Book Review: Around the World in 80 Food Trucks, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_around_the_world_in_80_food_trucksHands up if you remember pie carts? Oh, how times have changed! Food trucks are in vogue now and this book not only shares 80 different recipes from around the world but also tells us about the hard-working people behind the scenes, as well as the history of their business and their ‘truck’. Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, North and South America are all represented. The common formula is simple – fresh food, locally sourced and prepared by hand – although the vehicles and their owners are a truly diverse bunch.

Who can run a food truck? According to the New York city-based Caitlyn Napolitano, ‘Anyone with passion, gumption and a love of cooking’.

The rise of the gourmet food truck has apparently occurred in the last 10 years or so, coinciding with the growth of festivals and pop-up ventures. As most of the vehicles are mobile their owners are able to move from location to location according to the season or demand. A handful have expanded and now operate permanent restaurants as well.

The vehicles include an old fishing boat now on wheels, a truck covered in Astroturf, and a re-purposed dentist wagon (whatever that may be). One vendor operates from a vintage bicycle and ‘Little Bonnie Dot’ is an enchanting 1930s teardrop caravan. She rolls around the Australian countryside enticing people to her mobile tea parties.

Photos show the people running the trucks exuding happiness and enthusiasm. If there’s a downside to operating a food truck, it’s mentioned only in passing or not at all. Many of them say that the food they offer was inspired by visiting or living in other countries. Some saw a gap in the market they knew they could fill. While some operators have a lot of items on their menu, others have chosen to do one thing and do it well. The recipes have been invented, transformed, and sometimes passed down through generations. Many chefs are self-taught, although a few have undertaken formal study at places such as the Culinary Institute of New York and Ireland’s Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Although many of the featured recipes appear to be quick and easy to prepare, some require more forward planning, such as ingredients that need to simmer for a while and the pickle that must rest for at least 24 hours before use. Most recipes are for main dishes, although desserts are covered too – including pineapple-ginger ice pops, lemon waffles, and a superb caramel flan. There are lots of delicious-looking sauces, onion jams and marinades too. The index is organised by location as well as by the type of dish.

Two of the food trucks are based here in Aotearoa. Although the recipes include ingredients from around the world, most would be easy to find in your local supermarket; if not, there are suggested equivalents. (No mollete available? Use a soft bread roll instead.) The recipes are well-written and easy to follow. There’s a note about how many people each recipe will serve: typically 2 to 4, although the octopus serves 16 – and Banjo’s Blue Cheese slaw supposedly ‘feeds a crowd’.

There are Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter links for most trucks if you’d like to learn more about them. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

Belgian waffles in New York City

Earlsfield Sourdough Pizza

Hong Kong’s ‘Princess Kitchen’

Australian Greek Street Food

I’m always attracted to recipes with interesting names, so the Chakalaka Relish (hot and spicy, packed with vegetables, baked beans, and chopped chilies) is first on my list of things to try. I’m also intrigued by Curry Up’s Chana Masala recipe which includes chickpeas steeped in tea.

Sometimes you have to take a leap to be happy.’

  • Wes, an ex-advertising executive whose food truck offers more than 30 different types of waffles

The featured food truckers include former engineers, dental technicians, bankers and fashion designers – so if you’ve fantasised about throwing in your routine 9-to-5 job this book might inspire you to launch a new career. It will also appeal to those interested in recreating dishes from a favourite food truck, and anyone planning a trip abroad who would enjoy fresh food prepared in a novel setting. If you have limited space you’ll appreciate the book’s compact size – and as it covers a whole range of topics (including recipes, travel, people’s stories, and the history of the food truck scene) it would be equally at home on a bookshelf in a living room or a kitchen.

Reviewed by Anne Kerslake-Hendricks

Around the World in 80 Food Trucks
by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781788681315

 

Book Review: The Veggie Tree – Spring & Summer Cookbook, by Anna Valentine

9780473438951 Available at bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_spring_and_summer_cookbookThe Veggie Tree Spring & Summer Cookbook is a visual feast that had my mouth watering as I turned the pages, due mostly to the full colour photos by author Anna Valentine and Aerial Vision. I’m not a vegetarian but I could happily eat most of these recipes this summer, with or without meat to accompany them.

