Throwback Thursday: Essential Cookbooks Everyone Needs

Whether you’re new in the kitchen, or simply want to spice up your recipes, cookbooks are always a fantastic way to easily create new meals at home.

Bake anything from a basic chocolate cake to healthy snacks with the help of these essential cookbooks everyone needs in their kitchen.

RELATED: Yummy Ways To Cook Feta Cheese

4 Ingredients 2, $15

This first book came as a gift from my sister a few years ago. Whilst I was slightly offended that she thought I couldn’t cook anymore more than a cheese toastie, this cookbook actually proved to be quite helpful. Filled with over 400 easy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes which require 4 or less ingredients.

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Where Chefs Eat, $21.24

Joe Warwick

Ever wanted to find out where chefs enjoy their food when they’re not working? This book recommends three restaurants in cities from all over the world where chefs love nothing more than to wine and dine. With more than 2300 restaurants and cafes recommended, it’s the best gift for food lovers across the world.

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I Quit Sugar, $26.24

Sarah Wilson

One of the original books on how to give-up sugar for good, Sarah Wilson not only tells you about her history with sugar, but recommends some tasty recipes as well! Ideal for individuals who want to stick to a healthy eating regime, but also for vegetarians and coeliac’s who want to adapt a cleaner lifestyle.

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Real Fast Food, $16.20

Nigel Slater

A complete collection of over 350 quick and tasty dishes for the individual who is constantly on-the-go. Rather than just making the same meal every night of the week, this book takes you out of your comfort zone, and creates wholesome food without too much effort required.

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Nigella Kitchen, $43.74

Nigella Lawson

Who could resist a bit of Nigella on their bookshelf? Offering a complete selection of delectable food and desserts for all occasions, Nigella Kitchen is a must-have for beginners who want a bit of help in the kitchen.

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Image via Cooking Channel TV

June 18, 2015

Must-Have Coffee Table Books

Spruce up your home without completely maxing out the credit cards, but instead by investing in a few coffee table books.

Not only are most affordable if you’re buying online, but they’re great conversation starters as well! Try a few of these fashion and lifestyle related books if you need to add a bit of character to the living room.

RELATED: The Best New Diet Books

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with A Literary Twist, $17

Pun-tastic cocktails which are inspired by classic novella’s of the late 20th century – who wouldn’t love this classy and sophisticated book? Each cocktail has easy steps to recreate at home, or even if you’re entertaining.

Must-Have Coffee Table Books

Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food, $35

Food writer Nigel Slater released this sophisticated, yet easy to follow recipe book for burgeoning chefs. In it you will find over 600 ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even delicious desserts which everyone can master with ease.

Must-Have Coffee Table Books

Grace: A Memoir, $39.95

You might remember Grace Coddington from the unapologetic documentary titled ‘The September Issue’ back in 2007. As a head stylist for US Vogue, this personal portrayal captures her off-beat sense of humour as well as her cute illustrations.

Must-Have Coffee Table Books

Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Your Home, $46

Bloggers and lifestyle writers Joanna Copestick and Holly Becker have simplified professional design ideas which everyone can incorporate into their home. In it you will find easy tricks on how to make the most of the space you have, without resorting to an expensive interior designer!

Must-Have Coffee Table Books

Carine Roitfeld: Irreverent, $70

More than just your usual autobiography, Carine Roitfeld chronicles her career at Paris Vogue in this intimate instalment published in late 2011. In it you will find everything from family portraits, to behind-the-scenes shots of popular editorials from her tenure at Vogue.

Must-Have Coffee Table Books

What are some of your must-have coffee table books?

Image via Stephanie Sterjovski

December 15, 2014

Q&A With Masterchef Callum Hann

We loved watching Callum Hann on Masterchef – he nabbed second place in the second series aged just 20! In between  running Sprout Cooking School in Adelaide and traveling around the country, he somehow found time to write his second cookbook I’d Eat That – and it’s one of the loveliest cookbooks we’ve read in a while!

We asked Callum for his tips to elevate everyone’s home cooking skills, his favourite easy dinner recipe and what ingredients he can’t live without.

