A Year of Good Eating – Nigel Slater
One of the best things about the holidays (food, of course, being another) is the time available to finally read those books that have been piling up by your bedside all year long. Who better to combine these two delights than Nigel Slater? A Year of Good Eating is divided by seasons, each section brimming with the charming, witty prose for which Nigel has become renowned.
Between a selection of 250 hearty, achievable recipes is a series of diary entries with endearing titles such as ‘Time on my floury hands’, ‘A Thai curry to make your heart pound’ and ‘Ice cream of Angels’. (A favourite begins, “Dear Mashed Potato, I don’t see you much anymore, but I still think of you.”) His fusion of daily documentation and poeticism reflects his wish for food to be something that’s “quietly enjoyed rather than put on a pedestal”, shunning perfection in favour of getting “stuck in”. It’s little wonder his books are so widely loved – you’ll want to savour his thoughts on food as much as the dishes themselves. HarperCollins – RRP$44.95 (hb)
Nadia Lim's Fresh Start Cookbook – Nadia Lim
Cookbooks with the words “weight loss” on the cover can tend to get ignored around here, but it would be a mistake to overlook this latest offering from Nadia Lim based on this. The cookbook, which Nadia insists is “not a diet book”, is full of achievable, affordable and yes, healthy recipes that, frankly, look absolutely delicious.
It’s easy to picture yourself starting the day with grilled stonefruit drizzled in honey and ricotta; lunching on a salad of roast eggplant, tomato, feta and lime; and whipping up jerk chicken with mango salad for dinner. It’s tempting, too, to imagine that you might look like Nadia at the end of it, appearing as she does, fresh faced and glowing in exercise gear throughout. Whether you want to follow the meal plans, exercise tips and general “health rules” which accompany the recipes is up to you. Either way, this is a book from which many of us would happily cook and probably feel all the better for it. Murdoch Books – RRP$55 (hb)
A Modern Way to Cook – Anna Jones
There is no shortage of recipe books on the shelves promoting meat-free, wholesome, clean-eating these days, but few are as enticing as Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Cook. The second book from the Jamie Oliver-trained chef, food photographer and stylist, it centres on simple weeknight meal solutions that are satisfying and stress-free.
Anna has a knack for creating modern, vibrant cuisine that puts vegetables centre stage and her latest book is full of mouthwatering meat-free dishes. Stand-outs include Curry Leaf and Smoky Celeriac Pilaf, Honey and White Miso Aubergines and Crispy Cauliflower Rice with Sticky Spiced Cashews. Chapters are divided by how long recipes take to prepare, with the longest meals requiring 45 minutes and the quickest ready in under 15. With beautiful photography and exciting vegetarian meal ideas, this would make a great gift for busy home cooks. HarperCollins – RRP$59.99 (hb)
Simply Nigella – Nigella Lawson
Within the first chapter of this latest offering from Nigella Lawson, she denounces the trend of dividing food into paranoid categories of ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’, instead asking readers to embrace the idea of cooking for themselves, as an act of kindness and care. The recipes that follow each have a short and sweet ingredient list; you could point to almost any page and whip it up that evening with ease.
Her takes on Chicken Noodle Soup, Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s Pie, as well as meatballs, soups, stir-fries and dips make this a book a practical classic to stick with through the seasons. The ‘Sweet’ section is unsurprisingly decadent – you’ll find some great options to add to your Christmas menu. A chapter entitled ‘Breathe’ is where Nigella explains how to slot slow-cooking neatly into your busy schedule, while ‘Dine’ seeks to add a sense of ease to entertaining: “I don’t do smart, I do cosy,” she states. And that, Nigella, is why we love you. Penguin Random House NZ – RRP$65 (hb)
Bluebell's Cakery: Sweet & Savoury – Karla Goodwin
Whether you’re looking to sweeten up a special celebration or make something simple for a morning tea with friends, Karla Goodwin from Bluebell’s Cakery has compiled a selection of her recipes that are perfect for home bakers. Along with the gorgeous cakes, loaves and tarts for which she’s become known, Karla also shares her secrets to decorating the perfect sprinkle or petal cake, as well as basic techniques for colouring icing or filling piping bags.
The first part of the book is filled with delectable savoury recipes which, like her sweet treats, are classics to be savoured. Alongside the chicken finger sandwiches, sausage rolls and pastries you’ll find recipes for Banh Mi, and Miso Chicken sandwiches; there’s something to suit every taste. With stunning photography by Tam West, this book would make a brilliant Christmas gift for aspiring cooks – although no one would blame you for popping it in your own stocking either. Penguin Random House NZ – RRP$50 (hb)
You'll find more book reviews in our Christmas issue, in stores now.