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  • 02/03/15--20:03: Introduction - Gretta Anna
  • My mother, Gretta Anna Teplitzky, was born in New Zealand in 1929. She had Spanish-Jewish heritage on her mother’s side, and she had cooking in her genes – her great-grandmother was the chief recipe tester for Queen Victoria.

    Gretta Anna married my father, David Teplitzky, an engineer, in Christchurch in 1953, and in 1958 they moved to Sydney because Dad had won a scholarship to do his doctorate at Sydney University. Mum got a job as a stenographer in the city and pursued her growing passion for cooking by attending Cordon Bleu cooking classes. The girls in her office started to show a keen interest in her endeavours, and one morning she announced to my father from the bath that she was going to leave her job and open a cookery school in their flat in Rose Bay. 

    She started teaching a few of her previous work colleagues around the kitchen table, and, gradually, it grew from there, until the numbers had reached well over one hundred. In 1960 she offered to hold cooking classes at Johnnie Walker’s Bistro in the city, which he agreed to only after sending a delegation to her home to see her in action. As Mum’s popularity continued to grow, she soon needed her own space. She found suitable premises at the 680 Club in Killara, where she set up The Gretta Anna Teplitzky School of Continental Cookery, and my parents went into partnership in her first and only restaurant, Gretta Anna Grande Cuisine, just down the road. She was to run her classes from there for the next couple of years, teaching eager women the art of the perfect dinner party. 

    Soon my parents moved to a house designed by Harry Seidler in Wahroonga to set up home with my newborn older brother, Jonathan. I was to follow eighteen months later and my sister Anna seven years after that. When they asked Harry to draw up plans to add a wing, he refused, saying that the house was perfect as it was. Eventually he relented and provided plans for an addition which would later house Mum’s cooking school, when she moved the school to the family home.

    My earliest memories stem from this time. I can still recall so vividly sitting at the back of Mum’s classes, watching as she wove her magic, imparting wonderful ideas and flavours from all over Europe to a packed audience of women all desperate to learn. Her very personal style of teaching and her incredibly generous nature allowed her pupils to experience the joy of preparing and cooking delicious food for their families and friends with confidence and style. 

    Mum ran the school from our home for almost thirty years, teaching over 35,000 women in the process. She established such a name for herself that at times she had 1,000 people on her waiting list.

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    GRETTA ANNA: This is a simple family recipe that goes back to my childhood. It is one of my mother’s favourites. The veal is cheap and it will feed a large family. The gristly pieces of veal bone are delicious to chew and the stuffing is very tasty. Ask the butcher to cut a deep pocket in the veal for you, which you can fill with the stuffing.

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
    2. To make the apple, orange and walnut stuffing, place the toasted bread in a food processor and blitz into coarse breadcrumbs. Add the orange zest and juice, butter, apple, walnuts and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Blend until all ingredients are coarsely chopped.
    3. Fill the veal breast pocket with the stuffing. Season the meat and cover with oil. Place in a roasting tin and roast for about 50 minutes or until just cooked through. Rest for 10 minutes before carving.
    4. To make the gravy, add red wine to the pan juices and cook over high heat for 3 minutes, stirring to amalgamate the juices. If necessary, add a little water thickened with the cornflour and water mixture.
    5. To serve, cut through the meat and stuffing and between the bones, and serve with the gravy.
    Martin Teplitzky
    Serves 6-8

    2 kg veal breast with bones

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    25 ml oil


    ½ cup (125 ml) red wine

    1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon water


    5 slices white bread, toasted

    grated zest and juice of 1 large orange

    1 tablespoon butter

    1 green apple, peeled, cored and cut into large pieces

    2 tablespoons walnuts

    small handful of chopped parsley

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    The Best of Gretta Anna with Martin Teplitzky

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  • 02/03/15--20:39: Tarte aux Pommes Normande
  • GRETTA ANNA:  Apple tarts are made all over France. They are one of the national dishes. This one is truly special. It is very much ‘à la Normande’, smelling and tasting as it does of calvados, that wonderful brandy with a delicious apple bouquet. All through Normandy one sees cows browsing in apple orchards. No wonder Normandy is also famous for its butter, cream, cheese and cider.

    All of us need to be able to make high-quality pastry for dessert tarts. Here is another slightly different version. If pressed into a tart tin it is short, delicious and rich. If, however, it needs to be rolled, add as much plain flour and iced water as is required and, when the pastry is rolled thin and cooked, it will be crisp and delicious. This particular pastry recipe is for double the quantity, as it is so handy to have sweet tart pastry in the refrigerator or freezer to call on at a moment’s notice.

    MARTIN:  This is, quite simply, the best apple tart you will ever eat! There is nothing else left to say.

    1. To make the pastry, cut the butter into small pieces, spread them out on a baking tray and place in the freezer for 15 minutes until very cold but not frozen.
    2. Place the flour, sugar, very cold butter and the egg in a food processor and process until it just starts to form a ball, adding 1 tablespoon of iced water as you blend. Knead a very little with the heel of your hand, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
    3. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Press half the quantity of pastry into a 23 cm tart tin, prick with a fork and refrigerate until required. (Keep the other half in the freezer until required for another use.) Bake the tart case for 12–15 minutes until lightly golden.
    4. Place the sliced apples in the pastry case and sprinkle the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top.
    5. Return to the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes until the apple has caramelised a little.
    6. Beat together the calvados, the ¼ cup (55 g) of sugar, cream and egg yolks. Pour over the apple slices. Sprinkle the top with the almonds, return to the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes until the custard is browned and set.
    7. Serve warm or cool with crème fraîche or lightly whipped cream. The tart is best made fresh but if made ahead of time, reheat in a moderate oven.
    Martin Teplitzky
    Serves 6-8

    2 green apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced

    65 ml calvados

    ¼ cup (55 g) caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar, extra

    150 ml pure cream

    3 egg yolks

    2 tablespoons flaked almonds

    crème fraîche or lightly whipped cream, to serve


    125 g unsalted butter

    1 2/3 cups (250 g) plain flour

    100 g caster sugar

    1 egg

    The Best of Gretta Anna with Martin Teplitzky

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  • 02/03/15--20:50: Mile high pavlova
  • MARTIN:  This is a fantastic dessert or celebration cake. I make it a lot as it has become the signature dish for my cookery school, Take 2 Eggs. It’s nowhere near as scary to make as you might think, and the response when you bring it to the table makes it all the more worthwhile.

    When you’re making meringue, I always think it’s a good idea to add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of cider vinegar or lemon juice to the egg whites. The salt will help firm up the proteins, giving better peaks, while the vinegar will stabilise the egg whites and help hold the bubbles created when beating. Also, make sure the egg whites are at room temperature.

    Here are a few tricks you might like to employ when assembling the pavlova. First, place a dollop of the curd or cream onto your serving plate before placing the first meringue layer on top; this will stick it to the plate and make the spreading of the curd easier. Next, don’t be tempted to assemble it too far in advance (wait until no more than an hour before), as it will start to go soggy. Once assembled, keep it in a cool place (not the fridge). 

    Now, I’m not going to lie to you – it is not the easiest thing to serve. Make the first cut as you would with any cake, but instead of serving a whole slice, which is much too big anyway, remove the top half of the wedge as one portion and the bottom half as another portion. Place a shard or two of the sugar stained glass into each piece and you are good to go.

    The lemon curd should be made the day before to allow it to set properly. This recipe makes about 3 cups (750 ml) of lemon curd.

    1. To make the lemon curd, place the butter, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and begin to melt over medium heat, stirring with a whisk.
    2. Gently beat the 4 eggs and 4 egg yolks together with a whisk. Pour into the saucepan and stir continually until the eggs are cooked and the curd has thickened. This will take about 10 minutes. Be careful that your heat is not too high as you run the risk of the eggs curdling.
    3. Pour the curd into a bowl and mix in the lemon zest. Place plastic film on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate. It will keep for a week to 10 days in the refrigerator.
    4. To make the sugar-stained glass shards, line a baking tray with baking paper. Use a fine sieve to sprinkle the caster sugar evenly over the top, then spread the brown sugar randomly over that. Place under a hot grill or in a hot (200°C) oven and heat for approximately 10–15 minutes until the sugars have caramelised and appear clear.
    5. Remove from the grill or oven and allow to cool and harden, then lightly drop the tray on your work surface to shatter the sugar-stained glass into random shards. Set aside.
    6. Preheat the oven to 120°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
    7. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing the mixture to become stiff and glossy. Halfway through adding the sugar, mix in the vinegar and vanilla.
    8. Carefully pipe or spread the meringue into five or six mounds on the baking trays, about 2.5 cm high and about 20 cm in diameter. If you’re using a piping bag, start in the middle and work your way out, making sure there are no gaps.
    9. Bake for 1 hour, or until the meringues are crisp but not coloured, then turn off the oven and leave to cool (in the oven) for about 1 hour.
    10. To assemble your pavlova, place the first meringue layer onto a serving plate and spread a thin layer of lemon curd evenly over it. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on top.
    11. Place your second meringue layer carefully on top of the cream and repeat with a layer of curd and cream. Repeat until you have used all meringue layers. With the final layer of meringue, place dollops of whipped cream randomly on top and place your sugar-stained glass shards into them.
    Martin Teplitzky
    Serves 12

