BY BILLY SUTER
PUT it this way – to say I would give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money in the kitchen is a little like suggesting Florence Foster Jenkins might have given Maria Callas a lot to worry about.
So, yeah, I may have come a long way from boiled eggs, avocado on toast and packet soup – I now make a decent curry and have been complimented on my three-cheese chicken fillets with hasselback potatoes – but I am certainly no great shakes in front of a stove.
Quite refreshing, then, to note that foodSTUFF, a new, large softcover combining reflections and recipes from colourful journalist, playwright and occasional restaurateur Tony Jackman, offers ideas for meals that, with some concentration, preparation and patience, don’t require one to be a rocket scientist to turn out a pretty impressive dish.
The great news is that I have a copy to give away today, by courtesy of publisher Human & Rousseau. See end of this story for details on how to enter!
The book, which arrived for review recently, offers a fun, fresh approach to cook books. The 224 pages alternate between recipes, with colour pictures and clear instructions, to Jackman reflecting on everything from happiness to heartache that includes a troubled relationship with his father and the loss of his own son.
Selling for about R320, foodSTUFF has many meaty recipes, spicy poultry dishes, some of Jackman’s eccentric signature dishes, and desserts with which he likes to spoil his friends.
Known in particular for his article Sliced & Diced in the Weekend Argus, Jackman offers the likes of Obies oxtail potjie; beef fillet with melted French Brie; parsley-crusted rack of lamb; and spicy poultry dishes such as tamarind duck curry and chicken coconut curry.
Among his signature dishes are spanspek soup, and bacon-and-beer braai bread; and yummy-sounding desserts include the “chocolatiest chocolate tart ever”, lemon syrup cake, and pears in Chardonnay Pinot Noir with a parmesan wafer.
I also like the sound of Ratafia Figs, made with goat’s cheese and gooseberries, the photograph of which features on the book cover. Also here is a variation of a hasselback potato recipe I use. Give it a try:
One potato per diner
1/ Steam potatoes over briskly boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.
2/ When potatoes have cooled to room temperature, use a sharp knife to cut carefully down at 0.5cm intervals, until halfway down the potato, to create a ridged back. Work carefully to avoid accidentally cutting the potato right through.
3/ In a 220C oven, heat the cooking oil (sunflower oil will do) in a pan or metal bread-loaf tin that is just big enough to hold all the potatoes. When it is very hot, carefully lower the potatoes, using a ladle or slotted spoon, into the oil. Spoon the hot oil over the top of the potatoes. Return to the oven and roast until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
Also new in for review is The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy, also published by Human & Rousseau.
Selling for about R288, this hardback, 144-pager, also available in Afrikaans, is the sixth offering from the brother and sister team, whose previous successful books include Cakebread, Pudding and Pie; Cakes to Celebrate Love and Life; and Cooking for Crowds.
From its roots to its future, is how the journey of the milk tart is traced in this publication, which points put that there really is a milk tart to suit everybody’s tastes and just about every occasion.
Here you will find recipes for a leafy, homemade puff-pastry collar, or with a more crumbly shortcrust, cereal crumbs, or no crust at all.
You’ll discover ways to make this hugely popular South African treat with cinnamon, naartjie peel, peach leaves, nutmeg or vanilla pods – even almond extract, caramel, citrus zest or cardamom. Some recipes even offer a little kick from a dram of rum or brandy. Hic!
There are ways here to use milk tart as a tart, baked or unbaked; or even as a dessert, smoothie, shooter, milkshake or filler for other treats, such as doughnuts.
Recipes in the book are not only local, but also from Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, America, France, China and the UK, among other places. Try this recipe from the book:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups (1.25 litres) milk
1-and-a-quarter cups (250g) sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (170g) cake flour
I Tbsp (15ml) baking powder
1/ Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter.
2/ Beat together the eggs, milk and sugar.
3/ Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, then gradually, while whisking, add the milk mixture in a steady drizzle.
4/ Scoop the mixture into the prepared dish.
5/ Dot all over with pieces of butter.
6/ Bake for 25-30 minutes. Switch off the oven, but leave the dish inside (with the oven door closed) for about 40 minutes until the pudding has set.
7/ Serve warm as a pudding or cold as a crustless milk tart.
WIN A TONY JACKMAN COOK BOOK!
TO BE in line to win yourself a copy of the fine Tony Jackman cook book, FoodSTUFF (valued at about R320), you simply have to be a follower of my sosuterbill.com showbiz and leisure site. Visit the site and leave your email address in the space provided at the end of the cover page. That way you will subscribe, at no cost whatsoever, to the site – and will be notified by email whenever I make a new post. Once you have subscribed to my site, simply email your name and phone number to email@example.com and place COOK BOOK GIVEAWAY in the email subject field. Entries close at noon on Tuesday, July 4… and the winner will be notified soon thereafter. Best of luck!
NOTE: The winner of this c0mpetition was Mandi Allsopp of Westville. Thanks to all who entered the competition.