Let the pros spark your imagination in the kitchen.

Whether we cook at home or for a living, we all need a bit of inspiration now and then to spark us to try something different in the kitchen. This may come from reading a new cookbook, watching food TV, cooking with other people or going to a class or demonstration. Here are some of my recent revelations and hopefully you will gain some inspiration for your festive entertaining as we scramble towards Christmas.

Three books amid an avalanche of recently published cookbooks have got my attention. I vowed not to add more to my collection but I have succumbed to these. Any would be an inspired Christmas present to a loved one, or to yourself.

Stoked by Al Brown

This book is not for the faint hearted. It contains raw photos of the realities of hunting, shooting and fishing. It's all about cooking on fire and will appeal to those who love food foraging and primal cooking. Here's my take on his grilled eggplant.


Grilled eggplant with basil, lemon and feta bruschetta
1 Preheat your barbecue until hot.

2 Brush chunky slices of bread with olive oil and grill both sides. Remove and rub with a cut clove of garlic and put aside.

3 Cut an eggplant lengthwise into 1cm slices, brush with olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked pepper.

4 Cook on both sides until charred and golden. Remove, allow to cool and roughly chop.

5 Put into a bowl and mix with torn fresh basil, crumbled feta , olive oil and lemon zest.

6 Top each toasted bread slice with this, add a squeeze of lemon and serve immediately. Rustic outdoor eating.