Congratulations on the book! What’s the one tip that will make people better home cooks tonight?
Thanks! For tonight’s dinner, look up a list of what’s in season right now and pick your favourite vegetable from that list. Base your dinner around that vegetable. I always think it’s an interesting way to look at a meal, to start with vegetables as the hero and work backwards to the protein, no the other way around.

It’s Monday, and we’re knackered. Can you share a quick and easy dinner idea?
A simple frittata is quick, satisfying and healthy. Whisk six eggs together with a splash of milk. Fry off whatever veggies (diced capsicum, zucchini, butternut, onion etc) you have in a pan, and add some bacon, smoked salmon or tuna if you have some. Pour over your egg mixture and add some spoonfuls of ricotta or grated cheese and a few twists of black pepper. Put it under the grill until it bubbles and turns golden brown. If you have any fresh herbs growing in your garden (think parsley, chives, tarragon) roughly chop them and scatter over the top. Serve with a simple salad drizzled with olive oil and balsamic.

What are your top three cant-live-without ingredients?
Garlic, chilli and good olive oil.

What are some of your favourite, more unusual ingredients that will improve anyone’s cooking game?
Porcini mushrooms give heaps of flavour to risottos and soups with little effort. They are a bit pricey but you don’t need to use much. I love using aromatic spices like star anise and cardamon to inject flavour into broths, curries and milk-based desserts. I think it’s worth learning the simple art of removing seeds from a pomegranate; cut it in half, hold it cut side facing down and hit it repeatedly with a spoon until they all fall out. The seeds give brilliant sweet-sour to salads, desserts and cocktails.

What are your go-to cookbooks?
Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Companion is a brilliant resource for all your ingredient-related questions, and I love Justin North’s French Lessons for his explanations on classic techniques.

Which celebrity would you love to cook dinner for?
Jamie Oliver – I was lucky enough to cook a dinner with him, but not for him!

What would be your ultimate day off?
A relaxed stroll to the market to buy good bread, charcuterie and cheese, and enjoy a big platter of it all on the beach with friends and a glass of wine.


I’d Eat That by Callum Hann, photography by Alan Benson. Published by Murdoch Books, RRP $24.99.

February 3, 2014

Q&A with Karen Martini

You know the drill. Rushing through the door, late home from work, kids follow two steps behind you into the kitchen. You open the fridge and sigh as the ‘what’s for dinner mum?’ chorus begins. A quick survey of the fridge’s contents and it’s not looking good. Sounds like a job for Karen Martini.

Chef, restaurateur, TV presenter, recipe columnist and busy mum of two, Karen Martini knows your pain. She understands. She has penned five cookbooks, is the resident chef on Channel 7’s Better Homes and Gardens, judges others culinary skills on My Kitchen Rules and has rattled pans in various iconic restaurants including Melbourne’s Tansy’s, Melbourne Wine Room, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar in Sydney and her St Kilda pizzeria mr. wolf.

Taking a twist on the classics, Karen’s new cookbook Everyday will inspire you to come up with mealtime inspiration with more than 120 no-fuss recipe ideas for salads, pastas, pizzas, curries, roasts, one-pot dinners, puddings, cakes and even biscuits. It’s all about keeping it simple and delicious, of course.

Karen Martini tells SHE’SAID’ how she gets inspired in the kitchen and reveals how to get the ‘wow’ factor into an everyday, impromptu dinner party…even on a budget!

Tell me why every Australian kitchen needs a copy of your book Everyday?
My aim was to give super-quick ideas for stress-free cooking. I’ve tried to simplify the recipes but keeping them interesting. Sometimes things can get too tricky and it turns people off but they still want a good result, something exciting and delicious on the plate, with a bit of a twist they haven’t had before. It was also important to me to use accessible, every day ingredients that are familiar and easy to purchase. There are a few dishes in the book that can ‘challenge’ but the majority of the recipes are tried and true and the essence of what has kept me interested over the last few years when I’ve been busy and flat out!

The book is an insight into my head, I sometimes stand in my kitchen staring blankly into the fridge and pantry wondering what I can cook – just like everyone else! All of sudden I get inspiration and I go from a blank stare into cooking and making a dish. This book documents those moments.

What’s the best tip for getting yourself out of a cooking ‘rut’?
Spending time reading and refreshing your mind about food – with books like this! There are many great Australian cooks out there who are expressing their views and opinions which will get you starting to think about the way you look at a chicken thigh and how you don’t always just pan or stir fry it.

