I’ve extended this Christmas recommendations series to include cookbooks this year because there are always so many that come out that it can be hard to keep up to date with them all. Like most people, I am partial to a good cookbook but mostly for the inspiration because, honestly, I don’t like cooking very much. A weird position to be in, I know! What’s changed in our family situation in the past eighteen months is that we have one member who is a committed lacto-ovo vegetarian and another who eschews almost all kinds of red meat. So my already rather limited dinner rotation became even smaller! Many of these recommendations are made with this scenario in mind – but not all!
Smith & Deli-cious: Food From Our Deli (That Happens to be Vegan) is the second book by creative duo and restauranters Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse of Smith & Deli in Melbourne. In my opinion, it’s better. Or at least it’s more practical for family cooks such as myself who want doable options for things like bolognese, meat pies, mac and cheese and sweets.
I discussed the FODMAP diet a few years ago when I was having some significant gastrointestinal issues. I never followed it strictly because I baulked at its strictness and – TMI alert – I prefer to eat some things that I know ‘clean me out’ than resort to other, er, methods. That’s why I like FODMAP Friendly by Georgia McDermott – it contains recipes I would actually eat. I realise I’m lucky – some people are more sensitive to foods than I am. Another plus for this cookbook is that it is ‘mostly vegetarian’.
As you saw last month, I’ve always appreciated the work Sarah Wilson does in the field of wellness and mental health and her latest book I Quit Sugar: Simplicious Flow is another worthy addition to the world. I particularly like the emphasis on reusing leftovers in secondary or tertiary recipes. I despise food waste, but some members of the family are happier to eat leftovers than others, so this is an issue that I often have to manage. I’m sure there are many other families out there in the same boat!
Whenever I’ve taken to social media in the past to ask for vegetarian-friendly cookbook suggestions, the answer is almost always: Ottolenghi is your man. I borrowed a couple from the library and liked them fine, but I didn’t feel the same connection others did. Now I do in Ottolenghi Simple. It speaks to me. Why? The way he created the recipes for starters:
S – short on time: less than 30 minutes
I – 10 ingredients or less
M – make ahead
P – pantry
L – lazy
E – easier than you think
Perfect! And I checked it carefully. The raw and cooked vegetable chapters alone take up half of the book. The photos are lovely.
Now, really, would it be Christmas without a new Jamie Oliver cookbook? Probably not. So here, for pasta/carb lovers and arguably the one featuring the most meat, I present Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver. I’ve already made his ‘mini meatballs and baked cherry tomato sauce strozzapreti’ (with a different pasta I had in the cupboard) and have dog-eared a few more. I like the basics chapter in the back, as well as the step-by-step method for how to joint a chicken. And as it was just reported, 83.9% of teenagers don’t know how to roast a chicken, these sorts of skills are disappearing. Let’s not let that happen!