The book is the second cookbook in The Veggie Tree series, following the Autumn & Winter Cookbook.

Spring & Summer is divided into four sections – salads, soups and sides; savoury; breads; and sweets, with the first section having the most recipes. Whatever fruits and vegetables are your favourites, you’ll find a recipe using them. Everything from a maple walnut and spring greens salad to humble iceberg lettuce wedges is here – and just in time for what we can only hope will be a long, hot summer. Salads may be simple to make, but knowing what seasonings and dressings to use makes a huge difference. I love the sound of watermelon and feta salad, and also summer slaw, which instead of the usual cabbage, combines corn off the cob and fennel or celery with fresh beans, capsicum, zucchini and cucumber. I’m hanging out for fresh sweetcorn to be available locally to try that recipe!

The savoury section has the usual soufflés and fritters, as well as dolmades and an exotic sounding Okonomiyaki with Bok Choy Slaw & Homemade Wasabi Mayo. Instead of fish and chips, there is a much healthier ‘Fry Day’ Night Chip Night that pairs the chips with beer battered tofu, mushrooms and aubergine.

Just in time for the big day is a Christmas Brioche Pinwheel with maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, raisins, cranberries, apple and soft fruit, topped with nuts. The instructions say to serve with custard or chocolate sauce (recipes included) – wouldn’t that be a perfect start to Christmas Day!

I usually make shortbread as gifts and this year I’m going to try Brown Sugar Shortbread for a change. The shortbread is also used in a Strawberry & Rhubarb Shortcake that I am drooling imagining how heavenly it would taste.

shortbread

It worked! 

Being a bit of a chocoholic, I’ll definitely be trying the Mexican Choc Pots. There is a recipe for Spiced Almond Biscotti underneath so you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do with the leftover egg whites.

A vegetarian since she was 12, Valentine says she is a fan of summer fruits and vegetables and the Spring & Summer Cookbook certainly demonstrates this. The instructions are clear (apart from a few typos) and there is also some nutritional information at the back about vegetarian nutrition.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to get excited by this cookbook and it would be a great addition to any collection. If you have any vegetarians to buy for this Christmas, this would be the perfect present.

 

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

The Veggie Tree Spring & Summer Cookbook
by Anna Valentine
Published by The Veggie Tree
ISBN 9780473438951

 

Book Review: The World’s Best Bowl Food, by Lonely Planet Food

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_worlds_best_bowl_food.jpgThe World’s Best Bowl Food is a salute to comfort food found the world over. Bowl food is undergoing a revival. You can spot a million #powerbowl posts on Instagram, and for many people it’s all about what superfoods you can pack into the bowl.

A little research from Lonely Planet found that the original bowl food is all about comfort – there’s a reason why each ingredient finds its way in there, and it’s because it’s delicious, reminds us of home, or tradition. As the Foreword says, ‘some of the world’s most beloved dishes – macaroni cheese, Vietnamese pho, and Japanese ramen have transcended their local roots and become transcontinental comfort foods.’

I’m a foodie and I loved this book. There are lots of different takes on old favourites of mine (nasi goreng, ceviche, chilli con carne), recipes I’ve always wanted to try (pho, jambalaya, any Asian flavours in a soup-food-bowl), and loads of exciting new recipes with flavour combinations or ingredients that tickled my fancy.

I tried my hand at the intriguing-looking Chia Pudding from Central and South America.  Chia seeds have a delicate, nutty flavour and have a great capacity to absorb liquid. They’ve now made their way into kitchens and supermarkets around the world, and this has to be the easiest recipe out there. Mix 2 cups of natural yoghurt with half a cup of chia seeds. Leave for 4 hours. Serve cold with maple syrup or honey, and toasted flaked almonds and berries – or whatever you have to hand.  Delicious!
Chia Pudding.jpg

I also tried the Quinoa Stew. I liked the look of all the flavours, as well as the fact it didn’t take long to cook on a week night. It was super-tasty and the leftovers froze well for delicious work lunches.

