A look at three inspiring new cookbooks I’ve been keeping close to hand.
There’s not much I enjoy more than some new cookbooks. I’m a passionate reader and devour books in general, usually reading at least one a week. For recreational reading I’m just as happy reading a proper book or using my e-reader, with that split probably around the 50/50 mark, but when it comes to cookbooks there’s nothing like the heft of a solid cookbook, the smell of the pages and the visual stimulus of the great food imagery which accompanies quality recipe books these days.
I have cookbooks in piles all over my house and pick them up for a browse or for cooking inspiration at all hours of the day. Falafel for Breakfast, Real Delicious and Feel Good Food are three new cookbooks that I have kept well within reach for a few months now and here’s why.
Falafel For Breakfast by Michael Rantissi & Kristy Frawley (Murdoch Books $49.99)
Falafel for Breakfast is the first cookbook from Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley, the couple behind the counter at Sydney’s popular Kepos Street Kitchen. I’ve not eaten at their restaurant, but the recipes in this book are just the kind of modern Middle Eastern dishes that I love – anyone who is a fan of Yotam Ottolenghi’s food will seriously love this book.
The dishes are fresh, bright and straightforward, using the flavours and ingredients of Rantissi’s Tel Aviv background to create his own favourites and to recreate some Australian cafe standards. This food is generous and just made for sharing. The recipes are easy and will encourage those who are not yet familiar with this cuisine to explore it further, while still having enough fresh ideas to make the book a kitchen favourite for those who already love this vibrant culinary tradition.
Like Ottolenghi, Rantissi has a knack for turning out brightly coloured and diversely textured salads and there are plenty in this book that are must-try dishes. His Hot Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad is a best-seller in the cafe, the Cauliflower and Cranberry Salad is a show stopper and, as a fennel addict, the recipe for Tom’s Fennel Salad topped my list. (The recipe for that salad is below) There are fragrant Middle Eastern comfort dishes like Braised Harissa Lamb Shoulder with Okra, Baked Kefta and, another favourite of mine, Mujaddara (Lentil Rice), plus a cakes and desserts section which makes me weak with desire.
All in all, this is a wonderful addition to the Australian culinary lexicon.
Feel Good Food by Valli Little (ABC Books $39.99)
Another title from the already-groaning delicious. cookbook shelves, Valli Little’s Feel Good Food aims at finding a real-life balance between cooking and eating wholesome, healthy and nutritious meals without losing the pleasure and satisfaction that great food gives. As a result of a health scare in 2014, Valli wanted to reassess some of her choices without compromising the joy she takes in cooking creatively.
There are a wealth of dishes that are deliciously inspirational without being too sinful in the 180 recipes in this cookbook, including a great selection of raw fare and plenty of baked and sweet treats that won’t torment your conscience too much. Some of my favourites include the Quinoa-Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel, Cheat’s Porchetta and the divine Whisky and Vanilla Cured Trout.
A great book for the connoisseur who might be ready to put some extra thought into their ingredients.
Real Delicious by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books, $35.00)
Written by the author of Supergrains and Superlegumes, Freer’s new book, Real Delicious, again highlights the importance and nutritional benefits of a diet rich in whole foods. With the growth of food intolerances and allergies, Chrissy Freer suggests that whatever we are doing to our food, it is not working for a lot of us. As a nutritionist, she argues that we need to avoid foods that are highly processed and padded out with sugars, thickeners and stabilisers and get back to a diet based on whole, fresh, unprocessed foods.
In Real Delicious Freer provides over 100 recipes which show that healthy eating doesn’t need to mean sacrificing flavour – quite the opposite in fact. Avoiding too much fat wherever possible, her recipes will still satisfy any cravings with dishes like Breakfast pots with Toasted Oats and Vanilla-Poached Cherries, Buckwheat Chicken and Gape Salad with Hazelnuts, Lamb and Haloumi Skewers and Baked Whole Snapper with Moroccan Spice paste. The perfect cookbook for anyone who is genuine about overhauling their eating habits.
And here’s the recipe for that delicious ‘Tom’s Fennel Salad” from ‘Falafel for Breakfast.
Tom's Fennel Salad
- 2 fennel bulbs thinly shaved using a mandolin
- 2 Lebanese short cumbers, thinly shaved, lengthways, with a mandolin
- 1 handfull fresh dill roughly chopped
- 2 large handfulls flat-leaf parsley leaves coarsely chopped
- 1 handfull fresh mint leaves
- 100 gms 3 1/2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- juice of 2 lemons
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 50 gms 1 3/4 oz, 1/3 cup pine nuts toasted
- Put the fennel, cucumber, dill, parsley and mint into a large bowl and toss gently to combine.
- Add the feta and toss gently using your hands.
- Put the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, season with salt and gently mix through using your hands.
- Scatter the pine nuts over the top.
All of the above cookbooks were sent to Lamb’s Ears and Honey by the publishers as review copies.