Workers sort grapes after picking from vines during the harvest at a vineyard outside the settlement of Zarkent, Uzbekistan September 20, 2018. — AFP pic
PARKENT (Uzbekistan), Dec 10 — As the warm, busy autumn becomes a distant memory and winter extends its grip over the Central Asian steppe, Uzbek grape farmer Abdumutal Yuldashev’s harvest is bottled up, bound for Russia.If once Yuldashev’s 15 hectares of land mostly yielded grapes for the table, now he and his small cohort of workers find themselves on the front lines of an ambitious state-led winemaking drive in the majority-Muslim country.This season his team harvested Bayan Shirei and Rkatsiteli grape varieties, native to the former Soviet countries of the Caucasus.But in the future, more internationally-renowned types such as Chardonnay and Cabernet could be the order of the day, if strongman President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s plan to overhaul the sector bears fruit.A decree published by the presidential office in February called for a 60-per cent increase in the state wine company’s wine exports by the end of 2021 from current levels.By then too, it also wants the area under cultivation by the company to have doubled.Mirziyoyev has pledged to unshackle Uzbekistan’s economy, weaning it off its dependence on commodities like the water-thirsty cotton crop that covers the country in swathes, while attracting foreign investors.The plan calls for the “organisation of cultivation of especially valuable industrial varieties of grape seedlings”, including those from France, Italy, Chile and the United States.However, industry experts have voiced reservations about Uzbekistan’s ability to become a maker of fine wines, while a wine festival organised in the capital, Tashkent, last month as part of the drive failed to pique public interest.That has not stopped 38-year-old private farmer Yuldashev from already thinking big.“I want to expand next season by renting some of these other fields,” he said, gesturing across a vista of vineyards stretching towards the foothills of the Parkent mountains, 80 kilometres from Tashkent.“It seems there is a lot of work ahead,” he told AFP.Far from Burgundy For now, local winemaking is still a far cry from the chateaux of Burgundy, and some exports are still limited to the early, unfinished stages in the winemaking process.Uzbekistan produces around 20 million litres of wine a year, compared to France’s more than four billion litres.At a plant near Yuldashev’s farm, a mostly female workforce dressed in white overalls watches over a conveyor belt turning out bottles of pressed grape juice, all of which will be sent to Russia for refinement.Gayrat Ashurov, the plant’s director, says 180 local farmers, including Yuldashev, bring their grapes to the factory.But tax breaks and other incentives for wine producers set out in the presidential decree are designed to phase out exports of raw wine and strengthen grape-to-glass operations.In addition to other former Soviet countries, Uzbekistan is eyeing markets in Europe and China.Vodka rather than wine Nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Uzbeks are still more likely to drink vodka than wine, while Islam’s growing role in society is a threat to both.Yet, promoting wine domestically is important for any country with export ambitions, according to industry experts.“It is sometimes difficult to sell abroad if you can’t show that the stuff is popular at home,” said Kym Anderson, executive director of the Wine Economics Research Centre, at the University of Adelaide.Climate will be another potential hurdle, he said, as Uzbekistan sees more extremes than traditional winegrowing countries, including the ex-Soviet bloc’s most well-known producer, Georgia.Last year, Yuldashev told AFP, he was forced to bury his vines as deep frosts gripped the region, a practice Anderson says raises labour costs while risking long-term damage to the plants.In the summer meanwhile, “temperatures above mid-40s can damage grapes if not shaded appropriately by the leaf canopy,” Anderson added.Two hits to output While winemaking in Uzbekistan has a long history, it was only introduced on an industrial scale in the 19th century during the Russian imperial period.The first winery was founded in 1868 by Russian merchant Dmitry Filatov.But after wine — mostly in its fortified form — emerged as a relative staple of Uzbek production during the Soviet era, output took two massive hits.Firstly came the anti-alcohol campaign of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s that attacked the production of spirits across the Soviet Union.Then independence and the economic straitjacket that defined Uzbekistan under Mirziyoyev’s long-presiding predecessor and mentor Islam Karimov further compounded the downturn.Analysts are so far unsure whether the top-down production drive can establish Uzbekistan as a new force in a relatively crowded international wine market.Tom Whittington, of London-based Cult Wines fine wine investment firm, questioned what niche the country would find.“Uzbek wine, at least in the short term, will not compete with established fine wine from the old and new world,” he said. — AFP [...]