The book layout is great – an attractive photo for each recipe, an interesting note on origins and history, and essential for the foodie – tasting notes. The book is sectioned out into bowl food types: breakfast bowls, dessert bowls, soups, salads and healthy bowls, stews and hearty bowls, and rice, pasta and noodle bowls. There’s also a difficulty guide for easy, medium or hard which is handy for the time-conscious, or when you miss that part of the recipe that says simmer for 3 hours and its 8pm already.

Quinoa Stew
Food and drink is a huge part of the travel experience and the memories we have of our adventures overseas. Travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet launched this new ‘Lonely Planet Food’ imprint in 2016 and it’s great to see such a quality range of books for the foodie or the keen traveller.

The imprint houses titles from the Lonely Planet World’s Best series such as The World’s Best Brunches, The World’s Best Spicy Foods, and The World’s Best Superfoods. The Lonely Planet Food logo can also be found on the From the Source series which introduces food lovers to local dishes from around the world and to the cooks that have perfected them.

We raise our bowls to you Lonely Planet Food, keep these books coming!

Reviewed by Amie Lightbourne

The World’s Best Bowl Food
by Lonely Planet Food
ISBN 9781787012653

 

Book Review: Real food, less fuss, by Lauren Parsons

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_real_food_less_fussThis is a bit of a one-size-fits-all volume for well-being, healthy eating, sensible meal planning and preparation, and kitchen and pantry stocking!!! So it aims to cover a lot of ground.

Lauren Parsons is a nutrition coach which means that she has a great deal of interest in getting people to eat healthy, nutritious food which does not take hours to prepare, and which generally does not come from a can or a packet. Those are good general principles for any home cook, and there are lots of useful tips throughout the densely-packed pages which will help in avoiding wasted food, simplify your shopping trips, planning your meals and more.

So far, so good.

The recipe section is small, consisting of less than 30 recipes in total, so it’s not really what I regard as a cookbook. In addition, one or two of the recipes are misleading: particularly the recipe for Harissa. Harissa is a Moroccan and North African spice paste which has chilli as its main ingredient. That’s the one essential ingredient for a good harissa, and it’s the one ingredient not listed in Lauren’s recipe. She does say you can add a bit if you need extra kick…kind of misses the point.

However, that aside, the recipes seem to be easy to make, and some offer variations for a few dietary requirements.

For people starting out and aiming to find out more about nutrition in general I would say it may be useful.

Reviewed by Sue Esterman

Real food, less fuss
by Lauren Parsons
Published by Live Well Publishing
ISBN 9780473361129

Book Review: Spain From the Source, by Sally Davies

cv_spain_from_the_sourceAvailable in bookshops nationwide. 

I’m a cookbook addict – over 180 at last count – so there’s a lot of competition for shelf space. Whether new or vintage (oh, the strange and wonderful cookbooks to be found at school galas and church fairs!) a cookbook must meet certain criteria to earn a permanent spot in my kitchen. Lonely Planet Food’s Spain: From the Source passes the test. It’s well-written and laid-out, with stunning photos and interesting narratives accompanying each recipe. Recipes range from ‘good honest peasant food’ based on whatever’s in the larder to advanced restaurant-level fare, with most appearing manageable as well as authentic.

Traditional Spanish dishes have been reinvented with new ideas and flavours, and almost all ingredients will be easy to find in New Zealand. Preparation and cooking times are included for most recipes, there’s a decent index (although with English titles only), and measurements are both imperial and metric. The pages lie more or less flat when the book is open, and a red ribbon offers an elegant alternative to marking a favourite recipe with a sticky note.

