This is what a well loved cookbook looks like.

Binding broken, pages spattered and dog eared, notes written in the margins...and a cover too beaten up for me to photograph.

This is my friend Walt's cookbook.  He is a lawyer by trade, but a kitchen king, grill daddy and foodie at heart.

One thing I really appreciate about Walt is how he really uses his cookbooks.  
Many of "his" specialties started out as Emeril or another author like Bobby Flay's recipes...but they have become Walt approved and improved.  
Those cookbooks have also become his own, filled with notes, adjustments and 
additions along with smudges and stains.  Walt's copy of Emeril Lagasse's, 
Lousiana Real & Rustic needs a new cover, and after taking a look at it, I'm thinking the replacement should say authored by Emeril and Walt. 
A "Walt-ified" Recipe
Click to link to the Shrimp and Ham Jambalaya Recipe

The idea for this book review started while Walt was cooking shrimp and ham jambalaya for the family last night.  It smelled great and I asked if I could take some pictures and have the recipe...and now it's turned into a wonderful new cookbook find, a "Walt-ified" jambalaya recipe and hopefully some new "secret recipe box" food contributions from Walt & the Mrs (she's a darn good cook too!)  

Enjoy! XO  Martha

Click here to purchase

Kids are going to eat sweets. If your child doesn't, then well done you and never move to America...This country is born, bred and raised on candy  (it ain't that good either, well therapeutically, some is bloody fantastic)... Candy is made from sugar, colouring, plus a few other interesting (nasty) additives or should I say chemical concoctions! As cooking from scratch makes a vogue come back to try and reduce the number of chemical concoctions that our children/we intake, maybe Sugarbaby is onto something... 'The Wonders of Sugar'!

FYI: sweet or not so sweet.

If you love to experiment with baking then this is something that may interest and challenge you...It's a  fun book that is loaded with stuff that is scrummy and sweet...

At the moment this is my number one cookbook. 'Sugarbaby' is well used and splatted. The recipes are still very simple and the instructions are very detailed  but they need to be.  A candy thermometer is vital and timing is everything. It's actually very hard to mess up with this book as some of the recipes are referenced in 'how to' videos, for those in need of visual instruction (that would be me)!
Click here for Gesine Bullock-Prado's Blog spot!

In my eyes this book is PURE Magic and the recipes (guess what?) WORK! with love Kate

Click on the cover for more information
The Family Dinner by Laurie David is one of the newer additions to my cookbook collection.  It was published in 2010, but I only recently picked up a copy at Anthropologie _this fall.  So strange to buy clothing and cookbooks all in the same store, but somehow Anthropologie makes that work.  The Family Dinner reminds me of why I'm cooking - to create that experience of the family meal each night.  It is chock full of quotes and facts about the value of the family meal.  Throw a little Turkey Meatloaf together, sit down to a family dinner and not only are your bellies full, but you may be bypassing some of the biggest problems facing our children.  Experts quoted in the book believe the family meal combats a long list of societal problems:  obesity, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, mental illness and eating disorders to name a few.  Better grades, increased vocabularies and well adjusted kids who can carry on a conversation with adults and feel heard by their families are some of the added perks.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes in the book

1 of 5 meals are eaten in the car.

"People say they don't have time to cook, yet in the last few years we have found an extra two hours a day for the internet." -- Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

"A meal is about civilizing children.  It's about teaching them to become a member of their culture."-- Robin Fox, Ph.D., professor of social theory at Rutgers University

"Life is uneven and unpredictable.  Rituals help stabilize and anchor us." -- Marshall P. Duke, Ph.D., Candler Professor of Psychology, Emory University

So far, I've made the Arroz Con Pollo and Tortilla Soup for Amigos recipes.  I love Cuban and Mexican food, but the cookbook also contains food from a variety of other origins.  My three children (ages 10, 8 and 6) have given both meals their stamps of approval.  I've really enjoyed both of these meals as well - both cooking the meals and eating them.  Not too many ingredients, no oddball necessities requiring a special market run and simple to follow directions for those of us who are slightly challenged in the kitchen.

