A Food & Travel Blog

Cookbooks for your Xmas list – and to win!

11/12/2011 | By

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.  If you’re running out of gift ideas, I can help with that!  (My apologies to the unknown author of a carol with somewhat similar lyrics.)

As I frequently tell my husband (in a slightly shrill and utterly defensive tone) there is no such thing as too many (cook) books.  They are invaluable sources of interest, reference and inspiration and make the very best Christmas gifts.  I’m willing to bet there is a cookbook somewhere in the world to suit just about everybody.  Actually, I suspect there is a cookbook somewhere in my house to suit just about everybody, but perhaps it would be best not to draw too much spousal attention to that.  Here’s a brief look at a couple of recent publications that may hit the spot with someone you love.  As a bonus I will be giving one copy of each of these books away to a lucky winner, so check out the reviews and look at the bottom of the page for competition details.

Published by Wakefield Press and part memoir, part recipe book, Mezze to Milk Tart by Cecile Yazbeck contains a tantalising array of culturally combined  vegetarian dishes.  Cecile Yazbeck was born into a Lebanese family in South Africa and went on to study anthropology and sociology there, using her education and skills to work on behalf of the disadvantaged who were suffering under Apartheid.   Fearing for the safety of her family, she immigrated to Australia in the mid 1980’s and subsequently established her successful cooking school and catering business.  Retired now, she has gathered her favourite recipes together with personal anecdotes and reflections to continue to share her passion for food.

Drawing together the varied threads of her culinary past, these dishes embrace the Indian and Malay-influenced flavours of the South African food of her childhood,  some of the more traditional South African dishes, the Lebanese food which was  her own family tradition and recipes that she developed and taught in her cooking school, “Cecile’s Vegetarian Kitchen” at her home in Wahroonga, NSW.  With a focus on good health and environmental awareness, the book looks quite modest but just bursts with temptingly fresh recipes using plenty of fresh herbs and spices and also has a very satisfying chapter on desserts.  The perfect gift for the budding vegetarian in the family.

Still riding the wave of popularity of Australia’s favourite television show, comes the best recipes from the most popular contestants and the expert guests in Masterchef Series 3 The Cookbook.  Beautifully photographed and clearly laid out, there is no excuse for anyone not to try their hand at becoming a master chef in their own kitchen using this book.  Using the same format which has proved so successful with the first two in the series, this book introduces us to the top 24 contestants and progresses, week by week, through the filming schedules and highlights of the series.  A few of the (mostly chocolate) recipes caught my eye and have been noted and, for those who are interested in making a seasonal gingerbread house, there are instructions for the template for Adrian Zumbos’ Fairytale Gingerbread House with the accompanying detailed instructions and aspirational photograph.  An absolutley  essential gift for your Masterchef tragic.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a give-away so I will be giving away a copy of each of these highly desirable books and it is dead simple to be in the running to win one.  Simply make a comment below in the “Comments” section and then head over to Facebook  and “Like” Lambs Ears and Honey Facebook page and/or  Twitter – @lambsearshoney – and follow me.  I will keep this open until Christmas Eve when I will announce the winners and I will get the books into the post as soon as the post office opens again in the new year.  So, don’t hold back folks – grab a chance for an extra present!

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  1. Lucas

    There. I done likeafied yon Facebookins.

    And as one who avoided the whole Master Chef rigmarole, is the book still worth it?

  2. Lizzy (Good Things)

    A couple of interesting books there. Not so interested in the vego one, I have plenty of those. Is the MasterChef one worthwhile? I can’t follow you on FB, as I am not on it, but I like you and I follow you on Twitter.

    Thanks for a great blog!

  3. Hotly Spiced

    You can never have too many cookbooks! I’ll head over to FB and do the like thing.

  4. Marsha

    I work for a publisher and am lucky enough at times to receive some free cookbooks … the last time I came home with a box of free books which included about 7 cookbooks and he begged me not to bring any more free books home … especially cookbooks … I pointed out that he collects DVD/Comics .. I collect cookbooks and unless he wanted to halve his collection then some zipping of the lips was in order … ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Amanda

    Lucas & Lizzy – To be honest, the Masterchef book will really most appeal to fans of the show.
    Charlie – A woman after my own heart – thanks!
    Marsha – You go girl!

  6. Tracey

    Since Anna has officially become a vegetarian I am scratching for non meat meals that would be deemed “food” by the rest of the ungracious. More specifically ones that don’t involve buckets of cream or nasty looking beans!

