchovy sauce and a lamb loin with an olive crust and Summer, ocean trout marinated in spiced yoghurt with coriander, roast turkey, with macadamia nut and tarragon stuffing and a summer pudding with berry ice cream.

Lamb Fillets

This celebration of Australian seasons, produce and good food is beautifully designed and shot, with each part visually reflecting the relevant season.

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Click here to buy The Seasonal Kitchen from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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