Sagoo Dosa is one of the items currently being tested before it will be introduced in MTR 1924 Malaysia. – Pictures by Lee Khang Yi
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Today, MTR 1924 celebrates a milestone... their first year anniversary in Malaysia.Since they opened in Brickfields, the legendary restaurant from Bangalore has opened our eyes (and tastebuds) to the wonders of dosa.Who can forget that first bite? Crispy. Fluffy. And of course, that fragrant ghee you drizzle over the fermented mixed grains and pulses dosa. Sublime!
Enjoy a hot Rava Idli made with roasted semolina for a light, tasty meal
The history of MTR, or Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, goes back to 1924 in Bangalore. Set up by three brothers, the restaurant has been feeding Bangalore natives their delicious vegetarian fare.It's now run by the third generation of the family. In 2013, the restaurant started to expand overseas, starting with Singapore. In Malaysia, they granted the license to Culin Ventures run by a group of Bangalore natives and local partners.Adarsh Srinivas, a director of Culin Ventures that manages MTR 1924 here, tells us that diners during this weekend can also experience elaborate thali meals. There will also be special desserts to sweeten your experience here.Diehard MTR fans will be happy to hear that new dishes are coming their way. Adarsh explained that even though MTR's original menu hasn't changed much for the last 90 years, they are now open to some tweaking and new dishes.
Oh my Puri! These soft, puffy breads are so delicious, you'll definitely want seconds
For instance, the Pudi Dosa, which was introduced in Singapore with much success has now been adopted in Bangalore. When it comes to bringing in new dishes, they take their time. "We do extensive research and testing of new dishes before we introduce them," explained Adarsh.Currently they are testing the Sagoo Dosa, a Bangalore specialty, which we had a chance to sample. A variation of their popular plain dosa, this contains a dollop of sagoo inside. It's a nice, creamy surprise with the chopped carrots and long beans.There's also their Pudina Rice. Adarsh explained to us that the fragrant rice dotted with mint leaves is usually found in a lot of South Indian homes. Eat this with a side of cool raita made with yoghurt, chillies and onions.
For different items, you will be served an assortment of chutneys like the tomato chutney, white coconut chutney, green chutney and lentil sambar
The Pudi Dosa didn't start out in Bangalore, as it was first introduced in Singapore. After it was successful, MTR started to feature it in their Bangalore eateries
Sweets lovers can also look forward to new treats like the fudge-like Mysore Pak which is made from ghee, sugar and gram flour or besan.They have also introduced two new refreshing soda drinks to the menu. The Masala Soda is very much an acquired taste with its peppery kick. For the faint hearted, maybe you can try the sweet Lemon Soda. There's also a salty variant, an unusual taste but it helps clear the palate well.Even with their existing menu items, the management works closely with their master chef to test things out all the time to make sure it's up to their standards.
For a peppery kick, try the Masala Soda (left). If you want a cool quencher, try the Lemon Soda that has two variants, sweet or salty (right)
Adarsh explained that this is part of adapting to a new country's offerings since there'll always be quality differences in rice flour and wheat flour. The different water and weather can also affect the cooking process.Since they opened, Adarsh also shared that it's been a fascinating experience. "Malaysia has welcomed us with open arms and we are extremely overwhelmed by the support MTR has received."High on his list of memorable experiences was when a 75-year-old woman visited them and told them she first visited MTR in Bangalore when she was 7! "She was very emotional when she said the food was exactly the same. It was a very proud day for us!"
