The 12 cookbooks of Christmas
Turn over a new leaf with the year’s best recipes and recollections
Annie’s Garden to Table by Annie Smithers (Lantern, $49.95): Smithers has put her hugely popular bistro in Kyneton, in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, on the market, but this informative, diary-style record of the establishment and nurturing of her small kitchen garden (which grew to the best part of half an acre and ended up supplying 90 per cent of the produce for her restaurant) is a testament to the hard work behind the scenes by one of the country’s greenest chefs. Recipes such as braised rabbit with leeks and mushrooms and easy strawberry tart make good use of the homegrown produce. Origin: The Food of Ben Shewry (Murdoch Books, $95): Melbourne chef Ben Shewry, the force behind awardwinning restaurant Attica (No 63 in the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants rankings), doesn’t do anything by halves. This oversized volume with excellent production values is the year’s blockbuster, with richly evocative photos — lush landscapes from his New Zealand home town and food shots that are almost cinematic in style. The book tells the story of the talented Shewry’s childhood and his giddy rise to world-renowned chef. Recipes are ambitious (I’ll probably not be whipping up osmanthus and chrysanthemum broth anytime soon), but the book is a visual treat. The Complete Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson (Bloomsbury, $59.99): It’s hard to imagine any food lover not having a copy of the quirky Henderson’s excellent Nose to Tail Eating and its follow-up, Beyond Nose to Tail, on their bookshelf. For carnivores who did miss out, this compilation of both titles from the offal-loving British chef will make the perfect gift. A dozen new recipes have been added to the original 250, and Henderson’s signature chatty and humorous style shines through. A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir (Lantern, $49.99): A flick through this luscious collection of recipes from Giovanni Pilu’s home country is almost as exciting as being handed the menu at his stellar Sydney restaurant, Pilu at Freshwater. Squid filled with fregola, olives and pine nuts; Sardinian-style tripe and saffron; and potato doughnuts are all big hits. But his pasta dishes — from malloreddus with clams, bottarga and zucchini flowers to talluzzas with braised baby goat — are the undisputed stars of the show. Easy Weekends by Neil Perry (Murdoch Books, $49.99): Impossibly complex creations from award-winning chefs are all very well, but sometimes you just want what they’re having. In the case of Perry, of Rockpool fame, the likes of rigatoni with artichokes, anchovies and smoked bacon, or fried eggs with spicy tamarind dressing are on the menu at home. There’s not a recipe I don’t like among this 100-strong line-up, and my limited kitchen skills can stretch to most. ‘‘I’m just whipping up a Neil Perry special for dinner’’ does have a certain ring. Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi (Bloomsbury, $49.99): Her evocatively named Crack Pie is so good it has been trademarked. Tosi invented ice-cream flavours such as nana nilla, malted banana and orange clove. Her Milk Bar outlets (the bakery offshoot of David Chang’s wildly successful Momofuku restaurant group) now number five in New York and, in this well-received tome, the talented dessert chef reveals the recipes for some of her most popular creations, including that incredible pie. Dentists, be warned. Michel Roux: The Collection (Lantern, $59.99): Michel Roux and his brother Albert have trained almost 50 per cent of Britain’s Michelin-starred chefs. The former also set a record for holding three Michelin stars for 25 consecutive years at his Waterside Inn restaurant in Berkshire, England. This book delivers more than 250 of Roux’s best recipes, in chapters including: breakfast and brunch; fish and shellfish; party food; and stocks and sauces. There are step-by-step instructions and technical tips. An encyclopedic compilation from a safe pair of hands. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press, $49.95): From celebrated London-based restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi and colleague Sami Tamimi, this is a worthy follow-up to the 2008 bestseller Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and the excellent 2010 tribute to vegetables, Plenty. Jerusalem contains 120 recipes from Ottolenghi’s childhood in Jewish west Jerusalem and Tamimi’s life in the Arab east. Braised quail with apricots, currants and tamarind, and fish and caper kebabs with burnt aubergine and lemon pickle make easy bedfellows with a set yoghurt pudding with poached peaches. Food Lover’s Guide to the World (Lonely Planet, $49.99): Perfect for the inveterate traveller who believes that the heart of a place is reached through the stomach, this handsome hardback includes fascinating must-visit lists (world’s best food markets, Chinese food festivals), as well as a comprehensive rundown of regional specialties, from India to Italy. With contributions from industry identities including Fergus Henderson, Australian Dan Hunter and Ruth Rogers from London’s River Cafe, this delightfully diverse collection will satisfy the most curious palate. Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, (Bloomsbury, $55): Gone are the days when the menu at the local Chinese restaurant ran to sickly lemon prawns or sweet and sour pork. We can’t get enough of regional Chinese food, whether it’s roast suckling pig from Shandong province or spicy ma po tofu from Sichuan. British writer Dunlop — the first Westerner to train at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine — has put together a scholarly guide to this diverse cuisine, with incredibly appealing yet easy-to-prepare recipes. Cookery Classics (Lantern, $19.99): Who said big is best? These compact culinary compilations present the standout recipes from six of Lantern’s most popular cookbook authors — Stephanie Alexander, Kylie Kwong, Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Maggie Beer — in a user-friendly paperback format featuring the familiar Penguin Classics livery. Each volume contains more than 60 beautifully photographed recipes — Beer’s roast Barossa chook with preserved lemon and tarragon butter is the ultimate in comfort food. The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert (Bloomsbury, $65): Fried sardines Tangier-style (the fish fragranced with coriander, cumin, paprika and lemon juice before being lightly dusted with flour and deep fried) is just one of the enormously appealing recipes. The hefty publication is an updated version of Wolfert’s original treatise on the cuisine of the North African nation, of which fellow food heavyweight Claudia Roden said: ‘‘There is no book on the food of Morocco as good as this one.’’ We have five copies of The Food of Morocco to give away. On the back of an envelope, write your name, address, email and daytime phone number and tell us in 25 words or less why you’d like to win. Post your entry to Travel & Indulgence Morocco book giveaway, PO Box 215, Eastern Suburbs Mail Centre, NSW 2004, by December 29. Winners will be notified on January 19.