Apples for Jam, Tessa Kiros

Apples for Jam is a book that gets under your skin. It beckons you, and seduces you to pick it up. The first time I saw it, I reluctantly put it back down. The over $40 price tag was hefty, and I decided I could live without it. It wasn't 24 hours later that I was back at the store and handing over my credit card.

Feeding a family is about stitching all the bits together on a steady thread -- between the tuck shop, your knowledge of nutrition, your own family's tastes, your capacity and how much you can give -- and still leaving some space for spontaneity and the will of nature. And all this should still have the grace and honesty of a daisy chain.

Tessa Kiros focuses Apples for Jam on food for families. The gorgeously designed book bounces between stories from the author's life, gorgeous photos of her family, and over 200 recipes.

The recipes are arranged in chapters by color which leads to very interesting browsing. Is banana bread brown? It's actually monochrome according to Kiros. What could possibly be in a pink chapter? Beetroot gnocchi, baked ham and cheese bread pudding, penne with prawns, cream and tomato, and tiny cakes with pink icing.

All of Kiros' recipes have a casual, conversational tone, as you'll see from the recipe below. Reading through it, I get the feeling that the recipes aren't as much hard-and-fast rules as they are suggestions for one method.

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To the seasoned cook, some of the recipes seem so basic that it's humorous. "Pasta in chicken broth" involves throwing tiny pasta into chicken broth, boiling till cooked, and topping with parmesan cheese. But Kiros entertains as she instructs, and her guidance to "drop pasta into boiling broth while shouting for everyone to get their hands washed and be seated," for instance, keeps me reading through the most basic of recipes.

It's a difficult book to get. I happened upon it at The Cook's Library, a fantastic independent bookstore in Los Angeles. You can get it from Amazon via a third-party seller, but it's not currently widely available in the United States. It's published by Murdoch Books, which is a publisher for Australia and the UK, so it should be available easily there.

Greek Yoghurt with Condensed Milk & Oranges

2 whole oranges or blood oranges
100 ml (3.5 fl oz) sweetened condensed milk
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 small orange
300 g (10.5 oz) Greek-style natural yoghurt

The base of this recipe was given to me -- thank you, Ioanna. I added the oranges, but you might like to add another fruit. I sometimes use blood oranges, sometimes ordinary. Whatever sort you use, make sure they are sweet as sweet. You could actually serve this with any other fruit you like, keeping the orange juice and rind for mixing into the yoghurt, and then draping this over any other cut fruit -- bananas, mangoes, plums would be beautiful ...

Use a small sharp knife to cut away the skin of the oranges, leaving no pith. Slice the oranges into substantial wheels, maybe 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick, and then halve those. Put the cut slices in a bowl to collect their juice. If you don't think they're very sweet, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of sugar over them.

Put the condensed milk, half of the orange rind and 4 tablespoons of the orange juice in a jug (you can drink the rest of the orange juice). Slowly mix this into the yoghurt, bit by bit. Cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours until it has set to a very soft and creamy pudding. Serve a few orange slices with a dollop of the yoghurt, some juice dribbled over the top and a tiny hill of left-over ride, just for extra colour.

Serves 4

Recipe from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, published by Murdoch Books.

Other books by Tessa Kiros:

Falling Cloudberries
Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book

Tessa Kiros in the Blogosphere:

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Who Wants Seconds: A Conversation with Tessa Kiros

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