When I left home several decades ago, my mother gave me a copy of The Commonsense Cookbook (1986 edition) and sent me on my way.
"May you become a better cook than me," she wrote on the inside cover in her beautiful cursive handwriting.
I'd like to think that I have, no offence dear mother, and much of that is due to the ever-increasing collection of cookbooks in my kitchen.
I'm not much of a cook, but I can read and follow a recipe. And this year there's been plenty of books to provide inspiration.
Here's a few books, and meals, I've been cooking in 2022.
On every page of this substantial book is a recipe that will make your tummy rumble with the spark of a memory. It's a look back at what has shaped Australian cuisine, even shaped our nation. But it's also a journey back through those meals that have shaped our own lives.
Cook: Pumpkin scones, just like your nanna used to make.
If Daniel and Luke Mancuso's story doesn't touch your heart, then you probably don't have one. Yiayia Next Door is now a social media phenomenon, built on the idea of community, fed by homely, substantial meals. Be kind to people, offer them help. You just never know.
Cook: Hilopites me keftedakia, a Greek turn on pasta squares with meatballs.
Alice Zaslavsky is a little like me. She likes to eat, therefore she likes to cook. This book is not about making you a good cook, but a better cook, no matter what your starting point is. It's full of useful hacks and tips and tricks which result in delicious meals. An idea on every page.
Cook: Hubba-bubaghanoush, perfect for summer entertaining.
Tom Walton's given me the courage to cook more fish. And in different ways than ever before. There's so much more in this book too, salads, vege-forward mains, with suggestions on ways to incorporate the fish, as well as tips on selection and storage, seasonality and sustainability. Every dish I've cooked has lured me in.
Cook: Whole roast Lebanese fish. Marinate and pop it in the oven. That's it.
This glorious book arrived about the same time Queen Elizabeth II died and I wallowed in it. Part cookbook, part cultural history, it encompasses home-cooked classics, dishes deeply steeped in British history and iconic dishes with roots outside of the United Kingdom.
Cook: Let's bring Scotch eggs back to the table. So retro, so tasty.
Buy this book now. You'll save money, reduce food waste and eat glorious dishes for every meal. It's packed with waste hacks, storage tips, swaps and shortcuts for more than 150 common vegetables, fruits and kitchen staples, as well as hundreds of suggested recipes.
Cook: Have not stopped making the green things fritters to clean out the fridge.
Nagi Maehashi's website recipetineats has more than 15 million views every week. Her recipes never fail, they're achievable and delicious. This is her first book, bringing together all the favourites from the site. Work your way through it. And you get to hang out with her golden retriever Dozer.
Cook: Magic baked chicken fried rice. It will become a family favourite.
Skating pretty close to 50, Poh Ling Yeow reckons she's finally beginning to sort things out. At least one of us has. There's a chapter here called Lone Ranger which is all about cooking for one. And all the other chapters. And the whole idea that feeding yourself is an act of love.
Cook: Pork and kimchi dumplings with Thai chilli jam, because you can.
He had me at minimal washing up. One-pan, one-pot books have had a bit of a run of late, and this one, ha, is full of achievable meals with that Jamie Oliver touch. Each recipe features eight ingredients or less with clear instructions resulting in surprising meals.
Cook: The rosemary roast chicken with sweet leeks, garlic, cider, butter beans, crème frache and stilton is simply decadent.
Breadsong tells the story of Kitty Tait who was a chatty, bouncy and full-of-life 14 year old until she was overwhelmed by an ever-thickening cloud of depression and anxiety and she withdrew from the world. Her desperate family tried everything to help her but she slipped further away from them. One day her dad Alex, a teacher, baked a loaf of bread with her and that small moment changed everything. This book will change everything too.
Cook: Overnight focaccia, because bread is where it all started.
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