Category Archives: Food

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.


Wanting to get away from it all? We have your holiday inspiration sorted.

The sun is starting to shine a little brighter and with a little more heat in Melbourne (today is expected to be 32 degrees) which signals that the festive season is looming and diaries may be starting to fill with weddings, parties and family bbqs. For those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere where Winter is starting to knock on the door, a getaway may be in order. We’ve scoured the ever growing travel genre of books and have found some of the most enticing books covering the wonderful world of travel. 

So get your suitcase and passport at the ready because we think these titles may just convince your inner traveller to head away for a well deserved break. 

Epic Hikes of the World by Lonely Planet

With stories of 50 incredible hiking routes in 30 countries, from New Zealand to Peru, plus a further 150 suggestions, Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World will inspire a lifetime of adventure on foot. From one-day jaunts and urban trails to month-long thru-hikes, cultural rambles and mountain expeditions, each journey shares one defining feature: being truly epic. In this follow-up to Epic Bike Rides and Epic Drives, the Lonely Planet Team share our adventures on the world’s best treks and trails. Epic Hikes is organised by continent, with each route brought to life by a first-person account, beautiful photographs and charming illustrated maps. Additionally, each hike includes trip planning advice on how to get there, where to stay, what to pack and where to eat, as well as recommendations for three similar hikes in other regions of the world. 

Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

The average adult spends about a third of his or her waking time alone. Yet research suggests we aren’t very good at using, never mind enjoying, alone time. Rising to the challenge, travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom explores the joys and benefits of being alone in four mouth-watering journeys to the cities of Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York, in four seasons. This is a book about the pleasures and benefits of savouring the moment, examining things closely, using all your senses to take in your surroundings, whether travelling to faraway places or walking the streets of your own city. Through on-the-ground observations and anecdotes, and drawing on the thinking of artists, writers and innovators who have cherished solitude, Alone Time illuminates the psychological arguments for alone time and lays bare the magic of going solo.

Literary Places by Sarah Baxter

Bringing together engaging text and stunning hand-drawn illustrations, Literary Places (Inspired Traveller’s Guide) takes readers on an enlightening journey through the key locations of literature’s best and brightest authors, movements and moments. Explore the plains of La Mancha with Don Quixote, take a Holden Caulfield tour of Central Park, or roam the Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff. Author Sarah Baxter explores literary locations from around the globe, including vibrant urban centres, tranquil creative sanctuaries and places that inspired classic stories. The evocative text outlines each location’s history and culture, combined with biographies of the authors or stories from the literary works that make the place significant.

Hungry by Jeff Gordinier

Feeling stuck in his life, New York Times food writer Jeff Gordinier met Rene Redzepi, the Danish chef whose restaurant, Noma, has been repeatedly voted the best in the world. A restless perfectionist, Redzepi was at the top of his game but looking to shutter his restaurant and set out for new places, flavours and recipes. This is the story of their four-year culinary adventure. In the Yucatan jungle, Redzepi and Gordinier seek the perfect taco and the secrets of mole. On idyllic Sydney beaches, they forage for sea rocket and wild celery. On a boat in the Arctic Circle, a lone fisherman guides them to, perhaps, the world’s finest sea urchins. Back in Copenhagen, Redzepi plans the resurrection of his restaurant on the unlikely site of a garbage-filled empty lot. Hungry is a memoir, a travelogue, a portrait of a chef, and a chronicle of the moment when daredevil cooking became the most exciting and groundbreaking form of artistry.

Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

Captured with wit and warmth, energy and zest, one woman ‘s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in eighty eventful train journeys. When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in eighty train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. But it wasn’t long before she was carefully plotting a route that would cover 45,000 miles almost twice the circumference of the earth coasting along the world’s most remarkable railways; from the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet’s Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Packing up her rucksack and her fiancé, Jem, Monisha embarks on an unforgettable adventure that will take her from London’s St Pancras station to the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, North Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The ensuing journey is one of constant movement and mayhem, as the pair strike up friendships and swap stories with the hilarious, irksome and ultimately endearing travellers they meet on board, all while taking in some of the earth’s most breathtaking views. From the author of Around India in 80 Trains comes another witty and irreverent look at the world and a celebration of the glory of train travel. Monisha offers a wonderfully vivid account of life, history and culture in a book that will make you laugh out loud and reflect on what it means to be a global citizen as you whirl around the world in its pages.

My Tiny Atlas by Emily Nathan

As much an armchair travel companion as a guide to planning your next trip, My Tiny Atlas contains 300 lush, surprising, and stunning photos, along with stories about far-flung locales and tips for experiencing a new location like a local. From Tiny Atlas Quarterly, one of the most trusted sources for authentic, unusual, and inspiring travel photography, this book takes you to every continent and all corners of the world, from Paris, San Francisco, London, and Buenos Aires to the Arctic Circle, Tanzania, Tahiti, and Mongolia. My Tiny Atlas visually explores new destinations with an intimate, insider’s view, not of the usual monuments and tourist attractions, but of the real people, mouth-watering food, verdant flora, bustling streets, wild animals, epic views, lazy rivers, architectural gems, and other details that make you feel what it’s like to truly be in another place, whether or not you ever leave home.

Enjoy!

Christmas is coming… and we’re here to help you get ahead of the silly season

With the 25th December inching closer (there’s only 8 weeks until Christmas), it can be hard to remember everything on your to do list so we thought we’d share the most anticipated books that are expected to make a huge splash under the Christmas tree this year. 

Earlier this year Dan added a brand new feature to Booko helping you to search books that are on pre order and boy has it been popular (just like the newest feature to buy LEGO via Booko). On the front page of Booko you can click the Pre Order section to see what’s coming, click through on one of the titles and you’ll be taken to the stores selling pre orders. So if you are thinking it is time to check a few presents off the shopping list (and avoid the dreaded shipping costs) then have a look at these beauties below. 

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

From the New York Times bestselling author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, comes a bold new framework for leadership in today’s ever-changing world.

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers, only ahead and behind. The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in?

In his new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a Just Cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning. Sinek’s message is leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organisations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.

The Body by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner’s manual for everybody. Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body, how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, “We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted.” The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so strongly that she even became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mum comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads. The sharp insights and humour are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life offstage, including the brutal single life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and gross) for all.

Cookie Perfection by Martha Stewart

Prepare yourself for some showstopper cookies from Martha Stewart to take your cookies to the next level in flavour, technique, and decorative appeal. The editors of Martha Stewart Living present a new, fun source for anyone looking to make their go-to cookies even better and bolder. These recipes make ordinary cookies absolutely extraordinary, packed with the familiar favourites you love, but taken up a notch in variety, flavour, and creativity. Classic recipes discover new life with unexpected twists such as Lemony Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies and Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies. Go over-the-top in super-sized fashion with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies; get inspired by cultures around the globe with Brazilian Wedding Cookies and Stroopwaffels; and celebrate with beautifully decorated holiday treats, such as Easter Egg Puzzle Cookies and Snowball Truffles. Whether for a special celebration or a sweet anytime-treat, you’ll be sure to find inspiration to trade in your everyday cookies for versions far more special, and especially delicious.

You Suck at Cooking by You Suck at Cooking

Do you crave food all the time? Do you think you might want to eat again in the future? Do you suck at cooking? Inspired by the wildly popular YouTube channel, these 60+ recipes will help you suck slightly less. You already know the creator of the YouTube show You Suck at Cooking by his well-manicured hands and mysterious voice, and now you’ll know him for this equally well-manicured and mysterious tome. It contains more than sixty recipes for beginner cooks and noobs alike, in addition to hundreds of paragraphs and sentences, as well as photos and drawings. You’ll learn to cook with unintimidating ingredients in dishes like Broccoli Cheddar Quiche Cupcake Muffin-Type Things, Eddie’s Roasted Red Pepper Dip (while also learning all about Eddie’s sad, sad life), Jalapeño Chicken, and also other stuff. In addition, there are cooking tips that can be applied not only to the very recipes in this book, but also to recipes outside of this book, and to all other areas of your life (with mixed results).

