Lately, I have been frequenting the local Book Warehouse during the wash cycle of our laundry afternoons (the dry cycle involves $4 bellinis at Browns Social House - a great discovery) and have been lusting over the new Donna Hay cookbook - Seasons.
Donna Hay is a food stylist/famous cook/publisher in Australia and makes the most amazing books and magazines. The photos are amazingly styled, and the recipes are simple and clean and SO GOOD. This particular book is divided into the four seasons, and each one into sweet and savoury. Australian food is just a bit different from here... Lots of grilled meats and fishes.. Maybe a bit more precious? Pretty? Kristopher claims he doesn't notice a difference. Personally, I worked for an Australian food stylist (her own blog is here) in Alberta a few years ago and I could see these influences everywhere in her food.
So, Donna Hay Seasons. I have been looking at it for so long at the book store that I finally....took it out from the library.
I told Kristopher to chose the first few recipes we could try for dinner, and we have now made them both twice in one week.
First off, the pork. I have made the trek once...maybe twice...to Chinatown to buy barbecued pork. Have you ever done it? It's quite an experience to go into the butcher and stare at the pigs and the ducks, and be shocked by the lungs and the brains wrapped in plastic wrap. Most people are holding discussions in languages I don't understand. It's always a bit humbling to be in your own city and yet feel totally foreign and out of your element. And then you order what you want - the barbecue pork... It comes in pinky-red rimmed slices with some extra barbecue sauce and it's all you can do to keep from eating it straight from it's styrofoam container on the way home.
This recipe tastes almost identical to what you can get from Chinatown. Enough said.
And it's easy.
from Donna Hay Seasons
1 kg pork tenderloin
coriander seeds (1 tsp or so)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup Chinese cooking wine
1/4 cup char siu sauce*
-Use a mortar and pestle to grind up the coriander, garlic and ginger.
-Add this with liquid ingredients and star anise in a big bowl and add the pork. Let marinate for at least an hour, all day works too.
-Put either on the barbecue for 15-20 minutes until fully cooked
-Put on a roasting rack in the bottom of a 350F oven, marinade and all. Roast for an hour or so until sticky, caramelized and cooked through, basting throughout (that goes for barbecuers too).
-Slice to serve.
*These are the exact ingredients the book calls for. I found Chinese cooking wine easily in save-on, but it didn't carry the star anise so I left it out (but I know you can find it in other grocery stores). As for char siu sauce (described in the book as a sauce commonly used in Cantonese cuisine, including sugar or honey, Chinese five spice, red food coloring, soy sauce and sherry), I couldn't find it so used Chinese barbecue sauce that I found at a T&T market a while ago. The results were perfect!
...then you can serve it with...
THE SPICIEST GREEN BEANS EVER
this came from a recipe from the Seasons book that involved grilling a steak in a pan and then stir frying the beans afterwards. I changed it around a bit.
-Clean and chop the ends off your beans (I once lost serious marks in cooking school for not chopping the ends...but do what you like!). Clean and chop whatever other vegetables you want to fry. - I also used asparagus (in season right now!) and carrots.
-Slice an onion and begin to cook slowly in a big pan, a wok if you have one.
-Once they are soft, add the green beans (if using other veg, add the ones that will cook the longest first).
-When your beans are BRIGHT GREEN, they are cooked so add a spoonful or two of chili garlic paste (two will make it blazingly hot!) and some sweet chili sauce which will slightly mellow out the heat of the chili. Stir it all up. When its good and mixed, you might feel like adding some soy sauce for some more zing (not that you will need it...)
-Eat and feel the burn!
So just based on these two recipes alone and a whole lot of beautiful pictures of oceans, beaches...and food, I will now be returning my copy to the library and then heading across the street to buy my own.