Linda Herrick is the Arts and Books Editor at the NZ Herald.

What's cooking Downunder

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Learn all the tricks from television's MasterChef. Photo / Supplied
Learn all the tricks from television's MasterChef. Photo / Supplied

MasterChef New Zealand
(Random House $49.99)

Admit it: you watched the first series of MasterChef and you're just itching to try the mozzarella and prosciutto recipe shared here by Karyn (the one who drank beer on the show), Carlos' volcanic pork, which strangely uses Coca-Cola in the sauce, or Kirsty's Chinese tasting plate with chicken feet. Aside from some fairly eccentric creations nestling amid more attractive dishes, the book also includes recipes from judges Simon Gault and Tony Astle, a degustation menu, basic kitchen guides (pantry store, knives, etc) and a 13-step recipe for that pointless towering croquembouche.

It's Easier Than You Think by Jo Seagar
(Random House $49.99)

Jo Seagar's books get better and better: clearly laid-out with nice photos and no-nonsense, accessible recipes. There's a touch of nostalgia too, with old plates, cutlery and napkins in the pictures, contributing to a sense that Seagar is in touch with the good old days when the kitchen was the heart of the home.

If only it could be so in more homes throughout the country - which may be one of her missions via her cooking school in Canterbury, and her books.

Fresh! The Best Of New Zealand From Market To Table by Peter and Anne Blakeway
(Hodder Moa $49.99)

Peter Blakeway, who immigrated to Tauranga six years ago after many years of working as a chef in places like Claridges and the Boca Raton Resort in Florida, worked with photographer Simon Young on the book described as a "love letter to their new home". Taking a regional north-to-south approach, they use produce from each area to create some rather unusual dishes: avocado chocolate tart (Bay of Plenty), oven-baked paua risotto nero (Taranaki), deep-fried Moorish whitebait, with paprika, ground ginger, mustard and sugar (allegedly Westland. As a former Coaster, I don't think so). This could be a good one to send overseas as a gift, as it's about place as much as recipes.

Matakana Flavour: A Matakana School Cookbook
(Matakana School $25;

A sweet little book produced as a fundraiser to help the creation of a new information centre in the school library. The recipes - starting with fresh smoked fish on dill pikelets and ending 130 pages later with a "yummy rice bake" - are varied and homely, while the photos of the kids and scenes from the Mahurangi region add up to what is perhaps the book's most charming quality: a real sense of community.

Pavlova by Genevieve Knights
(White Knights Publishing $24.99)

A confession: I have never made a pav. I blame my mother. But this slim book might be a good place to learn an art that's supposed to be an integral element of Kiwi citizenry. Knights, a food writer who has worked at classy restaurants like the French Cafe and Mantells, says her initial idea - to create 50 pavlova recipes - met with scepticism because the science of the pav left little room to move. After making more than 300 in the name of research, Knights has learnt some invaluable tricks that she passes on before moving on to the recipes. So here goes. Saffron and orange pavlova (p32), here I come.

- NZ Herald

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