Archive for the ‘cookbook’ Category

British gastronomy has a grand old tradition that has been lost over time. Now our most inventive chef is out to reclaim it. Heston Blumenthal, whose name is synonymous with cutting-edge cuisine, still finds his greatest source of inspiration in the unique and delicious food that our sceptered isle once produced. This has been the secret to his success at world-famous restaurants The Fat Duck and Dinner, where a contrast between old and new, modern and historic, is key.

Historic Heston charts a quest for identity through the best of British cooking that stretches from medieval to late-Victorian recipes. Start with twenty-eight historic dishes, take them apart, put them together again and what have you got? A sublime twenty-first-century take on delicacies including meat fruit (1500), quaking pudding (1660) and mock turtle soup (1892). Heston examines the history behind each one’s invention and the science that makes it work. He puts these dishes in their social context and follows obscure culinary trails, ferreting out such curious sources as The Queen-like Closet from 1672 (which offers an excellent method for drying goose). What it adds up to is an idiosyncratic culinary history of Britain.

This glorious book also gives a unique insight into the way that Heston works, with signature dishes from both The Fat Duck and the double Michelin-starred Dinner, which is ranked 7th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. With a beautiful cover illustrated by the genius that is Dave McKean, his illustrations throughout, and some of the most superb food photography you’ll ever see, Historic Heston is a book to treasure. You think you know about British cooking? Think again.

Historic Heston

Heston Blumenthal

Bloomsbury

Purchased from Book Depository

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

As some of you will know, I’m something of a fan of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, though I doubt I shall ever get to sit at one of his tables. More importantly, I have an abiding interest in culinary history, so when I saw this tome had been reduced to half price in the bargain shop at Book Depository I had to make that purchase. I say “tome” because it really is a hefty volume, over four hundred pages and two kilos in weight, so free shipping was very definitely a plus.

It is very much a book about cookery, as opposed to a cookery book. Heston leads the reader through a selection of historic British recipes from the medieval risotto-like “Ryse of Flesh” from “The Forme of Cury” to a thoroughly late Victorian “Mock Turtle Soup”. Each recipe has an illustration referencing the historic version, then a discussion of the historic context, followed by Heston’s explanation of how he modernised it for his restaurants, then the restaurant version and its photograph. So, there are recipes here, but no home cook is going to attempt Heston’s versions, they are impractical in the extreme, often requiring both ingredients and equipment unlikely to be found outside a high-end restaurant. If I wanted to attempt these recipes I’d be looking elsewhere (one of the earliest cookbooks in my collection, “Traditional Cooking” has a surprising number of them).

But that’s not the point. The culinary history is fascinating, and the food photography, especially in the “still life” shots, is totally amazing. If you’re into food history, you’ll find plenty to enjoy (if not to actually cook) in this book. I read it from cover to cover, a recipe or two at a time, with the weighty tome lying flat on the bed…

Packed with show-stopping dishes for the weekend and special occasions, this is the ultimate in indulgent food.

Learn and master the dishes made in the famous caff on Southend pier by Jamie and his star-studded guests. From Party-time Mexican tacos with zingy salsa and sticky BBQ British ribs, to Steak & Stilton pie and the Ultimate veggie lasagne made with smoky aubergine, we’re talking about big-hitting, crowd-pleasing recipes that everyone will love.

Peppered with beautiful photography of the pier and café, bringing that wonderful sense of seaside nostalgia, this is certainly a visual as well as a culinary feast.
It’s all about sharing and celebrating the joy of good food. Treat yourself and your loved ones to this incredible selection of full-on weekend feasts from Jamie.

Jamie’s Friday Night Feast Cookbook

Jamie Oliver

Michael Joseph

Supplied by Penguin Random House NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

When I receive a new cookery book for review, I expect to find new and interesting recipes and maybe some entertaining anecdotes. What I don’t expect is a geek fest. But this is the book that goes with Jamie’s Friday Night Feast, Jamie’s new TV series, in which he creates memorable dishes for celebrity guests based on their experiences. And when those guests happen to include such SF&F notables as Mark Hamill, Joanna Lumley, Warwick Davis, David Tennant, and Orlando Bloom, there is definitely something to appeal to the inner geek.

Whether or not you’d cook these recipes is another matter. They’re well-written, detailed and approachable, but the majority are definitely for those special occasions. I don’t see David Tennant’s Croatian-style Cuttlefish Risotto happening any time soon in my household (mainly because cuttlefish aren’t exactly common in NZ fish shops). There’s a very nice Chicken Pot Pie recipe I tried (although I left out the veal meatballs). I definitely want to make that Steak and Stilton Pie come winter as a special treat. And my son is keen for the Pork Ramen, though I suspect I’ll be buying the ramen noodles, not making them from scratch.

