All posts by Team Booko

Festive Food…part one

With roughly a little over six weeks to go, the festive season is nearly here. In fact, invitations to parties, BBQs and drinks have already begun. If you happen to be hosting friends and family this year it can often be daunting. Luckily there are a ton of entertaining options; you can keep it casual with a BBQ where everyone brings a dish to share, go all out with a formal sit down dinner or opt for nibbles and ramp up the drinks instead. Tasting tables have been growing in popularity too, these are the ultimate grazing tables for the platter lovers and super easy to pull together.

We have had a little poke around the internet and found six inspiring books that are bound to give you ideas for nibbles and tasty beverages for your guests. 

Pull up a chair, and prepare to get into the festive spirit with these great titles… oh and they make great gifts for those who like to host too… just saying!

Platters and Boards by Shelly Westerhausen

Santa’s little helpers bought me this book last Christmas and I love it. This book has been described as a visual cornucopia of a cookbook with a guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation. Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). Platters and Boards is an inspiring housewarming or hostess gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.

Tapas by Ryland, Peters & Small

Bring an authentic taste of Spain to your table with this collection of more than 60 mouth-watering recipes for small plates to share. Traditionally served as a bar snack with a glass of sherry or a cold beer, tapas has become a firm favourite thanks to its wide variety and versatility. Whether you are serving a starter before a meal, enjoying some small bites with drinks, or going all out and filling the table with multiple dishes to feast on, there is no bad time to indulge in these flavour-filled dishes. This book includes all the classics from the perennially popular Patatas Bravas and Spanish Omelette to Chorizo in Red Wine and Peppers Stuffed with Salt Cod. Many of these dishes can be made in advance for ease, so you too can enjoy time with your friends – Buen Provecho!

Vegetarian Party Food by Jessica Oldfield

Vegetarian Party Food is a thoughtful collection of vegetarian and vegan bites perfect for any get-together. Mix and match the recipes to create the ultimate spread for gatherings and dinner parties. The book is divided into condiments, dips, vegetarian, and vegan chapters – including everything from easy no-cook bites like Turmeric and Lime Hummus and Peach Salsa and Cheese Crostini to more complex ones like Indian Cauliflower Bhajis and Hasselback Baby Beetroots with Feta. Put together the ultimate party spread and impress guests with Baked Black Sesame Camembert or Mini Vegetarian Gyros. With quick and easy make-ahead recipes you can have on hand for impromptu gatherings and versatile condiments you can make it batches and use for various dishes, this collection will help you become best host you can be.

Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram

Flour and Stone is a petite bakery in inner-city Sydney with a large and devoted following for its pannacotta lamingtons, flaky croissants, chewy cookies, dreamy cakes and delectable pastries of every kind. Nadine Ingram and her dedicated team bake with finesse and love to bring pleasure to the city. In this book Nadine shares her signature recipes, all carefully explained and rigorously tested for the home kitchen. Family, in every sense, is at the heart of Flour and Stone – this recipe collection is given in the hope that you will nurture your own loved ones with the timeless, comforting art of baking. These are the treats you’ll want to eat for the rest of your life.

Last Call by Brad Thomas Parsons

From the James Beard Award-winning author of Amaro and Bitters comes this poignant, funny, and often elegiac exploration of the question, What is the last thing you’d want to drink before you die?, with bartender profiles, portraits, and cocktail recipes. Everyone knows the parlour game question asked of every chef and food personality in countless interviews – What is the last meal you’d want to eat before you die? But what does it look like when you pose the question to bartenders? In Last Call, James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons gathers the intriguing responses from a diverse range of bartenders around the country, including Guido Martelli at the Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia (he chooses an extra-dry Martini), Joseph Stinchcomb at Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi (he picks the Last Word, a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail that’s now a cult favourite), and Natasha David at Nitecap in New York City (she would be sipping an extra-salty Margarita). The resulting interviews and essays reveal a personal portrait of some of the country’s top bartenders and their favourite drinks, while dozens of cocktail recipes and stunning photography make this a keepsake for barflies and cocktail enthusiasts of all stripes.

Wine for Normal People by Elizabeth Schneider

This is a fun but respectful (and very comprehensive) guide to everything you ever wanted to know about wine from the creator and host of the popular podcast Wine for Normal People, described by Imbibe magazine as “a wine podcast for the people.”

Millions of listeners have tuned in to learn a not-snobby wine vocabulary, how and where to buy wine, how to read a wine label, how to smell, swirl, and taste wine, and so much more! Rich with charts, maps, and lists-and the author’s deep knowledge and unpretentious delivery-this vividly illustrated, down-to-earth handbook is a must-have resource for millennials starting to buy, boomers who suddenly have the time and money to hone their appreciation, and anyone seeking a relatable introduction to the world of wine.

