The Saffron Tales #2

Yesterday I talked about the book itself; today, it’s the recipes.

UnknownThey, too, are great.


Sour cherry and dark chocolate biscuits: the first time I made these I couldn’t find sour cherries; that has since been rectified. That first time I used dried blueberries, and they were ok. I really like them with sour cherries – these are some new favourites.

Persian love cake: even though I had no rose water, so I used orange blossom water, this was fantastic. And as Khan herself notes, the cake keeps quite well – I think we ate it over about five days and it didn’t go stale just under plastic wrap in the fridge.

Mains Continue reading “The Saffron Tales #2”

The Saffron Tales

This was sent to me by Bloomsbury at no cost. It appears to already be out overseas, but the Bloomsbury website says it’s out in mid July in Australia. RRP $33.99.


The book

I love a cookbook with a ribbon.

This is a lovely book. I got a hardback version; as you can see, the front cover is gorgeous. I’m a bit torn because the inside cover is also gorgeous, blue with gold writing.

There are photos throughout, not quite of every recipe but close. While I know all of them are staged, they’re not so pretentious as to make me depressed. Each recipe is presented with a little story or explanation in italics to the side, and the recipes are all straightforward to follow.

As well as recipes, Khan presents stories about Iran itself, and some of the people she met during her travels. These are geographical, with sections of Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz, and Tabriz, for example. Khan doesn’t take the current fashion for Persian food for granted, with an introduction that talks a bit about Iranian culture (she alternates between Persian and Iranian, and explains why at the start of the book) and – admittedly generic – attitudes to food. Plus, and this is something that I really like, there’s an opening discussion of the “The Persian store cupboard”. She given an alphabetical run-down of everything from barberries to yoghurt, explaining their taste and their uses (I’d never heard of golpar before and it’s proving difficult to find). I ALSO really like that she ends this section with the recommendation to “do as the Iranians do and use your taste buds and your eyes to determine which direction a dish should go.” The direction to “just enjoy the process of cooking something new” makes her my new cooking BFF.

Finally, the book ends with a section called Planning a meal (ok, there is also an index, but whatever). Iranian New Year? Persian Picnic? Vegan Feast? Easy weekday suppers? Got you covered.

So, yes, I think it’s clear that this book is a winner. Stay tuned tomorrow for discussion of the actual recipes.

There’s a website!  And the book is available from Fishpond. 

Acts of Kitchen episode 3: Thermomix

AoK_logo_v2In which Katharine talks about joining the cult that is Thermomix, and I talk about sourdough adventures (and disasters) and foodie podcasts. You can listen here or subscribe at iTunes.


Hot chocolate/Yogo; sorbet; bread; risotto (hot wet rice! – The Katering Show); vegetable stock; pesto; mayonnaise; milling your own grains; Pad Thai. All in the Thermomix.

How do you store new recipes?

“If it’s online I bookmark it (or google it each time and I guess have to hope it’s never taken down!) or for a while I was transcribing them all to my listography site (a list taking website)… which I haven’t done in years… so… nothing really. I need to work on that.”

If you want to get in touch with Katharine, she’s on Twitter – @thiefofcamorr – and has an excellent blog (we’re reviewing FarScape at the moment!).

Feedback gratefully received: you can email actsofkitchen at gmail dot com

More sourdough experimentation

IMG_1082.JPGWhen my beloved saw that I wasn’t happy with how my sourdough turned out, and that I wasn’t sure if it was the flour or if I’d over-proofed, he came up with the Scientist’s Answer: run an A-B test.

So this morning we went to Bee Sustainable and got some freshly-milled whole wheat, which is what I used the first time; and we also went and bought a thin rubber sleeping mat to insulate the cardboard box I had been using (because we don’t own an esky and I’m not sure what size I would need to fit boxes or bowls).

Now, I have made two bread mixes. One, in a container originally used for plain flour, using the Laucke bread; the other, in the SR container, using the wholemeal. I already expect there to be a slight difference because I used the same recipe for both, and white flour needs less water than wholemeal – but I used the same amount anyway. I figured it was a trade-off for the experiment: different flour AND different recipe, or just different flour? It might have an impact on the rise, I’m not sure; we’ll see.

