Our favourite cookbooks of 2018

Bar Lourinha's signature spiced chickpeas and spinach from Eat at the Bar.
Bar Lourinha's signature spiced chickpeas and spinach from Eat at the Bar. Photo: Mark Roper

The Good Food team has spent the year leafing through the cookbooks that daily come across our desks. Here are our favourites.

Eat at the Bar by Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros.
Eat at the Bar by Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros. Photo: Hardie Grant Books

Eat at the Bar

Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros, $50, Hardie Grant

Melbourne's Bar Lourinha has been king of the pan-European (mostly Spanish) snack for over a decade. Has anyone not been christened with the lemon oil that drizzles the kingfish pancetta? They will be soon now that extremely edible wisdom has funnelled neatly into Matt McConnell and Jo Gamvros' first cookbook that's low fuss, high-impact recipe-wise and part travel journal with great pics as a bonus.

They've given it all away here from their signature spiced chickpeas and spinach (pictured) to that killer kingfish, cocktail recipes and a bunch of excellent entry level recipes to train new tastes on offal. See especially the chicken liver migas.

Five Seasons of Jam by Lillie O'Brien.
Five Seasons of Jam by Lillie O'Brien. Photo: Octopus Publishing


Five Seasons of Jam

Lillie O'Brien, $30, Octopus Publishing

Australian-born and London restaurant-raised, author Lillie O'Brien has been working in restaurants since she was 13. After working for St John Bread and Wine for seven years, she opened the only dedicated jam shop in London.


Her first book is a reflection of her cooking style and flavour pairings – unconventional, seasonal and highly individualistic. It's not just jams, either. There are pickle and cordial recipes, salted fruits and flavoured vinegars. A must for anyone who cares about slow food.


Flour and Stone: Baked for Love, Life and Happiness

Nadine Ingram, $55, Simon & Schuster

Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram.
Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram. Photo: Simon and Schuster

With a recipe for croissants that runs six pages long, and a canele recipe you need to prep two days in advance, elementary baking this is not. Gluten-free, sugar-free – also, sorry, nope. But what celebrated Sydney baker Nadine Ingram's cookbook lacks in health credentials it makes up for in glutinous gluttonous goodness, compelling writing and sumptuous photography. Yes, I'm looking at you lemon dream cake.


Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse

David Mcmillan, Frederic Morin, Meredith Erickson, $75, Penguin Books

Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse by David Mcmillan, Frederic Morin, Meredith Erickson.
Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse by David Mcmillan, Frederic Morin, Meredith Erickson. Photo: Penguin Books

I love this book so much. Wait, I NEED this book so much. For Dave McMillan and Frederic Morin of Montreal's much-loved French-Canadian bistro Joe Beef, the end is nigh. The glorified, self-obsessed superficiality of our age requires hunkering down and getting real about our own sanity and survival – hence the bunker-friendly recipes for rabbit stew, prison bread, beef jerky, cough drops and soap, and beer made from roots, twigs and bark. The end of the world as we know it? Bring it on.


Lateral Cooking

Niki Segnit, $45, Bloomsbury Publishing

Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit.
Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit. Photo: Bloomsbury Publishing

In his foreword for this photography-free tome, Yotam Ottolenghi says English author Niki Segnit has uncovered "the very syntax of cookery". I just say it's the most inspired and laugh-out-loud funny kitchen handbook to be released since Segnit's Flavour Thesaurus in 2010.

Lateral Cooking aims to provide a set of base recipes that, once you're familiar with them, will prove adaptable to any ingredients you have in your fridge, find at the market or simply feel like scoffing. Angel cake transforms into florentines; Turkish halva becomes gnocchi parisienne. Personal stories and anecdotes are weaved throughout referencing everything from Moonraker to Marlene Dietrich's penchant for making pot au feu on film sets.


Meat: The Ultimate Companion by Anthony Puharich and Libby Travers.
Meat: The Ultimate Companion by Anthony Puharich and Libby Travers. Photo: Murdoch Books

Meat: The Ultimate Companion

Anthony Puharich and Libby Travers, $79.99, Murdoch Books

Ever since John Susman, Anthony Huckstep and Steve Hodges wrote The Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook in 2016, I have been waiting for the equivalent wide-ranging, authoritative and helpful tome on meat. This is one of the most important books to emerge in 2018, because what Anthony Puharich doesn't know about beef, veal, chicken, duck, goose, turkey, lamb, goat, pork or game isn't worth knowing. And while there are some top-cut recipes from the likes of David Thompson and Kylie Kwong, the ones from recipe developer Emma Knowles are the biz.


The Noma Guide to Fermentation by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber. Photo: Workman

The Noma Guide to Fermentation

Rene Redzepi and David Zilber, $55, Workman

When Rene Redzepi reopened Noma restaurant in Copenhagen after its Sydney sojourn, he installed a fermentation lab at its heart. Its successful experiments have found their way on to the menu – and into this 455-page book.

For newbies, there are recipes for lacto-fermented blueberries, plum vinegar, and coffee kombucha, along with explanatory photos and notes.

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi. Photo: Ebury Press

But those who have already caught the fermentation bug may attempt grasshopper garum. Usually made with fish, salt and water, this "magical ferment" involves grasshoppers, wax moth larvae and pearl barley koji, made by inoculating grains with Aspergillus oryzae fungus. There are some great fermentation books around, but this one's for the nerds.


Ottolenghi Simple

Yotam Ottolenghi, Penguin, $40

Suqar by Greg and Lucy Malouf.
Suqar by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Photo: Hardie Grant Books

This book is essential for one recipe alone – oven chips with oregano and feta. We embrace cooking potatoes in our family. This blows all other recipes out of the water. You need this book for another recipe too, the hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt, which will enhance anything you care to throw on the barbie this summer, alongside the chips, of course. Oh, and then there are the ricotta and oregano meatballs ... look, you need this book because actually, as someone who cooks regularly from all of the Great Man's cookbooks, this is the best he's written.



Greg and Lucy Malouf, $55, Hardie Grant

I challenge even the most devoted anti-sugar wowser to not swoon over this magnificent Middle Eastern cookbook. The flaky-nut-stuffed pastries, the gritty, sticky bakes and the sense of generosity and abundance that abound, both in serving size and spirit are irresistible.

In their eighth book, Greg and Lucy Malouf share more than 100 gorgeously shot, modern takes on traditional desserts and sweets covering all of the pud groups: hot, cold, sweet, spicy – sometimes all at once.