So, you know, while you might buy this book for the famous names, I think you will most likely keep it for some excellent recipes for those times when you might want to impress – in more ways than one.

Homegrown Kitchen is a complete guide to eating well for those who love to cook fresh food. Beginning with a comprehensive section on the kitchen essentials, including sourdough bread, home preserving and fermentation, the book is then divided into breakfast, lunch and main meal chapters, followed by a chapter on indulgent sweet treats.

Inspired by her large garden, Nicola Galloway creates food in rhythm with the changing seasons, with fresh homegrown and local produce forming the base of her recipes. With a young family, her food focus is on simple and delicious family-friendly recipes using pantry staples that are packed with nutrients. Nicola also has a particular interest in healthful traditional cooking techniques, such as sourdough bread and fermentation, and simplifying them so they can fit into our busy modern lives.

Homegrown Kitchen

Nicola Galloway

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

“Yet another one of these trendy cookbooks for fussy eaters”, I thought when this book arrived for review. But it wasn’t, not exactly. The author got my attention in the introduction, where she explains that she had once followed a gluten-free diet, until she visited a Greek island where she was tempted to try some proper locally-made bread, and had no trouble digesting it. Her experience supports the theory that a lot of what people think is gluten-intolerance is actually a reaction to bread made by modern factory bread-making practices, and that if you make it yourself it will be more digestible.

Predictably, then, there is an emphasis here on making it yourself. And not just the bread, though there are some of the most exhaustive instructions for making sourdough I have ever seen. You can make your own nut butters to go with it. There is an excellent section on jams and pickles, including how to make sauerkraut and kimchi. There are recipes for home-made coconut yoghurt and nut milks that lactose intolerant people will find very useful (those things are excessively expensive to buy). In fact, this is the very book you need if you do have a food intolerance (let’s include veganism in that category) and a tight budget. Many, if not, most recipes come with alternative ingredients and variations to suit different requirements. It is all very healthy, but not in that preachy way that annoys people like me; more of a creative “you should try this” vibe.

The book is well-presented (Galloway is a truly talented food photographer) and sits nicely flat on the bench. And if you can’t find a recipe in the book, the beginning of each section suggests more to be found on the Homegrown Kitchen website. It’s all good, and there’s a lot of ideas here that I’ll be looking to try.

An intimate look at Wellington’s beloved Cuba Street – the place, the people, the food.

More than just a cookbook.

Cuba Street has many faces. Restaurants, cafés, record shops, fashion outlets — and the bucket fountain. Cuba Street has iconic status in Wellington – its colour and character over the last few decades have made it a favourite spot for locals and visitors alike. From the late lamented Matterhorn and Mighty Mighty, to Midnight Espresso, Logan Brown and Ombra, the street is filled with places and people worth remembering.

Beth Brash is a Wellington-based foodie and blogger. She knows the local food scene extremely well, having been the manager of the popular Beervana festival and now programme manager for Visa Wellington On a Plate. She and her photographer sister, Alice Lloyd, spent a summer capturing the essence of Cuba Street, visiting all the eateries and off-beat shops, with Alice taking the photographs and Beth researching, interviewing and gathering recipes. The fascinating result is The Cuba Street Project.

The Cuba Street Project

Beth Brash & Alice Lloyd

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Wellington’s Cuba Street, named for an early settler ship, has always been a little bit different. From humble beginnings as one of Wellington’s markets, it has morphed through light industrial, back to trade and retail, but always with a few eateries thrown in. It is still the heart of the city’s Red-Light district, though now prostitution is legal it just becomes more bohemian. And then there’s the Bucket Fountain….

Beth Brash has written a book, kindly illustrated with photos by Alice Lloyd, that celebrates the food culture of Cuba Street. While the street is decidedly bohemian, tending to working class, several of Wellington’s most famous fine dining restaurants were or are established on this street; Orsini’s and Logan Brown to name but two.

Beth takes a leisurely stroll up from where it begins, opposite the Fowl House (Wellington’s Town Hall) through Cuba Mall before finishing on the lower slopes of Mt Cook suburb. Along the way she investigates the history of each location chosen, talks to the current inhabitants, then cribs a recipe or two off them. It’s part cookbook – did I mention that? And there are some really good recipes in here. The sources vary from a coffee shop operating out of a converted shipping container to Logan Brown, coffee shops to Malaysian. What is interesting is how tight knit the Te Aro/Cuba Street hospitality industry is

I got to review this book because I’m originally from Wellington and am familiar with the geography and people. In fact, I’ve had protracted conversations over the course of many months with several of the people interviewed and can thoroughly recommend Beth’s assessment of both the Cuba Street and the eateries. It’s all about the food and the sense of community. Bloody good book, bloody good street, bloody Bucket Fountain (but don’t you dare remove it).

