A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
THERE’S much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi and sukiyaki, as this attractively presented volume reveals. FreshJapanese by Yasuko Fukuoka (Hachette Livre, $39.99) contains more than 80 ‘‘ healthy’’ recipes, which amuses me, as Japanese food surely is the healthiest imaginable. Low in fat and starch, and with little added salt or sugar, dishes rely on natural goodness and sharp flavourings such as dark soy sauce, miso paste and mirin rice vinegar. The taste is always clear and clean.
Britain-based Fukuoka is described as a food and drink specialist and has worked as a musician and composer. Her recipes are wholesome and home-style, not too convoluted for the average cook, although you do need the right utensils. Invest in a fine-toothed grater for shredding daikon, a bamboo rolling mat for fashioning sushi, a mortar and pestle, and a lacquered wood rice paddle. A clay pot is needed for bubbling hotpot dishes, and a creative eye is an asset, too. In Japanese cuisine, presentation is at least as important as taste. Susan Kurosawa HOME baking is, for many, a daunting department of domestic endeavour and yet certainly one of the most satisfying. The AustralianWomen’sWeekly ’ s Bake (ACP Books, $74.95) is the book for you if you yearn to join the fun.
This 687-page feast from TheWeekly ’ s test kitchen contains more than 500 recipes for baked goods, from scones, biscuits, muffins and cakes to breads and tarts (the savoury ones, such as a dark and lusciouslooking caramelised onion and beetroot version, are especially inviting). Techniques and tools are pictured, and double-page spreads within chapters feature 12-step demonstrations describing and illustrating processes with clear photographs.
Among the 22 chapters are Christmas Baking (there’s a lime-green, fir tree-topped cupcake constructed of fresh star anise), Kids’ Birthday Cakes (friendly butterfly, party pinata, flower bouquet made of 12 petalled cupcakes connected by green spaghetti-strands of icing), Allergy-Free Baking, and Cupcakes (for an hour’s fun) or Friands, a personal favourite (for several hours’ entertainment).
Friands include citrus and poppyseed, lime and berry, pear and hazelnut: 18 of them. Where to begin?
My single problem with Bake is the pale yellow type used for margin notes on some pages, which has to be angled in just the right sidelight to be readable. IN the same series from TheAustralian Women’sWeekly kitchens comes Kitchen (ACP Books, $74.95), which came out at the end of 2007 as a companion to the earlier Cook , and now it also makes a first-course companion to Bake (now there are three). Kitchen is packed with ideas and techniques using the series’ style of photograph layouts, this time with 1000 triple-tested recipes.
Kitchen is organised under chapters named for cooking vessels (omelette pan, steamer, wok, gratin dish, casserole, terrine dish, even microwave) with appropriate recipes and techniques. Excellent for the excited home nester. Judith Elen