Greek cakes, Canadian poutine and a one-pot macaroni cheese feature in a new batch of food books.
Taste the Wild: Recipes and stories from Canada
Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup (Murdoch Books, $55)
Does anyone need a recipe for chips and gravy? Purists would opt for cheese curds over squidgy halloumi but think Canada, think poutine. It's here (the halloumi version, at least), along with bannock bread (as a pizza base) and salmon (on a cedar plank, naturally). This is not a book for serious cooks - there are only 50 or so recipes and, frankly, some of them stretch the Canadian reference crepe-thin - but the armchair travel pictures are extremely pretty. I flipped the pages dreaming of halibut and remembering the time I travelled on a Greyhound bus through Nanaimo, famous for its layered, chocolately, custardy, super-sweet bars. Light the fire and start measuring flour - you'll be making s'more crackers and butter tart pastry from scratch before you know it.
Weber's Ultimate Barbecue
Jamie Purviance (Murdoch Books, $45)
Every mature-aged couple I know owns a Weber. And now, every mature-aged couple you know can own a Weber cookbook. A cynic might note the timing and say "Happy Father's Day" but top tips for the ultimate brisket is genderlessly invaluable advice. The recipe includes a handy party timeline that starts at 4am, with the advice to "wake up and start the charcoal" before the brisket goes on at 5am, which is probably why only retired people and hipsters who didn't go to bed the night before, own a Weber. A crazy amount of work has gone into making this book, which is loaded with step-by-step photos and chatty side-bars on barbecue science. Should you salt a steak? Absolutely, say the authors, because that tiny ion "acts as a powerful cellular spelunker". Entertaining, even if you don't (yet) own a Weber.
Georgina Hayden (Square Peg, $60)
The author spent 12 years on Jamie Oliver's food team, so her cookbook cred is solid. More importantly, she grew up above her grandparents' Greek Cypriot taverna in North London and this book is stuffed with recipes reflecting that heritage. The baking section is honey and citrus and sesame; the "sides" include something called Mama's Leftover Easter Egg Salad (hard-boiled not chocolate) and the meat dishes tends towards the long and slow - perfect for winter eating. Hayden's take on keftedes is, she admits, not very authentic but the white fish fritters (drawing on the Greek love of meatballs) with a mustard sauce (more commonly applied to souvlaki) appear emblematic of her approach: Respectful of tradition but not afraid to reinvent.
The World's Easiest Recipes
Linda Duncan (Harvey Publishing, $29.99)
Rice, cooked in the oven. Macaroni cheese, made in a single dish with no tricky bechamel. A sticky date self-saucing pudding that literally takes 10 minutes to prepare. Taupo-based Linda Duncan writes seemingly impossible recipes in this self-published book that is, she says, the result of a lightbulb moment. What if someone hunted down the easy stuff, tweaked and tested the hard stuff and put all those instructions in one place? "Let me assure you, my husband who couldn't even boil an egg can make every recipe in this book," she says on her website. I reckon you'd want to put a few more herbs and spices in the glazed meatloaf, maybe even sneak in some grated carrot and courgette but I'm convinced. This one is going straight to my 11-year-old nephew.