Part cookbook, part travel guide, with intriguing social, cultural and gastronomical history, I think you’ll enjoy reading this book even if you never get around to attempting a recipe. Author Sally Davies is a long-time Barcelona resident who writes about Spain and its restaurants for guidebooks, newspapers and magazines. Davies’ writing and photographer Margaret Stepien’s images conjure up the sights, sounds and aromas of Spanish kitchens: olive oil glistening on a chef’s hands as he tears smoky, chargrilled vegetables; the sizzle of duck browning in a pan seasoned with garlic, onion and bay leaves; clouds of icing sugar drifting over fresh pastries; and the lace-striped pinny (and fierce concentration) of the woman who has been making her signature dish for nearly 50 years.

Recipes have both English and Spanish titles. How much more enticing bikini de tartufo and lonchejas de cerdo iberico y calamar sound than their translated counterparts: a cheese and ham toasted sandwich, and strips of pig’s ear with squid.

There’s a strong focus on healthy, simple food. Many chefs share restaurateur Carlos Zamora’s philosophy of creating ‘slow food, locally sourced, with an emphasis on organic and free-range produce’. Here you should be able to find most ingredients at a supermarket, butcher or farmers’ market. Others can possibly be bought at specialist food stores or ordered online. Some, but not all, ingredients with Spanish names are translated. Substitutions are suggested for some of the less common ingredients. No tramezzino in your pantry? Apparently crustless slices of white bread will work just as well.

The recipes are clustered by region, covering north-east, north-west, central and southern Spain. Dishes reflect the climate, culture, produce and rituals associated with each region, as well as seasonal influences. In addition to the main index at the back of the book, there’s a separate map and an index for each of the four regions. Websites and contact details for all restaurants whose recipes feature in the book are included on one page (should you be tempted to visit a particular restaurant, or to email a chef for advice).

Spain offers tapas and mains, of course, as well as both unusual and traditional desserts. Duck, chicken, pork, fish and other seafood feature prominently. There are a handful of recipes that are meat-free, such as the chilled cashew soup. Desserts include churros, marzipan balls with pine nuts, and candied egg yolks. Legend has it that the latter were created to commemorate Saint Teresa, founder of the order of Carmelite nuns. The sugar-dusted spiral Ensaimada pastries come with their own folk stories – some say they are shaped like the turbans worn on the island of Mallorca in days gone by. Consider ditching the trifle this Christmas for crema de arroz con leche requemada (scorched rice pudding) – the photo next to this recipe so enticing that you can almost hear the spoon cracking the crunchy caramel surface to reveal the sweet and creamy rice underneath.

Even if you’ve not got enough time or courage to try the more complex recipes, many of the side dishes appear quick and easy. Blend a roasted red onion and roasted beetroot, sprinkle with salt and pepper – and you’ve created red onion cream. Or turn to the ‘basic recipes’ section for the nut- and garlic-based picada – a traditional Catalan sauce.

I loved the history as well as the recipes – the story of the master pastry chef who is the fourth generation of a baking and chocolate dynasty; the monastery-based restaurant high on a hill in the Sierra de Villuercas; the restaurant within a 17th century building that was once a hospital for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago trail; and the 9th century basement turned wine cellar that holds 32,000 bottles.

There were a few things that puzzled me: the type is surprisingly small, given the amount of white space on most pages. And although any one of the photos on the cover would have made an excellent cover image on its own, the combination of photos with the gilt-lettered and multi-fonted title text looks somewhat thrown-together. Several recipes don’t specify exact times, instead suggesting ‘bake…until the base is golden’ or ‘stir every few minutes until golden brown’. Perhaps this is a reminder that cooking requires both patience and persistence. Overall, however, Spain is an excellent source of ideas whether you’re planning a feast for friends or a night with your feet up and comfort food for one.

If you’re not tempted to buy this book as a To Myself: From Myself gift, it would make a great present for that friend who’s walked the Camino de Santiago, your foodie colleague, your armchair travelling aunt or uncle, or the new graduate with their first real job who will finally be able to afford to cook good food. Spain will inspire them all.

