Oh my god, I don’t generally gush straight up about the cookbook that I cooked from but Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi and Farida Ayubi is amazing. This is not just a cookbook, it’s an insight into Afghanistan, family, making a new home, and more. The recipes are grouped by themes instead of ingredients, so the chapter titles are beautifully poetic, “Roots & Belonging”, “The Dissipation of a Dream” and “The Plight of the Displaced” as an example. Parwana is a restaurant in Adelaide (even more of a reason to go there), and the cookbook features some of the food served at the restaurant. It’s a very generous book, both in serving sizes and in letting the reader in on the story of the family.
Every single dish I cooked from this book was amazing. Each one was declared the best they’d ever tasted of that kind of dish. This is how amazing this book is. 5 out of 5 starts, go and get your copy already.
I backed Lazy Fare by Jane Cornes Maclean on Pozible, I love the idea of a cookbook that provides delicious and easy dishes to make. I didn’t know at the time that Jane was a “Award winning writer, ex Gourmet Traveller state editor and self confessed lazy person” (same link as above), which is definitely an added bonus. My correspondence with Jane has been lovely so far, she offered to send me another book to potentially gift to one of my readers, and I’m not really sure how many fans I have (I know of maybe 3), so I declined the kind offer.
The cookbook is a collection of recipes and thoughts on food in all sorts of ways, working in the industry, travelling with food, origins and spread of dishes and ingredients, seasonality and more. I cooked three dishes, one with home grown beetroot, and each was delicious. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. There were some mistakes, and they are totally my responsibility. I’ll mention them as I go along. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it as a purchase.
Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca was a Christmas gift to me from Scott. We’d watched her TV show when it was on SBS and marvelled at how thin she stayed while eating such glorious food. The cookbook is a collection of recipes, and really gorgeous photos, from the Marche, Abruzzo and Molise provinces in the eastern costal regions of Italy. I’d recommend looking at this book in a bookstore or library just to check out the photos, becase they are stunning. I now want to travel to these areas just to see the sights – though I’d probably need to speak some Italian to make that an easier exercise.
Anyway, the cookbook. Silvia Colloca’s family is from these regions of Italy, though she grew up in Milan. Silvia now lives in Australia, and travelled back to Italy to collect the recipes from people, make a TV show and write a book. And it was all very successful. I ended up making four recipes from this book, three on one day for dinner, and a cake (as I had some apricots that needed to be consumed) on another. All the recipes were successful and we’re already talking about making some of them again this weekend. Can’t wait to cook from this book again, 5 out of 5 stars.
All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cusines of China by Carolyn Phillips was a birthday or Christmas gift to me by Scott some time ago. It’s another book that I cooked from in 2019 and lost all the photos (and memories) of, so I cooked from it again. I want to state for the record that I massively stuffed up a lot of this cook-through of this cookbook, and that’s all on me, and not the recipes themselves. I thought I could substitute one thing for another (see below), and I thought I could substitute one cooking method for another (also see below). I didn’t do a good job of this cookbook, though I vaguely remember the other dishes I made in 2019 being ok (except for the beanshoots and tofu – I don’t like beanshoots that much). I plan to revisit this cookbook in the future and try a different set of recipes, right now I’m giving it 4 out of 5 for the receipes that worked – as they were amazing.
What you see below are the receipes as written (and links to YouTube vidoes on techniques where appropriate), and the details of what I did wrong. Don’t repeat my mistakes. 🙂
This cookbook looks at the 35 regions of China and documents their recipes, grouping them into soups, starters, side dishes and main dishes. As the author says:
Of course, All Under Heaven is by no means encyclopedic; as far as China’s foods are concerned, what lies between these covers is little more than the tip of the iceberg. Rather, this book is meant to be a subjective compliation of my personal favourites from each part of the country. The reason for this is simple: China’s culinary traditions are so vast, ancient, and varied that each one of the thirty-five cuisines touched upon here deserves a book of its own.
Carolyn Phillips – All Under Heaven.
The book was written and published in the US, so there are ingredients that aren’t necessarily available in Australia, and measurements that aren’t in metric (because why would you do that?). If that bothers you (it does bother me, so you’re not alone), keep that in mind.
