Archive for the ‘cookbook’ Category


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.


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.


Supplied by Hyndman New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui


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

Delicious Feel Good FoodI’m going to begin this review with a note to authors… don’t believe everything you read on the internet. It’s a small thing, but when I read “The health benefits of Manuka honey have been known to indigenous cultures for millennia,” my immediate thought was “That’s impossible”. It’s improbable because Manuka is native to New Zealand, the Maori arrived here between 1250 and 1300, and more importantly, honey bees were introduced by European settlers in 1839 (and to Australia in 1822). And though Native Australians ate honey from native bees, it’s unlikely it was Manuka honey, because those bees produce only enough honey for themselves in the cooler climes where Manuka grows. But I did find this on an Australian web site, “This healing honey has been known to New Zealand’s indigenous cultures for thousands of years.” Go figure.

The book itself is a very large format paperback, and I’m concerned that the binding would not stand up to a great deal of abuse. The content is cheerfully presented with lots of colour photographs. And the ingredient list is not too unusual, as long as you have plenty of coconut products to hand. I tried the Pot-roasted Chicken with Chilli and Coconut Milk and was reasonably pleased with the result, although I would have liked it better if the sauce had thickened more. The “total bakeover” section predictably falls into the “gluten is bad for you” trap, and is afflicted with lots of almond meal and maple syrup. However there is a Banana and Fig Bread made with relatively normal ingredients that I do want to try.

The book’s major flaw is its index, which is next to useless. I need to know that the chicken recipe I want is listed under “mains”, and it is then under “p” for pot-roast, not “c” for chicken. In fact, I’d expect to find all the chicken recipes together under “c” for chicken, as well as under their individual alphabetical entries. Somebody really should have fixed this!

So, it’s another very trendy cookbook, but with a number of interesting ideas, some of them more practical (and easier on the budget) than others. And lots of coconut.

ABC Books

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

cook 30

My first reaction when I began looking at this book was along the lines of… “It’s a vegan cookbook that goes with a TV programme I’ve never heard of.” Then I looked a bit further and did some research. Turns out that the writer is a New Zealander who used to work for Sanitarium (the Weetbix people) and then when on to run Revive Cafes in Auckland. He’s now doing a TV show for a US channel called 3ABN which represents the Seventh Day Adventist Church who, not coincidentally, own Sanitarium. They are religiously keen on a healthy lifestyle and were one of the first Western groups to advocate vegetarianism, long before New Ageism was the new thing. For what it’s worth, independent university studies of Adventists show their healthy lifestyle actually works in terms of decreased risk of a whole bunch of diseases and in increased longevity.

So, there’s little doubt that cooking from this book would be good for you. Unless, of course, you happen to be allergic to soya or nuts, because both make frequent appearances.

The book is notably well laid-out with 26 chapters, each corresponding to an episode of the TV show. Therein are recipes for a number of dishes to be prepared within thirty minutes, comprising a menu for one meal, usually dinner. Usefully, there is a timing schedule and a list of what you need to have organized at the beginning of the chapter. Temperatures are given in metric and imperial, volumes mostly in cups (given the relatively few recipes involving actual baking, this should not be a problem).

In terms of content, the book tends to repeat itself, having at least three tofu curries, and a pear cashew cream that appears in two menus. That said, if you are going vegan, or require a gluten-free or dairy-free diet due to food intolerance, I think you would find this book uncommonly useful. I plan to share the chickpea pizza base with my gluten-free friend, and some of the dairy alternatives with the lady who is lactose intolerant. Still not sure how many of these recipes I’ll be trying myself, but you never know.

Revive Concepts

Supplied by Lighthouse PR

Reviewed by Jacqui