In the end, you just might suck slightly less at cooking.*

*Results not guaranteed

Bluey: Fruit Bat based on the hit ABC KIDS TV show

We’re tipping all books containing this little Blue Healer and her sister will be a popular choice under the Christmas tree this year. Bluey has been a phenomenal success since airing on ABC KIDS in October last year. Bluey has gained legions of dedicated fans and taken the coveted position of being the most watched program ever on ABC iView, with over 100 million plays. It has also topped the Australian iTunes Kids Chart with the series peaking at #1 and consistently remaining in the Top 5.

In Fruit Bat, Bluey wishes she was a nocturnal fruit bat that stays up all night and soon she finds herself flying through the night sky. This is a fun and imaginative tale that anyone avoiding bedtime can relate to. 

Enjoy!

New food ideas for the changing season

Everyone hates being stuck in a food rut. Making family favourite dishes each night for dinner can get a little tiring after a while which is why we love to sit down at the start of a new season with a handful of our favourite cookbooks and leaf through to see which recipes suit the season. This way we get to change up the flavours, and focus on buying seasonal food. We also enjoy adding in a new cookbook into the mix so we have found six glorious books that are sure to delight your taste buds. 

Breakfast by Emily Miller

Breakfast is the most important – and comforting – time of day for billions of people everywhere. Here, for the first time, a collection of hundreds of home-cooking recipes celebrates morning meals as they’re prepared in kitchens across the globe. Each recipe is accessible and straightforward, with notes offering cultural context and culinary insight. Whether it’s sweet or not, classic or regional, it’s here: Egyptian Ful Medames (stewed fava beans); Mexican Chilaquiles; Chinese Pineapple Buns; American Scones; Scottish Morning Rolls; and so much more.

Modern Lunch by Allison Day 

Modern Lunch is the new lunchtime hero for time-strapped, budget-conscious, and salad-fatigued people everywhere. Focusing on healthy, quick (and, yes, Instagrammable) recipes, Allison takes readers on a feasting journey inspired by fresh flavours and ingredients, her travels, and minimal effort. Meals in jars and adult-appropriate lunchboxes will actually make you look forward to lunch now, especially when recipes like Chicken and Cucumber Ribbon Salad with Peanut Butter Vinaigrette, Tomato Sourdough Soup with Cacio e Pepe Socca Triangles, and Walnut-Crusted Avocado, Feta, and Eggs with Pesto Rice are waiting for you. 

Find inspiration for delicious lunches to eat at home, too, like Greek Chopped Salad with Crispy Peppercorn Salmon, and a new take on the classic ploughman’s lunch. 

Spend weekends with friends gathered around easy-to-assemble platters and picnic baskets, and enjoy homemade brunches that rival any restaurant’s. And, if you’re someone who likes to improvise, Allison shares her staple recipes and tried-and-tested strategies for mastering meal prep, as well as ideas and combinations for quick, on-the-fly lunches that encourage creativity but promise satisfaction – even if you have to dine at your desk. 

With dazzling recipes and photography, and smart tips on hacking the lunchtime game, Modern Lunch proves that a delicious, exciting, and inventive lunch can be achievable for any appetite, wallet, and busy schedule, and maybe even spark a little office envy.

Eat. Cook. LA by Aleksandra Crapanzano

This book offers an intimate culinary portrait of Los Angeles today, a city now recognised among food lovers for its booming, vibrant, international restaurant landscape, with 100 recipes from its restaurants, juice bars, coffee shops, cocktail lounges, food trucks, and hole-in-the-wall gems. 

