Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Wedding Cakes Galore

Now that I have officially been out of the cake decorating game for a little while and I have let my former website lapse I thought I would bring together some of my favourite cakes together in one place. All the cakes pictured here were personally made my myself under my business name Stacked Cakes. I will do a series of these to collate some of the work I did over about a five year time span. Wedding Cakes seem like a good place to start. I spent most weekends for many years driving these little beauties to venues all over Canberra.

And if you want more of my cakes you can see my Novelty Cake gallery here.

Sorry if you ever got caught behind me on a round about, cakes onboard!

Originally posted on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 by

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Curry Cookbook So Good I Bought It Twice

Do you have an absolute favourtie cookbook, one that you just keep going back to over and over again and every recipe seems to be a winner? A cookbook like that is essential to every cooks life and for me it is simply called "Curry". It doesn't have one single author which can be a recipe for disaster in the case of many cookbooks but in this case they have sourced experts in their fields to bring together Curry's from all over the world. David Thompson writes the section on Thai cooking,  Sri Owen in the Indonesian expert, Vivek Singh contributes to the Indian section. It is a high profile line up. And it makes sense, no one person is going to be an expert in Curry's from places as diverse as Pakistan, Vietnam, Singapore, The Caribbean Nations, India. It's just not possible. 

Old Meets New

Our 2006 edition is well worn, it's pages splattered with remnants of Curry and we have rated recipes out of ten so we know which ones to go back to (if it scored less than an eight we probably won't be cooking it again, harsh but there are too many great recipes out there to cook average food). My all time favourtite Curry comes from this book it is called Kachhi Mirch Ka Gosht which translates to Lamb Shoulder with Green Chillis, Mint and Yoghurt. It comes from a region of India in the north called Lucknow and the depth of flavour and the perfect balance of spices never grows old with me. This recipe alone makes the purchase to the book worthwhile.

So when I heard that they were releasing a new edition, ten years on from the original I was curious. Did I need a second copy? Turns out that the answer is yes, yes I do. The new version now has a purple cover, isn't that reason enough to buy it? But aside from that it has had a complete overhaul. The presentation has been modernised to fit with the look of a modern cookbook. It is a larger book with matt paper pages instead of the old gloss version. The photography has been updated and is totally drool worthy and there are twenty new recipes. That is twenty all new curry's you should not live without. It also has all new instructional pages with how to pictures, a format that is becoming more popular in cookbooks and I am sure has started because of the layout of blog posts.

Pakistani Lamb and Potato Curry

The release of this new version makes me feel like my favourite child graduated college. It's all grown up and dressed for success.

If you happen to own this book or go out to buy it some must cook recipes are:

Mutter Pulao (Green Peas Pilau)
A simple recipe that packs a surprising amount of flavour. Go to the effort to either make or buy the ghee, it really adds a lot to the taste of the dish.

Cambodian Saraman (Cardamom and Ginger Beef Curry with Peanuts)
This recipes is another ten out of ten for us. It is super rich and meaty.

Nalli Gosht (Slow Braised Lamb Shank in Saffron Sauce)
This is another recipe from the Lucknow and Awadh area of India, seems to me that I could have a possible love affair with this part of India. Who doesn't love slow cooked lamb shanks where the meat is so tender it falls away from the bones.

Udang Asam Pedas (Hot and Sour Prawn Curry)
An Indonesia Curry made sour with tamarind water, something we now keep on hand in little frozen blocks waiting a dish like this.

Cambodian Beef Saraman

Originally posted on Sunday, 19 June 2016 by

Saturday, 4 June 2016

"And That's What BBQ Does"

People are at their best when they realise they really are connected and that's what BBQ does.
Ed Mitchell,
North Carolina Pit Master.
Photo courtesy of vxla from Chicago, US (Brushing Meats with BBQ Sauce) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ever since I started cooking world food I have pondered why. Why does it interest me, what does it teach me and does it need to teach me anything except the simple art of cooking and enjoying food?

 My first thoughts tended to lean towards the academic aspect of food and had me thinking it was all quite cerebral, worthy of study and writings in text books. I thought maybe it could teach me about world economies, ancient trade routes, ingredients and their roots. But as I delved into this side of the subject it dawned on me that it had little interest to me. I didn't need to know the ancient spice routes that bought me these cinnamon sticks and to tell the truth the history of the tomato is really quite boring.

I had to go back to the drawing board. What is it about cooking and eating cuisines from around the world that has me so captivated? I thought of my travels, of the memories food conjures up and how it can link you to a moment in time. Whilst that is a part of it I knew it wasn't quite the whole story. Over time the more I cooked, the more techniques I gained, the more flavours I tasted and the more cultures I experienced I realised it is all about one simple thing and nothing more for me. It is all about a shared experience that forms a connection.

It may sound simple and I guess it is simple, connection. Think about it for a while, what are we all looking for in this world even if we don't know it or may even want to deny it, we all want a connection, to belong, to share in something larger than ourselves. Why do we humans form clubs, teams, religions and gangs... we all want to belong. From the Kibbutz to the KKK club house there is one simple tie that binds the human experience in all forms and and that is a shared connection.

When this thought first entered my mind I could feel my whole being pushing back against it. I struggled with it all being such a basic concept, it needed to be deeper. There had to be more to it that just a connection but over time as the concept sunk in, seeping from my brain down through my veins, carried by my vessels around my body and eventually settling in my tummy I knew I was right. This was it and here is how my thought finally formed.

If I eat something you eat, if I cook something you cook then there is a bond.

So simple.

You like Yakatori, I like Yakatori we share a bond. You like Haggis and I hate Haggis then we have a different kind of bond but still a shared bond in the experience of Haggis. You eat Pho for breakfast, I eat Pho for breakfast, we can be friends. You roll out little tortellini's like your mum taught you, you show me how to roll out little tortellini's like your mum taught you and we are like sisters.

The food becomes a bridge, one on which we can both meet in the middle, some common ground despite wildly different cultures, pasts and futures.

I had been ruminating on this for sometime when it all was encapsulated in one sentence for me. Whilst watching the new netflix doco based on the book "Cooked" by Michael Pollan, Ed Mitchell a North Carolina pitmaster told a story from his childhood about blacks and whites coming together at the dinner table during the tobacco harvest for BBQ. Not just any BBQ but whole slow cooked pig. He went on to say that "people are at their best when they realise they really are connected". That one sentence summed up all my thoughts. It really is that simple. If people can share in something they can find a connection and with that connection we can make some sense of the world in which we live. Make it seem less scary, shine a light into those corners that have previously gone unseen.

The more I think about this link the more relevant I see it is right now. As the circus of the American presidential primaries takes place and I watch potential leaders of the worlds most powerful nation spew hate speech like it is back in fashion I know that finding some common ground can only do good. I'm not expecting world peace, life isn't a Miss America Pageant but maybe a little less reckless rhetoric and a little more Kofta with a side of Fatoush would help stabilise the man behind the toupee.

I am willing to follow the lead of Pit Master Mitchell, I mean if a BBQ pig bought together two races as at odds with each other as blacks and whites were in 1950's America then surely we stand a chance today.

Originally posted on Saturday, 4 June 2016 by