    300 ml thickened cream, whipped


    8 egg whites

    pinch of salt

    400 g caster sugar

    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

    2 teaspoons vanilla essence


    180 g unsalted butter

    1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar

    grated zest and juice of 4 lemons

    4 eggs

    4 egg yolks


    2/3 cup (150 g) caster sugar

    1/3 cup (75 g) fine brown sugar

    The Best of Gretta Anna with Martin Teplitzky

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    Add a crunch of breadcrumbs and the saltiness of anchovies to make this cauliflower really something. Photo by Simon Griffiths.

    Maggie's Kitchen will soon be available again in paperback and to celebrate, we're sharing this fantastic recipe for jazzed up cauliflower. With just a few extra ingredients you can take the usual boiled vegetable to a new level with toasted sourdough crumbs and anchovies. 

    Maggie says, 'Cauliflower is a vegetable I enjoy so much that I feel it actually needs nothing more than a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a smattering of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to be utterly delicious. But if you want to serve cauli as a dish in its own right then go the extra mile, as I've done here, by adding the crunch of breadcrumbs and the pungent saltiness of anchovies.'


    Cauliflower with Toasted Crumbs

    Serves 4 as an accompaniment or entree

    1 small head cauliflower, cut into 2 cm florets
    1 head garlic, cloves separated
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon thyme leaves
    1 1/2 cups coarse sourdough breadcrumbs (made from about 1/2 loaf)
    1x45g tin anchovies, drained
    2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flatleaf parsley
    1/4 cup grated pecorino, to serve 



    1. Blanch cauliflower in a saucepan of boiling salted water, then remove with a slotted spoon. Blanch garlic cloves in the same pan for 5 minutes, then drain and peel. 
    2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over low heat, then sauté garlic for 7 minutes or until golden and almost cooked through. Remove and set aside. Add remaining olive oil, lemon thyme and cauliflower florets to the pan and cook over medium heat for 4–5 minutes or until cauliflower is golden and cooked through. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring until golden and crisp, then add anchovies, parsley and garlic and stir to combine. 
    3. Add grated pecorino, then serve. 

    Maggie's Kitchenby Maggie Beer - Photography by Simon Griffiths

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  • 02/03/15--21:23: Introduction
  • Growing up, I learnt one important lesson in life at the dining table – never to underestimate the importance of food in life. I am very blessed to have been brought up in a household where sharing food is never considered just as a means of sustaining life, but rather as an enjoyable experience that continues to create more stories. 

    My parents were working in Saudi Arabia when they met. Mum was a nurse from Korea and Dad was an accountant from Egypt. After they’d married and had two daughters, first me and then my sister Eman, they decided to start a new life in Australia. They arrived here in 1989 with very little family or social support, ready to start the dream life, full of opportunities, in Sydney. 

    Living in a foreign country, they found the daily discoveries of new social and cultural customs quite challenging at times. One particular challenge was how to get access to the ingredients they needed for their Korean and Egyptian dishes. Even if they were able to find the right ingredients, those ingredients were not always fresh and could be quite expensive. However, if there was one aspect of life that my parents held onto quite closely, it was cooking and eating the food they grew up with. Even today, my mother and father continue to cook the wonderful dishes that remind them of their homelands, and sometimes they tell us stories linked to the dishes they cook. 

    As children, Eman and I would sit on the kitchen bench watching my parents cook and assisting with the tedious jobs, such as peeling garlic and onions or trimming beans. Observing my parents in the kitchen helped me to understand the different stages of cooking and the preparation techniques that I now feel so grateful to have learnt. 

    I began to cook with more interest (and perhaps seriousness) halfway through high school. I loved experimenting with food, and it was a great way to get out of studying. I remember trying to make a ‘microwaveable’ cake when I was about fourteen – I somehow managed to blow up the microwave, and the cake was inedible. 

