The 12 cook­books of Christ­mas

Turn over a new leaf with the year’s best recipes and rec­ol­lec­tions

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holiday Reading Special - MICHELLE ROWE

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.

DAN HIMBRECHTS

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