Turn over a new leaf for spring

Tasty plot: Wipe the slate clean with a few new cookbooks. Photo: Eddie JimFired Up Vegetarian
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Ross Dobson, Murdoch Books, $34.99

For: The vegetarian pariah at the otherwise-friendly barbecue bash.

Barbecues and vegetarians don’t always end well. The uninspired vegetarian turns up with a packet of rubber frisbees masquerading as burgers. The uninspired host catering for so-said vegetarians may, if inclined, kindly remember to withhold bacon from the potato salad. Here’s a book for those displeased with this arrangement. Like most cookbooks it’s written by someone who spends their life experimenting with food and dutifully recording success stories for posterity. Recipes such as blackened paneer skewers, chickpea and pumpkin pakora and more salads and dips than you can poke tongs at look good enough to eat. They might even see the vegetarians fighting off the meat-eaters. Enough said.

The Blue Ducks

Mark Labrooy and Darren Robertson, Plum, $39.99

For: Fans of low-mile food and handsome chefs.

The authors run a successful cafe a stone’s throw from Bronte’s crashing waves and have carved out a following with their dedication to ”real food” – meat and seafood sourced locally or grown in the cafe’s vegie garden. They’ve even got their own chooks out back and host community dinners. There are lots of delicious meals here for breakfast, lunch and dinner and helpfully, many photos of Mark and Darren carrying surfboards. It does help that they’re quite handsome.

Baking with Passion

Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington, Quadrille Publishing, $24.95

For: Show offs.

The small percentage of humans in the developed world who knead and bake their own daily bread, rather than buying it, freezing it and breaking up the solid block on the edge of the kitchen bench each morning are impressive enough. But for the pinnacle of folk for whom simple, crusty, straight-from-the-oven loaves aren’t enough, here are recipes for pagnotta and rye sourdough starter. Apparently a separately yeasted semolina topping will give your bread – sorry, your pain de mie loaf – a distinctive appearance. There are also many recipes for picture-perfect treats sold at London’s upper-crust Baker & Spice outlets, the original launching pad for this book, and for which our own Dan Lepard was a consultant baker. It’s been re-released and promoted here on the back of Lepard’s appearance in The Great Australian Bake Off.

Bill’s Italian Food

Bill Granger, Harper Collins, $49.99

For: Those who wish their lives looked and tasted like Roman Holiday.

Bill Granger, restaurateur and food publishing demon, is known for his simple, predominantly healthy approach to cooking. He owes much of this to a love of Italian cuisine, and the love is given an outlet here. Granger confesses it’s not just the food he loves, but they way Italians live: ”They don’t suck coffee from disposable sippy-cups … They lean against marble bars and drink tiny grown-up espressos.” True. While this book is chock-full of those tomato and basil-laced recipes we mostly know and love, it was a good excuse for Bill and his lovely looking children to make a special trip. Jealous.

7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines

Yasmin Newman, Hardie Grant, $49.95

For: The curious cook.

It’s fair to say the Philippines is not known for its contribution to our culinary tapestry. No one is raving about the latest back-alley joint to dish up a good adobong tupa or bowl of sinigang. But Australian-Filipino Yasmin Newman does her best here to change that with this beautiful hardcover that travels a slice of the nation’s 7107 (!) islands. There’s much to learn and enjoy here for the intrepid cook, though I don’t see anything too likely to spark the next foodie fad. Newman, a writer and editor, presents Kitchen Conversations: Philippines on SBS Food Online.

Go to goodfood杭州夜生活m.au for recipe extracts from Bill’s Italian Food, including Granger’s easy artichoke and ham lasagne.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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