Best cookbooks gift guide for Christmas 2016

British summertime stack from 'Stirring Slowly' by Georgina Hayden.
British summertime stack from 'Stirring Slowly' by Georgina Hayden. Photo: Supplied

Cookbooks are a gift that keeps on giving... So which books published in 2016 will the Good Food team be giving this Christmas?

Stirring Slowly, Georgina Hayden, Square Peg, $59.99

Do you love to potter in the kitchen, with something on the stovetop bubbling away? Come on down. As the title suggests, these are not quick midweek dinners, with most recipes suited to those who enjoy home cooking as meditation. But it's no snorefest, with a modern mix of "I'd eat that" globe-trotting dishes, with considered wholefood flourishes and unexpected spicings (hello one-pot pumpkin pasta humming with coriander seeds). Londoner Hayden (see @georgiepuddingnpie, her swoon-worthy Instagram account) has spent a decade as a stylist and recipe developer for Team Jamie Oliver, hence his well-deserved words of praise on the cover. A warm and inviting book.

Best bit: Thoroughly British bakes: a cherry bakewell-inspired bundt cake and Pimm's-sloshed Victoria sponge / Eton mess stack.

Good for: Weekend potterers.

Annabel Smith

Stirring Slowly by Georgina Hayden.
Stirring Slowly by Georgina Hayden. Photo: Supplied


Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables! Peter Meehan, Clarkson Potter (Penguin), $59.95

Don't expect wimpy wholesome dishes. Lucky Peach's latest book is about maxing out your vegies. From amping up hummus with miso to Momofuku's fantastic recipe for pickled shiitake, this publication is about turning the flavour dial up to 11. So there are kung pao celeries, a vego mapo tofu and David Chang's dish where you "cannibalise'' carrots by cooking them in carrot juice and butter. The book's playful spirit is obvious in recipes like Tex-Mex shepherd's pie (no sheep) or a pappa al pomodoro inspired by schoolkid memories of eating English-muffin pizzas. All-star contributors include Christina Tosi, Brooks Headley and Ivan Orkin.

Best bit: You'll use the pickled shiitake in everything, from powering up ramen to cheese toasties and beyond.

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Good for: Despite some splashes of fish sauce, this is great for fans of veg-friendly dishes with attitude.

Lee Tran Lam

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A Spot at the Bar, Zara Young and Michael Madrusan, Hardie Grant, $45

It turns out Michael Madrusan and partner Zara Young – the duo behind Melbourne's award-winning cocktail bar the Everleigh – are as fastidious about writing as they are about drinks. You don't go to the Everleigh for a wild knees-up so much as to worship at the altar of cocktail perfection. The bar is known for its golden era fitout, pure ice and for barely having a menu – instead you surrender to the bartender's encyclopaedic knowledge. And here, replete with notes in the margins, recipes, stories and tool kit advice are all the secrets to turning your kitchen into the world's best bar and your friends into grateful messes.

Best bit: The cocktail branches explain the "mother" cocktails from which so many other drinks are derived, so learning one cocktail means you're actually learning 20.

Good for: Anyone who likes drinks, even if their cocktail kit is as basic as a Midori Illusion shaker – it's so easy to read.

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Gemima Cody

'Neighbourghood': Chermoula roasted orange and vegetables with chickpeas and cous cous.

'Neighbourghood': Chermoula roasted orange and vegetables with chickpeas and cous cous. Photo: Luisa Brimble

Chermoula roasted orange and vegetables with chickpeas and cous cous from 'Neighbourhood'. Photo: Pan Macmillan
 

Neighbourhood, Salads, Sweets and Stories from Home and Abroad, Hetty McKinnon, Plum, $39.99

Neighbourhood is the much-anticipated follow-up to McKinnon's breakthrough 2013 self-published Community: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen, which in turn was based on her small but flourishing business of cooking up hearty, vegetarian fare which she delivered (by bike) to those living near her home in Arthur Street in Sydney's Surry Hills. Neighbourhood traces McKinnon's next chapter, upending her partner and three young children for a life of travel and adventure, settling in 2015 in Brooklyn, New York. Each chapter pays delicious homage to a continent in salad form. 

