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In My Kitchen… July 2014

The months fly by and here we are in the dead of Winter. Not really that dead and not really that cold in Brisbane but cold enough for us!  Joining in Celia’s In My Kitchen event hosted by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial reminds me what a big world we live in. There’s always some great posts from other bloggers who live on the other end of the planet and are experiencing completely different seasons and weather patterns from me.  This makes for interesting reading for if you follow along for a few months, you can really get a senses of the ebb and flow of the seasons halfway across the world. Of course, there’s quite a bit of distance even between my kitchen and many of the Australian participants. I’m always envious of posts that include figs and quinces but then again, I can still wander around in a t-shirt in the middle of Winter, so you can’t have it all. Try to visit a few of the other kitchens if you can.

In my July kitchen…

IMK Books

…are some new books! I try not to buy new books as they are pricey in Australia and I have just far too many. A friend gave me a gift voucher at Christmas though, so I did some online shopping and decided on these two. David Lebovitz’s Sweet Life in Paris is an autobiographical tale of David’s move from the USA to Paris to live like a native. Unfortunately, the natives aren’t having a bar of that. Most of you would be familiar with David as he storms the Bastille, one ice cream scoop at a time. For those who are unfamiliar, David is a pastry chef of some renown who worked at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse before moving on to a recipe development and publishing career. This book describes his transformation from Yankee to Parisienne. David also has a very funny blog with memorable posts such as the time he tried to take on French Telecom (DL 0 – FT 1). www.davidlebovitz.com It’s definitely worth a read but before you go subscribing to his blog, have you subscribed to mine? Are you showing me the love on Twitter or Facebook? I’d appreciate your support.

The other book is from one of my favourite author’s and orators, Bill Bryson. I saw this in a book shop some time ago and it’s just been released into paperback. ‘1927’ is a book that tells the story of the many amazing, fabulous and unusual things that happened in that one incredible year in US history. I know it will be a page turner and is perfect timing before our trip to the US later in the year. By the way, Bill Bryson is single-handedly responsible for Anthony’s incredible fear of black and grizzly bears. The opening chapter of a ‘Walk in the Woods’ left a lasting and scarring impression on him and now he is at once fascinated and horrified by these bears. Quite an irrational fear given that there are no bears in Australia.  Each time we travel to the US, the talk of bears is never far from his lips.  You can imagine what he was like when we visited Yosemite. Well this year we are visiting Yellowstone (Jellystone) where the deer, the antelope and quite a lot of bears play. What was that? (looks quickly over shoulder)
Bear Pair

Regular readers may also recall my bargain purchase of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain for $3 a few months ago. I was concerned that his written voice may be as boorish, as he is on TV. It’s actually worse. I have therefore retired Kitchen Confidential for the moment but will bring it along when I travel overseas to finish reading and then BookCross somewhere. Bon Voyage Chef Bourdain.


In my kitchen…

Wallby Flour Pair

…I’ve decided to be a grown up. Rather than living my life one kilo of flour ar a time, I decided it was time to get serious so I bought some Wallaby brand baker’s flour. Of course, it’s not actually in my kitchen but sealed in a plastic bucket sitting under the pinball machine in the study so the dreaded pantry moths don’t sniff it out. I’m ready now, to channel my inner baker.


In my kitchen…

IMK Uncooked Brioche

IMK Cooked Brioche

…I have channeled my inner baker and produced my first attempt at Celia’s recipe for sweet dough ‘faux brioche’. I chose to go the traditional route of Chef Richard Bertinet by kneading the dough on the bench without flour and can say I will not go down that route again. It was just too, too sticky and too hard to work on the bench. Next time I will listen to guru Celia and follow her laissez-faire kneading instructions. Slightly wonky, not without learner challenges, it was nonetheless incredibly satisfying to pull these from the oven and have Anthony ask ‘Is this that slightly sweet brioche bread? I love that.’ He was as impressed with the loaves as I was with his awareness that brioche even existed.


