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The Listener's Best Cookbooks of 2018

From familiar favourites to experiments with fermentation, our Best Cookbooks of 2018 will help you to expand your kitchen horizons.

Cookbooks to tempt you into the kitchen are gifts that keep on giving. Here are our recommendations of the year’s most exciting releases, from New Zealand and beyond. Even an armchair reader merely dreaming about creating good food or drinking great wine will find something inspiring.

New Zealand Titles

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That: A Gujarati Indian Cookbook for Aotearoa by Jayshri Ganda & Laxmi Ganda (Self-published, $70)

Brilliant photography captures the complexity and colour of India in the work of a Christchurch mother and daughter who share their family recipes from the Gujarat region. The first-time authors cover a broad range of snack, starter, vegetable, meat and poultry recipes, and give pantry hints and spice information. The masala chicken nibbles and exotic sweet vermicelli are two of the standouts.

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Eating Well Everyday by Peter Gordon (Allen & Unwin, $45)

The appeal of rock-star chef Peter Gordon’s healthy, fresh ideas endures in this reprint, as relevant and interesting as the original published to international acclaim in 2012. The timeless recipes do not require hours in the kitchen, are made with accessible fresh ingredients and have loads of flavour and interest.

Essential Volume Two: Sweet Treats for Every Occasion by Annabel Langbein (Annabel Langbein Media, $65)

Following the issue of a huge compendium of Langbein’s savoury recipes in 2017, this year’s volume will appeal to bakers and cooks who love the sweet side of life. Recipes include brunch ideas, cakes, slices and pies and you will never be stuck again for dessert inspiration. The full-page photos seal the deal.

Fresh Start, Feel Good! by Nadia Lim (Fresh Start, $49.99)

Healthy, happy and a mother of two, Lim shares the secrets of eating well and keeping fit. With many tasty recipes, this might be the ultimate eat-but-still-lose-weight cookbook.

Meat & Three by Kathy Paterson and Tam West (Self-published, $50)

A New Zealand cookbook that breaks new ground. Popular food writer Paterson, who grew up on a Wairarapa farm, captures our rural scene with West’s stunning photography and presents great lamb and beef recipes, and accompanying vegetables for every occasion.

Ripe Recipes – A Third Helping by Angela Redfern (Beatnik, $60)

Another volume from popular Auckland café Ripe Delicatessen, known for hearty and healthy fresh salads, cakes, sandwiches, pies and soups. This edition emphasises the seasons, and recipes from the venue’s cooks add a personal touch.

Wild Delicious by Amber Rose (Random House NZ, $55)

Back home after living and cooking in the UK, Rose rediscovered natural foods to help her live a wholesome lifestyle. Ferments, salads made with wild and gathered ingredients, and food direct from the garden, orchard, farm or sea feature in this beautifully photographed cookbook.

International Titles

How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry (Hachette, $39.95)

The 11th book by one of the most admired British food writers is her best so far. Menus are the focus, accompanied by beautifully written backstories for the planned meals. Ideas for parties and everyday dinners, and memories of delicious foods eaten on adventures, fill this beautiful book.

Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu (Phaidon, $59.95)

Packed with hundreds of authentic, carefully researched recipes and complemented by a history of Japanese cooking, this may be the most comprehensive guide to Japanese food yet published in English. Hachisu includes the work of leading Japanese chefs from around the world and provides an excellent glossary. A must for anyone wanting to cook Japanese food.

Meat: The Ultimate Companion by Anthony Puharich and Libby Travers (Allen & Unwin, $95)

Puharich co-owns Victor Churchill in Sydney, the oldest butcher’s shop in Australia and possibly the most beautiful in the world. In this comprehensive volume, the history of every major animal raised for meat is covered, along with diagrams, evocative photos, butchery techniques and tips and some excellent recipes.

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press, $65)

The writer, who has defined 21st-century food with his spicy Middle Eastern twists, offers yet another exciting collection of tasty recipes. Not all are simple, but everything is tempting and inspiring. It includes such intriguing dishes as baked mint rice with pomegranate and olive salsa, and lamb siniyah, a kind of shepherd’s pie with a tahini crust.

Red & White by Oz Clarke (Hachette, $32.99)

Filled with wine stories, opinions and information, this entertaining book is a must for any oenophile. Oz Clarke is possibly the best-regarded British wine writer of our time and his voyages of discovery around the world make for fascinating reading.

Season by Nik Sharma (Chronicle Books, $69.99)

Stunning photography illustrates the bold flavours of Indian cooking, combined with the healthy ingredients and techniques of the American South and California, in this highly anticipated book from the food writer behind popular blog A Brown Table. Classic recipes are refreshed with innovation and a range of spices, including caprese salad with sweet tamarind dressing, and roasted carrots with sesame, chilli and nori.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber (Artisan, $89.99)

Readers with an interest in fermentation will be thrilled to get their hands on this comprehensive guide by expert Danish chef René Redzepi of Noma. Koji, kombuchas, shoyus, misos, lacto-ferments, vinegars, garums, black fruits and vegetables are all brilliantly explained and illustrated, and 100 original recipes show how to use these game-changing pantry ingredients.

This article was first published in the December 1, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.