Born in Malaysia and raised in South Australia, artist and former MasterChef contestant Poh Ling Yeow explores culinary differences and similarities in her second cookbook, a follow-up to her popular Poh's Kitchen.
Poh pairs dishes that share a connection – a technique, an ingredient or a texture – under loose headings such as Green Things, Small Bites and Sweet Things. So an old-school Aussie chicken soup is juxtaposed with Chinese chicken congee, and traditional Indonesian kuih lapis (layer cake) features alongside meringue torte layered with fruit, ganache and cream. Photographed in Poh's home kitchen, it's a visually arresting feast of food, vintage crockery, utensils and fabric.
Best bit: The often-unexpected pairings.
Extract: Poh Ling Yeow's flourless baking recipes
Gluten-free jaffa almond cake
Being a hugely enthusiastic baker, the words 'gluten-free' used to send me into a tailspin. Several years ago, I acquired a mystery illness that suggested I might be gluten intolerant and I was nothing short of mortified. Luckily this wasn't the case, but I've since learnt that there is no need to be so fatalistic. There are now a great number of products available in healthfood shops and supermarkets which yield brilliant results and ensure gluten-intolerant food lovers out there aren't missing out. This recipe is based on the classic Jewish Passover orange & almond cake, but I've added chocolate because it's a match made in heaven. Gluten intolerant or not, you'll find this recipe dee-lish – not too sweet and beautifully moist with an intense choc orange flavour.
2 very good quality oranges with firm skins, unpeeled
8 large free-range eggs
1 1/3 cups (300g) caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa), broken or roughly chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa or high-quality baking cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste OR natural vanilla extract
3 cups (300g) almond meal
150g gluten-free plain flour
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
icing sugar, for dusting
Special Equipment: blender OR stick blender + electric cake mixer + 22cm round cake tin
Wash the oranges and place in a medium saucepan then cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2 hours with the lid ajar. Keep a close eye on the water level as it can evaporate very quickly. Have a kettle of boiled water nearby to top up the water if necessary.
Drain the oranges and allow to cool. Slice the oranges into quarters, remove the seeds and purée skin and all using a blender OR stick blender. Up to this point the recipe can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C or 170 °C fan-forced and line the cake tin with baking paper. Place the eggs and caster sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric cake mixer until pale, fluffy and tripled in volume.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, then jiggle the saucepan around so the hot butter coats the chocolate. Cover and wait for about 1 minute, then stir the mixture until emulsified and smooth. Cool for a minute or two.
Add the orange purée and the remaining ingredients except icing sugar to the egg and sugar mixture and mix gently with a whisk until combined. Add the butter and chocolate mixture, continuing to mix gently with a whisk until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour OR until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Cool and dust with icing sugar to serve.
Flourless hazelnut and chocolate fudge cookies
This is my go-to recipe when I have very little time and some leftover egg whites. The cookies have an intense cocoa flavour and a wonderful chewy texture similar to that of a brownie. If you are a chocolate fiend the batter will easily tolerate the addition of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. As for the method, you could practically do it with your eyes closed!
105g OR 3 extra large egg whites
1 1/2 cups (190g) icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Dutch process cocoa or high-quality baking cocoa
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder (optional)
zest of 1 orange (optional but with pistachios this is a particularly good pairing)
1 1/2 cups (180g) roasted hazelnuts OR pistachios, very roughly chopped
1 cup chopped chocolate OR chocolate chips (optional – if using, reduce quantity of nuts to 1 cup. It's up to you the ratio of each but the mixture will tolerate 2 cups of additions.)
Special Equipment: electric cake mixer OR whisk + 1–2 baking trays
Preheat the oven to 170°C or 160°C fan-forced.
Mix all the ingredients, except the nuts and chopped chocolate, with an electric cake mixer or whisk until just smooth.
Add the nuts and chocolate and stir to combine. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and dollop tablespoons of the batter onto the trays, leaving 3cm gaps between the cookies.
Bake for 8 minutes. When the cookies are out of the oven the surface should be slightly cracked and glossy like a brownie.
Cool on a wire rack completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge. These are best eaten within 2 weeks.
Makes 15-20 cookies
Same Same But Different: Recipe Pairs that Share, Poh Ling Yeow ABC Books, $39.99.