Archive for the ‘cookbook’ Category

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.

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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.

 

 

Hyndman

Supplied by Hyndman New  Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

This is another remarkably useful little recipe book from the Holsts, in the “Everyday Easy” series, this time focusing on home-made sweets. They start with a proper kiwi recipe for salted caramels using condensed milk and golden syrup (instead of the undesirable corn syrup you’ll find in most). Really must give this a go!

There are several recipes for different types of fudge, then marshmallows, toffees, rocky road, chocolate crackles, lolly cake and lots of different kinds of sweet truffles. There are even lunchbox treats like “birdseed bars” which I will have to try (I like to make these things in paper muffin cases). I can safely guarantee that this book will come out and see a lot of use when it is time to make the Christmas treats.

The hidden advantage of a good book of home-made sweet recipes is that you know exactly what goes into them. Bought sweets, especially the cheap ones, are full of mystery ingredients that you’re better off without. My only complaint is to the publisher; the high cover price for such a slim volume is liable to put off many potential purchasers. But that’s a small quibble over another excellent collection.

meals-for-1-or-2

I’m finding this to be a remarkably useful little cookbook, for all its slim size and unpretentious design. These are real recipes for real food that an ordinary person would actually cook. It’s the kind of book you could give a teenager leaving home to go flatting, and know that they’ll be able to make themselves something to eat that will be cheaper and healthier than a takeaway. None of that upmarket middle-class trendy food here. Just proper New Zealand grub.

I’ve already tried several recipes (and many others were already kitchen standards – I know how to scramble eggs, but I’m happy to see recipes like that in the context of a book for inexperienced cooks). The sausage-meat squares made an excellent dinner, and though the salmon cakes were a little dry, that was probably my fault. But it’s good to see cheap and easy store-cupboard recipes like this. For example, instead of calling for vast quantities of expensive maple syrup just to make a cake, the Holsts explain how to create a passable imitation, to go with their French toast.

Most of the recipes are for two servings, but there are lots of suggestions and variations, and many of these dishes can be easily reheated, so one for now and one for later.

(I interrupt this review for an experiment in progress: my teenager desired something to go with his ice cream for dessert, and I suggested the 5-minute chocolate mug cake. He’s giving it a go. It makes two, so there will one for him, and one for me to share with my husband. It’s definitely taking more than five minutes, but that would be down to finding the ingredients, and inexperience. The result: “Looks a bit funny…. Tastes pretty fine, actually.” I’ll call that a success, and it was indeed very nice with salted caramel ice cream.)

So, I’d call this an excellent choice for novice cooks, especially if they’re on a budget. It’s a great book for the student, in more ways than one.

Hyndman

Supplied by Hyndman New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

the-complete-home-baking-collection

This is a selection of over 250 recipes from the Holsts’ extensive library and amounts to a substantial collection of recipes for home baking with a kiwi flavour. Most of your favourites will be here. There plenty of excellent ideas for cakes, slices and muffins, but for me there are not quite enough biscuit recipes.  ANZAC biscuits and Kiwi biscuits are included, but sadly there are no Afghans or jammy dodgers.

So, perhaps not quite complete enough for me. There are still plenty of new things for me to experiment with. Two different rhubarb cakes for starters.

These are reliable recipes, tried and tested, and I have every expectation that they will succeed. There is even a gluten-free section, which looks to be a whole lot better than that found in most gluten-free cookbooks. There’s no cheating and using “gluten-free flour”. Instead each recipe has its own flour mix, generally involving rice and tapioca flours, especially designed for that application.

You only need to read through this part of the book to see how much care and attention has gone into making sure it all works. And I think one can safely assume that that same effort has gone into the rest of the recipes. Good stuff, and an inspiration to get people baking at home.

Definitely, this is a book that would be welcome in many a kiwi kitchen (and by those who like eating the resulting home-baked goodies)!

Published by Hyndman

Supplied by Hyndman New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

vThe Kitchen Diaries III

There are cookery books that remain in the kitchen, or on the shelf nearby; and then there are books about cookery that go to the bedroom to be read from cover to cover. This is one of the latter, a book about food that is a joy to read.

Nigel Slater is a great cook, and he’s also a great writer. His prose is a delight, and if you want something to read after a hard day, and just relax into the flow of well-chosen words, this may well be a book for you. It may also be a book for you if you want interesting and innovative recipes for real food that you might actually want to try. There is even a recipe for Bacon Granola! I have got to try that, once I figure out what to substitute for hemp seeds – which are, as far as I can tell, illegal in New Zealand (and yes, that really is the first time that issue has arisen in my kitchen). I did try the Maple Pork Ribs with Tomato Chutney and they were pronounced delicious!

The structure of the book is essentially a food diary, from January to December. It’s written in the present tense, which normally annoys me, but works here, perhaps because it’s common in cookery writing. More problematic is that the seasons are reversed for antipodean readers, which means the summery recipes are in the middle, and the Christmas recipes are decidedly wintery. But I can live with that for the sheer delight in food that is found on every page. While this is not a book for a beginning cook, the recipes are not too challenging, flexible, and easy to follow. And there is an excellent index, which is a fine thing in a cookery book. I’m going to enjoy some experimentation in my kitchen with this book to hand.

Fourth Estate

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Review of Life in Balance

It’s clear from the start that “Life in Balance” does not apply to the bank balance, because this is a book full of trendy food, incorporating fashionable ingredients that are expensive and not always easy to find. Lots of chia seed, spelt flour, ground almonds, and rice malt syrup. And lots and lots of vegetables, in places you would not expect them – like spinach in a smoothie!

The baking section is, not surprisingly, largely gluten-free, despite the scientific consensus that unless you have coeliac disease, gluten will not hurt you. But then, there isn’t a lot of science in foodie trendiness…

That said, this is a beautifully-presented book, with sections explaining the more unusual ingredients, where they come from, and why they are believed to be good for you. The food photography is excellent, and the book has a good limp binding, that sits nice and flat on the bench. There is a detailed glossary, and a proper index.

The only quibble I have with presentation is that many of the recipes are printed white on black, which can be harder to read. As for the content, if you are about to embark on the trendy diet, then this may well be a great book for you.

As for me, I’ll be pushed to find many recipes I can even begin to attempt with what I have in my (reasonably well-stocked) pantry.

Fourth Estate

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui