Food TV: Dinner at Tiffani’s

I am a big big fan of food TV. When I discovered that SBS had started a food channel I was incredibly excited – although I’ve been a bit disappointed, because I don’t love competition food. What I love is watching people in the kitchen, talking through recipes with all their faux relaxation. I’m fully aware of how staged everything is, and the fact that especially when the cook is feeding friends it’s magnificently managed. But I am, usually, capable of splitting my brain and watching it on an innocent level as well as the cynical level.

Unknown.jpegAnyway, I’ve just discovered Dinner at Tiffani’s. It’s Tiffani Thiessen having people over for dinner, and cooking for them. All the people she has over are famous (…ish…), and she talks through what she’s feeding them. STAGED. But what I have liked, around the amazing American celebrity nature of it (with Tiffani chatting to the camera in between segments), is that she often gets the celebrities to help with the cooking. And I’ve only watched… um, three… today… but the number of them who don’t seem to know anything about cooking is a bit sad. One of them asked what is that? and the answer was thyme! (who knows whether that was staged.)

The kitchen is beautiful, she takes time over place and table settings as well as the food, and nothing is ever messy. I haven’t actually seen her make anything strenuous yet but I think that’s kind of the point – because everything looks tasty and appealing, but relatively easy to make, and the celebs like it so it must be good, right?

It’s a very amusing and very tacky show and I will absolutely be working my way through every episode that SBS has currently On Demand.

Desserts #2: the reckoning


And when life hands you the inability to make Swiss roll, MAKE TRIFLE.

With thanks to Tansy and Ju over on Twitter, that’s what I did. TA DAH.

I had used JAM’s In the Library for the Swiss roll – it’s plum and cardamom – so I used blood plums that I preserved in summer; I made the most basic custard ever (milk and whole eggs and sugar); and I cut up that roll and layered it, baby.

So now I hope it will taste ok.


ETA: boy was it ever ok. The jam in the roll had cardamom in it, and it came through beautifully – I would add a bit more to the custard next time; the plums were scrumptious (not a huge plum fan but NOM), and the custard wasn’t very rich but that was ok. Polished off by five adults, with a small amount being tried by the young godson who was diplomatic but not in love with it.

Desserts, baby

IMG_1123.JPG1. A dessert that worked.

This is from Indian Made EasyThey’re carrot and orange balls, where those things have been simmered in milk until they go mushy and then the mush is fried in butter and cardamom for a while. Then the mixture is formed into balls, once cold, and then drizzled with chocolate and pistachio (which is what I tried to do artistically on the plates at the back). They were delicious.

2. A dessert that didn’t work.IMG_1128.JPG

Recipe from BakeClass. What I really have to say here is I HATE YOU SPONGE. I really thought that I had mixed it properly – there were no gloopy bits in the mixture – and I thought I had cooked it long enough, because it looked the right colour and it sprang back when touched. It had risen and everything! But then when I put it on the tea towel I noticed that it immediately stuck. And then after I unrolled it, spread it with jam, and went to roll it again off the towel… well. It stuck a lot.

Roti experiment

Using the recipe in Indian Made Easy, we decided to run a roti experiment.

Actually it wasn’t deliberate; it was because we made the dough as written and realised it would make eight pieces, which would be too much for two people for one night.

Anyway: we made the dough, and we cooked four of the roti, and they were lovely; finished them with some melted butter and everything. Then, my beloved had already rolled out an extra one, but we realised that cooking and reheating the next night would probably be sub-optimal. This is when the experiment was hatched.

What would be better: to pre-roll roti, or to leave the dough in balls to be rolled out the next day?

Would roti made the next day even be ok?


The pre-rolled roti: intriguingly, the dough itself had a greyish tinge, which was odd; my beloved wonders if the air had gone out of it. At any rate it did not puff up as well when cooked, and actually went a bit transparent while cooking which it had not the day before. Very odd. Tasted ok; definitely not as good as fresh or the unrolled dough – a bit chewier.

The still-in-balls dough: looked more like the dough from the day before. Didn’t puff up quite as much and wasn’t quite as tasty as the very fresh roti, but still acceptable. Obviously it’s not exactly ideal, and making roti isn’t exactly hard… but for camping, for example, this would be quite easy to replicate. And it is good to know that it’s ok to save the dough if you plan on having it two nights in a row.

Finally, on the second night we brushed the roti with garlic butter – one clove of garlic, chopped, put into a dollop of butter than I nuked in the microwave. I let the garlic sit in the butter for a few minutes before brushing it on the roti and that was definitely a win. My beloved thought it should have been garlickier, but that’s nothing new.

Indian Made Easy: the recipes

9781743368565On the book itself.

The introduction proclaims this as a book “about discovering a casual attitude towards Indian cookery”, and that some of the recipes have been “distilled and pared back for busy modern cooks.” I would say that this is a book for a fairly experienced cook – that is, someone who won’t be put off by making their own simmer sauce or following a few steps – but who has never cooked much Indian food. Which pretty much means me.

The recipes

Paneer: yes, ok, I made paneer. I had a litre of milk nearing its use-by and I didn’t want to waste it, so I thought I’d experiment, ok? I don’t imagine I’ll be doing this every time I want paneer but it’s nice to know I COULD. It was easy, and the instructions (except for that confusing ‘do I turn off the heat when it’s 80C or after I’ve added the acid??’ question) were easy to follow.

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel: the fennel is fennel seeds, and the garnish is what really makes this – toasted coconut, pomegranate seed and coriander! Broccoli and coconut is amazing! Also the mustard and fennel seeds were nice with it too.  Continue reading “Indian Made Easy: the recipes”

Indian Made Easy: the book itself

9781743368565.jpgTrue story: a few weeks ago we ordered Indian takeaway and it was dire. My beloved, frustrated, announced “we must learn to cook good Indian!”

Two days later, Indian Made Easy appeared on our doorstep, courtesy of Murdoch Books (published July 2016, RRP $39.99).

It’s not like we’ve never cooked Indian food before. I love the cookbook Bowl Food and it has a few excellent curries in it, complete with long list of spices to make your own pastes etc. But it was exciting to to get an actual Indian cookbook when I’d been thinking about it for a while.

The book

A paperback, but still A4 in size. I do wonder whether the cover will crack off the spine at some point – not that it shows any sign of doing so yet, but I’ve seen it happen before. It hasn’t shown any sign of the spine cracking yet, though, which is excellent. I like the cover art – although conflicted with rice being the universal signifier of Indian food, or something – and the fact that the inside cover has the proportion and position of rice/black background reversed.  Continue reading “Indian Made Easy: the book itself”