I’m not entirely sure where Have your bake & eat it by Casual Cooking came from. It was a book I cooked from in 2019 and then lost all the photos (and almost all the memories of) from, so I cooked from it again. It’s out of print now (the link above is an ebay link), so finding this book is going to be tricky, that said, I don’t think you really need to rush out and find it. Other recipe books (and the internet) have better or as good as versions of these recipes and there is nothing particularly special or unique about this book when there are so many good or better cookbooks available.
I had some leftover strawberries and lemons from a very quiet New Years Eve gathering, so looked for something to make with them. I opened Crafternoon Tea, which I have cooked from before, and found this recipe for a Stawberry Lemonade Slice. It’s good, do recommend next time you have excess fruit lying around and you don’t want to waste it.
I used two lemons for this recipe – grate the rind off them first, then juice them both – you’ll need 4 tablespoons of juice and 2 teaspoons of rind.
113g butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup plain flour
2 heaped cups of diced strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest, or to taste
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 plain flour
pinch of salt
Base: Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with baking paper. Combine softened butter with sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until fluffy. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until crumbly. Transfer crumbs to the baking pan and pat down firmly to make an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes until the surface is dry but not browned.
Filling: In a medium bowl, add the egg, Greek yoghurt, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Evenly pour filling over the crust and set aside.
Strawberry layer: In a separate medium bowl, add all the ingredients and toss to combine. Gently spoon the strawberry mixture evenly over the filling.
Crumble topping: In a medium bowl, stir together the sugars, flour and salt. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the brown sugar mixture. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingers until uniform crumbs have formed. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the strawberry layer.
Bake for 60 minutes or until the edges are bubbling quite vigorously and the middle is bubbling slightly. Crumble topping should appear set and lightly golden. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Notes on this recipe
Very delicious. Despite the lack of actual lemonade in this, the lemonade flavour is strong
Still happy with my previous rating of 4 out of 5 stars for this book
Still disappointed that I can’t find anywhere for you to buy it so you can have your own copy.
I bought Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen by Abla Amad during lockdown because it was on sale, I love Lebanese food, and Abla’s restaurat in Melbourne is an institution (highly recommend going there if you live in Melbourne and can afford it). It was hard to pick what I was going cook from this book as there are so many tasty looking dishes. In the end I had to get someone else to be the arbiter between some of the dishes, because I couldn’t choose.
The cookbook is good, the recipes in it are easy to follow, the stories of Abla’s life and family are interesting and beautiful, and the photos are fantastic. I am looking forward to cooking from this book again and give it 4.5 stars out of 5.
I bought The Australian Women’s Weekly Grilled cookbook a while ago, looking for more interesting things to cook on the BBQ beyond the standard sausages, chops, onions and halloumi (not that I mind any of that). This book covers all that and more, with sections on grilling, roasting, using the wok burner, using a smoker (if you have one) as well as sides and desserts.
Because I was ambitous, I cooked 4 different things, including one dessert. The meal was a success and I am curious to try more from this book. There aren’t a huge range of vegetarian options in the book and there are a lot of seafood options I will never make, but still overall I give this 4 out of 5 stars.
Orange Blossom & Honey by John Gregory-Smith was on sale when I bought it recently, and given I love Moroccan food and this book was all about Moroccan food, I thought I’d give it a shot (because I really need another Moroccan cookbook). Gregory-Smith travelled extensively throughout Morocco, spending time with the locals and learning about their recipes. He then went home and adjusted the recipes for Western/Anglo kitchens – swapping in replacement ingredients for things that can be hard to find in the UK, all without sacrificing taste. I would say he succeeded, the recipes we cooked were delicious, and I already want to make them again.
The instructions are good, the recipes tasty and there is definite revisit potential with this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
So there was an email from a bookstore (Booktopia) about things including cookbooks, and one of the ones that I saw was Ethopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa by Yohanis Gebreyesus (with Jeff Koehler). I LOVE Ethiopian food and was super excited to find a cookbook full of Ethiopian recipes, so I bought it. I was not disappointed. There were a couple of missteps (my fault), but the dishes were amazing, I want to make them again as well as try some others. Though I won’t try making the injera, because sour dough bread things are definitely not my jam. Would happily buy some if there was some on offer in my neighbourhood because injera is great. Oh and berbere spice mix is amazing (though I made mine with the wrong chillies so it’s deadly and tasty versus slightly spicy and tasty). We’ve already used the excess spice in risotto and bolognese, and will continue to do so.
Definitely recommend this book if you enjoy Ethiopian food and cooking, 4.5 stars out of 5.