Archive for the ‘cookbook’ Category

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).

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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.

 

 

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