When it comes to cookbooks, my philosophy is you can never have too many. It’s become a bit of a tradition between my mum, sister and me to give each other cookbooks at Christmas, and nothing excites me more than seeing a heavy, rectangular package under the tree. All of us have our own favourite styles – I’m a sucker for anything Italian or sweet (especially if it has gorgeous images and design), while my mum is a Francophile and my sister loves Donna Hay.
Do you have a food-loving friend or family member to buy for this Christmas? Look no further – I’ve scoured all the Australian new releases to compile this cookbook gift guide for all the foodies in your life…
Made in Italy
I’ve followed Silvia Colloca’s blog, Silvia’s Cucina, for years now, and I absolutely adore her Italian recipes and the passion she has for the cuisine of her homeland. Silvia’s new TV show, Made in Italy, started last Thursday night and features Silvia revisiting her childhood villages in the less touristed regions of Abruzzo, Molise and Marche. In the cookbook, Silvia shares insights and recipes from the show – fried olives are the first on my hit list. What’s more, there are stunning images by two of my favourite food photographers, Chris Chen and Carla Coulson.
Best for: Lovers of authentic Italian cuisine
Made in Italy by Silvia Colloca; Lantern, 272pp.
A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage To France
Ready for a journey into the depths of provincial France? Delve into Dee Nolan’s well-researched, highly detailed tome for history, stories, and recipes from the Burgundy vineyards, to the less known Aubrac plateau of the Massif Central. Dee retraces the footsteps of the first French pilgrims and her captivating writing will transport you to wine and cheese caves, monasteries, and ancient trails. This book will be living on my bedside table for a while.
Best for: Serious Francophiles
A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage To France by Dee Nolan; Lantern, 400pp.
I think the 20/20 concept – making 20-minute family meals for $20 or less – is fantastic. And Julie Goodwin is the real deal, an Aussie mum who loves food but gets the daily grind of cooking for a family. This is one of those rare books that you can pick up and think, “I can make that”, for every recipe. Julie’s recipes are always realistic – no bizarre ingredients or unusual terms here.
Best for: Busy mums and dads
20/20 meals by Julie Goodwin; Hachette, 256pp.
Kitchen by Mike
Mike McEnearney has made the humble canteen cool again. Named after the eatery that has taken Sydney by storm, Kitchen by Mike is a collection of McEnearney’s signature dishes and well-honed recipes. From his famous sourdough, to the popular roasts and salads, this is a cookbook that shows you how to feed a crowd with honest flavours and a touch of finesse.
Best for: Entertainers and Sydney foodies
Kitchen by Mike by Mike McEnearney; Lantern, 256pp.
You know I love a cookbook when there are a zillion post-it notes sticking out of it. And so it is with Karen Martini’s newest book, Home. I’ve been a long-time fan of Karen; she just has an easy-going sensibility that’s also reflected in her food. This collection of recipes covers all the bases, from everyday dinners to dishes with ‘wow’ factor. Beetroot, quinoa and spinach salad with haloumi, sultanas and dill? Yes, please. Or red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow icing? I could go on and on.
Best for: Foodies with families
Home by Karen Martini; Plum, 280pp.
Utterly delicious simple food
A true stalwart of the Australian food industry, Belinda Jeffery has done it all. Chef, writer, teacher, TV presenter, and restaurant reviewer, she has a wealth of knowledge and passion which she continues to share in her latest cookbook. Divided into seasons, the book is packed with wholesome, easy recipes to add to your daily repertoire. And of course it wouldn’t be a Belinda Jeffery book without some amazing baked goodies – sticky couscous, almond and lemon cake, anyone? This is one that’s going to live on my kitchen bench.
Best for: Home cooks who need new inspiration
Utterly Delicious Simple Food by Belinda Jeffery; Lantern, 224pp.
What Katie Ate At the Weekend
Following on from her gorgeous food blog, What Katie Ate, and first cookbook, photographer/food writer Katie Quinn-Davies brings her focus to entertaining. The book is cleverly separated into meals and occasions, for example breakfast, a weekend girls’ lunch, a weekend in the Barossa, veggies, etc. The section entitled ‘Weekend in Italy’, in particular, is calling my name. As always, Katie’s inviting photos and recipes with a twist come together with delicious results. I can’t wait to make the choc brownies with salted butterscotch and cherries this Christmas.
Best for: Your best friend and lovers of entertaining
What Katie Ate At The Weekend by Katie Quinn-Davies; Lantern, 320 pages.
The New Easy
I doubt there’d be many Australian kitchens that don’t contain a Donna Hay cookbook. Donna has a knack for taking simple ingredients and presenting them in a mouthwatering way, and her signature style clearly resonates with the laid-back Australian lifestyle. This cookbook is classic Donna Hay, but I love the new re-styled section, which showcases clever ways to adapt dishes for different occasion. Now I just need an excuse to whip up the nectarine and coconut tart… BBQ at my place?
Best for: Your sister
The New Easy by Donna Hay; Harper Collins, 240pp.
The Art of Traditional Italian
Sydney-based chef and restaurateur Lucio Galletto is passionate about food and art. At his eponymous Paddington restaurant, artworks line the walls and northern Italian dishes star on the menu. So it seems fitting that this celebration of Italian cuisine features Lucio’s favourite artists. It’s a truly spectacular book filled with Italian classics – I just wish I could frame some of the pages! There’s an idea…
Best for: Art, design and food aficionados
The Art of Traditional Italian by Lucio Galletto; Lantern, 256pp.
With her Thai heritage, Masterchef alum Marion Grasby knows a thing or two about green curries and noodles. But as Asia Express shows, her repertoire extends well beyond Thailand. Marion’s friendly, approachable style shines through this beautifully photographed book, and her recipes showcase many of Asia’s classics, modified for everyday cooking. Although I don’t think all the recipes classify as “express” – some would be beyond my weeknight time limits – there’s no shortage of Asian inspiration here.
Best for: Cooks who’ll appreciate simple recipes from every part of Asia.
Asia Express by Marion Grasby; Plum, 224pp.
Which of these take your fancy? Do you have any other recommendations?