Book reviews: June 2014

By: Peta Stavelli


The days have cooled and the time is right to curl up in a cosy place with a great read. Peta Stavelli looks at some of the latest releases from our publishers.

Cook With Me

Aaron Brunet
Random House NZ, $50 Cook -with -me

I didn't watch the last season of Masterchef, so I wasn't anticipating Aaron Brunet's fresh approach to food that captivated the cooking show’s audience and judges.

What I really like about the cookbook is the way he has arranged it in to sections like Busy Weekday, Sunny Saturday, and Rainy Sunday Treats. He also makes room for some traditional European family food and a home-grown Mexican fiesta.

His food appears to be sensational. But be prepared to invest the time. Almost every recipe goes over two pages, so there are multiple steps, and lots of ingredients (though nothing too complex). This is a cookbook to be cherished by keen home cooks looking to expand their repertoire.

Pronto – Let's Cook Italian in 20 Minutes

Gina D'Campo
New Holland NZ, $50 Pronto -300dpi

In complete contrast, popular UK chef Gina D'Campo takes a fast approach to traditional Italian food. First he shows the reader how to prepare for fab food fast by stocking the pantry with essentials. This is a drum I have long beaten. It is easy to cook well and quickly when you have everything on hand.

I love his top tips for becoming faster and more confident as well: pour yourself a glass of wine… And the recipes? If you love Italian, you will be suitably impressed and inspired to create your own little cucina Italiana.

The Snow Queen

Michael Cunningham
Harper Collins NZ, $33 The -snow -queen

Barrett Meeks has been dumped by his lover by text when he has an unexpected mystical experience while wandering through Central Park.

Is the luminous vision responsible for the unexpected remission of his soon-to-be sister-in-law Beth from terminal cancer? What does it mean when his cougar boss's young lover takes a special interest in Barrett's spiritual encounter? And will Beth's remission enable Barrett's aging musician brother, Tyler, to relinquish drugs and crack the big time with a song for a younger audience?

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham's exquisite new book delivers rapture to lovers of the English language with his tightly observed, fast-paced and yet quietly transcendent novel.

Heartland

Jenny Patrick
Random House NZ, $37 Heartland

Small town Manawa has been invaded, and things will never be the same. First it's the skiers bent on bringing their city ways to the crumbling town. And then there are the two young women — both outsiders and soon to give birth.

The furtive teenager the locals have dubbed 'The Virgin' is rarely seen. How she survives is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, brazen and boozy Nightshade has moved in boots and all, claiming Donny – who is doing time for a petty crime – is the father of her unborn child. As outsiders threaten to undermine the eccentric ways of the village, an unexpected change prevails.

This book is hard to put down.

Lazy Days – Painting the Kiwi Lifestyle

Graham Young
New Holland Publishers NZ, $30 Lazy -Days -300dpi

Graham Young's evocative paintings are a truly nostalgic reminder of the Kiwi lifestyle. He effortlessly recalls the light at the height of summer, the country stores, caravan holidays, and both dilapidated and historic buildings.

It all remind us of who we are. Every page will recall a memory and make you smile. Young's oil paintings capture the essence of New Zealand.

Bread Machine Recipes

Simon and Alison Holst
Hyndman Publishing, $15 Bread _Machine _cover _B

Because I don't use a breadmaker I passed this recipe book on to my daughter in the hope her reaction would help me gauge the usefulness of it to one whose machine is in daily use.

Her reaction was swift and affirmative. "This is wonderful," she exclaimed, "exactly what I've needed to help me get more out of my breadmaker."

Alison and Simon Holst offer recipes that solely use the machine to mix, prove, and bake, and others which use it for kneading and proving then use a conventional oven to cook the bread in. Recipes include gluten-free, focaccia, ciabatta, rye and caraway, and so many gorgeous others you will be whipping the breadmaker out again in a flash.

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