Book review: What Katie Ate


What Katie Ate is a visually stunning cookbook. The majority of the recipes have a full page colour photograph, along with first class retro styling.

We cooked two recipes – Barbecued ginger ale pork ribs and Sheila’s retro beef curry (circa 1974) – both packed with flavour. You may be tempted by pulled pork sandwich with apple cider slaw, Beef and Guinness Pie, rhubarb franigpane tart, mini raspberry and chocolate meringue kisses.


The book covers a good selection of recipes, including breakfasts, lunches, salads, canapes and drinks, dinners, sides and sauces, and desserts.

The only downside is that the typewriter font (Trixie) is hard to read.


What Katie Ate – buy on
What Katie Ate – buy on
– by Katie Quinn Davies

How to make a hay box

Hay box cooking was popular during World War II when fuel was rationed. It is a way to save energy by turning off the oven or burner just before the food is completely cooked, and the allowing your food to continue cooking in a hay box. The lid of your pot needs to fit tightly to keep the heat in.

  • You will need a box made from plastic or metal. Fill it with dry hay
  • Cook your food in the usual way until it is hot but not completely cooked.
  • Turn off the heat, then quickly place the pot or pan into a hay box on a layer of straw. Make sure you cover the pot with more hay and seal the lid.
  • Leave for a few hours while your food continues to cook in your insulated homemade oven. Plan well ahead – the normal cooking time for this method is 4-5 hours, though it varies greatly depending on what you’re cooking. Experiment, but make very sure that any meat is fully cooked through.

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century
– by Dick and Jack Strawbridge

Has anyone tried hay box cooking?

Do you think you could use sugar cane mulch?

Would you recommend cooking meat this way?

Book review: Two Asian Kitchens by Adam Liaw


Two Asian Kitchens is the first cookbook written by Adam Liaw, who was Australia’s MasterChef winner for 2010. It covers dishes from Japan, Malaysia, China, and Thailand, reflecting his heritage and where he has lived.

The book is divided into four clear sections. The first section is the Pantry, which includes recipes for basic Asian style sauces, stock and pastes. The second section is techniques, which includes detailed instructions on making donburi, dumplings, sushi, stir-frying, fruit liquours and tempura.

The bulk of the book then breaks into traditional recipes for the Old Kitchen, and more modern fusion style recipes in the New Kitchen. Nearly every recipe has a full page colour illustration. The Old Kitchen section includes recipes for Hainanese Chicken rice; Yakitori moriawase; Katsudon; Char Siew pork neck; and Lemon Chicken. The New Kichen will tempt you with recipes for Laksa fried chicken; Rum and lemongrass roast pork belly; Green tea and pea corquettes; Farmers Union iced coffee pudding with tea smoked chocolate and five spice tenkasu.

The highlight of the book is the awe-inspiring  and imaginative Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin), which drew generous commendations from the MasterChef judges. It is a collection of skewers where each one represents a specific Japanese god and their attributes and influences.

We cooked two dishes from the book – an authentic aromatic Pho soup; and deliciously naughty but nice Fennel and black pepper pork belly with pork condiment.The first was time consuming but worthwhile, the second I got lost in the instructions but it still tasted divine.

You may need access to a specialist Asian grocery store to source some of the ingredients.

Two Asian Kitchens – buy on
Two Asian Kitchens – buy on
– by Adam Liaw

Book review: The Urban Cook by Mark Jensen


The Urban Cook by Red Lantern chef, Mark Jensen focuses on cooking and eating for a sustainable future. You may be familiar with him from the television show Ready Steady Cook. The book features over 100 modern seasonal recipes, often with an Asian bent.

There is a generous proportion of vegetable based recipes and I would have liked this section split into sides and mains. It features recipes for Eggplant and mozzarella bake; Zucchini, tomato, olive and feta gratin (using Poor Man’s Parmasen); and Chinese cabbage, fried noodle and black pepper salad. A sample recipe is available for Marinated summer radishes with currants, mint and chive dressing (PDF).

The Meat and Seafood sections contains recipes such as Yabbies cooked in tomato, chilli and black pepper sauce; and Lamb breast rolled and stuffed with mince, pine nuts and coriander. Mark Jensen says: “Yabbies are a great sustainable alternative to prawns. They are farmed in inland ponds, and any waste they produce can be filtered from the water and used to fertilise the land.”

He recommends using The Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide to help you make a wise shopping choice.

Mark also encourages us to use all parts of the animal, and uses secondary cuts of meat in recipes such as Beef cheeks braised in beer with aromatic spices; and Gremolata crumbed deep fried lamb’s brains.

Finish in the Dessert section and be tempted by Chocolate roulade with hazelnut cream; or an Asian fruit salad with agar agar jellies and coconut cream.

The Urban Cook – buy on
The Urban Cook – buy on
– by Mark Jensen

100 recipes: Sirloin steak

Best recipe
Sirloin steak with Cafe de Paris sauce – Gustoso


Jill Dupleix recommends Damien Pignolet’s recipe for grilled sirlion Cafe de Paris sauce from his French cookbook. It is one of the most popular dishes at Bistro Moncur. You can prepare the Cafe de Paris butter up to a week in advance (or it can be stored in the freezer).

The authentic version of the sauce has 25 ingredients and best made in bulk.


About | 100 Recipes | Outtakes

100 recipes: Mussels

Best recipe
Moules marinière with cream, garlic and parsley – Rick Stein


French: Moules marinières

Moules marinières is mussels cooked with white wine and herbs. It is traditionally from Brittany, France. A few years ago, a survey found that the average French person’s favourite dish was moules marinières.

When purchasing fresh mussels look for ones with firmly shut shells, and pry them open (if needed) with a knife before you serve them.

Julia Child recommends serving mussels with French bread and a light, dry white wine.

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose seafood which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as Blue Mussels, and also a better choice are Green Mussels imported from New Zealand.

For choosing sustainable seafood:



About | 100 Recipes | Outtakes

100 recipes: Beef burger

Best recipe
Wagyu burger
– Justin North


A good hamburger should be made of quality ingredients.

The first secret of success is to build flavour and moistness into the mixture; the second is to handle it lightly when shaping so that it holds together without compacting.
– Margaret Fulton, Encyclopedia of food and cookery


About | 100 Recipes | Outtakes