Cooking notes

Cooking notes

By
Greg Malouf, Lucy Malouf
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740667678
Photographer
William Meppem

Special equipment

Very few of us have the perfect kitchen and a complete batterie de cuisine, and yet we manage to cook and feed ourselves and our families very satisfactorily most days of the week. The recipes in this book are intended for the average cook, not superchefs, and for the most part can be made with the normal range of pots, pans, mixing bowls, baking tins, knives and wooden spoons.

Having said this, there are a few items of equipment that make life much easier, especially when cooking Middle Eastern recipes. Top of our list of essential items are a mortar and pestle. These are inexpensive and widely available from kitchen stores and Chinese supermarkets. They are indispensable when it comes to pounding and grinding nuts, seeds and spices. We also have a small coffee grinder, used for whizzing up larger quantities.

Also inexpensive and in constant use is our set of measuring cups and spoons. These are useful for measuring liquids and for ingredients which are measured by volume rather than weight. We have as well a set of electronic scales which conveniently weigh in metric and imperial. We discuss measurement and conversion ratios more fully in the next section.

It is a rare kitchen these days which has neither an electric mixer (we have a Kenwood) nor a food processor, and our recipes make use of both of these machines. Several dishes are also made much easier with a deep-fryer. However, we do not possess one and improvise quite successfully using a small saucepan or a wok for deep and semi-deep frying.

Moving further up the expense scale, there are several recipes in this book for ice-cream, and we are of the firm view that an ice-cream machine is essential for making the desired, velvet-smooth, light and creamy product. The freeze-beat-freeze-beat method will make an acceptable ice-cream, but it tends to be hard and dense by comparison with ice-cream made in a machine. If you love ice-creams and sorbets then you should do your best to buy, beg, borrow or steal a machine!

Measurements

The recipes in this book were devised, tested and written in metric and will, in our view, work best if cooked according to the given measurements. Translating back to imperial is tedious and, as the future way of the world is undoubtedly metric, we urge you to try and get used to working in metric measurements – it really is simple.

We weigh dry ingredients, like flour, sugar and butter by grams. Small quantities of spices, however, we measure in teaspoons and tablespoons. Our set of spoons ranges from 1/4 teaspoon to a tablespoon and is in constant use. One irritating and baffling fact is that American and English tablespoons are 15 ml, while Australian tablespoons are 20 ml. For the record, we use the American/English system, but are of the firm opinion that, for our recipes, the difference of 5 ml here or there is negligible.

Some items fall through the cracks when it comes to measuring. How do you give a precise measurement for a quantity of fresh herbs, for instance? Although we believe that the use of flavourings such as herbs and spices should be adjusted to the taste of the eater, for the purposes of our recipes we measure them by volume. Every bunch is a different size, depending where it is purchased, and weighing a few sprigs of parsley is surely taking things too far. In this book, then, fresh herbs are called for by the tablespoon or cup.

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