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Best Cookbooks of 2016

A well-chosen cookbook is a gift that keeps on giving, filled with recipes and stories to tempt friends and family into the kitchen and to feast on at leisure.

Hungry: Food, Travel, Experience by Karena and Kasey Te Awa Bird (self-published, $59.99)

These sassy sisters have built on their television success with a fun-filled account of their year. Every page is a delight – photos and tales of travelling at home and abroad and meeting food heroes, coupled with simple yet sophisticated recipes that use the best produce, from whitebait to lamb cutlets. If you enjoyed their TV series Karena and Kasey’s Kitchen Diplomacy as much as I did, you’ll appreciate this luscious book for the pure joy it expresses.

A Year in My Real Food Kitchen by Emma Galloway (HarperCollins, $44.99)

At a time when bookshops are almost overwhelmed by volumes devoted to vegetarian and gluten-free diets, this one stands out. This beautifully crafted second book is filled with original and tempting ideas from Galloway’s family kitchen that are accompanied by excellent stories. She photographs her own food in a minimalistic, appealing way, so it all seems delicious and achievable.

Pipi at Home by Alexandra Tylee (Random House, $65)

Tylee is the chef owner of Pipi, the much-loved casual restaurant in the heart of Havelock North. In this, her second book, she writes about her home life and the food she cooks as a busy mother of three boys. The hearty, nurturing food for every family occasion is beautifully photographed (the meatloaf recipe is fantastic) and the recipes are thoughtfully interspersed with poems that inspire her.

Ima Cuisine: An Israeli Mother’s Kitchen by Yael Shochat and David Cohen (Random House, $55)

Having grown up in Haifa, Israel, Shochat is an expert in the cuisine of that country. She cooks vibrant, fresh food influenced by Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern cuisines. These are the dishes she serves at her downtown Auckland restaurant, Ima, and they include colourful salads, latkes, blintzes and her mother’s favourite chicken recipe. Healthy, flavour-filled food with a spicy twist.

Cooking for Change: 101 Famous Kiwis Share their Recipes (Potton & Burton $40)

Of all the cookbooks published this year, this one has the biggest heart. Conceived and directed by Dick Frizzell and Christian Kasper, it features recipes from the nation’s celebrities. No chefs, no fancy cookery. Instead, it’s a solid cornucopia of tried and true family favourites, alongside lovely portraits of well-known people. Best of all, it raises money for four of our most worthy causes.

Recipes from the Kiwi Pizza Oven: Wood, Fire, Food and Friends by Alan Brown (Bateman, $49.99)

This title does not give an indication of the depth of knowledge that Brown, a cookery tutor, draws on for this book. Comprehensive preparation, equipment and practical tips supplement a great selection of tasty recipes to make the most of your outdoor and wood-fired oven.

My Green Kitchen: Nourishing Food for New Zealanders by Neena Truscott & Belinda MacDonald (Bateman, $39.99)

A highly original book filled with advice and ideas to enhance the healing power of many foods. The authors won New Zealand’s first My Kitchen Rules and have assembled a collection of delicious family recipes with lots of healthy tips. The chapter entitled “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” is helpful for foragers.

Savour: Salads for All Seasons by Peter Gordon (Jacqui Small, $55)

Our best-known international chef has written what may be the best salad book ever. Recognised worldwide as the chef who popularised fusion cuisine, Gordon gives us a feast of salads that burst with an almost unimaginable array of flavours. He is the master of combining ingredients, and the recipes include fish, poultry and meat salads alongside vegetable, grain and cheesy dishes.

The Great New Zealand Baking Book by Murray Thom and Tim Harper et al (Thom & Blackwell, $39.95)

These recipes from our top chefs and foodwriters will be sure to entice anyone who loves to bake into the kitchen. Every recipe has been photo­graphed, and this massive volume is filled with old favourites and excellent new ideas.

Little & Friday Every Meal by Kim Evans and Sophie Beck (Penguin, $50)

Little & Friday is known for its hearty baking and great coffee and for being a lovely place to lunch. Evans has built her empire to include four cafes and in this book she shares baking recipes and a stack of ideas for every meal. Salads, hearty meat dishes and breakfast food are included, along with her story of this ethically aware and sustainable business.

Clean Bakery: Wholesome and Nourishing Baking for New Zealanders by Carine Claudepierre (Bateman, $59.99)

Some people’s dietary concerns have made traditional baking recipes fraught with problems. This book offers many good ideas, including recipes that are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, raw or nut-free and some that cater for all these limitations. It is well set out and every recipe is photographed.

Melie’s Kitchen by Amelia Ferrier (Random House, $40)

A first book from a talented teenager who bakes and blogs. Every cupcake, cake, cookie, slice and pastry recipe dances with colour and beauty on the pages. The recipes are comprehensively written for those who dare to recreate this stunning collection of baking and decoration.

Cooking the books: Three international household names

Superfood Family Classics by Jamie Oliver (Penguin Michael Joseph, $65)

A book filled with healthy and tempting recipes, all tested and devoured by his family. Now that is a recommendation!

Rick Stein’s Long Weekends by Rick Stein (BBC Books, $65)

The series is yet to appear on our screens, but get this colourful modern book in advance so you can cook along on weekends with this popular television chef.

Basics to Brilliance by Donna Hay (HarperCollins, $59.99)

Hay takes basics and shows us how to rethink and enhance old favourites. The tasty recipes in this monster volume are illustrated by her signature simple photography.

This article was first published in the December 3, 2016 issue of the New Zealand Listener. Follow the Listener on Twitter, Facebook and sign up to the weekly newsletter.