Pudina Rice is one of the new dishes that MTR plans to introduce once testing is completed
And of course, one of the experiences include explaining to local diners why their dosa is different, since they are used to a another version here."Our dosas are crisp outside, soft inside, multigrain and thicker! So that was a challenge." He is also amazed how some locals can also differentiate a good dosa from the ordinary ones once they taste the MTR version. Usually, they are curious enough to ask why.And if you're looking for another MTR 1924 Malaysia outlet to get your dosa fix, you may have to wait another nine to 12 months more.
Gulab Jamun is one of the desserts offered here together with their Badam Halwa (left). To end a delicious meal here, order a cup of their brewed coffee that is served with a frothy fresh milk top (right)
Adarsh says they're still working on opening another outlet. Who knows, it could even be in Penang as Adarsh revealed that some of their customers come all the way from there!MTR 1924 Malaysia69, Jalan Thambipillay, Brickfields, Kuala LumpurOpen: 8am to 3.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pmhttps://www.facebook.com/mtr1924malaysia/ [...]
Sinfully good slow cooker devil curry
Are you experiencing a sense of déjà vu with this slow cooker devil curry recipe? Well, there’s a good reason why. If you’ve been a loyal follower of Butterkicap since our very beginning (or at least since December last year), you may have come across a recipe for the heritage Eurasian dish, devil curry. It is, admittedly not one of the nation’s more popular curries, with fish head curry, chicken curry and even Thai green curry edging out this humble curry by miles. But it is one with a long (if vague) history in Malaysia, with roots going back to the arrival of the Portuguese merchant ships sometime in the 1500s. Assuming it took some years to come about while the Portuguese settled among the Nyonya community in particular, this dish could very well be over 400 years old!
Compared to that, the slow cooker (or crock pot as it is also known as) is just a baby, patented in 1940 by its creator, Irving Nachumsohn. However, it was only in the 1970s that the slow cooker became truly popular, with an enthusiastic renewed interest occurring in recent years, and for good reason.
Slow cooker cooking is generally quite fuss free, requiring little to no attention once all your ingredients are in the pot. There’s no need to slave over a stove, tirelessly stirring away to ensure your food doesn’t burn. It can be left to its own devices while you sleep, go to work, head out for a movie, do a school run, and so on. The lower cooking temperatures are also believed to retain more nutrients compared to ingredients exposed to quick but higher cooking temperatures, making your meals generally more nutritious.
Most recipes also benefit from the slow cooking method as the longer cooking time allows richer, bolder flavours to develop. Meals like soup and curry, which always tastes better the next day, are extra tasty when made with a slow cooker. We’ve been very happy campers with the various slow cooker curries we’ve made in our Kitchen Lab, and knew we had to take it to task and try making slow cooker devil curry, which requires some cooking time with minimal stirring – the perfect candidate!
The devil is in the details
Slow cooker devil curry, while spicy, is not the typical kind of curry you may be familiar with. For one thing, no curry powder or curry leaves are used in the making of this heritage Eurasian dish. You have to cook everything from scratch as you’re not going to find a devil curry powder mix available at your local supermarket. At least not yet.
To be fair, if you want to be really authentic with your curry, curry powder – be they for meat, chicken, vegetables or fish – can (and perhaps should) be made from scratch. However, you do have to be a bit of a spice expert and be willing to take the time to roast, grind and then mix the various spices for the different curries.
Making devil curry from scratch, on the other hand, is easy. It may seem deceptively complex and intimidating at first, especially when you come face to face with its whopping list of 20-something ingredients. But when you actually get down to the cooking, especially for slow cooker devil curry, you may just be gobsmacked by how simple it is to actually make. And because it requires so little fuss, we may never go back to cooking devil curry over a stove again!
Curious? Let’s go make some.