Reviewed by Anne Kerslake Hendricks

Spain: From the source
by Sally Davies
Published by Lonely Planet Global Ltd
ISBN 9781760340766

Book Review: Recipes from the Kiwi Pizza Oven, by Alan Brown

Available in bookshops nationwide

recipes_kiwi_pizzaBaking a pavlova in an outdoor pizza oven? “Yeah, right,” was my first reaction when I saw the recipe in Recipes from the Kiwi Pizza Oven: Wood, Fire and Friends by Alan Brown. Then I read the instructions and, maybe, it can be done.

Not only is this book magnificently illustrated by photographer Todd Eyre,  it has also got the most amazing range of recipes and comprehensive instructions to go with them. Not just weights and measures of ingredients but the practical aspects of how to fire up the oven – fire to the sides, not the semi-circle at the back, which is what I have done.

The introduction is where you get the first impression that this is not just a recipe book.  It immediately impresses that while having a wood fired outdoor pizza oven can be a lot of fun, it is not a plaything. Rather, it can be  a very practical 24-hour oven which can handle everything from a pavlova and a treacle tart, to char-embered veg, pork ribs and, of course, pizza.

The practicality of this 258-page book is further emphasised with each recipe, which begins with an opinion of the quality and character of the ingredients, then the ingredients themselves, advice on the temperature requirement and other cooking or baking instructions.

I don’t usually fire up my pizza oven in the winter but I just might for a couple of pizzas for lunch tomorrow:  spiced brisket in coconut milk for dinner, and  overnight baked African  cornbread with friend egg and bacon for breakfast on Sunday.

Oh, by the way, I use a hand-held temperature gauge which will be even more useful  now that author Alan Brown has indicated the different parts of the oven to burn at different temperatures.

Reviewed by Lincoln Gould

Recipes from the Kiwi Pizza Oven: Wood, Fire, Food and Friends
by Alan Brown
Bateman
ISBN: 9781869539450

Book Review: The Game Chef – Wild Recipes from the Great Outdoors, by Angelo Georgalli

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_game_chefChef Angelo Georgalli loves fishing, archery, hunting and getting out into the great outdoors, and he’s put together a recipe book that perfectly shares his passion. Originally from Cyprus, with a Cypriot chef father, Angelo grew up around food and the preparation of food (and he is also a professionally trained archer). In The Game Chef, he combines his love of food with hunting and gathering direct from nature’s bounty.

After running several successful deli cafes in Auckland and around the country, he and his family moved to Wanaka, giving him easy access to organic produce, seasonal cooking and moving back to basics with all that the Wanaka region has to offer. He also showcases his hunting and cooking in stunning vistas to great effect with his own show – TVNZ’s The Game Chef, completing the first series this year.

The written version of The Game Chef is tidily organised into sections of mouthwatering recipes including some of the rare: Hare, Wild Boar,Tahr; to some that are more accessible to all such as Salmon, Lamb and Venison. So you don’t have to know how to hunt to enjoy some of the recipes in this book. However, if you’re lucky enough to have access to sources of wild meat and fish, then you’re going to be very smug owning and preparing the recipes in this book.

The recipes are simple, as they are meant to be prepared outdoors as well as in the kitchen. The ingredients bring out the best flavours in the wild meats, and they’re not shy in using plenty of cream and butter to do so. But then life is to be enjoyed, and everything in moderation right?

Read through the book to find handy tips and tricks to wild food preparation, and ways to dress the different meats and fillet fish whilst out hunting. There’s also a section on finding, preparing and using wild Watercress, Mānuka and Kānuka, it would be great to see more of these tips in fact.

The production of The Game Chef is top notch, with a fine-hessian cover, stunning full colour images of New Zealand landscapes, and each section has its own animal illustration. It makes the book a real pleasure to read and a great gift for the (non-vegetarian) foodie in your family. What should we have for dinner tonight – Seared Venison with Bourbon Cream Mushroom Sauce, Hot Smoked Salmon Risotto, or Rabbit Burger?

I really enjoyed looking through The Game Chef, the delicious recipes and meals make it a real page turner – of a different kind.

Reviewed by Amie Lightbourne

The Game Chef – Wild Recipes from the Great Outdoors
by Angelo Georgalli
Published by Beatnik Publishing
ISBN 9780992264888