The Best Cookbooks of 2015

Does someone in your family love to entertain? Give them the gift that keeps on giving, with one of the best cookbooks from 2015

Nopi; Luke Nguyen’s France. Pictures / Supplied.

Nopi, Yotam Ottolenghi, Ramael Scully
Even judging this book by its minimalist cover (and heavenly gold-leaf pages), you won’t want to part with it. Inside are 120 dishes from adventurous Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, the head chef at his London restaurant, Nopi, Ottolenghi’s all-day brasserie. Featuring some complex Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired dishes, and exotic ingredients that might take a bit of scouting to find, this one’s for the gourmand in your family who likes to impress. Quails with burnt miso butterscotch and pomegranate and walnut salsa, anyone?

Luke Nguyen’s France, A Gastronomic Adventure
Perfect for the friend who won’t shut up about the caramelised chicken they devoured in Hanoi. Aussie chef Luke Nguyen takes readers on a journey from the boulevards of Paris to the grand chateaux of the Loire Valley to coastal Nice, to find the French recipes that have influenced Vietnamese cooking. Beautifully illustrated and dotted with travel notes that will make you sick with envy, it features a fantastic meat and fish section (plus snails, langoustines and squid) and recipes that will suit all cooking abilities.

Turkish Delights; Masu; My Street Food Kitchen. Pictures / Supplied.

Turkish Delights, John Gregory-Smith
Forget greasy kebabs and koftas — you’ll find authentic, healthy offerings here. The author is a London-based food blogger and cook, introduced to Turkish cuisine by his father, who grew up there. Judging by this impressive collection of modern, regional and traditional dishes, he’s since become an expert, adding mini history lessons to each of his recipes, from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea. There’s nothing too heavy, and the flavours are clean, spicy and summery.

Masu, Nic Watt
One of the most attractive cookbooks released this year, with glistening cuts of fish served on gorgeous ceramics, crispy tempura and steaming claypots of delicate Japanese flavours, photographed by Viva’s Babiche Martens. The recipes come from the Kiwi chef’s popular Japanese restaurant at SkyCity. Learn the right way to make sushi, which tools to keep in the cupboard, plus get to grips with base recipes and classic Japanese sauces, while downing one of Nic’s exotic cocktails.

My Street Food Kitchen, Jennifer Joyce
For the hunter-gatherer who loves hawkers, markets and food trucks, this doorstopper features 125 recipes from around the world. The American author demystifies global street food, simplifying some of the complex dishes and lightening up on salt, sugar and fats. Her flavoursome favourites are sourced from Asia, the US, the Middle East, and further afield. Think tacos, curries, burgers, souvlaki, gozleme, noodles, dumplings, ceviche, pizza ... There’s also a handy guide with cooking tips, and ways to make midweek meals easier to prepare.

East; From Venice to Istanbul; The Cook and Baker. Pictures / Supplied.

East, Leanne Kitchen and Antony Suvalko
Who doesn’t love Asian food? This food writer-caterer duo certainly does. They’ve compiled a list of dishes you will have come across at your local takeaways, plus other less familiar dishes you might not know unless you’ve travelled throughout Southeast Asia. Try Vietnamese caramel galangal salmon, Thai claypot noodles and prawns, Balinese slow-roasted pork, plus dips, soups, curries, barbecued meats, rice and noodle dishes, street food and salads.

From Venice to Istanbul, Rick Stein
If you didn’t catch the British TV chef as he travelled around the east Mediterranean for his TV series, here’s your chance to meet the food-obsessed fishermen, restaurateurs and fellow chefs who passed on recipes. His trip took him from Greece to the Black Sea coast, exploring Venetian and Croatian flavours and the spices of Turkey. The result is a melting pot of intriguing flavours, with screeds of seafood, regional favourites, salads and classics, plus street-food offerings and lesser-known meals. Despite some exotic-sounding dishes — Greek kleftiko, Italian passatelli, Albanian yufka — the ingredients are familiar and kept to a sensible length.

The Cook and Baker, Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa
If there’s any transtasman rivalry in your family, this mouth-watering book from a pair of Bondi-based BFF Kiwis could be the perfect present. The pair have set up an old-fashioned bakery in the Sydney precinct known for its green smoothies and sugar-free brigade. Their shop proved a winner from the day they threw open their doors. It’s no wonder, with their scrummy sounding pies, tarts, slices, biscuits and cakes on offer — and yes, they cater to those who are gluten-free. Best wrapped with the pages open to “salted caramel slice”.

Happy Cookbook; River Cottage; The Book of Spice. Pictures / Supplied.

Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry
This uplifting, bordering-on-happy-clappy book from Aussie nutritionist Lola Berry has the world’s best “healthy” chocolate chip cookie recipe — not to mention loads of natural and seriously good versions of cakes, slices, treats and savoury meals. Perfect for that yoga friend who can’t say no to chocolate (or in this case, cacao). All recipes are refined-sugar and gluten-free with dairy-free options and plenty for part-time paleo followers. The whimsical notes and cheery photography may not be to everyone’s taste but you can’t fault her practical advice on healthy living.

River Cottage, Love your leftovers, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
With more than 100 recipes, including spicy chicken and peanut butter salad to ribollita and “risottover”, somebody’s fridge will never be overcrowded with pathetic looking vegetables or last night’s rice again. British food star Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reckons the key to satisfying eating is in being resourceful, not only in the cooking but in the shopping.

The Book of Spice, from Anise to Zedoary, John O’Connell
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about spice. It’s less of a cooking companion than a well-researched compendium. Fascinating factoids — pink peppercorns are toxic in large doses, nutmeg is psychotropic — are combined with a history spanning angelica, blue fenugreek, coriander, galangal, caraway and spikenard (a remedy for insomnia, apparently).

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