A Kitchen In The Valley.
A Kitchen In The Valley. CONTRIBUTED

Tassie produce a secret ingredient

A KITCHEN In The Valley from Sally Wise is as much a celebration of country living, history and produce in Tasmania as wholesome, tasty home cooking.

Not every recipe comes with a stylised photograph of what the end result is supposed to look like, as many other cookbooks boast.

Instead, Wise has created a cook's travelogue of seasons, produce and farm life that would be just at home on the coffee table as on the pantry bookshelf.

Having only revisited Tasmania in the past year, memories of foggy mornings, wild coastlines with soaring seaspray, contented animals and farmhouses and sheds with age and character were still vivid in my mind as I began flicking through the cookbook's contents.

But as well as the pictorial splendour of her beloved new home in the Derwent Valley in Molesworth, the beauty of her cookbook lies in the mouth-watering farm/paddock/river-fresh ingredients brought together to create something special in everyday situations.

Somehow, despite the quality of ingredients and best-farming practices, each recipe to me is like naughty "comfort food" - the type of offering you'd whip up while in your ugg boots, dressing gown and PJs as the rain falls outside the kitchen window on a Sunday morning.

The author of more than 10 cookbooks, Wise is used to cooking up feasts in her country kitchen, although some of those kitchens left a lot to be desired in the early days.

Her "spirit of hospitality" stems from a childhood spent observing the kitchens of her grandmothers and great-aunts" that were always "bustling with activity and cheeriness" and where all who passed through them - tradesmen, neighbours, family and friends - were fed and made to feel welcome.

So this is the starting point to her cooking philosophy.

In A Kitchen In The Valley, she has organised more than 100 recipes simply into chapters for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Afternoon Tea and Dessert.

The recipes conjure up images of a life where the large family still hovers around benches and stoves for a tiny taste, and gathers together at the dining table for meals and teas served from kitchen-gloved hands holding steaming-hot casserole dishes or fresh-out-of-the-oven muffins and scones in baskets lined with red-and-white-checked tea towels.

From my late dad's favourite Bubble and Squeak and French toast (although this time with smoked salmon and balsamic roasted tomatoes), to ranchers' eggs and bircher muesli, Wise had me at breakfast.

Lunch is a symphony of delicious-sounding dishes that are light but filling, such as creamed salmon crepes, antipasto pull-apart bread, seafood chowder with smoked mussels, spiced pumpkin soup with coconut cream, and curried lamb parcels.

Dinner has plenty of depth with Australian and international favourites bolstered with a few tasty twists.

As a seafood lover, tempura flathead with ginger sauce caught my eye for its simplicity.

The triple-porked braise in the cassoulet would warm any cold winter's day. Tikka chicken with mint chutney and naan makes for a substantial meal for the family.

Even cauliflower pasta bake gets a lift with the addition of free-range chicken or duck eggs for added flavour.

Afternoon tea and desserts range from the ever-popular sausage rolls to rum and raisin ice cream, raspberries and cream cheesecake slice to pumpkin date scones, finger sandwiches to boysenberry and apple shortcake to create an impressive high tea or simply tide over grumbling tummies until tea-time.

But as I'm not much of a sweet tooth, myself, I'll leave some of those recipes to the men who have hijacked my kitchen to try.


Spiced Pork with Cider Sauce from A Kitchen In The Valley.
Spiced Pork with Cider Sauce from A Kitchen In The Valley. CONTRIBUTED

Spiced Pork with Cider Sauce

When making this dish, use free-range pork and a good-quality apple cider.

Serves 6-8

For the spice rub:

3 teaspoons ground coriander

3 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground fennel

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

For the pork:

3kg leg of pork, approximately

vegetable oil for cooking

2 carrots, cut into 1cm dice

1 stick celery, cut into 1cm dice

1 onion, cut into 1cm dice

1/2 cup dry or medium-dry cider

⅓ cup tomato sauce

375ml chicken stock

2 teaspoons quince or redcurrant jelly (or 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoons cold water


Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Mix all the rub ingredients together. Brush the pork rind with the oil and then sprinkle over the spice rub and massage into the surface.

Place the diced vegetables in a roasting pan, then place the prepared pork on top.

Mix together the cider and tomato sauce and pour around the pork.

Bake for TWO hours or until the pork is tender and the crackling crisp. Check from time to time that the liquid in the dish is not getting low - if it is, top up to a depth of 8mm with water or chicken stock.

When cooked, remove pork from the pan and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.

If the crackling isn't crisp by this time, remove and scrape the fat from the back of the rind. Place on a plate between TWO sheets of paper towel and microwave on high in 30-second bursts until crisp.

To make the gravy, remove as much fat as possible from the pan, and then add the chicken stock, quince jelly and salt. Bring to the boil, then strain through a fine sieve into a small saucepan.

Bring to the boil again and cook until reduced by one-third. Thicken with some or all of the cornflour paste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the pork and serve with the gravy and crispy baked potatoes and steamed seasonal vegetables.

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