Cookbook 165: Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen

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.

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Cookbook 164: Grilled

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.

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Cookbook 163: Orange Blossom & Honey

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.

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Cookbook 162: Ethiopia

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.

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Cookbook 161: Jacob Food

I backed Jacob Food: An Entertainer’s Guide to Food You’ll Actually Make by Jacob Leung on a crowdfunding platform because a) cookbook, and b) cookbook. It was a while ago now, but thanks to lockdown and needing something to look forward to, I finally reached cooking from this cookbook, and I wasn’t disappointed. Jacob has certainly thought about what people like to eat, what flavours go together, and how to provide that information to people in an easy to understand way.

I made three dishes from this cookbook and I’d make them all again. The only one I’d change slightly, if I made it again, would be the gnocchi – and that’s only to suit Nigel’s taste because he wanted more garlic – something he claims you can’t have to much of, and I tend to agree with him. Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 160: Hong Kong Food City

Wow, this is a lot of cookbooks. Hong Kong Food City by Tony Tan is a new addition to my bookshelf, because I have had so many people rave to me about the food of and in Hong Kong, and I can’t travel for the foreseeable future, so recipe books it is.

I like that this cookbook not only talks about the brands of certain sauces that you should buy, and the types of places you can get them, but also gives you information as to where you can try this dish in Hong Kong if we’re ever allowed to travel internationally again.

Tony Tan is a very well renowned chef (who does not have a wikipedia page), so you can trust that the recipes in this book have been well researched and thought about before being published. The one gripe I have with the recipes that I made was that one of them didn’t give guidance on approximately how long something should be deep fried, and the answer was longer than I did. Otherwise the recipes were delicious and we’d cook them again. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 159: Modern Flavours of Arabia

So this book, Modern Flavours of Arabia by Suzanne Husseini, is out of print in Australia, which is a shame, because it’s a good book. Not surprising though as it was published in 2012, and that is a long time in publishing years. However, if you do see if for sale in a second hand bookshop, and you like what I describe below I do recommend buying it. We cooked 3 dishes, heavy on the yoghurt and lemon, and loved all of them… well the cauliflower was loved by Nigel and that is the main thing about cauliflower.

The dishes are really generous, the instructions aren’t too hard to follow, the flavours were delicious, and there are several other dishes in this book that I want to try. Overall rating 4 stars out of 5.

One note, some of the recipes call for pine nuts and I don’t support the pine nut industry (I haven’t for some time), so just used extra slivered almonds. I’ll list the pine nuts in the recipes, but I beg of you to stop buying pine nuts and just enjoy the awesomeness of almonds instead.

Also, there are more nuts here than you need. If cooking all these dishes just halve the nuts.

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Cookbook 158: Simply Bread

It’s hard to go past a good bread cookbook, and frustratingly with the constantly reducing number of bookshops in Melbourne, it’s hard to browse bread cookbooks to know if they are good or not (or have the types of bread I want to cook). Thankfully this online purchase of Simply Bread by The Australian Women’s Weekly was a good one. The book guides the user through several different types of bread, from basic through to pastries, sweet breads (not internals), quick breads, etc. It doesn’t address the bread vs cake thing that I have in my head sometimes – do breads have to contain yeast in them to be breads, or is any rising agent sufficient – but that’s just my head.

Being an AWW cookbook and triple tested, it was clear and easy to use, the results pretty much as described and the hardest part of the book was choosing which bread to make. I over committed and planned to make 4 different types of bread, but due to time and general bleah at the state of the world, I only made two. This is ok. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars

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Revisting: Cookbook 19: a little taste of Morocco

So when I first started this cookbook project I said I wouldn’t cook recipes I had cooked before, which means all of you missed out on my favourite recipe from a little taste of Morocco. I’ve made this lamb kefta recipe a number of times, and it’s deadly if you make your own harissa, but with store-bought it is lovely. It goes super well with pearl couscous and I really enjoy eating this dish every time we make it.

Kefta Tagine (serves 4)

Sorry, it’s a super ugly photo


700 g (1 lb 9 oz) minced (ground) lamb
1 small onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons harissa
4 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves


Put the lamb, onion, garlic, herbs and spices in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the meatballs in batches and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, or until browned all over. Remove the meatballs and set them aside in a bowl.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in the frying pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes and harissa and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the meatballs, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until cooked. Stir in the coriander, then carefully break the eggs into the simmering tagine and cook until just set (about 10 minutes). Season and serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Cookbook 157: Hungarian Cook Book

I picked up the very imaginatively named Hungarian Cook Book by Tam├ís Bereznay at a souvenir shop in Budapest some years ago, as a gift to Scott who wasn’t on that trip with me (I was travelling with James, Nigel and Jacinta). I specifically chose this book because it had a decent vegetarian section which meant that I could cook for both meat eaters and vegetarians, something I appreciate in a cookbook.

Generally the recipes were not too hard to follow, the dishes were delicious, but there were some minor quirks – which are probably as a result of adapting traditional home-cooked recipes to a cookbook. When you know how to cook something because you’ve cooked it 1000 times, you are prone to leaving out steps, or not making the instructions clear – because of course you know what you mean. As I said, the food was delicious, and we muddled our way through the most complicated recipe (the pancakes) with the help of the internet to confirm a step – I’ll make that clear in the recipe. Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because of the flavours and because I am a confident enough cook to know what I’m doing. If you are new to cooking, I’d give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars and not recommend it.

Oh yeah, I forgot, the pancake/crepe recipe provided by Bereznay was a total and utter failure. The recipe I am providing to you is my own (well it belongs to the PMWU cookbook) and will work far better.

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