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Cookbook Chronicles: ‘Back To Baking’ by Anna Olson

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In this new series from our Foodie News Flash columnist Beate, we review new cookbooks and spotlight a few tasty recipes. First up, ‘Back to Baking’ by TV chef Anna Olson, including a delectable recipe for Beef Carpaccio!

Celebrity chef Anna Olson is a professionally trained pastry chef with over fifteen years of experience in the culinary field. Anna Olson is perhaps best known for her baking given her past cooking shows on Asian Food Channel, Fresh with Anna Olson and Bake with Anna Olson. So this book Back To Baking does what it says – that is, goes back to baking from scratch with all new recipes (no recipes were taken from her other books).


Back To Baking is a beautifully photographed cook book with in-depth instructions on how to bake, and often step-by-step photographs too. Each recipe is introduced with a small paragraph to give you a flavour of the dish, often explaining why certain ingredients were used and how the dish should taste and turn out.

We especially like Anna Olson’s allergy-free recipes. The dairy-free section sees recipes like Lemon Almond Pound Cake, egg-free recipes including Pecan Lace Cookies and Strawberry Almond Oat Bars, and the gluten-free baking includes Chewy Brownies (using rice flour) and Banana Orange Loaf (using potato and rice flour). There are over 200 recipes included in this book so there’s definitely something for everyone.

A firm favourite in our household for birthdays and decadent Sunday afternoons is the Dairy-Free (Egg-Free) Chocolate Layer Cake (p. 268), which incorporates surprising ingredients like Balsamic Vinegar and Chilled Almond Milk to lift the cake, making it moist and airy with no egg or dairy.

Novice bakers will find the numerous baking and ingredient tips included throughout the book invaluable, so if you’re looking for an all-in baking book this hardback cookbook with pretty pictures is hard to beat.


Anna Olson’s Beef Carpaccio inspired by Vietnamese Pho

If you’ve been watching Chef Anna Olson on TV (Asian Food Channel / Starhub Ch435) in her show ‘Inspired with Anna Olson’ you’ll know about her delicious new recipes inspired by Asian dishes. She travels throughout Southeast Asia from Vietnam to the Philippines taking inspiration from street food stalls and local high-end restaurants alike. Back home, Anna Olson recreates dishes using flavours and elements of Asian cuisine. This Beef Carpaccio inspired by Vietnamese Pho is one of our favourite recipes from her show.

This dish borrows elements of the Vietnamese Pho – slivers of thin beef carpaccio decorated with crunchy bean sprouts, fresh coriander, peanuts, sweet red onions and a drizzle of home made sweet nutty hoisin sauce for a delicious Asian take on the classic beef carpaccio. The beef can also be seared before being sliced for anyone unaccustomed to eating raw beef.

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

COOKING TIME: 5 minutes


  • 350 grams beef tenderloin
  • 30 grams thinly sliced red onion rings (about 3 slices)
  • 125 grams bean sprouts
  • 20 grams total chopped fresh coriander, Thai basil & mint
  • 35 grams chopped roasted peanuts
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
  • For Hoisin:
  • 60 millilitres soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 30 grams smooth peanut butter
  • 30 millilitres honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 millilitres sesame oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 black peppercorns


  1. To make the hoisin sauce, place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then strain out the spices and cool to room temperature before chilling until ready to serve. As the sauce cools it will thicken.
  2. For the beef, slice the raw tenderloin across the grain into 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) slices. Place a slice into a re-sealable ziplock bag and using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound it as thin as possible without tearing the meat. Repeat with the remaining slices and arrange them on a large platter or individual small plates. Cover the platter or plates with plastic and chill until ready to serve. This should be done the same day you wish to serve the dish.
  3. Have all of the remaining ingredients on hand, to assemble right before serving. Sprinkle the onion slices overtop the beef and sprinkle the bean sprouts over in an even layer. Top this with the chopped fresh herbs and the chopped peanuts. Drizzle the hoisin over this and add sriracha to taste. Arrange the lime wedges on the side of the platter or plate and serve immediately.
Lead image courtesy of Asian Food Channel. Image #1 sourced via Vancouver Sun.

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