    By the time I was at university, cooking was a must for me and a means of helping my parents, as they both worked full-time. It was one household chore that I really enjoyed! I was able to replicate some traditional Korean and Egyptian dishes at that point, and was also interested in learning about food from other cultures, including Italian, Chinese and Japanese food in particular.    

    The greatest change that I have seen in relation to cooking our cultural food is that access to both Korean and Middle Eastern ingredients has increased tremendously throughout Australia. The ingredients are now so fresh and abundant that it has become much easier to produce Korean and Middle Eastern food that is true to the traditional flavours and textures. 

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  • 02/03/15--21:31: Pomegranate and walnut salad
  • This crunchy, tangy and vibrant salad is closely related to the classic Turkish ‘spoon salad’. Everything is cut into very small pieces so that one spoonful of the salad excites the palate with all the different ingredients. I have been making it at home a lot over the last couple of years, especially as part of a weekend lunch spread. It is a great accompaniment to quail or red meat.

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5–7 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then roughly chop.
    2. Hold a pomegranate half over a large bowl and, using a wooden spoon, tap the pomegranate hard to release the arils (seeds). Repeat with the other half. 
    3. Add the walnuts, parsley, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, onion and sumac to the bowl. 
    4. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and toss to combine. Season with salt to taste and serve immediately. 
    Amina Elshafei
    Serves 4

    ½ cup ( 50 g) walnuts

    1 pomegranate, cut in half

    large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

    2 tomatoes, cut into very small cubes

    1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, seeded and cut into very small cubes

    ½ red capsicum (pepper), seeds and membrane discarded, cut into very small cubes

    ½ red onion, finely chopped

    1 teaspoon sumac

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses


    Amina's Home Cooking

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    A few years ago in Fes, I was sitting in a beautiful riad (Moroccan residence with an interior courtyard), amazed by the architecture, waiting for dinner to be served. Suddenly, a beautiful terracotta tagine arrived at the table, and when the lid was removed the contents were revealed – chicken braised with preserved lemons and green olives. The aroma intoxicated me and that dish inspired this one, which is one of my favourites. I am very lucky – my mother preserves her own lemons from a lemon tree that has been growing in our backyard for over fifteen years. I love to use her preserved lemons in this recipe.

    1. Place the ginger and garlic in a food processor and process until minced. Add the olive oil, spices, coriander, lemon juice and salt and blitz until the coriander is finely chopped.  
    2. Transfer the marinade to a tagine (see page 8) or a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish, and add the chicken. Massage the marinade into the chicken pieces with your fingers so that the chicken is thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic film and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour. 
    3. Remove from the fridge and arrange the onion and preserved lemon and olives on top of the chicken. Gently pour the stock over. Place the tagine over low heat and bring slowly to the boil, gently increasing the heat to high, then boil for 5 minutes. Cover with the lid, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes so the chicken does not stick to the bottom.
    4. Remove the tagine from the heat. Serve immediately with buttered couscous, if you like.
    Amina Elshafei
    Serves 4

    1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

    3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

    ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

    2 tablespoons ras el hanout

    1 tablespoon sweet paprika

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    small bunch of coriander, stems and leaves

    1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice, strained

    1 teaspoon sea salt

    1 kg chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat and halved

    1 onion, thinly sliced

    3 preserved lemons, rind only, rinsed and thinly sliced

    1 cup (120 g) green olives, pitted and rinsed

    2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock (or water)

    Buttered couscous, to serve (optional)

    Amina's Home Cooking

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    Maamoul is perhaps the most famous of Middle Eastern biscuits, especially popular for religious celebrations such as Eid and Christmas. You can be as creative as you like with the filling, as long as you create a tight seal to enclose it. You can buy a maamoul mould online or at a Middle Eastern grocery. Otherwise, the prongs of a small fork can help create patterns on top. The grooves will help the icing sugar stick to the biscuit. 

