The best food & gardening books of the month

Take inspiration from the beautiful (and bountiful) array of cookbooks landing on our shelves. As our local parks become our new holiday destinations, whet your appetite with abundant spreads that defy the gloom of the last few months. Take a recipe from here, and another from there to mix flavours and inspirations. For dessert, I’m leaning towards salted tahini and chocolate cookies from Salma Hage’s Middle Eastern Sweets, matched with the most delicious orange, yogurt and polenta cake straight from the pages of Baking with Fortitude by London-based baker Dee Rettali (now due early December). For main course creations, I’ll be searching through Donna Hay’s One Pan Perfect or Harriet Birrell’s Natural Harry for dishes that can be plonked right in the middle of a colourful and decorated picnic rug. Can you see how beautiful it all looks? The sunshine is warming your back and your picnic is beckoning. I promise cooking and sharing will help you recover from a year that’s stopped and started many times over. Here are some of my favourites from this month’s cookbook new releases:


Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi & Noor Murad

Ever wanted to know how Yotam the Great comes up with his recipes? Ever wondered what happens in a chef’s kitchen? Ever considered how recipes are truly created? Well, this book is Ottolenghi, unplugged: a fascinating snapshot of what happens in a test kitchen. I’d purchase this book for the tomato salad recipe alone, but if you’ve ever stood in your kitchen blankly staring at a can of chickpeas, wondering how to create a meal everyone will enjoy, then this innovative collection is for you. This book speaks for itself: it’s a must have.


Everything I Love to Cook by Neil Perry

Want to know how Neil Perry, the chef that is everywhere, cooks at home? Already considered his masterwork, Everything I Love to Cook is a hefty collection of more than 200 recipes from his restaurants, home kitchen and writing columns. We already know his influence on Australia’s food culture has been profound, but now Perry is turning to you, the home cook. This book will set you up for making the perfect steak sandwich, mashed potato (add butter – a lot of it) and even very fancy meals. Everything you want to know about Perry’s expertise is in this book. Consider it his gift to you.


Home by Stephanie Alexander

Goodness, I just love Ms Alexander and her generous and considered writing. Included in this beautiful book are personal essays, as well as an enormous number of pragmatic recipes that range from basics to Stephanie Alexander’s own at-home favourites: think colourful salads and gently sautéed seasonal vegetables. Purchase this book because you’ve been following her career from the outset, or to gift to a newlywed couple, or simply because you know that every word in it is carefully measured, and the result of following her rules means that your own creation will be as Ms Alexander intended. Home is a joy to experience.


One Pan Perfect by Donna Hay

This is my type of cooking: quick, relatively easy and delicious. I just know Donna Hay has considered life in the fast lane when compiling these all-in-one meals. Take a pan or pot, throw the ingredients in, and cook. When mealtime arrives, you’ll challenge expectations by bringing a delectable family friendly dish to the table. Donna Hay understands how we live now, and she’s included some QR codes linked to video tutorials that will bring her into your kitchen as your own personal cooking coach. I know, it’s amazing. This is fuss-free, all-in-one cooking at its absolute tastiest. I’m all in.


Rick Stein at Home: Recipes, Memories and Stories from a Food Lover’s Kitchen by Rick Stein

Rick Stein has spent his fortunate life travelling the world in search of cooking perfection, inspiring envy and loyalty in millions of food lovers with the results. In Rick Stein at Home, he takes us on a very personal journey as he shares his all-time favourite home-cooked meals, including family classics that evoke his childhood memories and newer dishes that have marked more recent personal milestones. You could consider this delightful collection as his own journal of cooking. It makes a wonderful read, and his kindness is apparent on every page. This book is for all of us who delight in his television shows and his cheery demeanour. It’s a personal cookbook that offers you an inside view of Rick’s own life.


A Cook’s Book by Nigel Slater

A Cook’s Book is the story of Englishman Nigel Slater’s life in the kitchen. From the first jam tart he made with his mum through to what he is cooking now, this is the ultimate ‘Nigel Slater’ collection, brimming with more than 200 recipes, all with personal anecdotes. He writes about how his cooking has changed, how he discovered the best way to roast a chicken, and the trick to smoky aubergine mash. These are heart-and-soul recipes, the ones you keep coming back for because they provide comfort and kindness. It’s a book perfect for curling up on the couch and dreaming what your next meal could be.


Your Home Izakaya by Tim Anderson

Picture it: a small, beautifully lit bar down a dim side street amid the hustle and bustle of a big city. Imagine the joy of discovering such a quiet place, where you can savour a cold drink and a plate of delicious snacks. That’s what this cookbook gives you: the means of creating your own Japanese-inspired bar in your home. With an array of flavours and creative ingredients, Tim Anderson shows that you too can be savvy in the art of matching a cocktail, beer or sake with unfussy food that can be demolished in perfect mouthfuls. The snacks here are simple, elegant and finely balanced – after all, traditional izakaya dens are small and don’t come with fancy kitchens. A warning though: this is the type of cookbook that could lead you astray; you may never recover from eating in this fashion.


The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques and Recipes by Julia Momosé with Emma Janzen

Japanese American bartender Julia Momosé’s collection of cocktail recipes is inspirational, but most importantly achievable. Like so many things in Japan, each recipe shows a devotion to tradition, craftsmanship and hospitality. This book is a manual for mastering techniques and delving into the philosophy of each drink. Timeless favourites are included – negroni anyone? – but there are also cocktails that define the flow of life in Japan. And yes, there are non-alcoholic drinks too. It seems a most fitting collection for this year.

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide by Cecily Wong & Dylan Thuras; Good Food Every Day by Gary Mehigan; Istria: Recipes and Stories from the Hidden Heart of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia by Paola Bacchia; Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weissman; The Italian Bakery: Step-by-Step Recipes with the Silver Spoon; Under Coconut Skies: Feasts & Stories from the Philippines by Yasmin Newman.

Chris Gordon is the programming and events manager for Readings.

 Special price
Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad, Ottolenghi Test Kitchen

$39.99Buy now

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