Monthly Archives: April 2009

Recipe skulduggery with Marcus Richards

Marcus Richards has had a long involvement with libraries for the last 36 years, having the great fortune of being married into the profession. He is a passionate and accomplished home chef and is always on the lookout for a new recipe. In his paying job Marcus is an English teacher at James Sheahan Catholic High School. At Books on the Menu Marcus spoke with wit and humour about family influences, how he organised his recipes and took us to the dark side of cooking skulduggery where stealing recipes is rife but he confessed to where his inspiration comes from, happily reading through a list of the current who's who of chefs from his own recipe collection The Good Thief's Guide to Cooking. One of his favourite recipes by Terry Durack, published in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living Guide, is called Dukkah-crusted salmon with spiced peas and serves four people:

You will need 4 skinless salmon fillets, 180g each, 4 tbsp dukkah (Egyptian nut and spice mix), 1 tbsp olive oil, pea shoots or watercress for garnish. For the pea puree: 500g peas fresh or frozen, handful of mint leaves, basil leaves, 1 tsp ground cumin, 75g plain yoghurt and sea salt and pepper.

To make the pea puree, cook the peas in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and cool the peas quickly in cold water to retain their colour. In a blender, whiz the peas, herbs, cumin, yoghurt and salt and pepper, adding the cooking water by the tablespoon until you have creamy, light puree. Brush the salmon with a little oil, then press the skinned side onto a plate of dukkah. Place the salmon, dukkah-side down, in a hot, lightly oiled pan and cook over medium heat for three minutes until golden. Turn and cook lightly on the other side. Gently heat the pea puree, and spoon a ladleful into the centre of four warm plates. Top with the salmon and serve with pea shoots or watercress. Easy, impressive and you can take all the credit (well most of it)!

Foodie pharmacist savours healthy recipes

A local pharmacist and foodie, Maureen Pilcher (pictured) uses a mortar and pestle to create things to make the community well again but at home its her culinary skills that wow her family and friends. Children away from home call regularly for treasured recipes always at Maureen's fingertips. It is not unusual to see Maureen re-planning the evening meal after finding a new recipe or re-discovering an old one during some quiet time at lunch. One of her favourite cookbooks is Lighten Up (a new healthier way to cook) by Jill Dupleix. She said it was full of tempting healthy but still delicious recipes. Here is a Panzanella (Italian bread salad) recipe to try and don't forget resting time for the salad (and the chef!)

Serves 4,
450g good sourdough bread (a day old),
4 ripe tomatoes,
2 garlic cloves, crushed,
1tbsp salted capers, rinsed,
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed,
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper,
5tbsp extra-virgin olive oil,
1tbsp red wine vinegar,
1 sweet red pepper,
2tbsp black olives,
Good handful of torn basil leaves.

Slice the sourdough bread thickly and cut off the crusts. Grill the bread until brown on both sides, then tear into chunky cubes and set aside. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze the seeds and juice into a strainer set above a bowl. Discard the seeds, keep the juice and cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Add the garlic, capers, anchovies, salt and pepper to the tomato juice and mash well. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar, and pour this dressing over the bread and set aside.
Grill or roast the sweet red pepper until the skin is blackened and blistered. Peel off the skin, cut the pepper in half and discard the core and seeds. Cut the pepper into strips. Combine the soaked bread, tomatoes and sweet pepper in a large bowl. Add the dressing, the olives and torn basil leaves, and lightly toss. Leave for an hour before serving. The bread will absorb the dressing, so you may need to drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the top before serving. Yummo!

Italian cuisine inspires Robert Thornberry

They say that travel broadens the mind but in Robert Thornberry's case, a travel agent proprietor, it's also extended his culinary horizons and his collection of cookbooks is extensive. An invitation to Robert's table is much sought after. He spoke at Books on the Menu about being inspired by international flavours and his love of Italian food and the book Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen by Lucio Galletto and David Dale, photography by Paul Green. Here is the recipe constantly on the request list from family and friends  Stuffed Mussels:

Stuffed Mussels (Muscoli ripieni) Serves 4

500g green prawns, 2kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded, 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, 2 eggs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, 60ml olive oil, 1 small white onion, finely chopped, 125ml dry white wine, 5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced, 2 sprigs oregano, roughly chopped, 2 sprigs thyme, plus more for serving.

Peel and devein the prawns, reserving the heads, and finely chop. With a small knife, force open the mussels slightly, leaving the top shells attached. Reserve any juice from the mussels. Put aside about two-thirds, and remove the mussels from the shells of the remaining third. Finely chop, combine with the prawn meat and place in a bowl. Add the parmesan, garlic, parsley and eggs, one by one. Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of this mixture into each of the mussel shells, then push the shells closed. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat, and add the prawn heads. Squash the heads with a wooden spoon to release the flavours. When the prawn heads change colour, take them out of the pan and discard. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until translucent. Pour in the white wine and let it bubble for 3 minutes or until the alcohol evaporates. Add the tomatoes, and 4 tablespoons of the juice from the mussels. Sprinkle with oregano, mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the stuffed mussels and thyme, cover and place on a medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes, delicately shaking the pan from time to time. Divide the stuffed mussels between four plates and decorate with a few more sprigs of time. Enjoy!

Local foodie Libby West shares a recipe

F.O.O.D. Week is over for another year but recipes live on. Here is the first of our Books on the Menu local foodies with a favourite recipe to share. Libby West (pictured) is our own very own Lady Steptoe. She quietly goes about creating a wonderfully friendly atmosphere where guests and family feel incredibly welcome and warmed by her stunning food. Passionate about food and recipes she has also created fabulous feasts for the Friends of the Botanic Gardens. At Books on the Menu Libby spoke about discovering her mother's kitchen drawer stuffed full of small books and recipes. Her own collection of papers includes a personal rating system. Here is one that earns a ten out of ten:

Salt-grilled sardines with Portuguese salad (from Jill Dupleix) Serves 4

2 large potatoes, peeled cut into 2 cm pieces, 1 tbs hot smoked paprika (pimenton from gourmet delis),

Books on the Menu for F.O.O.D. Week

More than 85 people enjoyed the Books on the Menu: Australian cookbooks event hosted by Orange City Library on Wednesday night as part of F.O.O.D Week with special guest State Library of NSW curator Pat Turner (pictured) talking about and displaying rare cookbooks. Pat said the first known Australian cookbook broke away from the traditional English fare with a mix of some wonderful localised dishes with ingredients like black swan, emu, kangaroo and wombat. Cookbooks provide a fantastic social record of the time and document the impact of food on war, celebrations, the Great Depression, migration and new technology. For example, war cookbooks had recipes for meatless dishes because of meat rationing, and during the Depression cookbooks focused on preserving fruit and making jams because people were growing fruit in their own backyard (sounds like a good idea now). Guests at the event were able to put on white gloves and handle the rare cookbooks – some with colourful images and see an ANZAC Day commemoration menu from 1916. Other books on display included The Antipodean Cookbook (1897), the War Chest Cookery Book published in 1917 to raise money for the war efforts and Cooking the Chinese Way (1948) by Roy Geechoun  the first Australian book devoted to Chinese cooking. Guests also enjoyed local produce including figs, cheese, hummus dip, pumpkin and rosemary dip, blue cheese and pistachio dip, sausages, breads and a delicious country terrine. Thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a fantastic night. The Australian cookbooks State Library of NSW exhibition panels are on show during F.O.O.D. Week. Stay tuned for recipes from local foodies Libby West, Marcus Richards, Robert Thornberry and Maureen Pilcher who also spoke on the night.