SAVAGE SALADS: FIERCE FLAVOURS, FILLING POWER-UPS
by Davide Del Gatto and Kristina Gustafsson
(Quarto group, $40)
The cookbook of a cool Soho, London, food truck run by an Italian (him) and Swede (her), is a wonder of dishes that are flavour-packed and celebrate the seasons. Okay, so they promise gym-junkie fans the right amounts of protein and vitamins (can't these people just eat, you know, food -- not ingredients?), but they also promise filling-up food, nourishing the soul as well as the stomach. Arranged, as we expect, by seasons, the recipes are enticing enough (gorgeous photography from Kim Lightbody), while encouraging you to make your own riffs depending on what you have on hand. The pair's definition of salad is a bit of a stretch (who is going to whip up a rabbit and leek terrine in the rush to get lunch packed?), but a winter desk-feed of grilled halloumi, beetroot, orange and walnuts or roasted veges gooey with taleggio (thankfully, they do good meat and cheese) is going to make you the envy of your pod-mates. Perfect for reviving the packed lunch taste buds.
SEASONS TO SHARE: NOURISHING FAMILY AND FRIENDS WITH NUTRITIOUS, SEASONAL WHOLEFOODS
by Jacqueline Alwill
(Murdoch Books, $45)
I've lost count of the number of cookbooks from pretty girls in stripy T-shirts who have discovered "good" food after being "bad" and are now sharing their bliss balls and smoothies. With her Sydney whole food catering company, The Brown Paper Bag, Jacqueline Alwill is at least serving real food to real people, not just blogging about herself -- although she does have a troubled relationship with entertaining (the first party in the book: a cleansing lunch with friends, full of detox this and liver-cleansing that). Get past that, and her deluded use of coconut oil/sugar as "healthy" or naming olives as her "vice", and there are some perfectly useful recipes that will keep you and your gluten, dairy and sugar-free friends happily fed. Perfect for extending the repertoire of the bliss ball fanatic.
100 DESSERTS TO DIE FOR: QUICK, EASY, DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR THE ULTIMATE CLASSICS
by Trish Deseine
(Murdoch Books, $45)
I don't have a sweet tooth, but Trish Deseine has made me want to eat desserts (and cakes, cookies, icecreams) for the rest of my life. This blessed woman, who quotes "let us live happily while we wait for death" in her introduction, has brought order to the randomness of over-indulging. Chapters are arranged as classics (the rice pudding, simmered for hours, finished with caramel sauce: it ain't your mum's version), creamy, soft (cakes and crepes), fruity, and frozen. Naturally chocolate gets a place all of its own (31 recipes, if you need them). There are long prep and cooking times; every recipe is steeped in a story, more cream is added for good measure. Make this your winter go-to. Perfect for people who still find joy in life.
HOMEMADE WEDDING CAKE
by Natasha Collins
(Murdoch Books, $55)
We can all tell the story of our own, or another's, wedding cake successes (a Spanish friend killed me with seven -- yes -- layers of cheese; a sister with gooey heaven of black forest cake), but former textile-designer turned cake-maker Natasha Collins has clearly seen some dire failures, too. In this age of instagramming bridezillas, she provides killer lists and instructions (dessert cake portions are twice the size of traditional finger ones, who knew?), tools, timings, storage and more. The names are too cute, there are cupcakes and meringues, ombre frostings, gold dusting and caramel popcorn (noticeable absences: croquembouche towers and macarons). Pretty much stress-free, if you have a two-year build-up to the wedding. Perfect for the bride-to-be's friend who is instantly regretting that offer to do the cake.