Memory Lane – Provolone Grande

Who knew? You! You knew that when there’s mention of Memory Lane in the Title Box, I’m so busy that I have decided I will recycle an old blog. But with 3000 in my archives, I don’t think you’ll mind. So here’s an oldie that’s a goldie.

Some years ago I was sent these pictures of the Auricchio Cheese Factory in Napoli, Italy. These are serious balls of fresh Provolone, being tended to by hand rather than machine.

cheese:

The big soft balls of cheese are taken out of the whey and shaped.

cheese2:

The lumps of cheese are then formed into logs before continuing on their long journey to the dinner table. To my knowledge this company coagulates much of their milk, if not all, using a non-animal rennet.

cheese3:

That’s serious cheese-making.

Whereforth Art Thou, Kurma?

I have received a few letters wondering if I am still extant in Ye Land of Blogge, and the answer is yes. Some days it’s hard enough to tackle a small portion of my To Do List what to speak of blog about it.

controlled chaos:

But thanks for checking up on me. Some semblace of regular blogging will recommence soon.

Kurma's Big Mac

Macaroni pasta with a creamy, cheesy sauce isn’t health food. It’s rich and fatty and comforting. Sometimes you just feel like that sort of indulgent sustenance. Am I right?

My mother used to cook it and add peas; broccoli is nice as well, and/or carrots if you wish. So you won’t feel as guilty eating it. You know what I mean.

Tatchana Ramasamy wrote asking for a Macaroni Cheese recipe that I had published in one of my cookbooks. Here it is.

Kmac:

Traditional Macaroni Cheese

I remember growing up with macaroni cheese. Although it’s a little out of fashion in today’s multi-cuisine society, it still remains one of my favourites. Serves 4.

300g (10 ounces) tubular pasta,

90g (3 ounces) butter,

3 tablespoons flour,

2 cups milk,

1 cup cream,

100g (3 ounces) tasty cheese, grated,

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,

good pinch freshly grated nutmeg,

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain, and transfer to a lightly oiled casserole dish.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk and cream. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring until the mixture thickens. Add the cheese, pepper and nutmeg, and mix well.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix thoroughly until evenly coated. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Serve hot.

Scones, anyone?

K from the UK wrote: Could you please help us with a recipe for scones?

I replied: Here’s a nice recipe from my latest cookbook.

scones:

Buttermilk Scones with Jam & Cream

The best scones I ever ate were in Devon on a holiday as a boy with my family. I can still clearly picture the little teahouse, and the warm scones, buttered and slathered with clotted cream so thick that it stood up on its own, a dollop of strawberry jam at its peak.

Making good scones is not difficult, and they get easier with practice. The two golden rules of scone making are these: Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix the dough as briefly and lightly as possible. And remember, the lighter the touch, the lighter the scones. Makes 12 Scones.

1 3/4 cups plain flour,

1 teaspoon sugar,

1 teaspoon salt,

2 teaspoons baking powder,

½ teaspoon baking soda,

5 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter,

3/4 cup buttermilk, approximately,

butter, jam and cream to serve.

Preheat the oven to 230° C / 450° F. Brush a baking tray with butter.

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl (sifting aerates the mix). Rub the butter into the dry mix briefly and lightly, using your fingertips, until fine and crumbly.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and add almost all the buttermilk.

Mix, using a knife in a quick cutting motion while rotating the bowl. The mixture will come together in small pieces. Mix in the rest of the buttermilk if the mix is too dry.

Gather the dough together, and turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface.

Knead the dough very lightly, folding it back over itself, pressing down, and turning, for 30 – 40 seconds. The dough should have just lost its stickiness.

Roll or press the dough out to a flat round about 1.5cm (½-inch) thick. Cut out rounds of about 4 cm (1½ inches). Pile the scraps together and press or roll out, but don’t re-knead them.
Use up all the dough. Place the scones on the tray

Bake the scones for 10-12 minutes, or until well-risen and golden on top. Remove from the oven. For soft scones, wrap them while warm in a clean tea towel. For scones with a crisp top, transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Serve with butter, jam and cream.

Note: The lightest scones are those made with buttermilk, although you can also use milk, or soured milk. Scones made with cream are the richest, with a very smooth taste and texture. The traditional scone can also be varied with the addition of raisins (as in above photo). Scones should be eaten within a few hours, but they can be frozen in a bag for up to three months.

Farewell Perth

It’s the end of my cookery sojourn in Western Australia for another year. The cooking was too unrelenting to fully capture it all ‘on film’, but here’s a few images.

class preamble:

The second of my two classes at Upper Crust began with my presentation on panir cheese-making. That’s one of my students, Pat, stirring the milk.

creamy Margaret River milk:

We used the best unhomogenised milk from Margaret River. Rich milk with the cream still on top makes top-quality cheese.

entrees are served:

A few days later I catered for a dinner party. Here’s the entree table.

Kurma's cocktail party:

Guests nibbled and feasted their way through the afternoon, with a total of 20 dishes served to 40 guests.

Lunch at Rachael's:

A few days later I presented a hands-on cookery class in the suburb of Hillary’s. Here our ebullient crew sit down to dinner.

epiphany doughnuts:

The Epiphany Doughnuts soaked in a sticky orange blossom and rose syrup were a great hit.

a little closer...:

Ok, a little closer…

So that’s it. This tired Kurma returns to the East Coast to home base, and a quick recharge before another wave of events.

The Upper Crust

Last night’s class at the Upper Crust Cooking School was a grand success. Close to 30 Perth residents took shelter from the cold to enjoy an evening of culinary exploration.