This is not a must have cookbook.  If I pull it out too much, it feels a bit preachy.  In small doses, it is truly inspiring.  If you enjoy collecting cookbooks and gain your cooking inspiration from them, then this is one to add to your collection.  It speaks to why I cook, so I enjoy having it in my collection.  Stacy

My thoughts: This book has a sense of adventure, with fabulous visuals that inspire sensory exploration and have you lusting after the American landscape.  As an Aussie, you could say that we have an adventurous palette when it comes to food.  I feel that Marcus' book, The New American,  brings some flavour to the bland American food culture which he refers to as " The Land of the Burger", the hotdog and the 1/2 a pig sandwich (okay, I added that bit- is 10 slices of ham per sandwich, really necessary?).  This book has given life to the mayo, chutney and corn bread...His intriguing cultural mix of an Ethiopian heritage and Swedish upbringing has inspired his desire to spice up the American palette...
"This could have been three or four great books, but instead it's one big messy one.  Just like America?"
Read more:
Eat Me Daily

Two Reviews 

If you're a novice cook , a majority of the recipes are indeed quite ambitious.  However, most of the techniques are doable -- it's the recipes themselves that are daunting with somewhat lengthy ingredient lists accompanying most.  But if you have an adventuresome side (and an abundant spice rack), these dishes will bring cuisine from all corners of the world into your kitchen. 

Read more: 

To be honest, this book has sat on my dusty bookshelf for the past few months, next to The Fat Duck, another scary but fascinating culinary adventure.  In desperate need 'not to venture to the supermarket' and after a not very successful whoopie pie experiment (more on that later), I opened this book tonight to "French Fries".  I have potatoes!  How hard can this be?... No chickpea flour, nor grape seed oil - let's experiment (back up, check, baked beans)!

Gone in seconds, it was a quiet and quick dinner!

Pantry Must Haves

5 potatoes- I only had red potatoes (Idaho is recommended - cut into sticks)
2 stalks of Rosemary
salt for taste
1 teaspoon of Paprika
A sprinkle of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/4 cup of plain flour
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch (corn flour)
4 cups of olive oil
  • Rinse and soak potatoes in cold water for 20 minutes.  Drain and pat dry (I rinsed but no time to soak)...
  • Place potatoes in a bowl.
  • Add cornstarch and flour, toss and coat potatoes.
  • Add paprika, red pepper, chilli powder and salt to potatoes (alternative method- toss the spices on at the end)...
  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven.  Work in batches and to avoid overcrowding the pot. Test oil with one potato stick.
  • Cook until golden brown for 5-7 minutes per batch.
  • Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil for a few minutes.
  • Then place fries on a baking tray and into an oven preheated at 300 F while you fry the other batches.
  • Once all the batches are fried, leave them in the oven for 15 minutes or until you're ready to serve - for extra crispness xo

Inspiration has to come from somewhere...

A life changing moment - 
"My son Liam had been diagnosed with Cancer, I suddenly saw bake goods as more than just another way to spend time with my kids, create memories and show them my complete adoration. Suddenly, I saw bake goods as the essential ingredients that would inspire others to join the fight against pediatic cancer. I learnt to embrace the idea that bake sales really can change the world" Gretchen Holt-Witt (founder of Cookies for Kids' Cancer and Mum to Liam and Ella)
Click on the book for purchasing details

The Best Bake Sale Cookbook is a collection of signature recipes for all bake sale hosts. With the added feature of being chock-full of tips from successful Cookies for Kids' Cancer bake sales nationwide, the cookbook also shares photos and stories guaranteed to inspire everyone who loves to bake or loves children, to fire up the ovens and get involved.