    1. Combine the semolina, flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, milk and orange blossom water and, using your hands, combine the mixture until it forms a soft, malleable dough. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more milk, and if it is too wet, add a little more plain flour. Cover with plastic film and leave to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
    2. To make the pistachio filling, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until fine and crumbly. Do not let it reach a paste-like consistency. Transfer to a bowl and clean the food processor.
    3. To make the date filling, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until they form a smooth paste.
    4. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
    5. Shape a tablespoon of dough into a ball, then gently flatten it in the palm of your hand to make a 6 cm circle. Place 1 teaspoon of either the pistachio or date filling in the centre of the dough, then pinch the edges together so that the filling is completely enclosed and roll into a ball. 
    6. Lightly oil a maamoul mould with vegetable oil. Press the dough ball firmly into the mould, then tap the mould to remove the patterned biscuit. (If you don’t have a maamoul mould, use fork prongs to make patterns.) Repeat to make about 40 biscuits.
    7. Place the biscuits on the prepared trays with a 2 cm gap between each. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until light golden. Transfer the biscuits to wire racks to cool.  
    8. Place the icing sugar in a bowl. Roll as many cooled biscuits as you’d like to serve in the icing sugar, tapping to remove any excess. Any leftover biscuits can be kept in an airtight container for up to one month – roll in icing sugar just before serving.
    Amina Elshafei
    Makes about 40

    2 cups (320 g) coarse semolina

    1 cup (150 g) plain flour

    1 tablespoon caster sugar

    1½ teaspoons baking powder

    250 g unsalted butter, softened

    ¼ cup (60 ml) milk

    1 tablespoon orange blossom water

    vegetable oil, for oiling

    1 cup (160 g) pure icing sugar


    1 cup (140 g) raw shelled pistachios

    1 tablespoon orange blossom water

    1½ tablespoons caster sugar


    1 cup (170g) pitted medjool dates, roughly chopped

    1 tablespoon orange juice, strained

    1 tablespoon orange blossom water

    Amina's Home Cooking

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  • 02/08/15--18:33: Sujet Saenkham
  • Sujet Saenkham of Sydney's critically acclaimed Spice I Am restaurant stable, was born in a remote village in Central Thailand, where he learnt to cook treasured family recipes at his mother's and grandparents' sides. After switching from an accounting degree to studying science with a major in chemistry in Bangkok, in 1985 Sujet ventured to Australia and loved it so much, he decided to make Sydney his home. Here he studied hospitality, and his long-held ambition of becoming an executive chef was realised in 2004, when  he opened the doors of Spice I Am in Sydney's Surry Hills. This simple hole-in-the-wall space was immediately adopted as the Thai restaurant of choice for the city's food media, and since then the restaurant empire has expanded to include a more sophisticated restaurant in Darlinghurst, an offshoot in Balmain, House: North-East Thai Food, which specialises in Issan dishes from the north of Thailand, and most recently, in 2014, Surry Hills Eating House, showcasing the regional cuisine of southern Thailand. This is Sujet's first cookbook.

    First Name: 
    Last Name: 

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  • 02/08/15--18:39: Spice I Am
  • In this much anticipated cookbook Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham shares his family recipes for the fresh flavours of regional Thai cooking so you can enjoy authentic Thai food at home.  Leave the Thai takeaway menus in your kitchen drawer, as you learn how to make restaurant favourites such as Sujet's signature stir-fried crispy pork belly with basil, roasted red duck curry with eggplant, tomato and pineapple and crispy prawn and lemongrass salad, as well as traditional classics like pad Thai, fishcakes and a massaman beef curry from scratch. Throughout, Sujet offers practical advice on finding the ingredients and mastering the cooking techniques you need to create  your own Thai feasts at home.

    208 pages
    Date Published: 
    3D Image: 
    Available in eBook: 
    Sort Title: 
    Spice I Am

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    I was born in 1964 in Nasamor, a small rural village in the Ratchaburi province in central Thailand. Most of the people in my hometown were extended family on my mother’s side, and were of Laos ethnic background, speaking Lao and practising Thai-Lao culture. Many of the old-style houses were made from lathed bamboo, although some families had solid teak houses. My family was poor, but my father had worked in logging when he was young, and he’d collected enough timber over the years to build our own small teak house. Although life was simple, with no heating or electricity, I have fond memories of those early years. 

    We grew food on our own land surrounding the house. While rice was the major crop, we were lucky to have lots of different vegetables and herbs growing wild by the side of the rice paddy, so we often foraged for food. This bounty meant we rarely had to buy food from town, except for sugar and salt, which we used to ferment and preserve foods grown in the rainy season to use during the dry season. 

    I clearly remember the day an Australian visitor came to our house at the start of one rainy season, when the paddy was filled with water. As we walked home I noticed bubbles on the water, so I quickly put my hand underneath and caught some small freshwater crabs. My mother was very happy as we didn’t have any meat or fish, and she used them to make her delicious tom yum crab. The visitor was really impressed with what we could cook from ingredients collected from the field and garden. I have happy memories of the times Mum and I went out into the bush at the end of the rainy season to search for local white shiitake-style mushrooms – they were hard to find, but we knew they grew in the same place every year. Considered a delicacy, they were expensive, so we sold them to increase our income.