Upper Crust:

It’s been a while since I taught a cookery demonstration rather than my usual hands-on cooking classes. It requires more dedication to verbal clarity and more dexterity in balancing quality cooking with time management, oratory precision, good communication, humour, education and the skill of entertaining a large group for three hours, all at the same time.

The Big Stirrer:

The three-course menu featured rawa idlis with sambar dal and coconut chutney, lemon rice with flame-roasted pappadams and homemade hot and sweet tomato chutney.

luscious lemon rice:

Oh, and who could forget the delectable carrot halava?

Carrot Halava:

The fun continues tonight with part two of our Upper Crust cooking adventure.

Mmmmmm….Doughnuts

mmm..donuts:

Doughnuts are my number-one favourite naughty food! But like all strict vegetarians, it’s hard or impossible for me to find egg- and gelatine-free treats.

I do have a recipe for Italian Bomboloni in my first cookbook, but I don’t often find time to make them.

Best doughnuts in the world? visit this website for a fascinating and lip-smacking read. Don’t forget to click on PRESS.

Here's One I Cooked Earlier

It’s 4.00am in Perth, Western Australia. I rose early – 2.00am – a bit earlier than most of you, I guess – to prepare myself for today’s Vegan Cookery Class in Fremantle.

Putting on a series of classes so far from home base requires precision micro-management. I’ve been doing this same service for over thirty years now, so I have certainly fine-tuned my style. With over 3000 classes under my belt, I feel confident I have found my life’s vocation. I say that with a twinkle in my eye and a slight smile…

Ok, I depart at 6.00 am today to transform a live-music cafe into my cookery space for the day. Guests arrive 9.30 for a 10.00am start, and then we have ‘Action’ once again. I’ll take some photos for you.

Here’s a pre-loved blog entry that might educate, entertain and make you crave that most ancient of desserts – rice pudding.

the world of rice pudding:

Rice puddings are found in nearly every area of the world. Recipes can greatly vary even within a single country. The dessert can be boiled or baked. Different types of pudding vary depending on preparation methods and the ingredients selected. The following ingredients are regularly found in rice puddings.

rice – long/short grain white rice, brown rice, black rice, basmati, or jasmine rice

milk – (whole milk, coconut milk, cream or evaporated)

spices – (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger etc.)

flavourings – (vanilla, orange, lemon, pistachio, rose water etc.)

sweetener – (sugars, honey, sweetened condensed milk, fruit or syrups)

The following is a short list of various rice puddings from different regions.

East Asia

Kao Niow Dahm (Thai) Black Rice Pudding,

Banana Rice Pudding (Cambodian),

Babao Fan (Chinese) Eight Treasure Rice Pudding,

Pulut Hitam (Malaysian) Black glutinous rice pudding,

South Asia

Kheer (Pakistani/Indian) with slow-boiled milk,

Firni (Pakistani/Afghan/North Indian) with broken rice, cardamom and pistachio served cold.

Middle East

Firni (Afghan/Pakistani) Rice ground to powder cooked with milk and sugar, usually flavored with cardamom, garnished with slivers of pistachios and almonds, as well as with gold or silver warq (decorative, edible foil). Today, restaurants offer firni in a wide range of flavours including mango, fig, custard apple, etc.

Sütlaç (Turkish) with milk and vanilla,

Muhallebi (Turkish) with rice flour,

Moghlie (Arab) with anise and ginger,

Riz bi Haleeb (Arab) with rose water,

Shola-e-zard (Persian) with saffron,

Europe

Arroz con leche (Spanish) with cinnamon and lemon,

Arroz Doce or Arroz de Leite (Portuguese) with milk, cinnamon and lemon,

Budino di Riso (Italian) with raisins and orange peel,

Milchreis (German) with cinnamon or cherries,

Mliena ry

The Real KFC

I’m here in Perth, Western Australia, getting myself prepared for a fortnight of cookery classes.

You may have heard of The Real IRA – well here’s something equally revolutionary. Why not try The Real KFCKurma’s Fried Cauliflowers. Crispy nuggets of cauliflower (or any vegetable, for that matter) fried in a spicy batter seasoned with Kurma’s secret herbs and spices. I’ll be cooking them while I’m here, and they are ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser.

pakoras:

Assorted Crisp Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras)

Pakoras are popular spiced, batter-dipped, deep-fried vegetables that make perfect snacks or hors d’oeuvres. Ghee is the preferred medium for frying pakoras, although you can use nut or vegetable oil.

The tradition of frying things in batter is popular throughout the culinary world. In Italy, there

Travelling West – Krishna Meditations

I’m packing for two weeks away from home, an extended visit to Western Australia for a batch of cookery classes on the far western shores of Australia. If you want to attend any of the classes, sorry, but all are totally booked out, except for one venue.

As I always do before big events, I like to meditate on the essence of life to keep me stable and focused. Allow me to share with you an excerpt from one of my favourite chapters of one of my favourite books. Hare Krishna.

“The brahmanas’ wives saw Krsna with a blackish complexion, wearing a garment that glittered like gold. He wore a nice garland of forest flowers and a peacock feather on His head. He was also painted with the minerals found in Vrndavana, and He looked exactly like a dancing actor on a theatrical stage.

Beautiful Krishna:

They saw Him resting one hand on the shoulder of His friend, and in His other hand He was holding a lotus flower. His ears were decorated with lilies, He wore marks of tilaka, and He was smiling charmingly.

With their very eyes the wives of the brahmanas saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead, of whom they had heard so much, who was so dear to them, and in whom their minds were always absorbed. Now they saw Him eye to eye and face to face, and Krsna entered within their hearts through their eyes…”

From Chapter 23 of ‘Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead’ by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.