Book review: The Great Australian Bake Off

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Australian Daintree tea by The Tea Centre review

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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 fertiliser.

A great everyday tea that’s Aussie made.

Australian Daintree loose leaf tea
The Tea Centre

Book review: The Urban Cook by Mark Jensen

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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