1.5kg chicken pieces, about 8-10 thighs, drumsticks, breasts or your favourite cuts
3g (1 tsp) mustard seeds
370g (4 medium) potatoes, peeled & quartered
300 ml water
125g (1 large) red onion, cut into 6 segments
40g (2) red chilies, cut into 3
20g sea salt
80g distilled white vinegar
50g cooking oil
90g garlic cloves, peeled
125g shallots, peeled
14g (2 stalks) lemongrass, white parts only
24g ginger, peeled & cut small
6g turmeric, cut small
10g galangal, cut small
78g rehydrated dried chilies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes (weight is after rehydration)
110g fresh chilies
70g cooking oil
Ten easy steps to making slow cooker devil curry
Blend all aromatic ingredients until fine. Add a little water to aid in the blending process if necessary. You can also use a food processor.
Blend all aromatic ingredients, including the cooking oil
Set your slow cooker to the sauté/sear function and add 50g cooking oil.
Next, add mustard seeds and let them cook until they start popping. You’ll notice this starts happening when the slow cooker reaches the “maintain pressure” setting.
Add cooking oil and mustard seeds
Add blended aromatics and sauté, stirring occasionally until it starts browning on the bottom, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Sauté aromatic ingredients
Add chicken pieces and stir until evenly coated.
Add chicken pieces
Then, add potatoes and stir through.
Potatoes go in next
Finally, add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a good stir.
Add the rest of the ingredients
Cover and set your cooker on high temperature for 3 hours.
Once the cooking period is over, taste for salt, sugar and vinegar and make adjustments if necessary. Don’t know if your curry has enough vinegar? The curry should taste pleasantly sour, but not overwhelm you with vinegary fumes.
That’s it! Serve with rice or bread. Yum!
That’s some good looking slow cooker devil curry
When cooked over the stove top, we typically use a whole chicken cut into small pieces to ensure they cook faster and more evenly. However, as we’re using the slow cooker, larger chicken cuts are perfect. However, make sure to include some bony pieces for extra flavour.
Like it extra spicy? Up the rehydrated and fresh chilies in the aromatic ingredients.
The Philips all-in-one cooker comes with a nifty sauté/sear function which we used to sauté our aromatics. If your slow cooker doesn’t have t [...]
Everyone deserves a second chance in life, says Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar. Even those in prison, she believes.
Speaking at the launch of the Beauty Behind The Wall programme at Bentong Prison in Pahang, Tunku Azizah reminded everyone of their social responsibility to ensure that all prison inmates – not just those in Bentong – are given a chance to redeem themselves in life.
One of the best rehabilitation efforts, Tunku Azizah believes, is teaching inmates skills that not only generate income for the prison while they are there, but also that they can use to make a living upon release.
Bentong Prison already has a successful cottage industry where the inmates make and sell traditional Pahang-style woven products.
Now, Tunku Azizah has collaborated with Resorts World Genting, in particular its executive chef Alex Vitalise, to come up with food items that can be produced in the prison by the female inmates, and then sold outside.
“Alex chose the recipes for the Rendang Betawi and asam pedas pastes from my cookbook. I think they are good choices. The pastes can be used to make a variety of dishes,” Tunku Azizah shared.
Tunku Azizah’s cookbook Air Tangan Tengku Puan Pahang – Masakan Tradisional Pahang has recipes for many traditional dishes from the east coast state, but Vitalise prefers to incorporate the pastes in Western dishes.
During a cooking demonstration at the prison, Vitalise made, among other dishes, spaghetti with prawn rendang, asam pedas quesadilla, lamb rendang stew and asam pedas brisket using the pastes.
“It wasn’t difficult to come up with the recipes that use the pastes. We haven’t introduced these dishes in the menus at our restaurants but we could work something out,” said Vitalise who has been with Resorts World Genting for 10 years and currently oversees a team of 160 kitchen staff.
“And it won’t be difficult for the inmates to make the pastes as they require simple ingredients and there aren’t any complicated cooking techniques,” Vitalise added.
Tunku Azizah also said that Vitalise and other Genting chefs will teach the inmates how to create the pastes in large quantities and package them.
