Last week on the blog we shared some great festive foods. We’ll be celebrating with cheese platters, salads and seafood…but that’s because it’s going to be hot here in Melbourne. What’s on your menu this Christmas?
Wowsers, Christmas will be here before we know it! If you’re looking for menu inspiration then this week’s post is a must read.
The big day is less than three weeks away and if you are hosting the main meal or boxing day lunch this year and want to offer something a little different to your guests, then this blog post is for you.
We have scoured the internet and found the best hosting and cooking books that have been released this festive season for you to pick and choose your Christmas menu and tabletop inspiration from. They aren’t necessarily tricky or expensive ideas, but rather ones that capture the feeling of love between friends and family.
First off, hands down, the hottest cookbook out this festive season is Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi which we have covered it on the blog previously… in case you missed it you can read our review here.
Special Guest by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe
If you are someone who prepares for guests by sweeping bills, laundry and newspapers behind sofa cushions, take heart! It’s possible to be an imperfect host, but happily so. The essential ingredient is not, paradoxically, the food, nor the perfect house to host in, but the sentiment you convey when you open the door. Do your eyes say: ‘I like you and I enjoy your company,’ or does a weepy cloud of visceral horror descend as pine nuts burn quietly in the kitchen? Special Guest is a gentle guide to turning easy basic fare into something of a celebration. For when you want to say to your friends with their spouses and ten small children, ‘Why don’t you stay for lunch?’ without hating yourself afterwards. Learn the lesson of ‘one splendid thing done well’ without regard to the hundred other things, and call the day a success. Pick up some pointers for the modern conundrum that is cooking for people with seemingly incompatible dietary requirements. Hosting your friends is not about showing off; it is about delighting others. Your dining table might be decorated with a pile of unmatched socks and kids’ homework, but that’s no reason not to invite friends in for a chat, a sit-down and something delicious to eat. Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s best-loved TV and media personalities and a joyfully imperfect host. Wendy Sharpe is Annabel’s oldest friend, a recipe consultant on Kitchen Cabinet and co-conspirator in mad-capped cookery projects.
Together by The Hubb Community Kitchen
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbours. Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normality, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen. Together is a storybook of this West London community, showcasing over 50 delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex. The women invite you to make their favourite simple dishes – many handed down over generations – from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones. Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes. Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Aubergine Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelised Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.
From Crook to Cook by Snoop Dogg
You can see Snoop work his culinary magic on the Emmy-nominated Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, and now, Dogg’s up in your kitchen…with his first ever cookbook. Delivering 50 recipes straight from his own collection, Snoop’s cookbook features staples like Baked Mac & Cheese and Fried Bologna Sandwiches with Chips, and new takes on classic weeknight faves like Soft Flour Tacos and Easy Orange Chicken. And it doesn’t stop there… Snoop’s giving a taste of the high life with remixes on upper echelon fare such as Lobster Thermidor and Filet Mignon. But we gotta keep it G with those favorite munchies too, ya know? From chewy Starbursts to those glorious Frito BBQ Twists, you should have an arsenal of snacks that’ll satisfy. And of course, no party is complete without that Gin and Juice and other platinum ways to entertain. The Dogg Father’s got you covered – complete with epic stories and behind-the-scenes photos that brings this masterpiece to life. Now this would make for an interesting Christmas lunch!
Berber and Q by Josh Katz
Ditch burnt, joyless burgers for bold, flavoursome and wonderfully surprising barbecue food. Inside there are over 120 of the very best, lip-smackingly good barbecue recipes from ex-Ottolenghi chef, Josh Katz. Perfect for sharing and pairing in different combinations, all of the recipes are a celebration of flavour. A book that is not just for meat-lovers, equal status is given to vegetables so that they are never treated like a sideshow. Instead each and every component of the meal is big, bold and completely unforgettable. Meats, fish and vegetables are left to marinate and are then smoked, grilled, slow cooked or burnt (on purpose); while essential extras such as punchy pickles, fiery sauces, creamy dips and fresh salads are prepared ahead and ready to be heaped onto the plate. Taking inspiration from East to West, from the modern to the traditional, these barbecue recipes are like nothing you have ever encountered before – mashing tastes and techniques from New York, the Middle East, London, North Africa and beyond. With recipes including Cauliflower shawarma with pomegranate, pine nuts and rose; Harissa hot wings; Blackened hispi cabbage with lemon crème fraiche; Honeyed pork belly with pineapple salsa; Monster prawns with a pil pil sauce and Saffron buttermilk-fried chicken with tahini gravy, you will be inspired to grab a bag of charcoal and a lighter, and create your very own barbecue feast.
Gunpowder by Harneet Baweja, Nirmal Save, Devina Seth
The famous gunpowder spice mix is a heady blend of pulses and spices, including chilli, curry leaves and asafoetida. It is a fitting title for this exciting collection of recipes from the founders of the hugely respected restaurant of the same name. In this beautiful book, complete with stunning photography, Harneet, Devina and Nirmal have managed to capture the bustle and flavours of their childhoods in Kolkata, and the intricacy of true homestyle dishes from across India. From Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops (which have garnered outstanding reviews from many restaurant critics) to Wild Rabbit Pulao, these exceptional recipes are impressively authentic, yet given a modern twist. Throughout the book, the authors share personal anecdotes about their recipes and give handy cheats to make things easier for the home cook, including time-saving tips and alternative ingredients. With chapters covering Small Plates, Big Plates, Sweet Plates & Drinks and Sides & Spice, Gunpowder is the perfect opportunity to create some of these widely admired dishes in your own home.
Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley
This is carefree, quick cooking with a sense of fun, and just happens to be good for you. This beautiful new book is packed with dreamy recipes. Comfort and indulgence are at the heart of Melissa Hemsley’s flavoursome, healthy food, with plenty of ideas for everyday meals, batch cooking, cutting down on kitchen waste, and meals that can be enjoyed for supper and leftovers for a packed lunch. Bestselling co-author of The Art of Eating Well and Good + Simple and home cook, Melissa Hemsley presents quick and easy dishes featuring supermarket ingredients and designed to see you through the whole week – tempting breakfasts to family dinners and lunches, as well as party food, snacks, baking, desserts, drinks, and simple, healthier versions of takeaway favourites.
I hope Santa’s been paying attention to my online book stalking because I’d love ‘Platters and Boards‘ to be wrapped and waiting for me under the tree this year. Which book are you hoping to receive?
Need inspiration for weekend brunch? Check out yesterday’s blog for a whole host of delicious foodie loving books.
Happy Weekend Everyone!
Over the past few years there has been a change in our approach to what we eat and drink. This shift reflects our changing attitudes towards our health and the environment – and also how we socialise. We are now in a culinary world of adventurous vegetarian and vegan cuisine with avocado smash being a standard brunch item, not to mention deconstructed and bowl meals.
But fear not, we have compiled a list of the hottest cookbooks of the year so that you can adopt a few new dishes to pop into your foodie repertoire and wow your dinner guests.
So make yourself comfortable and get your fingers ready as you’ll want to bookmark these titles as possible Festive Season meal inspiration, or even just to give Santa a nudge as to what you want to unwrap in on Christmas Day…which is only 11 weeks away (yep…true fact)!
Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi
It’s no secret that we love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes (you can read about Karen’s love of Ottolenghi here) But boy-oh-boy some recipes can be a little intimidating. Ottolenghi Simple showcases Yotam’s standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy – whether that’s getting wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, using just one pot to make a delicious meal, or a flavoursome dish that can be prepared ahead and then served when you’re ready.
Lagom By Steffi Knowles-Dellner
Technically this book came out last year, but it’s been a hot seller this year so we have included it on the list. This beautiful, fresh cookbook offers genuine insight into how Swedes eat and cook – with recipes that fit around the seasons, occasions, times of day, and appetite. Eating and cooking in tune with ‘lagom’ means embracing food that is good for body and soul, unfussy, delicious and sustaining, and all in harmony. The Swedes understand that balance is everything – that you crave comforting food when a bitter wind is howling outside, that refreshing, lighter meals suit hot, hazy days, that a mid-morning bun is good for morale, and that a long, sociable lunch with friends and family on a Sunday is the most rewarding way to end the weekend. There is a time and place for every kind of food, and when everything is in equilibrium, you will be content and satisfied. Steffi Knowles-Dellner is a Swedish food stylist and blogger (check out the blog here) who will introduce you to the unique Swedish concepts that encapsulate lagom, in this her debut book. From the well-known smörgåsbord table of open sandwiches, and Fredags mys (“cosy Fridays”) when hunkering down on a cosy sofa and tucking into tacos is a must, all the way to the irresistible idea of lördagsgodis – a single day for eating sweets to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines
Magnolia Table is infused with Joanna Gaines’ warmth and passion for all things family, prepared and served straight from the heart of her home, with recipes inspired by dozens of Gaines family favourites and classic comfort selections from the couple’s new Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table, which opened early 2018.
Jo believes there’s no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through the art of togetherness, celebrating tradition, and sharing a great meal. Magnolia Table includes 125 classic recipes from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts. Complemented by her love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavour. Inside Magnolia Table, you’ll find recipes the whole family will enjoy. You can check out Joanna’s blog here.
Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
Chrissy Teigen serves up a second glorious cookbook packed full of more delicious, irresistible, ‘eat-me’ food that you’ll want to devour right here, right now. Just as in Cravings, Chrissy’s recipes are high on flavour, low on guilt and she knows how to make every bite count. In this book, her focus is on faster and easier, but never less than 100% delicious. You’ll find the best comfort food, the sneakiest midnight feasts, instant dinner party grub to impress your friends, and a few more John Legend favourites. All accompanied with Chrissy’s laugh-out-loud irreverence and page-lickingly gorgeous food photography.
Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen
Okay, so this is my favourite style of cooking….platters count as cooking I’m sure! This visual cornucopia of a cookbook is the 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 Christmas gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.
On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox
Okay…so this one was also published last year but it’s so good we had to include it. On Vegetables is the highly anticipated cookbook from Jeremy Fox, the California chef who is redefining vegetable-based cuisine with global appeal. Known for his game-changing approach to cooking with vegetables, Jeremy Fox first made his name at the Michelin-starred restaurant Ubuntu in Napa Valley. Today he is one of America’s most talked-about chefs, celebrated for the ingredient-focused cuisine he serves at the Los Angeles restaurant, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. In his first book, Fox presents his food philosophy in the form of 160 approachable recipes for the home cook. On Vegetables elevates vegetarian cooking, using creative methods and ingredient combinations to highlight the textures, flavours, and varieties of seasonal produce and including basic recipes for the larder.