'This is much more than a recipe book. It is a gastronomic tour of Italy, from the Alpine beauty of Trentino-Alto Adige to Arab-influenced Sicilia (Sicily), and from the prehistoric Italici — the first people to occupy the peninsula -- to the people who make up the rich culinary tapestry of the present day. It is a long and absorbing history, and an introduction to the landscape and produce of each of Italy's 20 provinces. I hope you enjoy travelling and tasting with me across time, and through the varied and beguiling regions of Italy.'
— Chef and restaurateur Stefano Manfredi in his introduction to Stefano Manfredi's Italian Food
'Our grandparents knew how to judge for themselves whether a food was spoiled, whereas in our supermarket-dominated world, governed by use-by and sell-by dates, it is easy to abandon the fundamental sensual skills of looking and smelling. But once you enter the world of preserving, it is important to re-hone your senses, as well as to understand and feel comfortable with what you are doing.'
— Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi in the introduction to The Gentle Art of Preserving
I've always said that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, I would love to come back as Maggie Beer — for here is a gentle woman who is delightful, gracious, generous, loves a celebration, has a genuine zest for life, and is a beautiful cook too!
'Last summer, near high tide, something drove me to swim from Mother Ivy's Beach, across to the cove on Trevose Head to where my father died. As I swam closer, I became increasingly uneasy: the waves seemed bigger, the sea deeper and darker. I almost felt I had to turn back. There's no path down from the top, and I remembered that they had to launch the lifeboat to recover his body from the seas, so there would be no easy way out...'.
'Summer is all about easy, great-tasting and healthy food with a sense of adventure and fun. Luscious tropical fruit, leafy bowls of salad, tangy Asian noodles and spiced couscous... food that not only tastes great but is good for you. Food that is bursting with colour, dripping with yummy juices, and spiced with a splash of lime, a scattering of herbs and a sprinkle of seasoning.'
'Shelves of glass candy jars filled with sweets all the colours of the rainbow and every flavour imaginable, trays of cocoa-dusted truffles and brightly coloured foil-wrapped chocolate bars, intoxicating to the eye as well as the taste buds. I am in heaven when surrounded by such delights.'
With the approach of the gift giving season, I am ever so pleased to share with you Sweet Things, which I believe is among the best of the 'sweet treats' books I have had the pleasure of reviewing over many years. Author, Annie Rigg says there's no denying that she (always has and always will) have a sweet tooth. 'I am drawn like a moth to a flame when it comes to comes to eating or cooking sweet things and I feel an almost gravitational pull towards sweet shops and chocolatiers.'
'Cooking, like love, does not have to be rocket science. It is a way of thinking, tasting and feeling that allows you to draw pleasure out of what could otherwise be ordinary. It turns chore into a little party, or, sometimes, a big one,' writes Anna Gare in the introduction to her second book, eat in. Subtitled 'the best food is made at home', Ms Gare says the book is about making simply yummy food with fresh ingredients without having to spend hours in the kitchen to make spectacular food. Sounds good, no?!
On opening Sharon Salloum's cookbook, Almond Bar, I couldn't resist turning to the Dessert chapter first, for I knew that it would offer an assortment of intriguing Syrian sweets based on exquisite ingredient combinations. And indeed it does. There's rose of damascus, for example, (filo pastry rounds filled with Middle Eastern clotted cream, orange blossom jam, sugar syrup and pistachios); and semolina fudge (semolina topped with rosewater, clotted cream, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios and jam); as well as turmeric cake (made with semolina, turmeric, tahini and almonds); a simple fig sorbet; and also rosewater ice cream (served with chopped macadamias).
'If a recipe cooked from this book brings you a word of praise or a smile to the face of even just one of your loved ones, then you and I together will have achieved something truly wonderful'. - Adam Liaw, Asian After Work
The paragraph highlighted above appears on what is effectively the last page of Adam Liaw's wonderful new cookbook, Asian After Work. To me, this only reinforces my opinion that Mr Liaw is one of the most humble, good natured food and cookery personalities to have risen to (huge) fame in recent years.
Grab yourself a fork and let's tuck in to the delicious and nutritious Bulgur and Fig Salad on the cover of Ancient Grains: Whole-food Recipes for the Modern Table. This image sets the scene for the contents of the latest book from Australia's leading nutritionist and best-selling author, Catherine Saxelby, who enjoys great food and is keen to overturn the notion that grains can be bland and old-fashioned by revealing that cooking with ancient grains can offer a rich palette of flavourful meals.