I love researching food – its history, cultural ties, sources and varied uses. I love recipes that work well in a home kitchen and I love sharing what I’ve learned with others. This has led me to write, & co-write, several books and contribute recipes to others.
While Italian regions like Tuscany are instantly recognised and ‘emerging regions’ such as Puglia are gaining attention, a few of Italy’s 20 regions are overshadowed by powerful capital cities and barely known by name. So it is with Italy’s wealthiest region, industrial Lombardy with fashion capital Milan at its heart, which is also rich in agricultural land. In 2012, Alessandro and Anna Pavoni (from two-hatted Sydney restaurant Ormeggio at the Spit) led Franz and me on a whirlwind trip around Lombardy, discovering the fabulous produce, rich culture and cuisine of Alessandro’s little-known corner of Italy. Together we created this celebration of Lombardy’s traditional food, as diverse as the Alps, lakes, hills and plains that make up his landlocked region. Lakes such as Como and Garda provide fish and a micro-climate that allows olive trees, citrus and grapes to flourish further north than normal, while the rib-sticking dishes of the Alps have more in common with bordering Switzerland than sunny southern Italy. Wooded hills provide boar, pheasant and other game plus mushrooms and chestnuts, and the fertile plains of the River Po produce corn for polenta, rice for risotto and pastures for cattle, making dishes like osso bucco popular and producing some of Italy’s most famous cheeses, including mascarpone, gorgonzola and taleggio. Baking is also popular and sweets include Italy’s famous Christmas bread, panettone, and delicious cakes, nougat and deep-fried Carnevale treats. Thanks to Franz for the gorgeous location photography and Chris Chen for her beautiful food shots.
Giovanni and I travelled to Sardinia together so that I could gain an insight into the culture and cuisine that shapes the food I love at his beachside restaurant in Sydney’s Freshwater. Together we created this book which celebrates the unique flavours of Sardinia, an island where people have always foraged in the mountains and forests for wild fennel, asparagus, chicory, nettles, chestnuts, berries and honey; where rabbit and wild boar are still hunted in the traditional way and where wild juniper, mint, sage, and the characteristic Sardinian myrtle, scent many dishes. More than just a collection of recipes – including malloreddus with clams, bottarga and zucchini flowers; roasted suckling pig with scented apple sauce; and seadas, Sardinia’s wonderful deep-fried, cheese filled pastries – this book is filled with information on Sardinia’s unique foods and culinary heritage and stories of Giovanni’s youth among the forests and hills of his island home. A Sardinian Cookbook is an authentic and fascinating introduction to Sardinian food and culture, where hospitality is at the core and no meal is complete without cheese and bread on the table. Also published in the UK and The Netherlands.
For over 20 years I led the team at Sydney Seafood School, teaching people how easy it is to prepare the wonderful array of seafood found in Australia’s oceans and rivers. Then I worked with some of my favourite chefs to distill that wealth of tips and techniques into a cookbook. Along with over 80 delicious seafood recipes from Australia’s leading chefs, including Tetsuya Wakuda, Neil Perry, Mark Best, Peter Gilmore, Shannon Bennett, David Thompson, Kylie Kwong, Guillaume Brahimi, Frank Camorra and Matt Moran. There’s expert advice on selecting, storing and cooking different types of seafood and step-by-step photos of essential techniques, including filleting, skinning and pin-boning fish, cleaning abalone, shucking oysters, stripping squid and sectioning crabs. The books textural design echoes the blackboard artwork in the School’s hands-on kitchen, with detailed illustrations of all the major fish and shellfish so you’ll know what to look for at the fishmonger. Whether you want a recipe for a quick spaghetti vongole or complex coulibiac, to tell a Balmain bug from a Moreton Bay bug, know why shellfish turn red when they’re cooked, discover how to devein a prawn without splitting it down the back or learn the best way to store live clams, the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook is your one-stop reference for all Aussie seafood.
This collection of unforgettable recipes from one of Australia’s most innovative and talented chefs was the first cookbook I ever worked on. Franz and I dined at MG Garage almost weekly, slowly Janni became a friend and I regularly harassed him to record his wonderful recipes for a wider audience to enjoy. When he retired in 2002, he finally decided it was time and we spent a couple of years working through his detailed index box of recipes cards that spanned over 20 years, from his time at Stephanie’s and Berowra Waters Inn to Bennelong and finally MG Garage. From homely garlic soup with poached egg and parmesan, to stuffed pig’s ears and his extraordinary gold-leaf coated pyramid-shaped chocolate cake, this is a book full of remarkable cooking at its most innovative and delicious. See inside the book here.
I was delighted to be asked to contribute to this wonderful collection in which Australia’s leading chefs and food writers recall the recipes their mothers prepared. Mum and I contributed her legendary (at least within our circle of family and friends) Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Cake and also Crumbed Pan-fried Whiting. Part of the proceeds from this book are donated to the McGrath Foundation to help with breast cancer education, a cause I am proud to have supported especially as Mum lost her battle with breast cancer in 2011. See inside the book here.
The fact that there can even be a book called 500 Cheeses is testament to the incredible diversity of these beloved fermented milk products, produced virtually worldwide from the milk of almost every domesticated herbivore, including horses, camels, and reindeer. This small, information-packed book describes the world’s most commonly known cheeses, including those recognized under appellation systems, as well as some of the more unusual ones, such as Nepalese yak’s milk cheese and Filipino kesong puti. From simple cottage cheeses once produced in every home, through artisanal cheeses undergoing a renaissance in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to some of the world’s most loved mass-produced products, 500 Cheeses has it covered. Each double page opens with a brief history of the lead cheese or page theme, with serving and beverage suggestions then a description of the lead cheese plus four other cheeses around that theme, making it easy for readers to find cheeses similar to ones they may already know and like. Introductory chapters cover the various steps of cheesemaking; the most common dairy animals; how to select, store, taste and serve cheese and an overview of the various appellation systems within Europe. 500 Cheeses is an excellent primer for cheese novices, but will also inform and entertain more experienced cheese-lovers with its wealth of facts and historical detail. Also published in UK, USA, Singaporean, Italian, Brazilian and Dutch editions.
I was so pleased to be asked to contribute a couple of dishes to this collection of recipes with a leaning towards healthy eating for those with diabetes. Part of the proceeds goes to The Diabetes Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.
Available for purchase here.
This encyclopaedic tome, with over 300 seafood recipes, was compiled by my friend CJ Jackson who heads up the Seafood School at London’s Billingsgate Fish Market. I was honoured when she asked me to edit the Australian edition. It is a wonderfully detailed collection of the amazing array of seafood found around the world and the delicious dishes that can be created using it.
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