I think shopping in a different environment can also inspire. Take yourself out of the supermarket and go to a small green grocer or local farmer’s market. Even changing the supermarket you shop at – just breaking your routine can inspire! It’s a good place to start.

What’s the best way to deal with a family of fussy eaters – each with their own different ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’?
I’ve actually talked to a lot of people about this. A few have had good results by actually handing over my book and saying ‘OK…what looks good to you guys?’ And they (the kids) might pick something you wouldn’t even begin to think they’d like! Once you get them involved in the selection process, you’re on the road to having something else interesting for dinner!

If your children are young – it’s a hard thing. One of my daughters who is 5 is going through a ‘I’m not eating fish’ phase at the moment. And I’m like ‘Well, darling, this household eats fish twice a week so it’s going to be a long road for you!’ I just keep presenting it and I make sure there are a variety of salads, rice, pasta, cous cous or whatever it is, going as well, and I do always insist she at least tries it, because I don’t always buy the same fish. It’s persistence! Sometimes I think parents give up too quickly. You need to present something 20 times (sometimes) for them to get a grasp of it.

Family members always have their ‘favourite’ dishes – what’s the best way to persuade folk to try something ‘new’?
Sometimes something as simple as altering the environment like dining outside can switch things up. I’ve done that with my children – Amber is 5 and Estella is 7 – we did a BBQ outside recently and we don’t have an outdoor table yet so we had a picnic on the tiles outside because the grass is still growing too! We all sat cross-legged and they tried everything! It sounds kooky but it works in my household!

What are your family’s favourites?
My girls love the Slow-Baked Lamb shoulder with Horta-style salad (p.199), or I serve it with yoghurt, feta, Greek-style salad or a boiled barley side instead of potatoes or the pita bread. They love to assemble their own souvlaki style dishes. That is something that’s on the agenda at least once a week at the moment.

Spaghetti Bolognese was one that was requested to the point where I cooked it so much and I had as a ‘back up’ all the time, they don’t actually want it anymore! If you present what they love often they can make the decision to ‘move on’.

Roast chicken is another favourite. I am trying to get them onto light-style curries or dhal – they will have a little taste (I don’t make it hot, I take the chilli out but keep the spices in) they might not particularly like it but I always put a little taste of whatever the base sauce, gravy or dressing is on their plate. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t but at least you’re trying to develop their palate. It’s a real headache when you have to cook different meals. I don’t do that anymore because my girls are old enough. You have to start thinking like that from 3 onwards but always making sure you’ve got the simple, staples on offer so they don’t go hungry!

You decide to host an impromptu weekday dinner party. What are your ‘go-to’ dishes that always impress?
A Thai-style fish curry like the Coconut Curry with Blue-Eye Trevalla (p.132), it’s quick because you put everything in the one pot, the flavours are amazing because of the Asian ingredients you add to the sauce. You can always substitute chicken too. I might do something a little ‘extra, extra’ if I come across an ingredient that’s special – like perhaps, Spicy Fried Quail with Sichuan Pepper (p.143). If clams are in season, I can’t go past Linguine alle Vongole (p.63). I will make a really big pot of pasta, pop it in the middle of the table with a salad, that could easily work for mid-week dinner party. The idea of not serving individually but putting a platter on the table keeps everything convivial and casual!

What are the biggest mistakes you can make planning an impromptu dinner party?
Picking too many dishes you’ve never attempted before! You need a staple dish in your repertoire that you know you can nail every time. Think about dishes you can prepare a little ahead of time so you’re not working away in the kitchen the whole time.

Can you get the ‘wow’ factor into a dinner party on a budget?