Once considered a culinary wasteland, Los Angeles is now one of the most exciting food cities in the world. Like the multi-faceted, sprawling city itself, the food of Los Angeles is utterly its own, an amalgam of international influence, disposable income, glamour, competition, immigrant vitality, health consciousness, purity, and beach-loving, laid back, hip, unrestrained creativity. With 100 recipes pulled from the city’s best restaurants but retooled for the home cook—like Charred Cucumber Gazpacho, Roast Chicken with Spicy Harissa, Vietnamese Coffee Pudding, Blackberry Mint Mojito Ice Cream and Thai Basil Margaritas—Eat. Cook. L.A. is both a culinary roadmap and a sophisticated insider’s look at one of America’s most iconic and fascinating cities.

Ruffage by Abra Berens

Ruffage tackles the questions that home cooks (of any skill level) ask themselves about vegetables: how do I cook this? How do I make this exciting? Do I store this in the fridge? How do I make this into dinner? This accessible (but comprehensive) vegetable-focused cookbook picks up where Vegetable Literacy left off, focusing on the simple techniques and information that help any cook prepare a variety of delicious vegetables in a number of ways. Organised into 20 short chapters by vegetable, including a good balance of vegetables that are best used fresh and in-season (asparagus, peas) and those that store well during those long winters (potatoes, celery root), as well as a comprehensive-but-accessible pantry chapter (no Calabrian chili paste here!), this is the vegetable book that both new and seasoned cooks everywhere can turn to again and again.

Vegetables Illustrated by America’s Test Kitchen 

We’re all looking for interesting, achievable ways to enjoy vegetables more often. This must-have addition to your cookbook shelf has more than 700 kitchen-tested recipes that hit that mark. Sure, you’ll learn nearly 40 ways to cook potatoes and 30 ways with broccoli. But you’ll also learn how to make a salad with roasted radishes and their peppery leaves; how to char avocados in a skillet to use in Crispy Skillet Turkey Burgers; and how to turn sunchokes into a chowder and kale into a Super Slaw for Salmon Tacos. Every chapter, from Artichokes to Zucchini, includes shopping, storage, seasonality, and prep pointers and techniques, including hundreds of step-by-step photographs and illustrations, gorgeous watercolour illustrations, and full-colour recipe photography. The inspirational, modern recipes showcase vegetables’ versatility in everything from sides to mains. All along the way America’s Test Kitchen shares loads of invaluable kitchen tips and insights from their test cooks, making it easy, and irresistibly tempting, to eat more veggies every day.

…and because Summer is right around the corner it would be rude of us not to include at least one ode to ice-cream!

Salt & Straw Ice-cream Cookbook by Tyler and Kim Malek

Salt & Straw is the brainchild of two cousins, Tyler and Kim Malek, who stumbled into ice cream making. But that stumbling is what made them great. With barely an idea of how to make ice cream, they turned to their friends for advice – chefs, chocolatiers, brewers, and food experts of all kinds, and what came out is an ice cream company that sees new flavours and inspiration everywhere they look. Using a super-simple ice cream base you can make in about the time it takes you to decide on a scoop in their shop, here are dozens of their most beloved, innovative, (and a couple of their most controversial) flavours, like Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Roasted Strawberry and Toasted White Chocolate, Roasted Parsnip and Banana, Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, and Olde People. But more importantly, this book reveals what they’ve learned, how to tap your own creativity and how to invent flavours of your own, based on whatever you see around you. Because ice cream isn’t just be a thing you eat, it’s a way to live.

Enjoy!

What’s for dinner?

What’s your favourite dish to cook? At the moment in our house it’s grilled fish and salads (especially when the sun is shining), that said, we’re a little partial to something sweet too. And if you’re stuck for dinner ideas, then be sure to read tomorrow’s blog which covers our fav new cookbooks that have just been released.