The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

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

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