In my kitchen…

IMK Bali Kopi

…is some Kopi Bali. This was a present from Anthony’s sister, Sue. She is currently seconded to Darwin for work which means SE Asia is on her doorstep. She is a regular to Bali where you get a cheap flight for only a few hundred dollars return. At less than 3 hours travel time, no wonder she visits often. I know all of the Northern hemisphere readers are at this point thinking ‘Those lucky, luck buggers’. Well there has to be some benefit to living at this end of the world. You probably didn’t know that Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee producer in the world. Over 75% of production is ‘robusta’ which has a strong body and low acidity. Much of it is exported to blend with the ‘arabica’ beans of South America and East Africa. Anyway, coffee is the perfect gift for me as it does not collect dust on the buffet.


In my kitchen…

Thatcher's Gold Cider

…are two bottles of Thatchers Gold Cider that were part of a gift basket sent to be by KDPR to promote Good Food Month in Brisbane. As you know, Cider is having a bit of a moment and has surged in popularity. I’m familiar with Thatchers from my time in the UK so was incredibly happy to see it in the basket. Based in Somerset, Thatchers started producing cider in 1904 and is still being run by the same family and is still independent.

Good Food Month pair

As to Good Food Month, this has been running successfully in Sydney and Melbourne for a number of years and has finally made it to Brisbane. Showcasing the best of what Brisbane and Regional Queensland has to offer there is a dazzling array of lunch and meal deals, one off events and special dinners. Breakfast can be had at a range of venues for $20 on weekdays which includes a drink and dishes such as Creamed Sweetcorn w Chilli, Poached Eggs, Feta & Pinenuts or, House-made Coconut Crumpet w Lemon Curd.  Bars are joining in with specially created Tanqueray gin cocktails with names like Dirty Boulevard and Bloomsbury Bouquet, paired with a bar snack for $20. Brisbane will also enjoy the Night Noodle Markets at Southbank with 11 nights of satay, pho, soba and ramen, gyoza and sticky black rice to work your way through. There’s supper clubs and wine dinners and regional events in locations such as Mt Tamborine and the Scenic Rim. Anthony and I scraped in, in the nick of time, to get some of the last tickets to the inaugural Young Chef’s Dinner at E’cco Bistro. Six of the state’s brightest rising Chefs will create an original dish and vy for the Young Chef of the Year Award. Should be a great night. I’ll let you know who wins in the next IMK. In the meanwhile, if you live in Brisbane, the Gold or Sunshine Coasts you really have an opportunity to immerse yourself in the city and state’s vibrant food culture and try out some great meals at incredible prices. Good Food Month runs from 1 – 31 July. www.brisbane.goodfoodmonth.com


In my kitchen…

Tapioca Starch

…is a bag of tapioca starch. Recently I saw a recipe on regular IMK contributor Tandy’s blog ‘Lavender & Lime’ for Pao de Queijo or Cheese Bread that is so popular in Brazil. It’s a gluten-free bread using tapioca starch (flour) as a base. Where does one find tapioca starch? #AskTwitter of course! As it turns out, tapioca starch is readily available in Asian supermarkets in Australia so I trundled up to Chinatown one lunch time to grab a bag. The cheese bread is incredibly easy to make and perfect to pop in the oven as guests arrive to enjoy with drinks or for a World Cup Party. Drop on over to Tandy’s blog to get the recipe.

And that’s it for In My Kitchen this month. See you next month by which time I will have been to Sydney to celebrate my Mum’s 70th and we will see just how strong my willpower is when it comes to Victoria’s Basement.

36 comments… add one
  • Lizzy (Good Things) July 5, 2014, 10:32 am

    Wow, lots of good stuff going on in your kitchen Fiona… I’d love some of that brioche style bread you baked. Go you! David Lebovitz writes well and I love his recipes too. And Good Food Month sounds awesome!

    • Fiona Ryan July 5, 2014, 11:58 am

      Thanks Liz. There were three loaves which is far too much for us in one go so two went into the freezer. I’m keen to have a go at Celia’s doughnuts too.

