Like any good addict, I have little stashes all over the house…
There’s a stack on my bedside table, on the bookshelf in my studio, in the lounge room. But it’s my kitchen stash of cookbooks (pictured above) that really tells the tale.
Because these are the ones that I’ve actually cooked something from recently.
I love cookbooks. I never get tired of flipping through the pages, reading every detail. Getting inspired. Getting hungry.
Here are my current faves. (ie. the ones in the kitchen squashed in next to my toaster).
13 Favourite Cookbooks of 2015
1. My New Roots by Sarah Britton
You wouldn’t think a ‘plant based’ book would be helpful for someone who was experimenting with eating ‘full Paleo’. But back in September when I was such an experimenter I found Sarah’s book really useful for alternatives to dairy. If you have any interest in creative ways to cook more veg this beautiful, vegetable-focused book is a winner. Checkout Sarah’s blog for a taste of what’s in store.
2. Mr Hong by Dan Hong
I can’t help but think of Dan Hong as Sydney’s answer to David Chang, the chef behind the Momofuku empire. This is the book I reach for when I’m after some serious deliciousness. From ‘secret’ tacos to amazing curries I love Hong’s work. Definitely a lot more than 5 ingredients though.
3. Near & Far by Heidi Swanson
A girl after my own heart, Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks loves food and travel. She’s combined both passions in this stunning book. I especially enjoyed reading about her travels in Japan, Morocco and India and the accompanying recipes. Lots of tasty new vegetarian ideas including the Red Lentil Hummus recipe below.
4. Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward
Another plant based blogger, it’s hard not to be caught up with Ella’s enthusiasm for veggies and real food. A self-taught cook Ella’s recipes err on the side of simplicity that I like.
5. Four Kitchens by Colin Fassnidge
Speaking of the word simplicity, it doesn’t really seem to be in Dublin / Sydney chef Colin Fassnidge’s vocabulary. That being said, I’ve loved this book as inspiration for my more extravagant weekend cooking. Especially when entertaining. There’s lots of effort required but sometimes even I enjoy making more complicated dishes as long as the deliciousness factor is there.
6. Kitchen by Mike by Mike McEnearney
I was devoed (that’s devastated in case you’re wondering) when I found that the Kitchen by Mike restaurant in Sydney had closed. But thankfully I had Mikes book which is a lovely tribute to the seasons with a balance between health and deliciousness that not many chefs get right. Good news is he’s opening in new digs in 2016.
7. Going Paleo by Pete Evans
This was an impulse purchase that inspired me to experiment with a month of eating ‘full paleo’ back in September. Not for everyone. But I did find some good ideas for making the paleo transition. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve gone back to eating what I call ‘mostly paleo’ so including legumes and dairy because I didn’t feel any extra benefits with the extra restriction. And boy did I miss my cheese.
8. Recipes for a Good Time by Ben Milgate and Elvis
I was going to write, ‘another Sydney chef book’ but these aren’t just any Sydney chefs. They own Porteno, the restaurant where my Irishman and I had our wedding ceremony and reception. So these guys hold a very special place in my heart. While there’s a lot of amazing meat recipes, it’s worth buying just to find out their secret to their amazing brussels sprouts with lentils.
9. A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis
OK confession time. SO I had a plan to cook every meal from David Tanis’ poetic book this year. And while I did make it half way through, I had to quit. As much as I loved the food, the multi course meals were too much for me to attempt, even on a Saturday night once I got pregnant and started going to bed at nanna o’clock.
10. In Search of Perfection by Heston Blumenthal
This might seem like the odd one out given that Heston and I fall at the completely opposite ends of the simple-complex cooking range. While I haven’t cooked anything from this book exactly, I have taken some inspiration from it. And my Irishman uses it to make his killer spaghetti bolognese. I do love Heston and the fact that he’s made food science sexy.
11. The Agrarian Kitchen by Rodney Dunn
If you’re ever thinking of visiting Tasmania, make sure you book in for a cooking class at the Agrarian Kitchen. My Irishman and I have done their chacuterie course and another on cooking with fire and loved every minute. It also helps that Rodney is one of the nicest guys ever. Love his paddock to plate approach to cooking.
12. River Cottage Australia by Paul West
I’m a huge huge fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the original River Cottage series so I wasn’t sure how I would find an Australian version. Truth is I love it! The recipes tend to be your classics in a made-from-scratch way. If you’re looking for inspiration and new ideas you might not find them here. Although I have book marked the cheese making section to try one day.
13. The Blue Ducks Real Food by Mark Labrooy & Darren Robertson
My Irishman gave me a copy of the Blue Duck’s latest book for my birthday and I’ve loved everything I’ve made from it so far. The focus on real food is really refreshing. And I love that there’s a section devoted to fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Looking for a delicious Christmas gift?
Since we’re talking cookbooks, I couldn’t not mention my own print book, 5 Ingredients 10 Minutes. It’s been a while since I’ve spoken about it but when I was in London in June I had coffee with my publisher and was very excited to learn that they had recently done a second print run!
Heidi’s Red Lentil Hummus
As much as I love playing around with different versions of hummus, AND as much as I adore red lentils, I can’t believe I hadn’t ever thought to put the two together. As soon as I read Heidi’s recipe I was itching to try it. While similar to hummus made from chickpeas, there’s a subtle difference in flavour. But the best part is it only takes a few minutes to cook the lentils unlike chickpeas which need soaking and long simmering. I might even go as far as to say this is my new go-to hummus recipe.
makes: about 3 cups
takes: 25 minutes
250g (9oz) red lentils
2/3 cup tahini
3-4 tablespoons lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add lentils and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until just tender. Drain really well and allow to cool.
2. Whizz lentils, tahini, lemon and garlic in a food processor until really smooth. Give it a good 5 minutes.
3. Taste and season generously with salt. Heidi calls for 3/4 teaspoon. If the hummus is too thick add a little water, whey or extra lemon. If too runny (like mine was) add more tahini. Whizz and taste again and adjust as needed until you’re happy.
4. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil anywhere you’d normally serve chickpea hummus.
Video version of the recipe.
no tahini – the purists won’t like it but cashew or almond butter works fine instead.
milder – skip the garlic.
other legumes – use 2.5 cups cooked chickpeas, white beans or other lentils.
paleo – replace lentils with cooked root veg. Roast sweet potato is especially delish. No need to simmer of course.
ps. And a BIG thanks for all the lovely comments and messages about my gestational diabetes diagnosis last week.
I really appreciate your kind thoughts. And the good news is, I’m actually finding it fascinating to be checking my blood sugar after every single meal. So enlightening to be putting my nutritional theories to the test on a day to day basis.