A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
HERE we have pies, but not as we know them. Forget the footy variety with drippy innards and a slash of tomato sauce: pies can be elevated to altogether more refined heights with ingredients such as oysters or spicy chorizo. The unambiguously titled Pie by Angela Boggiano (Hachette Livre, $55) celebrates this flaky-crusted fare in myriad guises, sweet and savoury, fishy and even fiery (Indian masala pastries with green chillies and onions added to the filling).
Boggiano is a London-based writer of Italian heritage and this cultural combination has given her rein to cover pies of Anglo-Saxon and continental origin, with intriguing detours to the subcontinent and the seashore. (Her smoked salmon, prawn and herb pies sound as if they would make even Rick Stein salivate.)
She covers crust-making (shortcrust, rough puff, potato flavoured, varieties with polenta added to flour, and more), dips into the origins of myriad pies, and includes recipes with rich heritages, such as stargazy pie from Cornwall, originally made with pilchards and herrings arranged so their heads poked out of the hole in the centre of the pastry.
These days, mackerel fillets usually replace those jaunty star-gazers and they are laid on top, which seems a shame. And who could resist a pie known as a fidget? It’s a variety from Shropshire, filled with apples and gammon and originally served as a five-sided warmer to workers during harvest time.
Those are not the sort of snacks for the footy, perhaps, but Boggiano is no pie snob: she includes a section titled hand pies, with recipes for chunky pasties, sausage rolls and savoury parcels, all perfect for eating heartily at the game with one hand while making rude gestures at the referee with the other.
FastHealthy (ACP Books, $19.95) is the latest in this practical series; recent titles have included FastPasta and FastChicken . There’s a ready market for well-organised and pleasingly presented recipe books of this type. The Fast series is designed to appeal to the time-strapped, with the promise that meals ‘‘ can be on the table in less than 35 minutes’’. Drinks are included, from a strawberry and papaya blended juice to a metabolism kick-starter of liquefied carrot, ginger and silverbeet.
What’s really healthy and what just looks and sounds good for us is a question of much wider debate, but this book certainly takes its nutritional brief seriously, with every dish broken down into fat content, kilojoules, carbohydrate, protein and fibre.
Char-grilled scallops with citrus salsa, for example, is a delicious winner with 836kj in a serve of four and 6.2g of fat. And the Australian Women’sWeekly team of authors (led by Lyndey Milan) are not afraid of shortcuts either, including dishes such as prawn and pea risotto, which are designed to be cooked in a microwave (but there’s no escape from stirring the arborio rice; you’ll be opening the door frequently to add liquid and mix the ingredients).
Every recipe is pictured in colour and, at a generous 400 pages, another healthy aspect here is the lean price. Alexandra James
Polenta crust: Rabbit pot pie