    There wasn’t much food during the dry season, so Dad worked in the forest and Mum often went with a group of women from the village to search for freshwater fish in the nearby waterways. My grandfather provided bamboo coops and containers for them. We’d wait for Mum to return – if she was late, our dinner was late, but if we were lucky, we had dinner early. Mum made the best tom yum mud-fish I’ve ever eaten, and my grandfather supplied the dry-roasted chilli the adults added.

    Every day I walked three kilometres and back to a primary school in a neighbouring village. Soon after I started high school, my dad set up a chicken farm and, being the eldest, it was my job to get up really early, wake my brother and sister, and give water to the chickens, then feed them before heading off to school. My siblings weren’t happy about this, but it meant we were well-fed. Another bonus was that the manure fertilised our farm, so we always had plenty of home-grown vegetables. We worked hard and were always busy, but this was a prosperous and happy time for my family. 

    As the oldest, it was also my responsibility to help out at home, so I learnt to cook when I was eight. My mother and grandparents taught me to use whatever ingredients were available to make a tasty meal. My first lesson was how to cook rice over charcoal heat – later, we used an aluminium steamer and cake tin over charcoal or a gas burner. Mastering a simple stir-fry was next; even now, this is the style of dish my family enjoys most, especially my basil minced chicken on page 79. 

    When the work in the rice fields was done, we needed other sources of income. Mum and I cooked and sold food at the local night market, particularly during festivals and ceremonies at the temples. We sometimes worked from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and were well known for having the best desserts and popular sweet snacks, such as banana fritters.

    After completing the equivalent of my higher school certificate in mathematics and science, I studied accounting at a university in Bangkok, which I must confess I didn’t like. Without telling my parents, I moved to an open university and studied science with a major in chemistry – I really wanted to study food and cooking, but there were no courses in Thailand at that time.

    Later, I spent six years in the south of Thailand, where I really enjoyed learning about the local cuisine from my partner’s mother and sister – I’ll never forget how much they taught me. Southern food includes dishes with Buddhist and Islamic influences and is very different from the food I grew up with. Turmeric is a common ingredient, though it’s not used much at all in the rest of Thailand, and I found this, along with the frequent use of super-fresh seafood and freshwater greens, really interesting. Southerners also use more coconut cream and coconut milk, and they favour the spices used in the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia.

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    Here, the fried coated chicken becomes crispy and absorbs more flavour from the basil-infused sauce. The high heat at the end of cooking makes the sugar adhere to the crispy chicken, giving it a lovely caramelised finish. You could use beef, prawn or crispy pork belly instead of chicken.

    1. Combine the tapioca flour and rice flour on a plate. Coat the chicken on both sides with the flour mixture and dust off the excess.
    2. Heat vegetable oil for deep-frying in a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan until it reaches 180°C on a sugar/deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces and deep-fry, turning, for 4 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove the chicken and drain on paper towel.
    3. Deep-fry one-third of the basil leaves in the hot oil for 10–15 seconds or until crisp, then remove and drain on paper towel.
    4. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and birds-eye chillies and stir until aromatic. Add the water, fish sauce, seasoning sauce, dark soy sauce and sliced red and green chillies. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and remaining holy basil leaves and toss until heated through.
    5. Transfer the chicken mixture to a serving bowl. Scatter with the fried basil leaves and serve.
    Sujet Saenkham
    Serves 4 as part of a shared meal

    ¼ cup (35 g) tapioca flour

    1 tablespoon rice flour

    400 g chicken breast fillet, thinly sliced on the diagonal

    vegetable oil, for deep-frying and cooking

    6–7 sprigs holy basil, leaves picked

    7 cloves garlic, crushed

    5 red birds-eye chillies, finely chopped

    100 ml water

    1 tablespoon fish sauce

    1 tablespoon Thai seasoning sauce

    1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

    1 large fresh red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal

    1 large fresh green chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal

    Spice I Am

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  • 02/08/15--21:07: Pad Thai
  • Probably the most well-known Thai noodle dish, pad Thai is really easy to make at home even though it has lots of ingredients. The balance of sweet, salty and sour is very important, and I suggest that you use the amount of chilli you prefer. Some people worry about the quantity of dried shrimp, but don’t leave it out, because not only is it key to the flavour of this dish, it also provides protein.

