Madjur Jaffrey has been writing about Indian food for many years. She was the first Indian TV chef in her native England and has graciously given us the benefit of her culinary talents in many books. Here she has deconstructed more complicated cuisine employing simpler techniques which still manages to produce delectable results. This is the book for Indian food lovers who want to cook inventive but easy recipes and save the more complex for dining out. Only a master could produce a book that delivers this ease and taste. A simple dish like South Indian Style Green Beans was superb with a grilled hangar steak. Her Chicken Baked with an Almond and Onion Sauce needed nothing more than brown basmati rice for a tempting main course. Jaffrey includes lots of tips and information, which answers most of your questions before you can even think of them. We tested her recipe for South Indian-Style Green Beans, which we loved because it packed lots of flavour for very little work. Try the recipe yourself here.
At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka by Madhur Jaffrey (Random House, $40)
Imported from Australia and jarred in syrup, these wild hibiscus buds are stunning as garnishes, desserts or even dropped into champagne flutes for some drama with your bubbly. $11, at fine retailers across the country, such as Pusateri’s, pusateris.com; Gourmet Warehouse, gourmetwarehouse.ca; La Maison d’Émilie, lamaisondemilie.com.
Sleek and contemporary, Alessi’s new La Stanza dello Scirocco basket appears to change shape from every angle. The architectural piece can act as a vessel for bread, fruit, flowers or even as a centrepiece. Available in black, white and silver. Alessi’s La Stanza dello Scirocco basket. $66-$141, bergo.ca.
The name alone makes PolyScience’s Smoking Gun worth buying, but if you love to experiment or crave that hot-off-the-grill flavour during our too-long winters, this gadget is a must-have. Use it to add a subtle smokiness to your favourite vegetables, cocktails, cheese or small pieces of fish. $145, williams-sonoma.ca.
I'm a big fan of hot sauce and this one from local food company Summer Kitchen is a new favourite. When I tasted the Ole! Chilean Hot Pepper Sauce last week I was blown away--and not just by the heat! It has that all-important spicy kick but what I really love about it is the intense fresh flavour. With a lot of hot sauces, the heat overpowers the rest of the ingredients but in this one they shine through. Based on the classic Chilean pebre, which is a spicy salsa, this is wonderful as a marinade for shrimp, chicken or beef and even makes a fabulous dipping sauce.