“We will ensure that they use good quality ingredients to produce the pastes, and that the packaging is done in a sterile environment,” said Tunku Azizah.
The pastes are scheduled to go on sale during Hari Raya Aidilfitri next year, and will be made available at local markets and bazaars in Bentong.
Use this rendang paste in a variety of dishes.
CLASSIC RENDANG BETAWI PASTE
60g shallot, coarsely chopped
30g long fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
3 red cili padi, seeded and finely chopped
3 lemongrass, bruised
30g garlic, crushed
20ml tamarind puree
2tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2tsp ground coriander
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp turmeric powder
10g kaffir lime leaves
20g turmeric leaves
250g fresh grated coconut, dry-roasted and pounded to make kerisik
1 litre coconut milk (santan)
Salt and sugar, to taste
To make paste
Using a mixer, blend all the ingredients to form a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a large wok and saute the paste on low heat until the oil rises (pecah minyak). Add the kaffir lime and turmeric leaves, kerisik and santan. Simmer until the paste reaches a thick consistency.
Can be used to cook chicken, duck, beef and lamb dishes. [...]
Seremban choice: (Clockwise from top left) Soup beef noodle, sotong mee, regular beef noodles and cendol. Malaysians are fortunate to have such wonderful variety, says award-winning chef Emmanuel Stroobant. — File pic
KOTA TINGGI, Dec 10 — A renowned world chef drives 60 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur to Seremban just to have his favourite Malaysian dish, beef noodle, which he says, has the finest taste among many Malaysian dishes.Despite his vast experience in cooking excellent dishes and with lots of titles under his belt, the humble chef Emmanuel Stroobant still enjoys and believes in local Malaysian dishes.The Relais & Chateux’s award-winning Michelin Grand Chef said Malaysians are very fortunate to have such wonderful traditional recipes from all walks of life and races, where some of it can be enjoyed together.However, he said the current trend that saw no more people talking at dining tables has become a concern for him.“I see a lot of people, mostly younger generation, they don’t even talk anymore. They are on their phone all the time, that also include my children. What I would like to bring back (through my cooking) is the spirit of sharing and by bringing food to table, people will start talking about it.“If we stop talking at the dining table, we may lose our recipes and our culture, (a reminder) for me and my fellow Malaysians, that is what we want to preserve,” said the culinary connoisseur to Bernama in an interview here recently.Stroobant, who is also the father of three children, was here recently for the Desaru Coast Gourmet Series, where he presented iconic flavours of Malaysian cuisine through his own interpretation, using his vast experiences while living in Asia for a couple of years, including Malaysia.“It is about how creative can we be without changing the roots of the dishes itself so we don’t want to create a new dish but we want to see how we can do something different with it without changing its nature,” said the Belgian.During the first gourmet series, visitors were presented with a selection of exquisite food, from a different presentation of Nasi Kerabu and braised short ribs which was inspired from local beef rendang.Meanwhile, Desaru Development One Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Roslina Arbak said the gourmet series by chef Stroobant was the first from a six series dining programme, planned in coming months.“Being a multiracial country, Malaysians are known for their food and diverse cultures and our multi-ethnic diversity gives us a continuous fusion of colourful flavours.“The Desaru Coast Gourmet Series is purposefully designed and curated to promote the beauty of Malaysian diversity through our prestige cuisines,” she said. — Bernama [...]
Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai, China. — Picture courtesy of Scott Wright of Limelight Studio via AFP
HONG KONG, Dec 6 — Hot on the heels of the French gastronomy event La Liste, which was held in Paris this week, comes the launch of another dining guide which claims to base their winners on AI, this time for cities across Asia.Online travel index and directory TravelIndex launched a restaurant ranking for five cities in Asia Pacific: Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Delhi.For the Mastercard Affluent Dining Guide, ratings and rankings are based on AI and “natural language processing technology” and re-assessed by a panel of top culinary experts. The final list takes into consideration factors like décor, ambience, service, quality of ingredients, cooking techniques, the personality of chefs, value for money and overall consistency.The concept is not far from La Liste, launched in 2015 as an algorithm-based ranking that aggregates reviews and scores from hundreds of guidebooks around the world.Meanwhile, a scan of the top-ranked restaurants on the Mastercard lists for cities in Asia reveals an eyebrow-raising trend: With the exception of Delhi, all the chart-toppers are restaurants that serve European cuisine, be it French or Italian.Here are the chart-toppers for each city Shanghai: Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, chef Paul Pairet (cuisine is progressive European)Hong Kong: 81/2 Otto e Mezzo, chef Umberto Bombana (Italian)Singapore: Odette, chef Julien Royer (French)Delhi: Indian Accent, chef Manish Mehrotra (progressive Indian)Bangkok: Mezzaluna, chef Ryuki Kawasaki (progressive European)For the full list of top 25 restaurants in each city, click here. https://www.top25restaurants.com/asia/ — AFP-Relaxnewes [...]
To produce foie gras, ducks and geese are force-fed over a period of days by having metal pipes pushed down their throats so grain and fat can be pumped into their stomachs. — Shutterstock pic via AFP
LOS ANGELES, Dec 8 — Amazon.com Inc has agreed not to sell foie gras in California from birds that have been force fed and pay US$100,000 (RM416,333) in penalties and costs as part of a lawsuit settlement, a prosecutor said yesterday.The lawsuit filed by prosecutors in Los Angeles, Monterey and Santa Clara counties accused the world’s largest online retailer of violating a 2004 state law banning sales of the fatty duck and goose liver if it was produced by force-feeding poultry.A judge approved the settlement on Thursday between Amazon and the three prosecutors, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.Amazon declined comment.To produce foie gras, ducks and geese are force-fed over a period of days by having metal pipes pushed down their throats so grain and fat can be pumped into their stomachs. Prosecutors said the process was cruel and painful.Prosecutors contacted Amazon several years ago regarding their concerns and the company took step to stop foie gras sales. As the parties were in negotiations, the foie gras industry launched a lawsuit against California’s ban and a US court blocked it in 2015.A federal appeals court overturned that ruling in 2017 and said the state was free to enforce it. North American foie gras producers have now asked the US Supreme Court to take up their case. — Reuters [...]
December is the month when people spend the most money, especially in the West. Of course this is due to Christmas and the New Year festivities, where it is common to have restaurants charge ridiculous prices for New Year’s Eve dinners. A restaurateur in Berlin once admitted making more money on New Year’s Eve than on any other night of the year.
We are continually influenced in our purchasing decisions by the media and this time of the year is no different. Yummy family feasts now feature regularly on our TVs, along with suggestions that Christmas is incomplete without kilos of foie gras, trendy toys, expensive scents, etc. The power of influence was demonstrated recently by a discount shoe shop ini a funny prank to promote shoes by a fake designer called “Bruno Palessi”. A large group of popular social media “influencers” were fooled into buying US$20 shoes for up to US$640 while taking selfies of themselves. I find it both funny and curious that people with such poor judgment actually have the power to “influence” their followers.
Influence, and what it means
It has often been suggested that influence is a way of tapping into people’s aspirations; that seeing models in cool clothes or driving fancy cars is somehow an uplifting, positive, motivational experience. In reality, research suggests quite the opposite, that influence is used primarily to promote denialism, a factually-insufficient, yet self-affirming, usually subconscious reaction to things which invoke an emotional response. Oddly, the result of denialism is often a motivation to do something contrary to the real facts, and one common outcome is that we end up consuming things we do not need. The mechanics behind denialism are explained in this article.
Scientific studies are also another way to influence consumer behaviour – but not all such studies are credible, and especially not after they have been reported by the media. I read a lot of papers about food and it is not uncommon to come across items which make me blink in disbelief. So following is a selection of annually recurring “studies” I found amusing.
