Cookery books reviewed for Angela Day

Cookbooks make ideal gifts. Angela Day asked colleagues to review some recent releases


Author: Nigella Lawson

Publisher: Random House Struik

Price: R415

Reviewed by: Georgina Crouth

Nigella, the ultimate comfort eater, seems to be happiest with a fridge full of fattening treats, although judging by her recent trim figure, she’s not eating much of her food in Nigellissima.

She’s gorgeous, but can she cook? This being my first exploration into the Nigella phenomenon, I hadn’t held out much hope.

Recipes that I could never serve would be the meatzza – a breadless pizza crafted from meatball mixture that resembles boiled flattened mince topped with tomatoes, cheese and basil. She claims this is “numero uno” at home but she admits her sample demographic are teenagers, who arguably do not qualify as reliable critics.

Then there’s her instruction to use 200g of squid ink in spaghetti – saying there ’s “nothing wrong” with intensifying this desirable darkness. For anyone who has ever cooked pasta negro, this is serious overkill.

Nevertheless, there are numerous recipes that I could recommend.

Her Sicilian pasta with tomatoes, garlic and almonds is deliciously simple and rustic, as are the lamb cutlets with chilli, mint and golden potatoes, which went down a treat.

A sizeable segment of the book is devoted to dessert, so if you’re a sweets person, her sambuca kisses, double Amaretto semifreddo with a golden sauce, as well as the Italian Christmas pudding cake will be up your alley.

Nigellissima would be the perfect Christmas stocking filler for her fans. It’s beautifully photographed, her instructions are easy to follow and, on the whole, the recipes are not bad.


Makes 18-20

1 egg

100g ricotta

40g flour

5ml baking powder

10ml sambuca liqueur

5ml sugar

5ml grated orange rind

oil for frying

icing sugar for dusting

Put the egg and ricotta in a bowl and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, liqueur, sugar and orange rind. Mix to form a smooth batter.

Pour about 2cm of oil into a pot or pan and heat.

Oil a teaspoon and drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pot and fry until light golden on both sides.

Drain on paper towel and dust with icing sugar.


Authors: Callie Maritz & Mari-Louis Guy

Publisher: Human & Rousseau

Cost: R250

Reviewed by: Amy Kay

This book has lots of fabulous ideas for food and items to make, sell or give as presents. With money being tight this time of year, it is a good idea to make some of your gifts.

The book is divided into sections for different kinds of markets and what products suit those markets.

There are also a few lovely things to make for kids.

This book is for anyone who enjoys making home-made gifts and easy, delicious recipes.

Pondering my shortage of cash for Christmas gifts this year, I decided to try making the body scrubs. They were easy to make and your skin feels great after using them. I prepared a large batch in pretty bottles and now I have my gifts sorted at a fraction of the price of bought varieties.

I also made the baked sweet potato purses, which tasted extremely moreish.


Serves 6

6 large sweet potatoes

30ml chopped fresh sage leaves

30ml brown sugar

125ml fresh cream or coconut milk

65ml softened butter or olive oil

salt and pepper

brown sugar for sprinkling


250ml plain yoghurt

zest and juice of 2 small lemons

a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

30ml pickled ginger

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Scrub the sweet potatoes and bake in the oven until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut a slit lengthwise in each sweet potato. Be careful not to cut too deep; you want to form a purse.

Scoop out the flesh and mash it with the sage, sugar, cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop the flavoured mash back into the sweet potato skins. Sprinkle with some brown sugar and bake for a further 10 minutes.

DRIZZLE: Blitz together all the ingredients. Drizzle the purses with the lemon sauce and serve with a disposable spoon.


Author: Hilary Biller

Publisher: Random House Struik

Price: R160

Reviewed by: Georgina Crouth

In her latest foray, Hilary Biller develops recipes that rescue us from braai day drudgery, whether your preference is cooking over gas, in a Weber, or on a traditional coal or wood braai. Biller’s recipes are well-described, even for those among us who burn water.

This is not fussy food – it’s all about easy weekends, where we like to relax and not worry about running around looking for ingredients or creating masterpieces. And still Biller delivers, with dishes that look good and taste delicious.

There are recipes ranging from smoky cola T-bone steaks and Mexican beef fajitas, to African lamb, a chicken flattie and seafood kebabs. There are great ideas for fresh salads and her vegetarian dishes, while limited, are inspired.

Some desserts are prepared on the braai, namely praline bananas served with fresh cream and Bar One cups.

I tried the Mexican fajita recipe, which turned out superbly.

The Greek fish was another hit.

Fuss-Free Braais is a good guide by a renowned food writer who has an acute understanding of not only local tastes, but also of what works. I enjoyed it.


Serves 8-10

1kg piece of rump steak, cut 2-3cm thick


juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon

60ml tequila

85ml olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, seeded and finely sliced

4 spring onions, finely sliced

10ml ground cumin

salt and black pepper

small bunch of coriander, finely chopped

In a non-metallic dish, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well.

Add the meat and allow to marinate for an hour or two.

Remove meat from the marinade and dry with a paper towel.

