Published in the Bondi View and City News.
China Modern By Ching-He Huang
Ching-He Huang has been dubbed China’s Nigella. She’s currently warming up British television screens on BBC’s Chinese Food Made Easy. So if, like me, you’re a bit intimidated by being a whitey cook attempting dishes from a 5000-year-old cuisine, then China Modern (RRP $35) is the book to get you hooked on Chinese cooking. This UK publication has several advantages:
1) All measurements are metric – no conversions required.
2) Readily available ingredients – most recipes contain only ingredients that any decent supermarket would stock, so no special trips to Chinatown.
3) Much shorter recipes than usual for Chinese cooking. Her Sichuan Pepper Prawn recipe only has three ingredients and three steps. The introductory background paragraph is longer than the entire recipe! But it’s not all no-brainers, for the more ambitious there are enough more complex recipes to keep skilled home cooks interested and excited.
Big Buy Cooking From the Editors of Fine Cooking
I’ve been buying in bulk big-time of late. If I see broccoli or zucchini stupidly cheap, I can’t resist a kilo or two. It usually means it’s right in season, in abundance, and at its best! So I hoped this book would provide some top tips on dealing with large-scale cooking and freezing of bulk produce. Unfortunately I was a bit underwhelmed by Big Buy Cooking (RRP $24.99), as its answer was a lateral one: pick an ingredient that you may buy in bulk, then give you half a dozen different dishes you can make with it. It seems like a way of putting a concept onto a bunch of recipes from Fine Cooking and flogging ‘em again in a new book. A great value-add for the editors, but not really for the reader. I’ve never really had a glut of boneless legs of lamb…
Tomato By Lawrence Davis-Hollander
Tomato (RRP $24.99) however, is a better book buy, but still with a few niggles. It’s from the USA, so recipes need conversions into metric to work. But, that said it’s packed with great recipes, loads of background info and insight into cooking with tomatoes, plus contributions from a range of cool US chefs. But you’d better like tomatoes…
Wild Vegan By Angela Stafford
By now you’re probably well aware that I am a confirmed omnivore, but that’s no reason to have a cookbook shelf bereft of at least one title that gives you some stellar dishes to put out next time you have a vegan dinner guest! Wild Vegan (RRP $24.95) is a particularly good choice because it’s world cuisine. Plus I reckon dishes like Corn Chowder and Boston Barbeque Beans are worthy additions to anyone’s diet.