Ever since working at the River Café for Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, Jamie Oliver has had a serious passion for Italian food. Now, ten years later, Italy and its wonderful flavours continue to have a major influence on his food and cooking. In Jamie’s Italy, Jamie travels this famously gastronomic country paying homage to the classic dishes of each region and searching for new ideas to bring home. The result is a sensational collection of Italian recipes, old and new, that will ensure Italy’s influence reaches us all.

On the menu is an array of magical ingredients and Mediterranean flavours all combined in Jamie Oliver’s inimitable way. From Parma ham to Parmesan, from pannetone to panzanella, Jamie’s Italy will transport you to Italy or at least bring Italy home to you.

Jamie’s Italy

Jamie Oliver

Michael Joseph

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

This is the book that goes with Jamie’s Italy, his latest TV series, but rather than the episode by episode format, it begins in traditional fashion with antipasto and ends with dessert. The recipes are interspersed with pictures and stories from Jamie’s favourite Italian nonnas – I was quite touched by the story of the last Jewish nonna of Pitigliano, and by Jamie’s efforts to keep her recipe for Jewish Artichokes alive by including it in the book. There are plenty of pictures throughout, illustrating most if not all of the recipes; and a number of techniques are demonstrated in step-by-step format. It’s not really a guide to Italian cooking as such, it’s way too quirky for that, but it does cover all the bases – there are recipes for risottos, for pizzas, for gnocchi, and many recipes for pasta – including methods for making your own orecchiette and agnolotti from scratch.     Now, I know that Jamie Oliver isn’t everybody’s favourite celebrity chef, but I will say this, he does know how to write a good recipe, and somebody has thoroughly tested these. I didn’t have great hopes for the chocolate chickpea cake, but it sounded quirky and I knew my geeky friends would enjoy guessing the weird ingredient. I should not have worried, it proved to be one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made; still moist and tasty ten days later when I finished off the last little bit, forgotten in the tin.

The book itself is a fairly hefty hardback, which sits flat on the bench mainly by virtue of sheer weight. There are over two hundred recipes inside, many of them quite new to me at least, and some I doubt you’d find anywhere else. Not a book for beginners perhaps, but definitely one to expand your Italian repertoire.

Published by Hyndman

Supplied by Hyndman NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

This is another collection of a hundred practical and useful recipes from the Holsts, this time focusing mainly on dinners. It begins with salads, many of which such as the Chicken Caesar Salad would make a more than adequate (and healthy) lunch. The sandwiches, wraps and burgers are more what I would serve for dinner with some sides, and I have to say that the Mediterranean Meatballs in Pita Pockets are going to happen for dinner in this house sometime soon. Then there are pasta and rice dishes including a couple of nice risottos, and a Baked Vegetable and Macaroni Cheese which looks like a good way to smuggle extra vegetables into the diet. There are curries and chillies, vegetarian meals, seafood and meat dishes, finishing up with an “Easy No-Knead Pizza” which is made pretty well exactly as I make my home-made pizza (only I do tend to knead the dough a bit).

All in all, this is an excellent collection of recipes you’d actually use. My only real quibble is that it could have benefitted from a page or two at the back devoted to making easy home-made versions of bread products such as burger buns, pita bread and wraps, which are used frequently in this book.

There’s nothing like a hearty soup to provide a nourishing midwinter meal.

This comprehensive cookbook contains every imaginable soup from Simon and Alison Holst’s extensive collection of tried-and-true recipes, with some ‘new favourites’ added for good measure.

Hyndman

Supplied by Hyndman NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

It is exactly what it says on the tin, one hundred recipes for different soups from the Holsts. Only not from the tin, because the objective here is to make your soup from scratch. Some recipes are surprising quick to create, such as the Quick Pumpkin Soup, with just ten minutes cooking time. Others, like Granny’s Chicken Soup, involve hours of gentle simmering, turning a tough old bird into something delicious… There are some great ideas here, like the Nearly Instant Stocks. Although I was a little disappointed to find that my favourite Mulligatawny Soup is missing, there is a very nice Chicken Laksa. So, plenty of recipes and a good range. If you need to feed a crowd cheaply and nutritiously, there’s plenty to work with. And I’m told enjoying soup is so filling that it helps with losing weight.

I showed this book to one friend, and it disappeared for a week because she wanted to try one of the recipes, which must surely count as a second recommendation.