Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas cookbooks

In 2010 I didn't really do much apart from learn to look after a baby and cook. That's actually quite a lot to focus on, but I think at times from the outside it might have looked like I was a lot more focused on cooking. 
I've been excited about planning meals, going to new shops in search of unusual ingredients (especially Asian supermarkets!), trying out new cooking gadgets and tasting things. When I wasn't doing that I was watching endless episodes of Nigella Express, Sophie Dahl, Jamie Oliver, Rachel Allen Bake!, Masterchef UK, Masterchef Australia, Barefoot Contessa, Giada at home- Lifestyle food, you are heaven.  To non-cooking people, all these shows look exactly the same: people chopping and preparing ingredients, and telling you how EASY it all is. I think that's the beauty of it too, you can miss a bit without feeling like you have to rewind because you've missed the key segment in crime drama. I'm always getting interrupted these days, there is always something else that I could be doing...

Anyway, I've looked back at my Christmas loot, and I think the message about cooking has really got through to friends and family. I must look quite obsessed from the outside.
I received the following:
5 cookbooks!
2 oven gloves
an apron and an icing spatula

I know I'm going to be busy these next few months trying out new things. The only problem right now is it's too hot in Sydney to bake - it's been about 30 degrees for days, and only goes down to 20 degrees overnight. Sorry, shouldn't really be complaining with the great cold happening in England at the moment.  Our oven is not ducted, so any cooking only adds to the heat build up. We also don't have a barbeque until our new outside space is completed sometime in 2011 (exciting!)

I thought I would let you know which ones I have received, and also how I'm enjoying reading them and trying out some new recipes. Please let me know how you have found these too, or any other cook books you have been using recently.

Nigella Kitchen - first impressions are that it is a gorgeous book and so much more appetising than Nigella Express. There is also a lengthy pre-amble about how she organises her kitchen, and what her essentials are. Quite funny, and you can imagine Nigella saying all those things. Not sure how this has happened, but I have ended up with the American version which means it has American measurements and words - arugula anyone?

My table by Pete Evans - another stunning and very Australian book. Some of the food does not have the 'wow' factor, but I would and could prepare and eat it any night of the week. A friend and I went to Hugo's in Manly last week and he's brought his food & style to life there perfectly, we loved every minute of it.

Secrets of Macarons by Jose Marechal - this book is part art, part science.  It goes into how macarons work in great depth - you really learn the chemistry of how to get the ingredients to work. I suppose once you learn this it gives you the flexibility to do Adriano Zumbo-like flavour combinations, like passionfruit and raspberry, or pear and fennel. Anything is possible with macarons. Marechal also has a lot of information on the kit you need - another great excuse to go to specialist cooking shops, yippee!

Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros - another book with stunning photography, I haven't read enough yet to give any thoughts on this

More Cakes for Kids by The Australian Women's Weekly. I know this book will become my birthday cake bible for years to come. The AWW cooks are such legends, and they are so helpful with these incredibly difficult shapes (quilted handbag cake, anyone?). Having visited the AWW test kitchen a few years ago I have so much respect for the labour that goes into every magazine and book that comes out of there - they are tested to the limit by a massive number of home economists there.

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