Barbara is a Sydney-based food writer, talker and event fixer. She curates food events with a literary bent, such as the annual Food & Words food writers’ festival. Her Talking Cookbook project is an oral cooking project, and really, just another chance to talk food. She writes, mostly about food producers, but also chefs and restaurants, is a judge at the National Honey Show, the chief judge of the RAS Regional Fine Food Show and on the food team of TEDxSydney
An adventure such as this, roughing it in small rural communities in Italy, Greece and Spain in the 60s and 70s, wouldn't be possible in the same way today. This is a book of courage, curiosity and thoughtfulness – and damn fine writing.
Dinner for friends and a generosity of spirit is what makes this book from UK gardening writer Christopher Lloyd such a delight. Filled with beautiful pictures of seasonal ingredients, from fruits to herbs, and recipes for simple, elegant ways to prepare them, it’s a strong argument for growing your own food or, at the very least, knowing where it comes from.
There’s never a boring meal at Mr Slater's house. No baked beans on toast for him on a weeknight when he staggers in the door late and tired. Slater is the master of the simple, tasty idea that really does transform dinner from pedestrian to palatable. I chose the Diaries over other books, such as Eat, Tender or Appetite, because in a diary, written in the first person, you get a sense of getting to know someone. Plus, he writes in such a lovely, engaging way.
If you're looking for really flavoursome food, then Sean Moran is your cook. This guy raises the stakes on the roast chook and impresses with a raspberry champagne ice-cream. Everything in this book is eminently cookable –¬ and the chocolate peanut biscuits (I can’t bring myself to say cookies) unforgettable.
Read it for the dissertation on cassoulet alone and you have your money’s worth. As for recipes, the onion soup (onion, bread, cream and stick) is memorable. The pages seem to smell of thyme and garlic and pork and sunshine. Love it.
When a book delivers a lemon curd tart recipe that your guests claim to be the best lemon tart they've ever eaten you know you've hit gold. I devoured How to Eat when it was first published and it restored my cooking mojo. It’s personable, real and clever. Remember, this is Nigella pre-television.
First published in 1968, this book was a publishing phenomenon reportedly selling more than 750,000 copies. Which explains why there was a copy in so many Australian kitchens in the 60s and 70s. Revised in 2004, the book is filled with classic that have patently demonstrated they are here to stay. This is the book that started me cooking (see Rock Cakes, page 221).
Take a perfectly ripe peach – or plum or lemon. And what do you do? Turn to Remolif Shere for inspiration, guidance, instruction and success. The basic repetoire of crème anglaise, pastry cream, ice cream and brioche will stand you in good stead.