  • Mandy - The Complete Book July 5, 2014, 7:19 pm

    I love these posts. Its wonderful seeing what everyone shares, especially items that I wouldn’t ordinarily see. Your bread looks great but you are so right, there is no better bread baker than Celia.
    Have a super weekend.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan July 6, 2014, 9:34 am

      Ha ha. Thanks Mandy. Yes, it’s tru what they say. It’s what’s inside that counts!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime July 5, 2014, 7:56 pm

    Love your honesty about the AB book! I also prefer Celia’s attitude to kneading. Thanks for the link love 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan July 6, 2014, 9:35 am

      The book started out OK but then every chapter started to be the same and all about him of course. Your welcome re: the link. Thank YOU for visiting and tweeting so often.

  • Jan Rhoades July 5, 2014, 8:57 pm

    What about drop bears Fiona? I like your comment about cider. I have drunk cider for a very long time and remember when it was difficult to find I pubs and bars…except the UK of course. Now we are spoilt for choice.
    And FYI this post came through on my FB page. That has never happened before.

    • Fiona Ryan July 6, 2014, 9:38 am

      I only heard Anthony talking about bears again last night when we were at dinner. He can’t help himself. As to FB, I’m not sure. Are you actually following my page? You made a comment on it some months ago but uncertain if you are. I assume you are because it appeared in your feed.

  • Johanna GGG July 5, 2014, 11:13 pm

    oh lots of goodness – I have that same flour and manage to beat the pantry moths at working my way through it – hurrah! – your brioche looks v impressive and the cider makes me laugh because how you can call it thatchers without thinking of maggie – and hopefully one day I will read sweet life in paris and more bill bryson – love both their writing

    • Fiona Ryan July 6, 2014, 9:40 am

      Hi GGG – The Sweet Life in Paris is so easy to read and you nod your head the whole time. I got it cheap via QBD online so perhaps you can add it to a birthday list. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Jennifer from Milk and Honey July 5, 2014, 11:37 pm

    Love, love, love your books. Ans your faux brioche looks divine. Thanks for the tour.

    • Fiona Ryan July 6, 2014, 9:40 am

      Hi jennifer – thanks for leaving a comment. The books are really enjoyable, as they should be! Life’s too short for bad books.

  • sherry from sherryspickings July 6, 2014, 10:58 am

    hi fiona
    so much going on in your kitchen lately. i think arrowroot is tapioca isnt it? but i guess you needed alot more than one little packet from the supermarket.:)
    love the brioche buns. they look fabulous. love the name of the wallaby flour.

    • Fiona Ryan July 6, 2014, 4:13 pm

      Well there was much debte about arrowroot and tapioca. They are different things but can be substituted for one another quite easily. As I’d never made the recipe though, I thought it best to try with tapioca. I think that bag will last a while. I like the name ‘Wallaby’ too! Thanks for your visit and comment.

      • sherry from sherryspickings July 6, 2014, 5:18 pm

        i have a packet in my pantry which has arrowroot AND tapioca flour on the label but on the back it says that they are interchangeable! bit of a condundrum there:) kind of indicating they are the same but not!

  • Kim | a little lunch July 7, 2014, 7:11 pm

    Fiona, you definitely channeled your inner baker — your brioche is beautiful, and I bet it was even more of a treat with your coffee! (The perfect gift, yes.) Cool pinball machine, too! I also enjoyed your write-up of the food festival — that breakfast dish you described sounds marvelous!

    • Fiona Ryan July 9, 2014, 9:31 pm

      Thanks Kim. Brioche has been very popular and toasts beautifully. The pinball game is called ‘Solar Ride’.

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef July 8, 2014, 8:51 am

    Fiona, that bread looks amazing! I love Bill Bryson too but I haven’t read that one. If it’s any consolation, I lived in the states for over 45 years and saw quite a few bears but I’ve never been bitten or mauled.

    • Fiona Ryan July 9, 2014, 9:33 pm

      A Walk In The Woods is my favourite as it’s the one that introduced me to BB. I think the chances of us encountering a bear are low but imagine the camp fire tales if we do!

