There's nothing like a global pandemic to remind people of the value of home cooking. Lucy Corry recommends her favourite new cookbooks.
Egg & Spoon
by Alexandra Tylee with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson (Gecko, $40)
Cookbooks aimed at children are usually uniformly awful, hideously gendered (pink cakes for girls, chips and sausages for boys) or both. Thank the heavens then for this delightful New Zealand-authored and illustrated book, which avoids obvious tropes and celebrates cooking as something useful and exciting to do. Clarkson's quirky drawings and the irreverent text ("muesli can be very boring") make it all deliciously fun. The recipes themselves will appeal to children's palates without veering into chicken nugget territory (and they're simple enough for beginner parents, too).
One Tin Bakes
by Edd Kimber (Kyle Books, $38)
Oh, how I wish I'd got my hands on this genius book before I moved house and had to explain to my spouse why we had three large boxes full of oddly shaped cake tins. Edd Kimber, the 2010 winner of the Great British Bake Off, shows how to spark Marie Kondo-style joy in your kitchen by using just one simple, rectangular tin. UK cooks went bananas for this book when it came out earlier in the year and it's not hard to see why. The concept is clever, the well-written recipes are easily achievable and the photographs (taken by Kimber) gorgeous.
Bella: My Life in Food
by Annabel Langbein (Allen & Unwin, $50)
This rollicking memoir, filled with tales of derring-do, partying, tragedy and a good sprinkling of recipes, proves there's much more to Our Lady of Wānaka than meets the eye. Langbein leaves no scone unturned - her idyllic Karori childhood, her teenage transformation into a "'righteous hippy on a mission to change the world", a serious foray into huntin', shootin' and fishin', lots of global adventures, her fair share of dodgy blokes and the eventual evolution of the massive Annabel Langbein brand. Imagine Indiana Jones with a wooden spoon instead of a whip and you start to get the idea - it's the tale of a delectably well-lived life.
Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine
by Monique Fiso (Godwit Press, $65)
Full disclosure: I worked on this book, so there's no way I can be completely objective about it. That said, this is probably the most important book by a New Zealand chef published this year. Monique Fiso, of multiaward-winning Wellington restaurant Hiakai, has woven together the story of traditional Māori food gathering and cooking methods with a detailed primer on indigenous ingredients and a collection of breathtakingly inventive recipes. The average home cook might struggle with some of the recipes (first catch your weka) but it's a must-read for every New Zealander.
Falastin: A Cookbook
by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (Ebury Press, $60)
Can you remember a time before the name Yotam Ottolenghi was synonymous with culinary cool? Jerusalem, the 2012 book he wrote with long-time business partner Sami Tamimi, is one of my most-used, most-read cookbooks. In Falastin, Tamimi (aided by long-time Ottolenghi empire collaborator Tara Wigley) picks up the tale and tells it from the Palestinian point of view. This is a story of extraordinary people as well as place - so we meet "the yoghurt-making ladies of Bethlehem", a woman who cooks in a refugee camp, makers of tahini and olive oil; and the founder of the Palestinian Seed Library, among others. And the food! Vibrant, colourful, exuberant, generous - and for the most part, not using any difficult-to-find ingredients. A joy to read, even if you just look at the pictures.
by Bill Granger (Murdoch Books, $55)
While Covid-19 renders Australia far away, so close, this book is a tantalising reminder of what's waiting across the ditch. Bill Granger is the Sydney restaurateur famously credited with "inventing" avocado on toast (much to the chagrin of his teenage daughters). In Australia, at least, his name is synonymous with a certain kind of relaxed cafe cool - Granger's food is the stuff you eat in your idealised dream life. Australian Food speaks to this reputation and backs it up in spades: think grilled cheese and kimchi open sandwiches, masala snapper with cumin roast tomatoes, miso roast beef with ginger and spring onion dressing, pineapple lamingtons. Advance, Australian fare, this one's a beaut.
Simply: Easy Everyday Dishes
by Sabrina Ghayour (Octopus/Mitchell Beazley, $45)
I'd recommend buying this book on the strength of one single recipe (the tomato, peanut and tamarind salad) alone. If that's not enough to sway you, surely Sabrina Ghayour's other easily achievable and interesting dishes will. Ghayour, who has drawn on her Iranian heritage for this and her four previous bestselling books, has a great understanding of the needs of home cooks. Her recipes are interesting and pack a lot of flavour but they're not fiddly. A great book if you're in a bit of a culinary rut but don't necessarily have huge amounts of time to spend in the kitchen.
In Praise of Veg: A Modern Kitchen Companion
by Alice Zaslavsky (Murdoch Books, $70)
I recently overheard a young woman confessing to her friend that she wasn't a vegetarian any more ("because I also need to be gluten-free and gluten-free vegetarian food is gross"). At the time I resisted giving her some helpful advice but, in hindsight, I wish I'd had a copy of this eminently useful and inspiring book to pass on instead. Australian food writer Alice Zaslavsky covers all the basics, with sound, unpatronising advice for new cooks and lots of clever ideas for seasoned ones. At $70 it's an investment buy - but it'll save you cash in the long run. A must for anyone who wants to get more out of their vegetable drawer.
by Sarah Tuck (From The Kitchen, $65)
After feeling thoroughly disheartened by a stack of aspirational lifestyle cookbooks (general gist: "drink a fancy smoothie, lose weight, waft about in white linen"), Stuck Together landed on my desk with a satisfying thud. Sarah Tuck's been through the wringer in recent years (she wrote her first book, Coming Unstuck, as a response to a marriage break-up) and she knows a thing or two about comfort food. As editor of Dish magazine, she's got a sharp sense of what people like to eat and let me tell you, it ain't raw smoothies. This is the cookbook you wish you'd had in lockdown. Better get a copy for next time round.
The Flavour Thesaurus: 10th Anniversary Edition
by Niki Segnit (Bloomsbury, $50)
This isn't strictly a new book but it's been reissued for its 10th anniversary and I'm including it here because I strongly believe everyone with an interest in food should have a copy. It passes the true test of any cookbook - the format means you can comfortably read it in bed - and it's funny, informative and hugely useful. If you've ever stood in front of the fridge and thought, "What on earth shall I put with that?" this is the book for you.