An exciting swag of new cookbooks have arrived of late, these are my picks and thoughts on why they deserve a place on your shelves. Food You Can’t Say No To, by English cook Tamasin Day-Lewis. I’ve long been a fan of Tamasin, not least because she cooks at her Aga in designer jeans and Manolo Blahniks. Tamasin’s philosophy is all about making the most of everything she cooks and using each ingredient during its season. It’s not about extravagance so while you’ll find prosciutto and porcini you’ll also find spinach, potatoes and simple puddings in equal measure. A winning touch for me is that almost half of the book dedicated to sweet things, including some mouth-watering tarts for which she is justly famous (Art of the Tart, Tarts with Tops On). At only $45 for a hardback, this a great book for an almost-winter pick-me-up.
Marian Keyes is known for single-handedly starting the ‘chick lit’ revolution and perhaps less so for her baking. Marian started baking when after being diagnosed with depression she made a birthday cake (a chocolate cheesecake actually) for a friend, her first attempt at baking in decades. The act of baking was so enjoyable she kept going and, as she plainly states in her introduction, ‘baking gets her through’. Saved by Cake: Over 80 Ways to Bake Yourself Happy is a baking book filled with beautiful recipes: cupcakes, special occasion cakes, cheesecakes, meringues, macaroons, biscuits and cookies it’s all in here and all accompanied by Marians signature humour. A great Mother’s Day gift. Hardback $37
A companion volume to A Good Spread: a collection of tried and true family recipes, A Good Harvest: Recipes from the gardens of Rural Women New Zealand makes the most of seasonal produce-jams, pickles, preserves and more. Preserving books need to be local and with over 300 tried and true recipes to make the most of seasonal bounties as well as helpful growing tips this book covers all the bases. Destined to become a classic alongside Digby Law’s books. Paperback, $34.99
I love my cookbooks to be about people as well as food, I love reading their stories about why and how their recipes are special to them and their families. Dedicated to Grandmothers everywhere My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Recipes for Love, Life and Happiness from Grandmothers Around the World by Australian friends Laura Clarke and Claire Wallace (HB $54.99) is a perfect balance of storytelling and recipes. In all, 19 Grandmothers are profiled and, as I turn the pages, I can almost smell the busy kitchens and feel the warmth and comfort that no other room can provide. This is another wonderful gift for Mother’s Day, plus a percentage of profits from the sales of this book will be given to Opportunity International, a charity providing opportunities for people living in poverty to transform their lives – 85% of these being mothers and grandmothers.
Heidi Swanson writes a great blog called 101 Cookbooks – it’s a fabulous blog. I love her style and aesthetic, her blend of wholesome but not hippy. She really speaks to me, as does her book Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen. When I read this Heidi makes me want to eat better (and be a better person) but not in a preachy make-me-feel-guilty kind of way – just because her food looks super tasty and I’m sure I’d feel better if I ate salads for lunch, and more whole grains. She makes Chickpea Stew sound amazing, cabbage soup life changing and Black Sesame Otsu sound a bit like the one you get at Maranui Surf Café (which is always sold out). I crave that stuff. There’s a chapter on treats like Carnival Cookies with peanuts, popcorn and chocolate chips. Much yum. Basically, if you love the Ottolenghi Cookook and Plenty as much as I do, you’ll love this.