Still hunting for the ideal food lover's Christmas gift? We review our top five picks...
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1 Dec 2013 - 12:39 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2013 - 12:45 PM

Recipes For A Good Time, Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate (Murdoch Books, $59.99, hbk)

Why buy it?

In 2006, two rockabilly chefs traded in their fine-dining toques for a restaurant they could call their own. They wanted a place where they’d like to go, with music they’d want to listen to and food they’d want to eat. They found a site in Surry Hills, created a Latin American-inspired menu, and called it Bodega. Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate were sceptical whether people would come, but when the doors opened and the crowds poured in, they realised they weren’t the only Sydneysiders who preferred cool vibes over stiff tablecloths. Bodega is still going strong. Continue reading

 

My Little French Kitchen, Rachel Khoo, (Michael Loftus, $39.99, hbk)

Why buy it?

Rachel Khoo, the cute and quirky chef with a passion for French cuisine and patisserie, is best known for the TV series and cookbook named after her tiny, home restaurant, The Little Paris Kitchen. After exploring and eating her way through Parisian fromageries, boulangeries and patisseries for eight years, Rachel is seeking inspiration beyond the 20 arrondisements of Paris. My Little French Kitchen is the story of her trip to French villages and towns from the four corners of France. The pages are peppered with the people who welcomed her into their homes, farms and food shops, and all the culinary quirks she stumbled upon along the way. From beer-doused ham hock to buttery redcurrant pastries, each recipe expresses the oddities of each region’s food culture. Continue reading

 

Turkish Meze, Sevtap Yüce, (Hardie Grant Books, $39.95, hbk)

Why buy it?

An alternate title for this cookbook may well have been “How to transform your home into a taverna”. Turkish food has a vegetarian skew and a humble simplicity that makes it one you can approach regardless of kitchen ability. The food is colourful, inviting and designed for many mouths – the idea that your tongue is graced with as many flavours and textures as possible. Flip through its pages, earmark four or five dishes you like, and you’ll have the beginnings of a good time. Continue reading

 

Silvia's Cucina, Silvia Colloca, (Lantern, $39.99, pbk)

Why buy it?

Many claim Italian cuisine is a steadfast favourite, but how many of these enthusiasts walk the talk, bringing this passion for Italian into their home kitchens? If you're in this league, life is about to get molto buono, considering just how satisfying a mouthful of handmade pasta can be. Silvia Colloca is an actress, trained opera singer, blogger and home cook, who moved to Australia almost a decade ago from her beloved Italy. In her debut cookbook, Silvia's Cucina, she welcomes us into her home kitchen to prove Italian cooking has many faces: it's largely regional and based on seasonal produce, and it can be simple, light and healthy, since not all dishes are drowning in olive oil or creamy white sauce. Continue reading

 

The Agrarian Kitchen, Rodney Dunn, (Lantern, $59.99, hbk)

Why buy it?

Tree change doesn't get more storybook than that of Rodney Dunn’s, a Tetsuya-trained chef who traded pans for a paddock in the Lachlan Valley in Tasmania, where he established a hands-on cooking school in a converted 19th-century schoolhouse. Of course, the pastoral paradise — depicted in evocative images shot by best mate and chef (and occasional farmhand) Luke Burgess — happened over time, and Dunn is the first to admit he was a bit green “when it came to the nitty-gritty of growing things” and keeping animals. So he turned to his many neighbours for advice on sustainable farming, building a wood-fired oven, constructing a smokehouse, how to raise bees, cidermaking. If you’re fortunate enough to partake in one of Dunn’s cooking classes and experience a day of bucolic bliss, you could find yourself yanking on the udders of his British Alpine goat, curdling the milk to make ricotta, which is then transformed into a dish for lunch, or breaking down a Wessex saddleback pig, with take-home smallgoods your reward for the day; if not, then his cookbook is the next best thing. Continue reading