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Now and Then by Tessa Kiros

Now and Then, by beloved food writer Tessa Kiros, is filled with evocative stories of food and place and over 250 new recipes. The beautiful food photography makes her food look so enticing. She writes:

'I travel and collect things that I love. Memories, tastes, colours and stories. I bring them home and make the beautiful meals I had, so we can live them all over again.'

Inside her book are favourite dishes she remembers from her childhood in South Africa, and recipes gathered on her travels to Mexico, New Orleans, Thailand and Greece. Recent culinary inspirations from her Tuscany kitchen in Italy, where she has lived for the last 20 years, also feature.

Compared to her previous ten books, the food is lighter, and there are more plant-based recipes, which, now that Spring has sprung, is how I love to cook.

For her Green Plate with Avocado and Tahini, a variety of lightly cooked vegetables, including asparagus, is heaped on a platter and drizzled with a garlicky avocado and tahini sauce. It was quick to make and just delicious.

In the Cucumber and Pomegranate salad I had to forego the basil as it is not yet in season. But no matter, the scarlet pomegranate seeds added pops of tart, crunchy sweetness.

The recipe for Parmesan potatoes came from Tessa’s friend Yasmine. The secret is to sprinkle these little roasties with plenty of grated parmesan cheese, and they become deliciously crunchy. These were scrumptious and are already a firm family favourite!

Her recipe for Chilaquiles came from Mexico. It starts with a layer of corn chips over which blobs of Tessa’s homemade warm salsa are spread, followed by grated cheese, thinly sliced onions and sour cream. Add a few slices of avocado and extra splashes of salsa and you’re done. Who doesn’t love Mexican, and this almost instant meal hit the spot when I needed to put a meal together in a hurry for a hungry teenager.

I’m curious to know how Chicken 65, which came from her friend Ashok in Pondicherry got its name. When I spied fresh curry leaves, which are not easy to come by, at our veggie mart I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get home to make this recipe. Slices of boneless chicken are gently spiced and battered, then shallow fried with curry leaves and onions. It is the mixture of flour used to create the batter, corn, rice and chickpea, which makes them so crisp. It’s a favourite of Tessa’s daughters and is one we’ll come back to often as well.

Her Chocolate Cake is rich and moist, and she promises it will taste really good the next day, too. Not that there was any leftover at our house to try this! Tessa serves it with sour cherries and clotted cream. We had it the Kiwi way with strawberries and whipped cream.

The Frozen Strawberry Meringue cake is yet untried. But it will be our Christmas dessert. It can be made and frozen well beforehand. You just need to pull it out of the freezer 20 minutes before serving to soften and pile on fresh berries and a scattering of chopped chocolate. It looks so festive!

Tessa has a romantic soul who adores roses, which is undoubtedly why the cover of Now & Then features a beautiful pink rose resting on a white china plate. Her last chapter is filled with rose-scented recipes. As I browsed through these, I started dreaming of summer, sitting in the garden, sipping a cup of her Father George’s Feel-good rose tea, nibbling on some Pistachio biscuits with figs, raspberries and rose syrup, and reading about her culinary adventures written in such a lyrical and poetic way once more.

Lyn Potter

Murdoch Books


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