In real life we face stressful cooking situations - hard up, hungry, in a hurry, haven't been able to get the supermarket, or when unexpected vegetarians or visitors arrive - rather than leisurely planning our meals as most gorgeous cookbooks would have us believe. British-Bengali foodwriter Rejina Sabur-Cross comes up with practical, imaginative solutions to these problems in her funky Gastrogeek (Kyle Books).

Her recipes range from teriyaki rice ''burgers'' and spiced mussel one-pot wonder, to root vegetable rosti and feta, dill and beetroot savoury cheesecake. There are also a handful of classics, like French onion soup, roast tomato puttanesca and peanut butter and chocolate muesli bars. There's a lot of good eating in this book.


Although first published in 2009, Katie Caldesi's The Italian Cookery Course (Kyle) came across my desk for review recently. Unlike the plethora of lighter Italian-themed cookbooks around that offer a nibble of the country's cuisine, this is a serious but not intimidating collection aimed at both beginners and those with some experience of cooking and of Italian food. English-born Katie and her Italian husband Giancarlo run several Italian eateries and a cooking school in the UK.

Her background shows in this book which not only contains a tempting selection of recipes from many regions, several from friends and relatives, but also has sections explaining some of the techniques. These include breadmaking, sourdough starters and bigas, how to fillet different types of fish, how to prepare artichokes, temper chocolate, tell when steak is cooked to your liking, and how to make different types of pasta and tomato passata. There's also lots of information on ingredients, vegetables, herbs, Italian wine and cheese. Recommended for Italophiles and those who aspire to being one.

Auckland restaurateur, Masterchef judge and specialist food importer, Simon Gault has published his third cookbook, Homemade (Penguin).

A glossy book with lavish photography and stylish recipes, some tarted-up classics like macaroni cheese with truffle oil, or his dad's steak and kidney pudding with an old-fashioned suet crust. Others are stylish restaurant fare like salmon with bread and butter potato pudding.

A good coffee-table book that may also find use in the kitchen.

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