The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

THERE’S much more to Ja­panese cui­sine than sushi and sukiyaki, as this at­trac­tively pre­sented vol­ume re­veals. FreshJa­panese by Ya­suko Fukuoka (Ha­chette Livre, $39.99) con­tains more than 80 ‘‘ healthy’’ recipes, which amuses me, as Ja­panese food surely is the health­i­est imag­in­able. Low in fat and starch, and with lit­tle added salt or sugar, dishes rely on nat­u­ral good­ness and sharp flavour­ings such as dark soy sauce, miso paste and mirin rice vine­gar. The taste is al­ways clear and clean.

Bri­tain-based Fukuoka is de­scribed as a food and drink spe­cial­ist and has worked as a mu­si­cian and com­poser. Her recipes are whole­some and home-style, not too con­vo­luted for the av­er­age cook, al­though you do need the right uten­sils. In­vest in a fine-toothed grater for shred­ding daikon, a bam­boo rolling mat for fash­ion­ing sushi, a mor­tar and pes­tle, and a lac­quered wood rice pad­dle. A clay pot is needed for bub­bling hot­pot dishes, and a creative eye is an as­set, too. In Ja­panese cui­sine, pre­sen­ta­tion is at least as im­por­tant as taste. Susan Kuro­sawa HOME bak­ing is, for many, a daunt­ing de­part­ment of do­mes­tic en­deav­our and yet cer­tainly one of the most sat­is­fy­ing. The Australian­Women’sWeekly ’ s Bake (ACP Books, $74.95) is the book for you if you yearn to join the fun.

This 687-page feast from The­Weekly ’ s test kitchen con­tains more than 500 recipes for baked goods, from scones, bis­cuits, muffins and cakes to breads and tarts (the savoury ones, such as a dark and lus­cious­look­ing caramelised onion and beet­root ver­sion, are es­pe­cially invit­ing). Tech­niques and tools are pic­tured, and dou­ble-page spreads within chap­ters fea­ture 12-step demon­stra­tions de­scrib­ing and il­lus­trat­ing pro­cesses with clear pho­to­graphs.

Among the 22 chap­ters are Christ­mas Bak­ing (there’s a lime-green, fir tree-topped cup­cake con­structed of fresh star anise), Kids’ Birth­day Cakes (friendly but­ter­fly, party pinata, flower bou­quet made of 12 petalled cup­cakes con­nected by green spaghetti-strands of ic­ing), Al­lergy-Free Bak­ing, and Cup­cakes (for an hour’s fun) or Friands, a per­sonal favourite (for sev­eral hours’ en­ter­tain­ment).

Friands in­clude cit­rus and pop­py­seed, lime and berry, pear and hazel­nut: 18 of them. Where to be­gin?

My sin­gle prob­lem with Bake is the pale yel­low type used for mar­gin notes on some pages, which has to be an­gled in just the right side­light to be read­able. IN the same se­ries from TheAus­tralian Women’sWeekly kitchens comes Kitchen (ACP Books, $74.95), which came out at the end of 2007 as a com­pan­ion to the ear­lier Cook , and now it also makes a first-course com­pan­ion to Bake (now there are three). Kitchen is packed with ideas and tech­niques us­ing the se­ries’ style of pho­to­graph lay­outs, this time with 1000 triple-tested recipes.

Kitchen is or­gan­ised un­der chap­ters named for cook­ing ves­sels (omelette pan, steamer, wok, gratin dish, casse­role, ter­rine dish, even mi­crowave) with ap­pro­pri­ate recipes and tech­niques. Ex­cel­lent for the ex­cited home nester. Ju­dith Elen

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