    1. Place the rice noodles in a bowl, cover with cold water and set aside for 1 hour, then drain.
    2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the prawns and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes or until they just change colour, then remove and set aside. Add the shallot and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes or until tender, then add the bean curd and dried shrimp. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind puree and cook for 1–2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
    3. Add the drained rice noodles and stir quickly so they don’t stick to the bottom of the wok or pan. Add the vinegar and stir briefly. Add 1 teaspoon of the chilli powder and stir for 2–3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, then carefully move the noodle mixture to one side of the wok or pan and add the remaining oil and egg, stirring to spread the egg over the base of the wok or pan. Fold the noodle mixture on top of the egg and stir well, scraping the egg off the base of the wok or pan until scrambled and cooked through.
    4. Add half of the ground peanuts and stir, then remove from the heat. Add most of the bean sprouts and garlic chives and toss gently.
    5. Top the noodles with the prawns and transfer to a serving plate or platter. Mix together the white sugar and remaining chilli powder. Place the remaining bean sprouts, chives, ground peanuts, sugar and chilli mixture, lime wedges and spring onion to the side of the noodles, then serve.
    Sujet Saenkham
    Serves 6 as part of a meal

    150 g dried thin rice stick noodles

    ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil

    6 raw king prawns, shelled and deveined

    1 small red shallot, sliced

    80 g firm bean curd (tofu) diced

    50 g dried shrimp

    ¼ cup (60 ml) fish sauce

    2 tablespoons soft palm sugar

    2 tablespoons tamarind puree

    1 teaspoon white vinegar

    2–3 teaspoons chilli powder, to taste

    2 eggs, lightly beaten

    45 g roasted unsalted peanuts, finely ground

    150 g bean sprouts

    small handful garlic chives, cut into 2 cm lengths

    1 teaspoon white sugar

    lime wedges and trimmed spring onion, to serve

    Spice I Am

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    Prawns and lemongrass are a heavenly match – just be sure to take the time to finely slice the lemongrass or it won’t be that nice to eat. The fragrant, citrus flavour of lemongrass also goes well with other seafood, so you could use fish instead of the prawns, if you prefer.

    1. For the dressing, place the garlic and chillies in a mortar and use the pestle to lightly crush. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and stir to mix well until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
    2. Coat the prawns in tapioca flour and dust off any excess. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat until hot. Add the prawns and deep-fry for 2–3 minutes or until they change colour and are just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
    3. Roughly crush the cashews with the mortar and pestle and transfer to a small bowl. Add the lemongrass, shallot, spring onion, coriander, mint and chilli to the bowl of crushed cashews and toss gently to mix. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the dressing and pour the remainder over the lemongrass salad, then toss again.
    4. Place the prawns and salad on a serving plate, then scatter with the roasted cashews, if using. Drizzle with the reserved dressing and serve.
    Sujet Saenkham
    Serves 4 as part of a shared meal

    6 large raw king prawns, peeled and deveined, with tails intact

    50 g tapioca flour

    2 cups (500 ml) vegetable oil

    50 g unsalted cashews, toasted

    1 large stick lemongrass, very thinly sliced

    2 red shallots, halved and thinly sliced

    1½ spring onions, julienned

    small handful coriander leaves

    4 sprigs roundleaf mint, leaves picked

    1 large fresh red chilli, julienned

    roasted cashews (optional), to serve


    3 large cloves garlic, peeled

    3 fresh red birds-eye chillies, sliced

    2 tablespoons soft palm sugar

    70 ml fish sauce

    50 ml lime juice

    Spice I Am

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    Every day is a journey, whether your bags are packed and you're off to see the world, or you're simply following your usual nine-to-five routine. Let artist Meredith Gaston set you on a path of wonder, joy and mindfulness with her new book, 101 Inspirations for your Journey. This collection of Meredith's favourite quotations from famous writers and thinkers will spark your sense of adventure and inspire gratefulness, curiosity and delight as you journey through life. Illustrated with Meredith's charming and whimsical drawings, this follow-up to 101 Moments of Joy and Inspiration is the perfect gift for travellers of every kind.

    Life & Style
    216 pages
    Date Published: 
    3D Image: 
    Available in eBook: 
    Sort Title: 
    101 Inspirations For Your Journey

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  • 02/10/15--20:37: Introduction
  • Dearest Travellers,

    No matter where we may find ourselves right now and how we have chosen to travel life's path up to this very point, we have all been journeying together.

