The Good Food team's pick of the best cookbooks of 2017

A selection of Good Food's pick of the culinary cookbook crop this year.
A selection of Good Food's pick of the culinary cookbook crop this year. Photo: Joe Armao

Butcher

Finding Fire by Lennox Hastie, Hardie Grant, $60

Lennox Hastie takes cooking with fire to the extreme with his first cookbook. Learn how to build the perfect fire in any conditions, and which wood to pair with specific ingredients. The chef of two-hat Sydney restaurant Firedoor runs a kitchen focused solely on cooking over wood and coals – there's no gas or electricity. It's here that live marron are split in half before your eyes, and dry-aged beef is dropped straight from the electric saw to the grill. Learn Hastie's tips and secrets, as well as his journey, from working in Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe to starting his own place in the back streets of Surry Hills. Fire up. Myffy Rigby

Baker

The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James, Hardie Grant Books, $60

'Made at Home' by Giorgio Locatelli.
'Made at Home' by Giorgio Locatelli. Photo: Supplied

It's the bread, the whole bread and, well, actually, a lot of things aside from bread in Michael James' new essential guide for dough fans. James' Melbourne bakery has garnered a huge reputation for its macro-level understanding of loaves, filled doughnuts and pies over the years and he's laid out all that wisdom here. There are milling tips, wheat farmer profiles and fermentation know-how. Between: the real recipes from his commercial bakery, with useful notes for home bakers, and it's all been tested in domestic ovens. Ace. Gemima Cody

Sweet by Yotam by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, Ebury Press, $55

If you follow Yotam Ottolenghi on Instagram, you probably pre-ordered a copy of Sweet solely based on the tantalising glimpses he revealed while developing recipes for his latest book, co-written by Melbourne pastry chef Helen Goh. For those not already swept up by Ottolenghi (and Goh) fever, Sweet may help light the fire. It's a paean to all things sugary, from a controversial Anzac biscuit overhaul and lime meringue cheesecakes to sesame brittle, with loads of tips, tricks and techniques for experienced bakers. Who knew you could add a crushed vitamin C tablet to a beetroot cake to preserve the magenta colour? Roslyn Grundy

'The Tivoli Road Baker' by Michael James.
'The Tivoli Road Baker' by Michael James. Photo: Supplied

Pidapipo: Gelato Eight Days a Week by Lisa Valmorbida, Hardie Grant Books, $40

It's mighty brave opening a modern gelato shop in Australia's most traditional Italian street, Lygon. But Pidapipo did it in 2014 and the queue hasn't stopped since. Winter included. In this bright, quirkily illustrated book, Lisa Valmorbida – Pidapipo owner, Gelato University graduate (yes, really), and concocter of such heavenly creations as the signature fior di latte, ricotta and fig gelato, shares 60 sorbet, gelato, cake and dessert recipes so good they'll have you considering the before-dawn Boxing Day sale stampede for a new gelato-maker. Andrea McGinniss

Basic

Mr & Mrs Wilkinson's How It Is at Home by Matt Wilkinson and Sharlee Gibb, Hardie Grant Books, $49.99

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It's the little things. Like the chapter on lunchboxes that contains recipes gems that have never occurred to me when I am scratching my head for ideas: like frittata muffins (as the book says, "best use of left-over vegetables ever"), ham and salami scrolls (like the hot bread shop ones, but waaaay better) and orange cake using whole oranges and yoghurt. Healthy! Matt Wilkinson is a British chef with a loyal following in Melbourne, his wife Sharlee Gibb has her own food cred and with other chapters like "When Mum's Away" and "When Dad's Away", this really is your go-to book of family food inspo. Ardyn Bernoth

Made at Home: The Food I Cook for the People I Love by Giorgio Locatelli, Fourth Estate, $49.99

Ah, beautiful Giorgio. Look at you smiling on the cover of your new family recipe book with your silver hair and pot of excellence. What do you have in there, signore? Pappardelle coated in olive and rabbit ragu? Pigeon with lentils and radicchio? Roast chicken flavoured with bay leaves and juniper? The British-based chef sells a lifestyle of barefoot afternoons in the hills of Lombardy while providing simple guides to making the perfect passata, cacio e pepe and crostini. This might be the only Italian cookbook you'll ever need. Callan Boys

'Cornersmith Salads & Pickles' by Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler.
'Cornersmith Salads & Pickles' by Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler. Photo: Supplied

The Little Library Cookbook, by Kate Young, Head of Zeus, $39.99

The perfect gift for food-obsessed book lovers. Paddington Bear's marmalade, spaghetti and meatballs from The Godfather, and actual green eggs and ham – they're all here in this compendium of bookish recipes. From "before noon" to "midnight feasts", Australian food writer and cook Kate Young has cooked up the ultimate literary feast. Megan Johnston

Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura and friends, Phaidon, $55