A few years ago my friend and chef, Ilona Pfeffer, introduced me to this miracle book.  I actually don't own a copy, because they stopped printing them for a while.  But I do have several of the recipes hand copied out of her book. Everything out of it is simply delicious are true to their sub title description: 60 Recipes for Cakes from Scratch Using a Pot, a Spoon, and a PanThere is a recipe for Chocolate Fudge cake that is to die for.  It is dense and OMChocolatey Wonderful!  I just found out copies are available via Amazon and I'm going to buy one for my self a two as gifts today!  You can link and buy one of your own via our shopping links for cookbooks!
I'll also post the cake recipe under indulge....once a I have picture of one to post along with it!

XO  Martha

Zucchini Nut Bread
Growing up in Melbourne, Australia you could say avoiding the aisles of supermarkets was something I was taught at a very young age.  Melburnites love a market - and a 'Granny Trolley'.  All passionate market goers need a fabulous trolley...Well let's just say that the cheap market plastic bags will have you in tears as your apples roll down the dirty market aisles!

Last November, while visiting the Amish Country we stumbled across a great little farmers market, which was thankfully inside AND heated. 'The Central Market in Lancaster is the Nation's Oldest Farmers Market. Its humble beginning started in a field in 1757.  Today several of the family owned market stands are occupied by descendants of families going back four and even five generations.  The 'Fresh From a Central Market Cookbook' by Phyllis Pellman Good is a collection of recipes from these stallholders, many handed down from the previous generations.  It is thanks to these "Local Foodies" who the author describes as "the experts who worked with the truck-patch-grown, the home-baked, the hand-prepared' who have offered their favourite recipes for this cookbook.

Three things to note about this great book:
1. It's not a glossy, high end cookbook, more of an upmarket 'preschool fundraiser' cookbook!
2. The recipes work - and generally need to be halved unless you're planning on feeding a small army.
3. This is old fashion back to basic cooking with ingredients that are easy to find- Corn Pie, Country Breakfast, French toast Casserole, homemade bread, apricot Cream pie and Key Lime Pie, to name a few...
      My mother-in-law and her college girl friends get together every year for a weekend and have a blow out party.  They have picked themes over there years (some ridiculous, like a 50's themed murder mystery) and one year they decided to compile a cook book with everyone's best recipes.  My mother in law is a great cook, but her entries in their cook book were all from the Barefoot Contessa! Ina Garten is clearly her favorite cook book author and TV cook personality, and now she's got me hooked too.

      I received the Family Style cookbook for Christmas and didn't expect to love it as much as I do.  It has a wonderful simple layout that really appeals to me, it is just so clean, easy to use, not too wordy and has great pictures of really delicious recipes.  This particular book from Ina Garten revolves around planning complete meals for the family and I use it often.  My favorite recipes from the book are in the cooking for kids section and the Frozen Key Lime Pie is my mother-in-laws stolen signature dessert!

Enjoy XO Martha Do-er

Annabel is a real inspiration - a gorgeous foodie with a passion for home grown and home cooking.  Her background includes stints in forestry services ( she handled chainsaws, operated heavy machinery and recovered deer in one role) as well as studying horticulture at university.  With no professional training she has become one of New Zealand's best known chefs and has wide appeal due to her fresh and creative approach to food.

She has produced numerous cookbooks with international sales totaling nearly 2 million and has recently launched a television show, The Free Range Cook (to accompany her book) which has been syndicated in 70 countries.  Check outher website for a view of her cute cottage on the  shores of the stunning Lake Wanaka where much of the series is filmed!   [Okay am also doing my bit to promote NZ Tourism!]
This is a beautiful book full of lovely photos - with relatively simple and easy to follow recipes.  Annabel is a big advocate for organic and sustainable produce which we at the Pantry LOVE - so hopefully you will enjoy this book as much as we do!

A basic but fab family cookbook from chef Gordon Ramsay's gorgeous wife Tana, who is actually a great cook in her own right (despite some detractors who claim she's simply cashing in on her famous husband - I disagree!).
I've made several of the easy to follow recipes with no problems and best of all - kids have loved them. 
Favourites in our house include Orange Chicken Bake, Sausages with Lentils and Calamari Fritti.

Click HERE to link to Nikki's page.