  • Joanne T Ferguson July 8, 2014, 7:17 pm

    G’day! Your post made me smile from start to finished; really enjoyed and gotta love Bill!
    Thanks for this month’s kitchen view also!
    Cheers! Joanne

    • Fiona Ryan July 9, 2014, 9:33 pm

      Hi Joanne – thanks for stopping by and having a browse.

  • celia July 9, 2014, 5:47 am

    I’m smiling at the thought that you’ve gone from a Eurovision party to a World Cup Party. 🙂 And seriously, bear-proof storage lockers? I’m developing an irrational fear of bears just from reading your post! 🙂 So glad you liked the faux brioche recipe – you did everything right and they look great, just toss a bit more flour on the bench next time (I know Richard said not to, but I find it helps when the sweet dough is very sticky!)… xx

    • Fiona Ryan July 9, 2014, 9:48 pm

      I would have put some flour on the bench but Richard said ‘no’. What does he know?

  • InTolerant Chef July 9, 2014, 4:44 pm

    Lots of lovely goodies indeed!

  • Glenda July 10, 2014, 12:55 am

    Hi Fiona, Your bread looks great. I would be very happy with those loaves.

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook July 10, 2014, 8:51 am

    Seems lucky that Anthony wasn’t with me the day I went for a walk in Whistler with a couple of friends and two guys sitting on a boulder shouted to us to be careful because a baby brown bear had just ambled on by about 3 minutes ahead of us. Needless to say, we rushed back to our apartment! I had major bear nightmares that night.

    And then there was the time we were camping in a US National Park somewhere in northern California and a black bear was sniffling around our tent in the middle of the night. I was about 6 years old and slept through it all. The rest of that holiday was spent in cheap motels.

    Thanks for reminding me I have a book voucher for Dymocks to use – will investigate David’s book.

    • Fiona Ryan July 10, 2014, 2:26 pm

      Mel – you will have to share those stories with Anthony when you see him! You know how it easy, what scares us also fascinates us.

  • Emma July 14, 2014, 6:08 am

    That bread looks amazing. The paris cooking book looks interesting too. I am new to what’s in your kitchen, so my post is a bit late. It is up now if you would like to read it. Emma.

    • Fiona Ryan July 14, 2014, 1:46 pm

      Thanks Emma. I’ll be sure to pop on over to your blog when I get a chance. Welcome to IMK.

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts August 5, 2014, 7:18 pm

    I love the look of your new books! Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors too and that book has been on my ‘watch’ list to find in paperback (probably it’s already out in that here in the UK, now I think about it…). I hope you enjoy them both. I am also envious of your 5kg of flour, and think your brioche loaves look impressive!

    • Fiona Ryan August 6, 2014, 10:33 am

      Hi Kari – I’ve just started the Bryson. It’s brilliant. So easy to read with many funny asides and witticisms. Highly recommended.

  • Diane August 7, 2014, 1:44 am

    Both of those books sound very interesting. I always think how interesting it would be to live in another country and really get to know it better than a quick tourist trip.
    I hope you enjoy Yellowstone – it’s quite an amazing place. I’m always surprised that despite all of the warnings, people still camp out with food in their tents – not a great idea at all.

    • Fiona Ryan August 7, 2014, 10:49 am

      Hi Dianne – I’ve started reading the Bryson and love it. David L’s was a very quick read but Bill will take a while longer. Looking forward to Yellowstone. Less than 2 months to go! Thanks for visiting.

  • Francine Spiering September 9, 2014, 1:37 am

    Yes to “the lucky buggers” with your short hop to Bali, absolutely admire David Lebowitz, laughed my head off reading Walk in the Woods. As for Yellowstone: don’t do as I did, and read Death In Yellowstone before you go there. Also, don’t laugh in disbelief when you see people place their toddlers in between the horns of a bison for a good photo op. And finally: we may have a good season of delicious figs, but you live in Brisbane. Love In My Kitchen!

    • Fiona Ryan September 10, 2014, 9:37 am

      Hi Francine – thanks for stopping by and taking the tour. It’s already warming up here in Brisbane but we will be at your end of the world soon, hoping to enjoy the Fall splendour so I hope we do see some bison (with toddlers attached of course). Of course now I’m going to have to seek out that book!

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