It has often been claimed that pizza is the most addictive food known to man, and can affect the brain like narcotics.
The original research was based on 120 undergraduates at the University of Michigan, whose diet consisted mainly of junk food. The financial status of these students was not known but they were probably not affluent or they would not have signed up for such studies and be eating proper food instead. Results indicated that only 7% of the subjects actually met the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) criteria for addictive behaviour although oddly, 92% said they were addicted. A follow-up study involving 398 people in another paid US survey found 10% of the subjects had addiction issues, according to the YFAS, but again 92% claimed they were addicted to fast food, including pizza.
The fact that junk and processed foods are extremely attractive to eat should not be surprising considering the many billions spent each year on making such food irresistible to humans. This has been discussed in this article and pizza probably ranks highly in the studies because it was the easiest fast food to order for US-based junk-loving subjects. Also, 65% of all humans (and up to 90% of Chinese) are lactose-intolerant so this is another giveaway pizza cannot possibly be the “most addictive food known to man”.
Drinking red wine is the same as exercising
Despite wanting to believe it, the truth is drinking red wine is not even close to being the same as exercising. This story stemmed from a University of Alberta paper by Dr Jason Dyck in the Journal of Physiology which actually had not studied red wine at all. His study investigated a compound called resveratrol found in some fruits, nuts and also red wine – and concluded that resveratrol could enhance the benefits of exercise for people restricted from normal physical activity, such as people with severe cardiac problems. Dr Dyck did helpfully suggest that if you need wine resveratrol in similar amounts as the study, then you need to drink between 100 and 1,000 bottles of wine a day.
Drinking WHILE exercising? Wow, double points! Or not.
There are a couple of other facts about wine. It is a calorific drink, and the calories should not be underestimated. I drink at least half a bottle of red wine every day, which equates to 325 calories or more, so exercise is required daily (which my dog helpfully obliges me to do). The other fact is a large-scale study this year summarised 592 other studies (covering 28 million people from many countries) and concluded that alcohol is a leading global cause of mortality and illness, and there are no safe limits for alcohol consumption. Oops.
Women are more open to romance when full
This story arose from a US paper titled, “Response to romantic cues is dependent on hunger state and dieting history: An fMRI pilot study”. The interesting bit is the use of fMRI or “functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging” to explore the brains of women – but everything else is not so interesting. Still, it was funny to read. Basically, a small group of 20 young women were directed to fast and then eat food until they stated in a questionnaire that they were full. At various random intervals between fasting and being full, they were subjected to tests involving viewing pictures of romantic human interactions and neutral pictures such as cars, staplers, trees and bowling balls while their brains were being scanned by a fMRI machine.
The main finding is the 20 young women were more stimulated by romantic pictures after they had eaten well and did not exhibit any changed reactions to the neutral pictures. The other finding is that women who have a history of dieting were even more responsive after eating. So the study is saying that some young women find staplers and bowling balls as uninteresting before or [...]
Get The Sunday Star paper on Dec 9 for your 30% discount coupon on these cookbooks. Look for it in Star2.
All About Cake
Author: Christina Tosi
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
I’ve watched enough episodes of MasterChef US to know that judge Christina Tosi is the go-to person for pastry in all its permutations. What I didn’t know – and found out in this cookbook – is that Tosi never liked cakes as a child (oh, the sacrilege)! In fact, she spent most of her career avoiding making cakes because she thought they were bland and more of a “frosting party”.
Things changed when Tosi challenged herself to make interesting cakes. She hasn’t looked back since, and this cookbook is an ode to that, featuring all sorts of enlightening recipes like key lime pie cupcakes, cheat recipes like mint chocolate chip molten microwave mug cake, apple cider doughnut crock-pot pudding, and recipes that made her famous (and inspired international copycat editions) like strawberry-lemon layer cake and popcorn layer cake.
Although some recipes require a fair amount of specialist equipment and multiple steps, the good news is that there are also recipes that look fairly simple and unintimidating. My advice? Start with the least intimidating options and work your way towards Tosi-style triumph.