  7. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book

    I had to box a few of my recipe books because I ran out of space! Think I need to revisit the idea of my bookshelf in the kitchen.
    Oh and you could always tell you hubby that cook books are ever evolving so you have to have all the new ones.
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Mandy

  8. Kate

    Both those books look my type of bedside reading though I doubt if I would attempt THAT gingerbread house !!

  9. Clare

    Done — now liked on FB to compliment the Twitter follow ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m really interested in that Sth African one, not the vego aspect but because my husband has just –Sunday– got back from a month in Sth Africa and said that he looked for some books on traditional African cooking for me but couldn’t find any… (nevertheless, signals he’s slowly learning!)

    Is the Yazbeck book an interesting one? I know very little about Sth African cooking, or any African at all, and would love to know more ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Therese

    You can never be too rich, or too thin?
    But you can definitely never ever ever have too many cookbooks.
    Twitter lovin already.

  11. Amanda

    Tracey – There are some very tempting looking dishes in Cecile’s book.
    Mandy – my husband is largely resigned to the cookbook situation. We just don’t talk about it.;-)
    Kate – doesn’t it look great, though!
    Clare – there are such a lot of recipes in Cecile’s book. Many are Lebanese based, but there are plenty of the culturally diverse South African ones too.
    Therese – It’s a bit like chocolate isn’t it?! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    There’s such a great selection of cookbooks out aren’t there! I have about 20 that I need to read through -am waiting for that day when I get the chance ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Maz

    Love love love the Wakefield Press book, and the enormous influence SA cuisine and produce has on this country. Not to mention your blog, which came to me by word of mouth from residents from the Adelaide Hills. There is no match over here in NSW, (except for those for whom macaroons are the be all and end all).

    Here’s to finding inspiration outside your kitchen window!

  14. sue averay

    Competition or not, I’ve Liked you for a very long time ! As for the intrepid Wakefield Press, I was there when it was a mere slip of a start-up – and look at it now, a State icon! In both cases, from little things great cultural things have come and what a benefit that’s been for me .

  15. Nic

    I agree, you can never have too many cookbooks and I’d happily add the above two to my collection ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Liz

    The only thing better than another cookbook is another bread book. I limited myself to two this year! The South African book intrigues me. I work occasionally with a guy from SA and he comes up with some interesting flavour combinations. Now to go like you!

  17. Tonya Carter

    I could use a new cookbook. I need some fresh ideas! Thanks:)

  18. Bel

    I’d love the veg one! Lovely!

  19. Sally

    I read cookbooks like novels. I’ve gone through my local library, and now am moving on to the library 20 mins away. Love a cookbook, good or bad, something will inspire me

  20. Dee

    The vegetarian book looks like an inspiring read.

  21. Vividu

    The vegetarian one looks interesting and diverse.
    I’ve had to cut down on my habit by borrowing from the library, if I love it I will buy. I would like your FB page but have recently closed my account.

  22. Rita

    Love your site. Already following you on Facebook!

  23. Angela

    Thanks for all the suggestions re cookbooks Amanda. I do like to check what you and others are reading – I also love Wakefield press – I have found a couple of great foodie books (not necessarily cook books) via your suggestions including Alice B Toklas & Kafta’s Soup. I love this type of reading and you’re right, they make the best gifts!

    The vegetarian book looks dreamy, I can’t get enough of them lately!

  24. Liz

    Amanda I love following your blog and have done since “what’s in the box”. I’ve made many of your suggestions and now can’t wait to make the cranberry liqueur. Just to get my hands on some of those slippery little suckers so I might have to wait. Hope your christmas is amazing and wonderful. I have been ovenless for a month and it was repaired today so tomorrow I can start cooking (she sings….)

  25. Trish Hogan

    I am a liker already of your interesting page on Face Book & as the proud owner of a brand new kitchen, either of the books would be happily recieved. Hopefully the combination of a new oven etc & a new cookbook will help me produce some miricales.

  26. Judi Hirst

    I have been following you on Facebook for awhile – I find the recipes and articles very interesting and share them with my Home Ec students. Looking forward to learning more with you in 2012 and thankyou for all the contributions you make to all of us ardent “foodies”.

  27. Bec

    Didnt know what ginger looked like when I started to learn how to cook…among other things! Now I rarely buy take away as, with help, I’m beginning to call it a hobby…especially as it involves the tasting at th end ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Alex

    I’m also in the never too many cookbooks camp … and you’re facebooked and twittered!

  29. Amanda

    Lucas and Rita -congratulations to you both, you are the winners of a cookbook each. The first one of you to email me back with your postal address and book preference will get first choice.
    Merry Christmas to both of you and to all of my lovely readers!