'Sweet' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.
'Sweet' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.  Photo: Supplied

A collection of everyday recipes from the world's best chefs who have popped-up at the global soup kitchens of Italian superstar Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana). Bottura's contributing mates include Alain Ducasse with a meatball recipe and brothers Ferran and Albert Adria rocking a rice pudding with apple-honey ice-cream. If you've ever wanted to know what Rene Redzepi puts in his burgers, Bread Is Gold is for you. (Celery leaves and mustard powder, among other things.) All book royalties will be used to create and sustain community kitchens around the world. CB

Hong Kong Food City by Tony Tan, Murdoch Books, $49,99

Standing in a snaking queue in an alleyway of Hong Kong waiting to buy the city's most famous egg tarts, it never occurred to me I could make my own. Tony Tan is the man to convince me this is possible. As one of Australia's kings of Asian cuisine, Tan's love letter to Hong Kong can convince all of us that the delights of this culinary capital – prawn and pork dumplings, claypot fried rice, barbecued pork – are perfectly within reach of even novice Cantonese cooks. Ardyn Bernoth

'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat' by Samin Nosrat.
'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat' by Samin Nosrat. Photo: Supplied

Brag

Igni: A Restaurant's First Year by Aaron Turner, Hardie Grant Books, $60

What a pervy book. First there are Julian Kingma's photos documenting Aaron Turner's team building their Geelong restaurant Igni. The pictures are as candid, raw and beautifully vivid as the copy, which Turner has written as a diary covering the restaurant's first year. Brace yourself. Turner rips out his heart and leaves it bloody and still beating on the page, pulling zero punches while covering his heartbreak and the small hells involved in opening a fine diner. Igni gets under your skin and turns the fluffy, often glossed-over chef book genre on its head. Plus! That potato pasta dish. GC

Boffin

Cornersmith Salads & Pickles by Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler, Murdoch Books, $39.99

'Finding Fire' by Lennox Hastie.
'Finding Fire' by Lennox Hastie. Photo: Supplied

Yes, there are plenty of salads, and, well, pickles, but the second cookbook from pioneering Sydney cafe Cornersmith is also about the future of food: more vegies, less meat, more community and less waste. Never throw out a vegetable again, with recipes for quick leftover pickles and kitchen scrap sauerkraut, pickled green tomatoes and snackable rosti with radish and apple salad. MJ

Real Food by Mike by Mike McEnearney, Hardie Grant, $45

Beautiful, vibrant dishes made with market-fresh produce and loaded with vegies – if it sounds like a winner, that's because it is. Yes, each recipe comes with medicinal notes but that's the only hint of "wellness" in Mike McEnearney's latest cookbook. From a verdant spring tabouleh to a heavenly lemon drizzle cake, this is unfussy cooking everyone should eat and cook every day. MJ

'The Great Australian Cookbook' edited by Helen Greenwood and Melissa Leong.
'The Great Australian Cookbook' edited by Helen Greenwood and Melissa Leong. Photo: Supplied

Brilliant

Dinner at The Long Table by Andrew Tarlow and Anna Dunn, Ten Speed Press, $55

"Read. Don't follow recipes. Cook with fire. Pick wild herbs. Talk to ghosts. Fail at aioli." The debut cookbook from New York restaurateur Andrew Tarlow (Diner, Marlow & Sons) is a collection of sound advice and recipes that make you want to scoff calamari sandwiches on a beach towel or eat agnolotti in brodo on an autumn afternoon. Chapters such as "Cold Night Cassoulet" are rich with ideas to nourish old friends and new lovers. "Use wooden spoons. Eat oysters at home. Drink Chartreuse. Cook until you understand. Cook to keep the house warm." CB

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat, Canongate Books, $49.99

From the school of nerdish food writing that brought us Harold McGee's Curious Cook and Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold and Chris Young comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Across 469 pages, it takes readers through kitchen hows and whys before even thinking about what to cook. Part science, part domestic science, part poetry, it's a book to dip in and out of, or to immerse yourself in as a guided cooking course, with experiments and inspiration along the way, and helpful illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton​. If you've always wanted to know how to break down a chicken, turn garlic into a paste or fix split mayonnaise, this is the book. RG

Bonza

The Great Australian Cookbook edited by Helen Greenwood and Melissa Leong, Echo Publishing, $50

"What do you cook for the people you love?" It's a good question, and one helpfully answered by 100 Aussie cooks – from three-hatted chefs to unheralded producers – in this nostalgic collection of recipes you'll actually want to have a crack at. Peppering the recipes – crossing cuisines and cultures – are candid memories and portraits of each cook, captured in their natural habitats: gardens, verandahs, kitchens, by campfire, on the sea. The result is heartwarming but never cloying – like the Mambo-esque cover by Reg Mombassa – and a reminder of why it's great to be Strayan. AM