A Common Table
Author: Cynthia Chen McTernan
Publisher: Rodale Books
A Common Table is telling of how quickly social norms can evolve. Consider this: Until 1967, miscegenation (intermarriage between two people from different ethnic groups) was illegal in the United States. Fast forward to the 21st century and interracial marriages are incredibly common. And nowhere is this intermingling of cultures more evident than in the food scene.
In this cookbook, author Cynthia Chen McTernan, a Harvard Law trained lawyer and Saveur-award winning author of the Two Bowls blog fluidly melds her Chinese heritage with culinary influences from her Korean-Irish husband. While this might sound like too much packed into one book, the recipes are strangely appealing.
Everything from barter-worthy spam musubi, almost grandma Ha’s kimchi pancakes, bulgogi burgers and kimchi egg and cheese are nothing short of delightful, the sort of fare that though foreign is likely to get you to test it out at home.
Another factor working in the book’s favour is Chen’s sheer charm – her recipes are peppered with lovely, family-centric tales that draw you deeper into her fascinating culinary adventures. So hop onboard and enjoy the curious – but ultimately rewarding – twists and turns this cookbook serves up.
Cook Like A Pro
Author: Ina Garten
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Ina Garten’s popular Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, you’ll understand why she’s developed such a huge following. Garten is known for her gentrified manners and for making cooking seem incredibly easy, even for terrified neophytes.
In her latest cookbook, Garten once again comes to the rescue of home cooks, offering an arsenal of tried-and-tested tips, tricks and advice (how to tell if meat is cooked, how a cauliflower should be cut) designed to ease frayed nerves and make cooking completely stress-free.
Here, you’ll find an array of simple, flavour-packed recipes, from interesting-sounding creations like cauliflower toasts and lemon ricotta pancakes to lighter fare like tricolour salad with oranges. All the ingredients are accessible and readily available, which is in keeping with Garten’s worry-free approach.
If a cookbook that delivers results time and time again is what you’re after, Garten’s latest will not disappoint.
Let’s Eat France!
Author: Francois-Regis Gaudry & Friends
In his introduction, author Francois-Regis Gaudry describes just how heavy this book is (it weighs a whopping 3.1kg!) but sore arms are a small price to pay for this incredibly informative repository of everything there is to know about French cuisine.
The book is peppered with engrossing tidbits that make up the heart and soul of French food, from the history of hippophagy (the consumption of horse meat) to wild boar consumption, introductions to breads and cheese in France, profiles on food personalities like Julia Child and Alain Passard as well as recipes for various dishes like pot-au-feu, sausage rougail and French pear tart.
There’s literally nothing that has NOT been covered about French cuisine; the only real difficulty is in finding the time to devour every bit of information the book has to offer (no mean feat given that it is 430 pages and huge). But if you’re a Francophile or just someone who wants to sharpen your knowledge of French cuisine, this voluptuous tome will be just up your alley.
Author: Donna Hay
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Australian celebrity chef Donna Hay’s magical streak continues with her latest cookbook, Modern Baking, which is chock full of enchanting cakes, cookies, truffles, pies and other sweets designed to tempt and lure. And oh, how they will! Because trust me, you will be under Hay’s spell from the very first page, as you salivate over recipes like peach, honey and vanilla pie; tiramisu cheesecake; chocolate salted caramel cookies; and burnt butter and salted maple sticky buns.
Everything is beautifully photographed and so delectable to look at that you’ll find it near impossible to stop yourself from heading to the kitchen to see if you have all the ingredients to whip up a quick whisky-frosted brownie cake (how yummy does that sound?).
Hay’s recipes are written with her usual precision and simplicity – ingredients won’t boggle you and processes won’t overwhelm you with complexity. And whether you like your desserts full-bodied or light, there’s something in here you’re bound to want to whip up.
In the end, you’ll find yourself falling in love with nearly everything in [...]