    From the moment we wake up in the morning until the stars start their twinkling at night, our days are rich with unique experiences, feelings, and possibilities.

    The way we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us creates our daily realities. The laws of attraction are very simple and very real - wonderful, positive thoughts can create wonderful, positive lives!

    With this in mind, it makes sense to choose happiness because it is so good for our health and wellbeing!

    Indeed, the journey so many of us embark on to 'find' happiness in our day to day lives is about seeking wellbeing - about feeling good. Our richest moments are when we feel pure joy buzzing within ourselves, and a sense of connection to other travellers and the world around us.

    These wonderful little seeds of joy, moments ever-present in daily life and visible to the mindful heart, start to grow and blossom. Soon our inner gardens become so devine and verdant they will extend beyond ourselves and bring joy to the lives of others.

    This book is about inviting ourselves to live the most abundant and joyous journeys imaginable. I have gathered beautiful words of wisdom from far and wide to inspire and delight us, and to encourage us to travel thoughtfully and with love for ourselves, life and each other.

    To embrace curiosity and gratitude, and to keep our hearts open from moment to moment, makes us rich and happy travellers upon this earth.

    So when you are ready, turn the page and let your very own adventure begin!

    With love,
    Meredith x 

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    1. Be spontaneous. No matter how organised or scheduled we are, travel has a way of showing us what we need to see! Be open to spontaneity and venture off your map. 
    2. Pack a lunchbox. I love clean, healthy food at all times, and on the go it's especially important to stay energised! I always pack home made meals and snacks with me, not to mention ample, quality drinking water.  I mostly choose accommodation with a kitchenette so I can explore cooking with local produce and have food I love and need on hand. 
    3. Find the markets! Markets say so much about a place and its people, whether they are art and craft markets or food and produce markets. Sense the community spirit, meet some of the wonderful characters, see what people do, make and love in that place. Immerse yourself!
    4. Make time for relaxation. Travelling can cause stress on the body - changes in time, temperature, light and pressure. Try a massage, a swim, or a siesta to give yourself that extra love and care. 
    5. Keep a travel journal. Keeping a journal inspires gratitude and reflection. It is a wonderful way to record, document and celebrate daily life. We often live so fast that special aspects of experiences and journeys can get overlapped, unrecognised or forgotten! Keep a travel journal and record in words, pictures, poetry, photos, mementos or other, whatever it is that has moved you, inspired you, or that you'd like to remember. It is a treasure to look back on over time, allowing you to relive and draw from your journeys in different ways. 
    Life & Style

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    Some Middle Eastern feast inspiration – Candied lemon and barbecued haloumi with baby chard and pumpkin seeds by Simon Bryant (photo by Alan Benson) and Middle Eastern rosewater custard by Alison Thompson (photo by Sharyn Cairns)

    Need to impress someone special this week? Maybe you just need some inspiration for a dinner party on the weekend? Whatever the reason, here's a Middle Eastern-inspired menu we've prepared just for you, full of flavour and sure to be enjoyed by all.

    Maybe you'd like to start with a Chargrilled capscium, walnut and pomegranate dip from Almond Bar by Sharon Salloum - Photo by Rob Palmer

    Or a Cracked Wheat and freekeh salad with preserved lemon and barberries from Cumulus Inc. by Andrew McConnell


    You'll have everyone salivating at these Chicken breast rolls filled with spinach, rice, pine nuts, almonds and raisins from Abla's Lebanese Kitchen by Abla Amad - Photo by Simon Griffiths

    Serve that with a great big platter of Candied lemon and barbecued haloumi with baby chard and pumpkin seeds from Simon Bryant's Vegies by Simon Bryant - Photo by Alan Benson

    Lighten the mood with some Middle Eastern rosewater custard from Sweet by Alison Thompson - Photo by Sharyn Cairns

    And to finish, end on a sweet note, with these Turkish delight filled doughnuts with rosewater honey from Maha: Middle Eastern Home Cooking by Shane Delia - Photo by Sharyn Cairns

    Hope this has inspired you! 

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  • 02/15/15--19:38: Dee Nolan Hawksburn
  • Author Talk and Book Signing with Dee Nolan

    Join Dee Nolan for a discussion of her latest book, A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to France at My Bookshop in Hawksburn. This is a free event and you are encouraged to arrive early. 
    P 03 9824 2990

    Author Talk and Book Signing
    Monday, March 2, 2015 - 18:00
    Dee Nolan

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