from one generation to the next
Yesterday I posted the first part of my favourite cookbook list, the general cookbooks that have been the most use to me as a cook, and the baking books I turn to first. Part two of this list incorporates my favourite ethnic cuisines plus some specialty produce books.
Middle Eastern Food:
Claudia Roden’s “New Book of Middle Eastern Food” (1970)broadly covers the food of the countries with a Meditteranean margin from Greece to Morocco via Turkey, Syria and Egypt. There are recipes for mezes, salads, vegetable dishes, main courses, desserts and confectionary. Travelling in the regions covered in this book brought home to me the authenticity of her recipes and the genuine flavours achieved.
“Saraban”, “Turquoise” and “Saha” by Lucy and Greg Malouf are coffee table style books, large format, sumptuous presentation and photos to make you drool. Greg, who is of Lebanese ancestry was the first chef to bring the flavours of the Middle East to fine dining in Melbourne. His books follow his journey through the cuisines of the Middle East. He has applied a modern interpretation to his restaurant style recipes, but there is nothing too daunting for the home cook. These books are so gorgeous, they have become part of my living room decor.
An Indian migrant to Australia, Charmaine Solomon published her classic “The Complete Asian Cookbook” in 1976 . I have used the recipes in the sections covering India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka continuously since acquiring this book. Fresh whole spices and other authentic ingredients were difficult to procure then, but Charmaine set me on the path to reproducing authentic Indian food at home.
“The Food of India” ( 2006) a Murdoch publication and “The Indian Kitchen” (2006) by Monisha Bharadwaj (recommeded by an Indian friend) are where I look for authentic regional dishes of India using whole fresh spices and traditional techniques. Neither have ever disappointed me. Using the recipes from these books has spoilt my enjoyment of Indian food anywhere but at home or in India!
I have many classic Italian cookbooks in my collection, but it is Claudia Roden’s “The Food of Italy” (1990) I open for simple inspirational Italian food, though most times I cook Italian food from the heart. The principles of economy, fresh seasonal ingredients cooked well with Italian method I learned from cooking beside a wonderful Calabrese home cook named women Nancy who worked for me late in the 1980s. Nancy’s cookbook is indelibly etched in my brain.
“The Fruit Book” (1982) and its companion “The Vegetable Book” (1978) by Jane Grigson are timeless Penguin paperback classics. Structured alphabetically, each chapter focuses on one fruit or veg. The recipes are honest, simple and tasty interpretations of classic French, Italian and English recipes. I have loved every recipe I have ever made from these books and many of Grigson’s ideas are committed to memory.
“Simon Bryant’s Vegies” is a recent publication. Paired with Maggie Beer on ABCs the Cook and the Chef, Simon reputation grew as a down to earth, no BS chef with a genuine love of vegetables, grains and pulses. He’s a self confessed cack hand when it comes to any food that involves sugar, but his ability to transform wholefoods into restaurant quality dishes shines through in this book.
“The Gourmet Farmer” food as it used to taste by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara, three mates from Tasmania, excites the senses at first glance. Matt, formerly a restaurant critic, is a small lot, rare breed farmer. Nick is a cheese maker and Ross a forager. Together they preserve, pickle, salt, ferment and smoke whatever comes their way. There are recipes for meat , milk, fish and vegetables, all subjected to one or other of the above treatments. After all the preserving efforts, they cook wonderful rustic food.
Inspired by these guys, I now make my own yoghurt and I’m currently working with a friend to construct a cold smoker.
The “The Gourmet Farmer” is currently screening on SBS Australia.