Enjoy!

What happens in your brain when you taste food?

Ever wondered what happens in your brain when you taste food? With fascinating research and hilarious anecdotes, neuroscientist Camilla Arndal Andersen takes us into the lab where she studies people’s sense of taste via brain scans. She reveals surprising insights about the way our brains subconsciously experience food, and shows how this data could help us eat healthier without sacrificing taste.

Monday Inspo

Now this is some advice we are happy to take on board!This week on the blog we’re diving into the delightful topic of festive food and will be bringing you ideas for platters, tapas, nibbles and drinks to wow your guests this party season.


It’s the weekend!

And that’s a wrap people! The week is coming to a close and with Melbourne’s weather being completely bonkers (we’ve gone from 38 degrees last week to 12 degrees today) it looks like it’ll be the perfect weekend for hibernating inside where it’s warm. See you on the other side!

The Best Books to Read on a Staycation

Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from routine. But instead of packing a suitcase and rushing for flights and eating plane food, it’s refreshing to have a staycation, holiday in your local city and at night read a book in the comfort of your own home. 

We have pulled together a list of the top selling books that the Northern Hemisphere have been enjoying over their summer to share with anyone who fancies a holiday at home…before the frantic festive season begins. 

So slap on some sunscreen (here’s looking at you Melbourne) and pull up a sun lounger as we have six fabulous books to transport you out of your routine.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. Every year the Levin children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic island home, but this year it’s not to be. Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests with her friend Mary Jo Kopechne. And Tiger, the only son, has just been deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie, the youngest of them all, suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man walks on the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind. 

Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Grinder

Family vacations always come with baggage.

The Wright family is in ruins. Sue Ellen Wright has what she thinks is a close-to-perfect life. A terrific career as a Classics professor, a loving husband, and a son who is just about to safely leave the nest. But then disaster strikes. She learns that her husband is cheating, and that her son has made a complete mess of his life. So, when the opportunity to take her family to a Greek island for a month presents itself, she jumps at the chance. This sunlit Aegean paradise, with its mountains and beaches is, after all, where she first fell in love with both a man and with an ancient culture. Perhaps Sue Ellen’s past will provide the key to her and her family’s salvation.

With his signature style of biting wit, hilarious characters, and deep emotion, Grant Ginder’s Honestly, We Meant Well is a funny, brilliant novel proving that with family, drama always comes with comedy.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is everywhere. Wherever we turn, be it online or instore, or on a tram we spot someone reading this book. If the fame of Eat, Pray, Love is anything to go by, we think this book is definitely worth another look at.

 It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. Exile in New York is no exile at all- here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in her wake. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. ‘At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is,’ she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Full of warmth and laugh-out-loud funny, the new novel from the author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. British-born Punjabi sisters Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina have never been close – so when their dying mother instructs them to go on a pilgrimage across India to carry out her final rites, the sisters are forced together as they haven’t been for years. Rajni is an archetypal eldest child – bossy, knows best, always right – but her perfect son dropped a devastating bombshell before she left and now she’s floundering. Middle sister Jezmeen was always a loudmouth, translating her need for attention into life as a struggling actress. But her career is on the skids after an incident went viral and now she’s desperate to find her voice again. Shirina has always been the perfect sister, who confounded expectations by having the most traditional arranged marriage of them all and moving to the other side of the world. But her perfect marriage isn’t what it seems and time is running out to make the right choice. Each sister has her own reasons for agreeing to this ludicrous trip, and as the miles rack up, the secrets of the past and present are sure to spill out. 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop

Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, all-American brothers Luke and Blair, whose wealthy father has hired the best coaches money can buy. Together, they are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold.

But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair.

With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, and meets a colourful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons?

In alternating chapters, Katie grows up, falls in love, and races down the highest peaks on the planet—while Liz is reborn, falls into lust, and sinks into the underground tango scene at the bottom of the world. From the moneyed ski chalets of the American West to the dimly lit milongas of Argentina, We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve, and what’s left behind after it all disappears.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in . . . well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (ugh) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of online contests (double ugh). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man. Olive just has to get through twenty-four hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party – except for Olive and Ethan – gets food poisoning, there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him becomes a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of . . . lucky. The Unhoneymooners is a heartwarming and hilarious romance perfect for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Enjoy!

In praise of slowness

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world’s emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there’s a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives. Take some time for yourself and enjoy this Ted Talk.