There are simple jelly recipes in the book like Berry Jelly (p.213) and Blueberry and Orange Jelly (p.213), anything turned out of a mould always gets a bit of a ‘wow’ when you present it! Always hone in on ingredients that are in season to keep costs down. Old favourites – like Sweet and Sour Chicken (p.147) – I have revamped in the book – I use chicken thighs which are inexpensive and you can feed a lot of people with that! I’ve also done a mince chapter – with a lot of different dishes. The Lebanese Lamb and Peas (p.179) is something I pull out occasionally and if you serve this up with steamed or Dirty Rice with Lentils (p.72), yoghurt and a shredded carrot salad, it can be a little exotic and fancy but you haven’t spent a fortune. I also love the Beef Kofta (p.176). Sometimes you need to apply a little more ‘skill’ when you’re cooking on a budget – in other words, making things from scratch like the kofta, pressing them onto the skewer yourself. I also love to deliver a fancy way to present dishes. You’re still using simple ingredients but you’re thinking about how you put it on the plate.

What food items should you always have in your pantry and fridge?
On my kitchen bench, there is never a lack of salt flakes rather than iodised table salt. I use flakes to finish dishes and whilst they’re cooking sometimes too. I find iodised table salt can be ‘too salty’ and it ‘burns’ the palate, in a way. The Australian Murray River salt – I use all the time – a little goes a long way.

Good olive oil is essential. Australia is making some fantastic olive oils and it makes everything taste better at the last minute! I always have a bowl of lemons kicking around and a selection of cheeses on the go – a chunk of parmesan, fresh ricotta or fresh goats cheese – you can apply them to so many dishes and change the dish entirely. Base spices like cumin, cinnamon or coriander are essential in your kitchen. I always have a zip lock bag of bay leaves, parsley and other herbs  in the fridge. If you can’t grow your own herbs – which are pretty easy to do in pots – keep a few in the fridge. Mint can transform a lot of dishes. In my freezer, I always have a bit of an ‘Asian section’. People sometimes find cooking Thai or Asian a little daunting because they have to go out and buy 27 ingredients but if you come to my house, you’ll always find in the freezer in little zip-lock bags, a little tub of shrimp paste, lemongrass, chillies, lime leaves, dried shrimp, curry leaves, galangal (Asian ginger).

Get Karen Martini’s easy panna cotta recipe here!

 Everyday by Karen Martini, RRP $39.99, is available now.

November 3, 2013

Last-Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide

Looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift? Here are 5 last-minute gift ideas for every kind of dad – from the dad that loves to cook, to the dad who takes up more more of the vanity than you do! One thing’s for sure, any of these Father’s Day gifts will put a smile on his face.

For the dad who deserves the best: Oral-B Triumph with SmartGuide, $219

There are electric toothbrushes, and then there is the Rolls Royce of electric toothbrushes. And the Oral-B Triumph with SmartGuide is it.

It’s the first power toothbrush that comes with a wireless display to help enhance brushing performance – so dad can get his geek on while looking after his dental health. The wireless remote display provide while-you-brush real-time feedback, how cool is that?

Where to buy: Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, Myer, David Jones and Priceline.


For the dad who needs a spruce up: VS for Men Limited Edition Deluxe Clipper Set, $39.95

The limited edition VS for Men Deluxe Clipper Set caters to all hair types, from the genetically blessed thicker headed hair types to the less-blessed!  Comprising a premium mains powered clipper complete with high quality stainless steel blades, it is also includes an 8 comb guide (grades 1-8) and a five position taper lever, to ensure all desired cutting lengths can be achieved easily.

The limited edition VS for Men’s Deluxe Clipper Set includes a battery-operate trimmer for precision cutting to maintain smaller, harder-to-reach areas like sideburns, necklines, facial hair and ear areas. It also comes with its very own matching blue storage bag, perfect for  storage when it’s not being used.

Where to buy: All major pharmacies, department and appliance stores including Myer, David Jones, Target and Priceline.


For the dad who’s a metrosexual (but won’t admit it): GAIA Made For Men Overnight Pack, $17

Perfect for the gym bag or unexpected nights away, GAIA Made For Men Overnight Pack combines four essential products (and none you don’t need) in one compact waterproof pack.

Each pack contains a 50ml refillable, recyclable bottle of Face & Body Wash, Scrub, Shave Gel and Face Crème, each infused with organic lime, organic patchouli and organic spearmint pure essential oils to bring you a fresh and invigorating masculine scent which will stimulate the senses. Plus GAIA products are sulfate, paraben and artificial fragrance-free, which we love!

Where to buy: selected Coles and health food stores.


