I wish I had a little more time to sit down and rant about my favourite cookbooks but the clock is ticking and I have a list of ‘to do’s’ as long as my arm before we head to Lake Tahoe. Essie and Elliott have never seen snow so we thought we would go and soak up some White Christmas spirit. So very quickly here are some of my favourite cookbooks at the moment plus the promised recipe for the incredible Chocolate Orange Cookies.
Interestingly the first book, Manna From Heaven, has the recipe that I based my Chocolate Orange Cookies from. The recipe for Organic Chocolate Biscuits in the book is basically a choc chip cookie recipe but it has raw sugar in the mix to give the cookies a crunch. I added some things and took away some things to make the cookie my own.
Manna From Heaven has lovely cakes and cookies to bake. My favourite thing about this book is that it has recipes for a complete feast to share with family and friends. Gorgeous flatbreads stuffed with zucchini, mint and feta; marinated olives; stuffed leg of lamb with pine nuts and olives; crispy fried polenta with tomato sauce; and then special white chocolate, frangelico and hazelnut truffles to finish. If I had to choose just one book to take to a desert island (a desert island with a fully stocked pantry and fridge) then this book could possibly be it. It just has simple food that I love to eat.
Nadine Abensur lives in beautiful Mullumbimby near Byron Bay where she teaches vegetarian cooking classes. I have never done one but one day I plan to. Her cookbook ‘Enjoy’ is super stylish vegetarian food like Cumin Braised Baby Carrots in Lime and Harissa Vinaigrette with Rocket, Goat’s Cheese and Walnuts and desserts like Date and Caramelised Walnut Creme Brulee Tart. Admittedly I don’t cook alot from the cook as I find it is not very child friendly. I pull it out for special dinners with or without vegetarian friends. It is a book for people who just love to take time to cook something special and a little bit fancy.
Kim Terakes has been a big influence on my cooking in recent years and I just love him. Never met him of course but I love his books. The Great Aussie Family Cookbook is a must have for every Aussie family kitchen. It isn’t sausage rolls and pavlovas but it isn’t pompous. One of the most useful pages is an inspiration guide for jaffle fillings.
- leftover spag-bol sauce
- sliced bocconcini and corn
- sliced prosciutto, cannellini beans, diced tomato and basil
- ricotta cheese, pine nuts and honey
- mascarpone, choc bits and raspberries (yes it is very, very yummy)
This book alone has challenged me over the years to branch out into some more exotic flavours for our family table. There is a section called ‘Around The World’ with some Japanese, Thai, Moroccan, Spanish, Indian and French recipes. Kim encourages readers to take your kids on a cultural journey by choosing a country and sending off the kids to do some research then cook up some new flavours together. How fun is that! I’m really enjoying seeing my children give new flavours a try and mostly enjoying them.
The Great Aussie Family Cookbook takes you from breakfast (our favourite is the Cowboy Sandwich), lunch box ideas, weekend snacks and lunches for the hungry kids after the weekend footy game (think Nachos with Beef and Beans), exotic family dinners (BBQ Spatchcock with Middle Eastern Spices and Fregola) and simple ideas for entertaining children’s birthday parties, teenagers parties and family get togethers. I highly recommended this book as it is so approachable, useful and inspiring. Win, win, win.
Now I don’t know if I have let on in earlier posts how much I love Annabel Langbein’s style of cooking, but I love it! Her latest book ‘Simple Pleasures’ is very similar in style to her previous book and I have been enjoying working my way through the recipes. There is a wonderful recipe for Turkish Bread! I haven’t found Turkish bread here in the USA so I’m very happy Annabel thoughtfully included the recipe. The recipe for Mexican Pulled Pork with Smoky Chilli Beans, Chunky Guacamole and Fresh Flour Tortillas is pretty incredible.
I don’t think I have to say too much about this new book from Ottolenghi ‘Jerusalem’ as it is one of the best sellers this year. Suffice it to say that I have it, I love it and the recipes I have made have been very, very good. This recipe for the Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds is simple perfection.
Finally, I love this book ‘In The Kitchen’ by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis. I was only just introduced to this book in the last month and it is a beast of a book. There are not many pictures to ogle at so I only took a snap of the contents to help give you an idea on how expansive it is. Recipes for everything from this Melbourne duo. Simple, delicious food. You could cook from this tome alone for the entire year as it is so substantial and every recipes sounds so delicious.
- summer vegetable terrine
- chermoula prawns with tzatziki
- basil frittata with smoked salmon, rocket and horseradish cream
- poached pears with chocolate sauce and caramel cream
- moroccan rocky road (I need to make this)
One last minute addition to my favourite cookbook list. Yes, it is out of left field as I’m not really the sort of cook who likes fancy, fiddly food but this book is so gorgeous. The couple of iced biscuits I have made from this book have been fairly successful and I have thoroughly enjoyed the time consuming process. The steps are very clearly described and I’m surprised I was actually able to create something that look pretty much like the pictures in the book.
You can see the Snowflake biscuit displayed below which I had in my previous post. Every biscuit looks so pretty. This book is worth having just to look at. But if you can take the time to make one or two cookies from the book you will find it doesn’t take long to make something that looks impressive. People will call you ‘amazing’!
But mostly I have this book for the eye candy. My kids just love flicking through the book too.
Ok, quick recipe for the Chocolate Orange Cookies before I go. I dipped the cooled biscuits into melted Lindt Intense Orange chocolate. That particular chocolate has chunks of orange which don’t make for a beautiful cookie but it is sublimely delicious. If ‘bits’ in your chocolate offend then chop up the Lindt Intense Orange chocolate and mix into the cookie dough. Then just drizzle the finished cookies with plain dark chocolate or dunk half the cookie in.
chocolate orange cookies
125g raw sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g dark chocolate, chopped
zest of 1 orange
100g Lindt Intense Orange Chocolate
In a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the sifted dry ingredients, orange zest and chopped dark chocolate and mix until the dough just comes together.
Roll the dough into 2 cylinders and roll in baking paper to form a bonbon. Pop in the fridge for a few hours.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (315 degrees F). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Slice the cylinders into 1 cm slices and arrange on baking trays. Bake for 12-15 minutes and leave to cool on the trays.
Melt the Lindt Intense Orange Chocolate and dunked the cooled cookies half into the chocolate. Place back on the lined baking tray and leave until the chocolate has set.