Cook the steak over hot coals for 5-10 minutes for each side or until desired doneness. Remove the meat from the heat and slice into strips 1-2cm wide.

Serve with tortillas, tomato salsa, charred peppers and guacamole.


Author: Tessa Kiros

Publisher: Murdoch Books

Price: R375

Reviewed by: Georgina Crouth

Tessa Kiros was born in London to a Finnish mother and a Greek father. She moved to South Africa, but left after school and eventually settled in Tuscany with her Italian husband and two daughters.

She has cooked in London, Mexico, Sydney and Athens, so her food is inspired by her upbringing and her travels. This, her seventh book, draws on these experiences.

It’s a tribute to the matriarchs in her life – her mother-in-law, mother, grandmother and aunts.

Kiros’s recipes continue along this traditionalist vein – there are recipes for home-made limoncello, liqueurs, jams, vinegars and oils.

I tried her recipe for chicken with salsiccia and fennel. It was easy to prepare as a quick mid-week dinner. It’s certain to become a go-to dish in colder weather.

Recipes are gorgeously photographed, and accessible. I love Kiros’s attention to detail – from the styling to the pretty pink velvet ribbon that comes with the book.

This is the sort of treasure a mother may want to pass on to her daughter (or son) and something that will retain pride of place in my bookshelf.


Serves 4

1.2kg chicken portions, skin removed

2 fennel bulbs

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

1 celery stick, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

3 Italian pork sausages, skinned

125ml white wine

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

about 500ml hot water

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

Rinse and trim the fennel, keeping the fronds. Cut the fennel lengthwise into quarters keeping the quarters joined at the bottom.

Heat oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and celery until golden.

Add the garlic and cook until it smells good then crumble the sausages into the pan. Cook until they have taken on a good colour.

Add the chicken and sauté until it is golden in parts.

Add the wine and let it evaporate, then add the fennel quarters, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.

Pour in the water, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

Take the lid off for the last10 minutes to reduce the sauce. Serve scattered with fennel fronds, and with bread.


Author: Donna Hay

Publisher: Hardie Grant Books UK

Price: R310

Reviewed by: Choice Maseko

This author writes her book with great style and class. Once you have her book, you will have all the tips and tricks at your fingertips for cooking simple supper dishes.

The recipes are really easy and accessible as most of the ingredients used are most likely already in your pantry.

The book covers a wide range of topics, from salads to desserts, tips, measurements and metric conversion. It is quite large and the photographs are so beautiful your mouth waters just paging through the recipes. Hay’s easy chocolate mousse recipe was amazing. This is a book I would put very high on my Christmas wish list.


Serves 4

400g dark chocolate

330ml milk

25ml icing sugar

Place the chocolate, milk and icing sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until smooth.

Pour the chocolate mixture into a glass bowl and place over a larger bowl of ice.

Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat for about six minutes or until light and fluffy. Do not overbeat or the mousse will be grainy.

Spoon into glasses and serve immediately.


Author: Josh Thirion

Publisher: Random House Struik

Price: R100

Reviewed by: Sasha Zambetti

In his first cookbook – at the age of nine! – Josh has chosen 48 of his favourite dishes and you’d be surprised how healthy they are.

Josh, who was inspired by MasterChef, is so passionate about cooking he inspires me.

I have a young son who would absolutely love to try these recipes, each of which is accompanied by a beautiful photograh as well as a self-drawn illustrations and a game.

A wonderful present for any child to spark their interest in cooking.


Makes 12

12 slices of bread

12 large eggs

plenty of grated cheese

Topping options

halved cocktail tomatoes, thinly sliced baby spinach leaves, diced red or yellow peppers, sliced mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan.

Carefully cut the crusts off the bread and mould the slices into the muffin tin, one piece to each hole, flattening gently with your hands. Crack one egg into each hole. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Take nests out of the oven and shake the tin to see if the egg is cooked. When done to your liking, carefully remove the nests from the tin, put on individual plates and sprinkle over some grated cheese.

Top with your choice of toppings and serve immediately while still hot.


Author: Tamsin Snyman

Publisher: Lannice Snyman Publishers

Price: R85

Reviewed by: Sasha Zambetti

I really love this cookbook because I am a huge fan of fish and sustainable fishing. Tinned fish is truly nutritious and, best of all, it’s a high quality protein for a very economical price.

The book is divided into three main sections – meal preparation times of under 10, 20 and 30 minutes, to suit you and your family’s busy schedule.

My two favourite recipes are the sardine pancake bake and the tuna and mushroom casserole.


Serves 6

170g can of shredded tuna, drained

350g cooked brown rice

250g button mushrooms, roughly chopped

125ml low-fat or fat-free milk

5ml chopped fresh thyme

1 onion, finely chopped

10ml wholegrain mustard

2.5ml milled black pepper

80g reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated

250ml whole-wheat breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Mix together the tuna, rice, mushrooms, milk, thyme, onion, mustard, pepper and half the cheese. Spoon into an ovenproof dish.

Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and scatter over the top of the tuna mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbling hot and crispy on top.

Serve with a side salad. - The Star