Best bit: Luisa Brimble's beautiful photos of McKinnon's food, family and hip New York environs (so you can live vicariously).

Good for: It's the cookbook equivalent of giving someone a warm hug after a tough day (or year, perhaps?)

Jane Holroyd

A great gift for the beer lover in your life: Pallet magazine.

Subscribe: A great gift for the beer lover in your life. Photo: Supplied

Pallet, Pallet USA, US$14.95

Here's something I thought I would never find in my lifetime; a beer magazine I want to read. Traditionally, beer magazines are full of stories on hops and yeast strains and "what your choice of cargo pant says about you". But American quarterly Pallet (issue No. 4 hit shelves in August) assumes that if you care about what you're drinking, you care about what you're reading. Many yarns have nothing to do with beer at all; they're just nice to read with a beer. Features range from making hooch in prison, to collecting beer cans, to short stories based on Henry Rollins' tattoos. The art and graphic design are gorgeous too. Particularly great is a regular feature where four breweries and artists collaborate on a beer and label paying homage to a particular theme. In issue one it was Breaking Bad; in issue two, the films of Bruce Willis.

Tip: Pallet is available from selected magazine and book stores in Australia. All four issues are also available in a bundle for $US50 (plus $30 shipping to Australia) from the allthingspallet.com

Best bit: It's co-created by two Australians, former Smith Journal employees Rick Bannister and Nadia Saccardo, so here's hoping for a greater spotlight on Australian beer in the States.

Good for: A Sunday afternoon, with a six-pack and no commitments.

Callan Boys

Matt and Lentil Purbrick of Grown and Gathered.

Matt and Lentil Purbrick, authors of Grown and Gathered. Photo: Lentil Purbrick

Grown and Gathered, Matt and Lentil Purbrick, Plum, $45

Do you have a low-key obsession with stalking farmers on Instagram? Daydream of trading the rat race for five acres of farmable fantasy? Live vicariously through Matt and Lentil Purbrick instead, through their part instructional manual, part cookbook, littered with cute insights into life on their farm in central Victoria (can we get an invite to the next tuna canning party, guys?) Tips range from hunting and animal husbandry, to cooking wild duck ramen with that duck you just learnt to catch and noodles made from your own sourdough culture – this is next level DIY. The pictures are beautiful, too, and the easy, down-to-earth writing makes you go "Oh, I can totally do that".

Best bit: The recipe for simple man's cold brew will save you from forking out $9 every time you want a decent chilled coffee.

Good for: DIY fiends, sustainability enthusiasts, food-science nerds and mates who always have a project on the go.

Sharnee Rawson


The Happy Hormone Cookbook, Emma Ellice-Flint with Jill Keyte, New Holland, $35

Being healthy can be tedious. But the best bit about the wholefoods health craze we've been living through the past few years is the quality of the recipes. Diets aren't about cottage cheese and celery sticks any more and this book shows you exactly that, by targeting your health in a blitz of beetroot, cauliflower, chia seeds, salmon and more in easy-to-make recipes that actually support your hormones (particularly good for hormonal women, ahem), and taste great. Hear that? It's the sound of your insides jumping up and down in excitement.

Best bit: The harissa-crusted mushrooms with lentils, pomegranate and eggplant. Seriously good.

Good for: People who are aiming to get healthy next year and need an introduction into tasty, healthy cooking. Health nuts will love it too.

Nedahl Stelio


Made With Love, Echo publishing. $49.95

When some of the world's top chefs, cooks and food artisans come together to share the recipes they cook for loved ones, you know it's going to be a killer cookbook. Quay's Peter Gilmore has shared his Korean chicken soup recipe (a Gilmore family favourite on Sunday nights) and Neil Perry shares a spicy prawn tortilla recipe, which his girls love to have after school for dinner. There's also recipes from Stephanie Alexander, Dan Hong, Nigella Lawson and Kylie Kwong (to name a few.)

Best bit: It's a culinary world tour of family homes, plus all proceeds go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Africa to help build community food and agricultural projects.

Good for: The family cook who loves to dish up love in food form.

Eunice Oh