From our reviewers: Cookbooks

Our reviewers take a look at cookbooks available in stores now.

Nadia Lim's Good Food Cookbook
By Nadia Lim (Random House, RRP $50)

Reviewed by Lea Mason

Nadia Lim's Good Food Cookbook is simple, easy and packed full of healthy and nutritious recipes to cater for everyone. As a dietician, you can trust Nadia to create the best option for the whole family, while still providing recipes that are quick and easy and don't need hours spent on them to prepare a tasty meal.

Nadia starts each section with helpful and nutritional ideas that make each mealtime healthy and exciting. All recipes clearly state if they are gluten free, dairy free or vegetarian, along with the key facts about how much carbohydrate protein, fat and energy is in each meal. Nadia ensures that each meal is packed with loads of fresh fruit and vegetables, while still being tasty.

I was extremely impressed with the breakfast section. I know that is the most important meal of the day, but it is so easy to ignore. After seeing and reading how easy this meal can be, I have a new attitude to it. The Avocado and Raspberry smoothie is the best I have made, while the Super Breakfast Muffin gives you the energy to last most of the day without having to snack.

With summer approaching, the book has great ideas for barbecues, yummy salads and sneaky desserts, which still remaining healthy (Nadia allows a sweet treat every now and then!) Try the Beetroot and Chocolate cake. This was a real hit for me and was so simple to create.

This cookbook has hassle-free and cost-effective recipes to feed family or friends. It has fabulous full-colour photographs and is great value for money. It would make the ideal Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person. It would have to be one of the best cookbooks I have ever picked up. It is enjoyable to read, has given me heaps of ideas, and I will continue to keep going back to it.

Under a Mackerel Sky
By Rick Stein (Random House, RRP$40)

Reviewed by Mark Hotton

He is revered around the world for his love of food and those who produce it, for his passion for seafood and, of course, his late dog Chalkie.

But Rick Stein was not always such a much-loved celebrity chef.

As he admits, he is a bit bolshie and even a bit of a ratbag who has had a few run- ins with the law.

Stein is seafood in the United Kingdom, and his love of food and fish is a strong theme throughout his memoir. That and being willing to take big changes in life.

He almost stumbled into his life in food - the police closed him down but neglected to take away a licence to serve food. He then gradually turned into a broadcaster, food champion and writer. He runs four acclaimed restaurants in Padstow, Cornwall, as well as a seafood cookery school, and he explains how, despite having to deal with his father's suicide, he has become the success he is today.

Like most memoirs, there are bits that are not that interesting, but given he is a character who has led an unorthodox and diverse life, there is plenty of interesting and quirky material to keep you turning the pages.

If you have ever seen and liked him on television, it is worth reading about how he got there.

A Bit of What You Fancy
By Jo Seagar (Random House, RRP $55)

Reviewed by Mark Hotton

Jo Seagar has done a good job of finding 130 recipes that help inspire tasty dishes.

You do not have to flick far to find recipes - balsamic roasties, slow-roasted pork belly with lemon and fennel seed crackling, easy strawberry cheesecake in a glass - to set the tastebuds tingling.

She has designed the book for good cooks looking for inspiration and learners who want the recipes to turn out just like the photograph. It is uncomplicated food made easy. All the recipes have their own page - after all, there is nothing worse trying to flick between pages while cooking.

She has stayed true to her philosophy of minimum effort for maximum effect - something that the home cook should be able to appreciate.

I am sure the salted caramel slice will become a firm family favourite, along with several other dishes in the book.

Bluebells Cakery
By Karla Goodwin (Random House, RRP $50)

Reviewed by Mark Hotton

You have probably looked at the covers of dozens of cookbooks and thought "I could never make that".

Looking at the cover of Bluebells Cakery, at a six-tier pastel-coloured cake, decorated with delicate ribbon-ruffle icing I thought the same thing Only, I had a crack at it . . . for my daughter's first birthday . . . and it worked perfectly, almost identically to Goodwin's. She has more experience than me (she runs Bluebells Cakery, one of Auckland's most popular cake shops) , but it was close enough for it to be judged a success. And it tasted great.

The how-to guides make this a book wannabe bakers and cake makers will return to regularly. I found my go-to cake recipe and I am sure other recipes will be added to the repertoire.

But, hey, it's a book about cakes. What's not to like?