With the arrival of longer, cooler nights and more time for cooking, I’m delving into a pile of new cookbooks. Despite constantly hearing that the printed page is an endangered species, New Zealand cooks devour recipe books like no other nation’s. There’s something for everyone among the seven titles I’m admiring as I write. Preserving, baking, savoury cooking and dinner ideas are all covered, but there’s a new fad in Find It Eat It, by Michael Daly (New Holland, $39.95).
Foraging has been a culinary catchphrase for a year or two, and top chefs around the world have begun to gather wild foods to enhance their menus. A first-time author, Daly left his chef position in a Hamilton hotel to travel around New Zealand with his wife and son, gathering wild edible plants to feast on. A surprising number of backyard weeds and plants and flowers in the countryside are edible – and they’re free.
There’s also food hanging from trees, and edible seaweed and seafood to be found around the coastline. Daly photographed his discoveries, and provides extensive notes on how to recognise, find and use these wild treasures. He has developed unusual recipes, such as the pizza pictured on the right, which is a perfect way to use field mushrooms.
A Good Harvest (Random House, $34.99) is a miscellany of recipes from the kitchens of Rural Women of New Zealand. Among the recipes for jams, pickles, relishes, preserves and more are lots of old favourites, such as spicy tamarillo chutney, feijoa and blackberry jam, rhubarb pickle, tomato sauce and lemon cordial. Some fine cakes, muffins and puddings are also included, along with growing tips for fruits and vegetables.
New Zealand has a wealth of old community and fund-raising books, and Dunedin food and travel writer Barbara Keen has mined her own collection for Grace & Flavour (Hodder Moa, $36.99). She has carefully updated the recipes (quite important, as old recipe books were short on instructions and usually gave imperial measurements) and included both the old and modern versions. Keen celebrates the traditionalAnglo-Indian food our grandmothers produced and proves it’s still delicious, seasonal and often economical – not the limited and often overcooked fare some would have us believe. The pudding and baking sections are particularly good, and I will be trying her whitebait soufflé once the season comes around.
One of Auckland’s original purveyors of cafe treats has shared some more of her recipes. Dulcie May Kitchen Everyday, by Natalie Oldfield (Harper-Collins, $44.99), is the third book from this successful author. Her fi rst two were inspired by her gran, but now Oldfield has gathered her own favourite fuss-free recipes. Although there’s nothing highly original or challenging, this book is ideal for someone who wants easy recipes to help build a basic repertoire. The book has a simple layout, is easy to follow and every recipe has been photographed by Todd Eyre in a clean, clear style.
Kim Evans bakes cafe-style indulgences for Little and Friday’s two cafe-shops in Takapuna and Newmarket, Auckland. She has shared the recipes for many of these in her first book, Treats from Little and Frida (Penguin, $44.99), which will be revered by bakers. The book is bright and colourful, with tempting pastries and cakes and lots of traditional and original recipes to recreate the cafe experience at home.
It’s MasterChef season again, and although I’m not a fan of cooking programmes centred on competition, bullying and shouting that produce more angst and tears than culinary instruction, I have to admit there’s lots to love about last year’s winner, Nadia Lim. And now there’s her book. Nadia’s Kitchen (Random House, $55) is a collection of fresh-looking and healthy food from this nutritionist and dietitian turned cook. The recipes – stunningly styled by Tam West and photographed by Kieran Scott – are simple and affordable and should appeal to the younger generation of cooks.
I have kept my favourite book of the bunch for last. Pipi: The Cookbook, by Alexandra Tylee (Random House, $65), has captured the essence of this special Havelock North restaurant. Anyone who has eaten at Pipi will have already fallen in love with the author, her casual, colourful restaurant and her simple, approachable food. Pipi is famous for its thin-crusted pizza and, if you’re lucky, its whole baked fl ounder. Those recipes sit beside a wealth of other ideas from the Pipi kitchen. Tylee’s story is heartwarming and her recipes for children’s birthday party food are inspired. Also included are some fine poems. Every page is a visual feast, beautifully captured by photographer Brian Culy.
This recipe is from Michael Daly’s Find It Eat It.
WILD FIELD MUSHROOM AND LAMB GREEK-STYLE PIZZA
- 300g strong flour
- 15g active dried yeast
- pinch salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 220ml milk, warmed
- 1½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
Combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the milk and oil using a dough hook on high speed for 5 minutes or until the dough becomes very elastic. Form the dough into a ball, then place in a large lightly oiled bowl covered with a dry cloth. Place the dough in a warm place and allow to rise for a couple of hours to double in size. Knock back by kneading for 2 minutes, then use as needed.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 300g lamb mince
- 100g wild field mushrooms, sliced
- 200g fresh tomatoes, seeded
- 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
- 100g feta cheese, diced
- extra chopped mint and coriander, to serve
- a little extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the topping, heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onion and garlic until soft but without colour. Turn up the heat and toss in the oregano, cumin and coriander. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the lamb mince and mushrooms. Stir and cook until golden brown. Dice the tomatoes and mix through the mince; cook until soft. Remove from the heat and toss in the chopped mint and coriander.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place a heavy-bottomed tray or a pizza stone in the oven to heat up. Divide the dough in half and roll both pieces into an oval shape on a floured surface. Remove the tray or stone from the oven and cover with a piece of baking paper. Place the dough pieces on top and spread evenly with the mince mixture. Sprinkle on the feta. Bake the pizzas on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.
Remove and cut each pizza into 8 pieces. Serve sprinkled with chopped mint and coriander, a little olive oil and some black pepper. Serves 4. Wine match: pinot noir.