For the Masterchef-wannabe dad: Rhodes kitchen apron, $22, and oven glove, $9.50

If dad loves to cook, deck him out in the finest kitchen gear, like this smart pinstripe apron and glove set from gorgeous homewares store Rapee. Bundle it up with a cookbook (check out our best Father’s Day cookbooks!)


For the dad who lives to golf: Golf Lesson with a PGA Pro, $99.95

Give dad a golf lesson with a PGA pro. Lessons are suitable for beginners through to advanced players and the professional will tailor the  lesson to suit dad’s personal requirements, so it’s completely personalised. Available in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australian and Western Australia, this is an experience dad will never forget.

Not a golfer? Red Balloon has dozens of experiences that dad has on his secret bucket list, including racing a V8 around a racetrack, learning to fly a seaplane, flying in a helicopter and more – best of all you can buy him a gift certificate and he can choose his own adventure.

Where to buy: Red Balloon

And don’t forget to serve dad breakfast in bed with our perfect scrambled eggs recipe!

August 30, 2013

Father’s Day Book Gift Guide

Australia’s largest bookseller Dymocks has Father’s Day gift shopping sorted with their annual Father’s Day book recommendations, covering the best new biography, crime, sport, cooking, history and fiction titles.

Some of Dymocks’ Father’s Day choices include Ugly by Robert Hoge – a remarkable biography of the life journey of Robert Hoge; Never Back Down by Lee Child – the highly anticipated second instalment to the Jack Reacher series; and Accept the Challenge by Leigh Matthews – the life and lessons from the world of Australian Rules Football.

For foodie fathers, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals is a great choice, whilst history fanatics will love In Great Spirits, the World War I diary of Archie Barwick. For dads looking for escapism, the fictitious world of British government scandal and criminal underworld workings in The English Girl by Daniel Silva, is sure to keep them on the edge of their seats.

Father’s Day book picks for dad:


1.      Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, RRP $49.99
2.      Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, RRP $49.95
3.      Bill’s Italian Food by Bill Granger, RRP $49.99
4.      The Blue Duck by Darren Robertson and Mark La Brooy, RRP $39.99
5.      Fired Up Vegetarian by Ross Dobson, RRP $34.99



1.      Ugly by Robert Hoge, RRP $32.99
2.      A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, RRP $29.99
3.      Clive by Sean Parnell, RRP $39.99
4.      Ian Frazer by Madonna King, RRP $29.95
5.      Stillways by Steve Bisley, RRP $27.99



1.      Never Go Back by Lee Child, RRP $32.95
2.      Watching You by Michael Robotham, RRP $29.99
3.      The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth, RRP 32.95
4.      Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson, RRP $32.99
5.      Mistress by James Patterson, RRP $32.95



1.      The English Girl by Daniel Silva, RRP $29.99
2.      Mayan Secrets by Clive Cussler & Tom Perry, RRP $29.99
3.      Cairo by Chris Womersley, RRP $29.95
4.      The Rule of Knowledge by Scott Baker, RRP $29.99
5.      The Heist by Robert Schofield, RRP $29.99



1.      In Great Spirits by Archie Barwick, RRP $39.99
2.      Too Bold To Die by Ian McPhedran, RRP $29.99
3.      Tell My Sons by Mark Weber, RRP $32.95
4.      Killing Fairfax by Pamela Williams, RRP $39.99
5.      Eyre: The Forgotten Explorer by Ivan Rudolph, RRP $39.99



1.      Accept the Challenge by Matthew Leigh, RRP $45.00
2.      Home Truths by Craig Bellamy, RRP $39.99
3.      More Important Than Life or Death by Peter FitzSimons, RRP $29.99
4.      Hold The Line by Matthew Scarlet, RRP $34.99
5.      Amen by Will Swanton, RRP $27.99

What are you getting dad for Father’s Day?

August 16, 2013

Cookbooks to Look Out for!

In need of a great cookbooks? then look no further. Here are three that your kitchen is screaming out for.Baking with Passion

by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington ($29.95)

Create beautiful breads and tantalizing pastries using traditional methods and organic ingredients.

Caf? Caf?

by Kirsten Mckay ($43.85)

Divine cookbook with extra special recipes typical of Australian cuisine. The most delicious soups, salads and antipastos.

November 2, 2000