Movie review: A Trip to Italy

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan join up again to take a culinary tour in The Trip to Italy. A wonderfully entertaining film shot over 6 days and 6 restaurants.

The movie includes many impersonations, such as Michael Cain, characters from The Godfather, Batman, Michael Parkinson, Robert De Riro, Sean Connery in Bond, and The Italian Job among others. I wanted to watch The Godfather before seeing this film, so I got the scene better, but it doesn’t matter much. Some of the funniest scenes are the silly ones. The food looks just devine and at points it makes you want to join them, even though most of the places they stay and eat at are probably out of my price range. The scenery is just spectacular in places (think Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and Capri) and I bet you too will be envious of their trip.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and dare I say, I think it’s better then the first one.

Book review: The Great Australian Bake Off

gabo-cover

The Great Australian Bake Off is a beautifully full page illustrated book based on the TV series of the same name. It starts with invaluable baking tips from the two judges Dan Lepard and Kerry Vincent.

gabo-make-bread

Some of the recipes are illustrated with very clear step by step instructions, which includes recipes for the perfect almond tuilles, Victoria sandwich, white loaf, puff pastry, shortcrust pie and meringues.

gabo-check-cake

The book has recipes from the technical challenges and also the best of the bake offs from each TV episode. Impress your guests with chocolate and orange checkerboard cake, Maria’s jaffa tarts with orange liqueur, or Jonathan’s Ukrainian Kievsky cake.

gabo-japanese-cake

The book also includes savoury recipes, so be tempted by Brendan’s satay pork sausage rolls, or Bliss’s chicken, leek and bacon pie.

There is a great variety of recipes and the three bread recipes I tried helped me master the art of baking bread.

Highly recommended.

The Great Australian Bake-off – buy on Fishpond.

Let’s Fight for the reef

I volunteer for the Australian Marine Conservation Society who in partnership with WWF are currently involved in promoting awareness in their Fight for the Reef campaign.

The Queensland Government is fast-tracking mega port developments, dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seabed and rock, and encouraging a shipping superhighway.

The Australian Government is approving these developments, including the world’s biggest coal port at Abbot Point, 50 km from the Whitsunday Islands.

Fight for the Reef is working with the Australian community to protect the Reef and the $6 billion tourism industry and 60,000 jobs it supports.

It’s your Reef, but you’re going to have to fight for it.
Fight for the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Posted for National Volunteer Week.

Taste test: Australian Daintree tea by The Tea Centre

daintree-tea

The Tea Centre sells two loose leaf teas that are made from Australian tea – Australian Daintree and Australian Sencha.

We decided to taste test the Australian Daintree. It’s a pleasant mild tea which has an earthy taste. Although it is a black tea it brews to a reddish brown shade.

The tea can be taken with or without milk, or used to make iced tea. Some chefs even use it as an additive for smoking their fish and meat!

The tea is grown on the Cubbagudta (means rainy place) plantation, which is located in Northern Queensland, just north of Port Douglas. The tea is grown along the fringes of the Daintree rainforest. I was pleased to hear that the plantation does not use pesticides and so the tea contains no pesticide residues or tannic acid.

The plantation is a family owned and operated business and features in the AUSBUY guide as 100% Australian.

Don’t forget to add your tea leaves to compost as they make a great fertilizer.

A great every day tea that’s Aussie made.

Australian Daintree loose leaf tea
The Tea Centre

Book review: The Starter Kitchen

The Starter Kitchen by Callum Hann (2010 runner up of Masterchef Australia) is surprisingly a solid beginners cook book. It goes beyond most first cookbooks with over 60 inspiring recipes. It features typical classics like scrambled eggs, the perfect steak, roast chicken, spag bol, shepherd’s pie, chips, and vanilla panna cotta.

The book includes the basics of setting up a kitchen and developing key cooking skills. He provides useful and accessible information about purchasing fresh produce, buying and using the right equipment and shopping on a budget.

But then he takes it to a new level and advanced recipes, such as ‘chilli jam mussels steamed with beer’ and ‘mushroom and goat’s cheese risotto’, are things I would never have cooked in my university days.

I was tempted by the ‘Three Pigs Pizza’, ‘Pulled Pork Buns with no-mayo slaw’, ‘Cookies ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream’, ‘No-bake Chocolate Cake’, and ‘Peanut Butter Brownies’.

I like the A5 size and the fresh youthful design with full colour illustrations.

Recommended for a cook in their twenties.

The Starter Kitchen – buy on Amazon.com
The Starter Kitchen – buy on Fishpond.com.au
– by Callum Hann

The Urban Orchard video

The Urban Orchard is a network of households in your local community who are meeting monthly to swap and share the produce of their backyard (or frontyard!) gardens, and conduct workshops on gardening and preserving the harvest.

In November 2007, Friends of the Earth Adelaide and the Goodwood Goodfood Co-op launched a homegrown fruit and vegetable exchange in the inner south-western suburbs of Adelaide. It’s a concept that has been practiced formally and informally in communities probably since time began. The basic format of this particular exchange was inspired by the Urban Orchard project initiated by Melbourne’s CERES community environment park.

The Urban Orchard project was initiated in Adelaide by local community members passionate about gardening, good food and building community.  Through providing a central space for community members to come together and share their homegrown or gleaned surpluses, the exchange offers a number of strong social and environmental benefits, including:

  • reducing waste by redistributing surplus fruit, vegetables, herbs and seeds
  • cultivating networks within the neighbourhood and building stronger communities
  • providing healthy, seasonal food for the community
  • sharing valuable skills in gardening and food preparation
  • avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for produce
  • transported from outside the local area

The Urban Orchard is currently active:

Communities around Australia are adapting the Urban Orchard concept to meet this unique local needs. A  do-it-yourself guide is available for download.

Transition tip: Deconstruct your consumption habits

This transition tip idea comes from Mark Boyle in his book called The Moneyless Man – a year of freeconomic living.

As part of living without money for a year, he got a notepad and listed every single thing he consumed

“I called this my ‘breaking-it-down’ list. To structure my thoughts, I categorised my list into food, energy, heating, transport, entertainment, lighting, communications, reading, art and so on. The list eventually took up half the notepad – and that was the list of someone who considers himself quite a moderate consumer….

“It became clear, after just a couple of pages, that most of the stuff would involve me having no more than one degree of separation from what I consumed; either I would make it myself or know the person who produced it.”

“My list-making enabled me to establish my basic level of subsistence, the things I really couldn’t do without, and my priorities for the rest.”

The Moneyless Man
– by Mark Boyle

Book review: The Urban Cook by Mark Jensen

the-urban-cook

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 Amazon.com
The Urban Cook – buy on Fishpond.com.au
– by Mark Jensen