Ruth Pretty's fans won't want to miss her latest book,
Ruth Pretty Cooks at Home, (Penguin), a stylish
hardback that is more about cooking at weekends and for
entertaining than quick, everyday meals.
Her recipes are typically elegant, often with classic
flavours such as walnut and fig bread with blue cheese, apple
and celery; roasted mushroom and lemon thyme dip; turkey
salad with prosciutto, pine nuts and muscatels; oven-braised
pork shoulder with cavolo nero, apricots and prunes; or baked
rhubarb and rose geranium compote with little pavlovas. She
even gives her take on the southern cheese roll - dainty
little toasted asparagus rolls with a cheese and mustard
A fundraising book for the New Zealand Rugby Foundation in
its 25th anniversary, NZ Rugby Kitchen (Random House).
The foundation supports badly injured players. Rugby players,
past and present, men and a few women, have contributed
recipes, from Dr Farah Palmer's paua fritters and Richard
Kahui's sweet chilli mussels to Owen Frank's macaroni cheese,
Andrew Hore's venison with beer and port, Israel Dagg and Sir
Colin Meads' roast leg of lamb, and Chris Laidlaw's lemon
shortbread with roasted rhubarb. The recipes have been tested
and photographed, and there are lots of photographs of
players cooking and enjoying themselves.
If you think your vegetables are boring, they probably are,
writes Simon Bryant in the introduction to his book, Simon
Bryant's Vegies (Lantern). If they are too perfect and
available every day of the year even when out of season you
are probably buying the wrong vegetables from the wrong
place. Real vegetables vary from season to season and are
freshly harvested, the Australian chef writes.
He regards it as his job to turn them into a meal with the
minimum of fuss to let the produce shine. His book helps the
cook do that and more. He creates meals out of vegetables,
and although they happen to be vegetarian, many who eat these
dishes won't realise until they've enjoyed it.
From humble vegetables such as potatoes and silverbeet to
more exotic ones such as purple carrots and snake beans, he
creates dishes such as potato potstickers with chilli peanut
sauce, silverbeet with baked paneer, baby purple carrots and
beets with herbed spaetzle or snake beans with garlic and
tomato kusundi. His experience working in Indian and Thai
restaurants comes through in the flavours, and perhaps more
subtly, the inspiration of working with the renowned Cheong
Liew at the Adelaide Hilton. While the recipes are not
difficult - these are steaming bowls of vegetables rather
than artistically arranged plates - they are often
adventurous, and adventurous cooks will enjoy this book.
One of the most fascinating recent cookbooks is Who put
the beef in Wellington?: 50 culinary classics, who
invented them, when and why by James Winter (Kyle Books).
Winter, BBC cookery programme producer, delves into the
stories behind 50 famous dishes, mostly named after people,
such as Caesar salad, eggs Benedict, chicken Kiev, pizza
Margherita, tarte Tatin, crepes Suzette and southern
specialties pavlova and lamingtons (named after Lord
Lamington, governor of Queensland, who described them as
''bloody poofy woolly biscuits'').
But he also offers an alternative explanation that it was not
Lamington's chef but Queensland cookery teacher Ann Schauer
who invented them. Winter gives recipes for each dish or
cocktail, sometimes his own version and sometimes from a
prestigious chef. However, his version of lamingtons has
chocolate icing sprinkled with coconut only on the top rather
than the jelly-dipped version we often find here.
Vinacular, by John Saker with illustrations by Scott
Kennedy (Awa Press) is sure to bring a smile to the faces of
wine lovers. It's an A-Z of wine terms, gently but humorously
explained. One of my favourites is Entry-level wines -
''Entry-level wines are like ground-floor apartments. It's
where you start out, pay less, get no kind of a view and
wonder how good it must be up there in the penthouse. (Or how
hideous down in the basement).''
Too often vegetarian options on restaurant menus are
disappointingly uninspired compared with other dishes, but
London chef Maria Elia shows that this need not be so. The
Modern Vegetarian: Food adventures for the contemporary
palate (Kyle Books) will be an inspiration for anyone,
chef or adventurous home cook, who wants to create stylish,
sophisticated vegetarian food, whether simple or complex.
In her recipes, vegetables are the heroes and her dishes full
of colour, texture, flavour and taste adventures - mushroom
beetroot mozzarella and lentil cartouche, smoky aubergine,
tomato and cashew-nut curry, dukkah-rolled soft-boiled eggs
with chickpea puree, watermelon panzanella, and many others.
She also explores variations like textures of peas - sweet
custards, soups, jellies, crostini topping, or textures of
beetroot - keftedes, tzatziki, caramelised onion and beetroot
bulgar pilau, Greek beetroot salad. One of the most
interesting cookbooks I've come across recently and highly
recommended for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
For vegetarians who are perhaps less adventurous but still
looking for inspiration as well as easy-to-make dishes,
Alison and Simon Holst's The Ultimate Vegetarian
Collection (New Holland) is a must. It's a compilation
from their previous books, Very Easy Vegetarian, Meals
without red meat and Meals without meat. There's a wealth of
recipes to take you from breakfast to dessert, with nibbles,
baking and snacks along the way.