If I were not in possession of any self-control, I’d be purchasing myself a new cookbook every other week and require a much larger bookshelf (and probably a roomier flat). As it is, I tend to only purchase new cookbooks if it’s a hotly anticipated release, or if the Cooking section of a particularly well-stocked bookstore gets the better of me. Fortunately for me, most new releases fall towards the pointy end of the year, and as as my birthday is in September, I tend to save up cookbooks on my wishlist and suggest them as gifts to frantic loved ones – a win-win situation for all concerned. Here are four books I was gifted towards the end of last year, some first impressions, and favourite recipes so far.
Simple Nigella | Nigella Lawson
I had the everlasting pleasure of seeing Nigella in the flesh at the Sydney Opera House recently; a marvellous evening in which Nige chatted to Annabel Crabb about all things food and made us all swoon with her eloquence, wit, intelligence and graciousness. Fan-girling aside, Nige’s latest book (whose white, pale green, and baby pink colour spectrum demands attention) does what it says on the tin – the recipes are simple and satisfying – I’m a particular fan of the Cauliflower and Cashew Nut Curry, the Miso Mayonnaise, and the Nutella Brownies. Next on the agenda is the exquisitely-hued No-Churn Matcha Ice Cream which I have put off making only as I know it will become a fixture in my life.
Jeruselum | Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
This isn’t Yotam’s most recent cookbook, but it’s definitely my favourite and a new addition to my collection. It’s pleasingly-textured pages cover some of my favourite things to eat, like Hummus, Roasted Sweet Potato & Fresh Figs, Tahini Sauce (which I put on EVERYTHING), and Aubergine Stuffed With Lamb and Pine Nuts. A well-stocked pantry should be the first matter of business when subscribing to the cult of Ottolenghi, but once you’ve added to your shopping list the likes of harissa paste, preserved lemons, barley, semolina, and za’tar, you’re well on your way to some fabulous Middle-eastern feasting.
My Garden Kitchen | Unna Burch
I’m somewhat obsessed with this beautifully-photographed book from the lovely Unna, a Wellington New Zealand native and purveyor of all things fresh and wholesome. I tend to make one of Unna’s recipes a few times a week, my favourite dinner option being the incredibly simple and wonderfully delicious Miso Poached Salmon. There are also loads of interesting salads that are easy to make in bulk on a Sunday afternoon and become the subject of much colleague-envy at lunchtimes through-out the week. Her preserves section is also winner, her jam-making method being my undisputed go-to. I’m eager to hit up the baking section next, having an eye firmly planted on the Honey Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting, Fresh Figs and Honey Walnuts (*swoons*).
The Preserving Book | Lynda Brown
This practical and no-nonsense volume is the ultimate guide to all things pickling and preserving – it has everything, from seasonal guide to fruits and vegetables, chapters on harvest and storage, and hundreds of recipes covering fruit jams and conserves, herb jellies, pickled vegetables, preserved spices, chutneys, relishes, ketchups and sauces, bottled fruits, as well as an intriguing drinks chapter that covers the likes of Elderflower Cordial and Crab Apple Wine. So far I’ve tackled several of the pickling methods, and am now well-stocked with pickled cucumbers, pickled ginger, and preserved chillies. Warning: this book stirs in the reader a desire to move to the country and start a peaceful life of pickle-happy self-sufficiency.