Because I am not great at visually estimating size, I’ve also got the tape measure out, as you can see. I took measurements when I first put the doughs in; I plan to measure every 30 minutes to see what happens.


Update 1: 


Update 2: Continue reading “More sourdough experimentation”

Sourdough experiments

Having a look around at sourdough recipes, we came across Cultures for Health. Which means I found a bunch of recipes to use ‘discarded’ starter, including one for pancakes.

So I decided to try sourdough pancakes. I over-estimated how much oomph would come from the starter, so I used plain flour instead of self-raising; I realised this was a mistake when the pancakes didn’t get very fluffy and were in fact a little on the gooey side. Nonetheless, they were quite tasty and I would definitely make them again with discarded starter.

IMG_1076.JPGI’ve also made more bread, and experimented this time with different flour. I know I’ve seen baker’s flour before but couldn’t find it anywhere I looked – well, except for in 10kg bags and that seemed a bit much just at the moment. So I got  Laucke bread mix, since the yeast is separate – I figured it was likely to be good for bread since it’s designed for bread machines… right?

My first slice, when admittedly it was still a bit warm, suggests that it might be a little on the gooey side. Additionally, the crust came away from the loaf proper, which might mean that I over-proofed it. Also, as you can see from both the cob and the log, it seems the oven isn’t uniform in temperature, which is interesting – the last loaves didn’t do that. I guess more experimentation is required. WHAT A SHAME.

Persian-ish French toast

When I made my first sourdough last week, I made a fruit loaf and two cob loaves. Thing is though, we’re kind of out of the habit of eating bread. So today I still have one of those loaves left (it was also a somewhat exceptional weekend which involved zero cooking). I thought, therefore, to see whether slightly stale sourdough bread would make good French toast. Or at least edible French toast.

IMG_1073.JPGI found a recipe in Sabrina Ghayour’s Sirocco for brioche doughnut French toast, inspired by everyone’s favourite Nigella. It involves vanilla and orange zest in the egg mixture, and then sugar and ground cardamom (guilty: I used pre-ground instead of grinding my own). And it was delicious. The bread was just slightly on the chewy side, but I actually didn’t mind that; it wasn’t as thickly cut as you would use brioche, which helped. The orange and cardamom were excellent.

I served myself some Greek yoghurt as well, and it was excellent.

Of course, I’ve now reminded myself how easy French toast is, so that may have Ramifications…

Acts of Kitchen: episode 2: cooking for shearers


The second episode is here! In which I talk to my dear Aunty Rena about what it’s like to cook for shearers. Also, there’s poetry. You can listen here or subscribe at iTunes.


Shepherds pie, roasts, chops… meat and three veg…

How do you store new recipes?

“Always picking up new recipes. I have a book for them, I put some loosely in a cookbook, I put some in the pantry so I know where they are and then I loose the lot and ask Mr Google to find more for me. He is fantastic – I couldn’t live without him!”

Feedback gratefully received: you can email actsofkitchen at gmail dot com

Bread, baby. Bread.

IMG_1037.JPGI have finally made my first batch of sourdough bread with my leaven (who might be Geoffrey… or Godfrey… or something like that…) thanks to my sourdough course at RedBeard.

Win: I managed to get the bread out of the bannetons without any hassle! This suggests I had floured the baskets well enough, which pleased me.

Slight loss: I think the bread is a bit doughy. I’m not sure whether this is a result of the house not being a constant temperature, or me not making quite the right IMG_1038.JPGmixture, or… what. But it tasted pretty good, so

Win!: it tasted pretty good! And it was mostly wholemeal (freshly milled and everything, from Bee Sustainable), but it wasn’t too heavy at all.

Experiment: I made fruit-ish bread. That is, it’s definitely got fruit in it – dried apricots and currants, and cinnamon and nutmeg, all added about an hour… ish… after it started rising. But I haven’t tasted it yet so we’ll see what it’s like… eventually. Sure looks pretty, though, doesn’t it? IMG_1039.JPG