Argentinian Street Food‘Argentinian Street Food’ might be a super-cute cookbook with its simple cover and cut-out design, but don’t be fooled – it works damn hard for all that cuteness. A little on the quirky side, filled with simple step-by-step illustrations and gorgeous photographs, it’s the sort of book that will have you pouring over the recipes just for the fun of it. And then, pretty much demanding you cook from it. It’s that irresistible.

 But what I love most about Argentinian Street Food is the subject matter. Yeah, yeah, of course – FOOD – but my favourite kind of food. We’re not talking sit-down to eight courses that take three days to prepare here, Street Food is exactly what it should be: simple to prepare. Simple to hold. Simple to eat, pastries. The kind of food where you’re more concerned about the awesome conversation you’re having with the people you’re sharing that food with than which of the eight knives and forks you’re supposed to use first. In other words, this is social food. It’s fun and it’s tasty. And then there’s ice cream. Well, helados, which is kind of like Argentina’s version of gelato, but… different.

The authors, Enrique Zononi and Gaston Stivelmaher are Argentinian chefs who live and work in Paris, serving up their specialty pastries and ice cream in three different restaurants, as well as a mobile food cart that wanders through the streets of Paris. Called ‘Carrito’, the van is a tribute to the Buenos Aires of the 1950’s, serving empanadas and helados. The book starts out with the basics – how to make the two different styles of dough required for making stuffed empanadas (baked and fried).

argentinianThen, with step-by-step instructions even a first-timer can understand, it moves on to how to fill and fold the dough ‘parcels’, and, most importantly, how to ‘hem’ them to get not just a great-looking result, but a empanada that won’t leak. And then, the recipes move on to the actual fillings. For me, the first one I’m going to try cooking is definitely the Blue Cheese and Celery (with pecan nuts and mozzarella too!) though my husband is keen on checking out the Duck Confit and Foie Gras version. But it’s not just extravagant, out-there fillings included here – good old ham and cheese gets a look-in too.

Zanoni and Stivelmaher have also included a handful of ‘Pica Pica’ dishes, which are basically ‘little dishes’ – a bit of something on the side. My favourite here is the marinated beetroot with fresh goat’s cheese and chopped pistachios. Omgosh!

Finally, we get back to the helados and dulces – or confectionary. I’m passionate about making my own ice cream, and the stand-out recipe for me here is the Raspberry-Malbec sorbet. I can’t wait to try it out with some home-grown raspberries. And oh, while we’re at it, I think the Preserved Cumquats recipe just saved me the drama of marmalade this year…


Argentinian Street Food is available from April 1st, 2014.


Published by Murdoch Books

160 pages, hardcover

ISBN – 9781743362945

RRP – $29.95

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnMandy Wrangles says: The countdown is on! Only one and a bit (or a little more if you count tonight) shopping days until Christmas. If you’re anything like me – there’s that one person still on the list that you have no idea what to get them. You know who I mean. Not the one who already has everything – no, I’m talking about the one who is just too cool to buy for. The Foodie who already has All Of The Cookbooks. The Hipster with too many satchel bags. The Rockabilly Chick with a wardrobe filled to overflowing with vintage frocks and scarlet lipsticks. Well, have I got the solution for you.


recipes for a good time

Recipes For A Good Time by Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate is the coolest, sexiest cookbook I’ve ever held in my hands (and I’m not talking sexy in the Nigella double-entendre-raised-eyebrow kind of way). I’m talking hot vintage cars, cool tattoos, rockabilly hairstyles, vintage style photographs and absolutely, utterly to die for food. From the under-stated hardcover to the texture of the paper, this is not your everyday cookbook. It’s more coffee table delight with a practical, easy to follow internal instruction guide. With diagrams!

The authors are a pair of besties who also happen to own a couple of Sydney restaurants. In their introduction, they note that the idea for their first restaurant, ‘Bodega’ came from the two of them being sick of working in fine-dining restaurants. They opened the type of eatery they’d like to go to: somewhere with great quality food and a fun environment. They wanted Bodega to be a place that played good music, where you could sit at the bar and watch the chefs at work. These days, their award-winning restaurants include the original Bodega as well as Porteño and Gardel’s Bar. You can certainly get a feel for the restaurants from the stunning photographs contained here.

recipes for a good time_elvis and ben - chefs

The contents in Recipes For A Good Time cover topics such as ‘The Perfect Picnic’ to ‘Cooking With Fire’ to ‘Pickles & Sauces’ (which will be my personal go-to around March when my tomatoes and chillies and ripe).

Their signature dish of Fish Fingers might sound basic, but as the boys note, they don’t call them fish fingers because they’re fingers of fish – it’s because ‘you’ve gotta use your mitts’. What I love most about this particular recipe is that they’ve added four pages of variations – one with a double spread of photographs, and another double spread of illustrated, coordinating diagrams. Win! While the original recipe uses cuttlefish and sashimi kingfish, they suggest using ingredients such as mud crab, sea urchin, prawns and even…wait for it…grilled spam. Kind of makes things accessible to every level of cook, huh?

I don’t think you can go past Recipes For A Good Time as that last minute Christmas gift, and not just for the Rockabilly Chicks or the Hipster crowd or your favourite Foodie. It’s a book that will be treasured and loved for many years to come by anyone lucky enough to receive it…if you can bear to give it away and not keep it for yourself that is. I couldn’t!

Photo Credit: Anson Smart


Recipes For A Good Time by Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate

Published by Murdoch Books (Allen &Unwin)

Hardcover, 290 pages.

ISBN – 978-1743364376



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnMandy Wrangles reviews and tests Anna Gare’s new cookbook.




praline_1You probably already know Anna Gare as judge of Australian Junior Masterchef, and also as the host of Great Australian Bake-Off. She’s also the author of two cookbooks – in 2011 she released Homemade and the brand new Eat in – the best food is made at home. I have to agree with her on the title!

I love Anna’s theory that “…cooking, like love, does not have to be rocket science. It is a way of thinking, tasting and feeling that allows you to draw pleasure out of what could otherwise be ordinary. It turns a chore into a little party, or, sometimes, a big one…”

Eat in is a simple cookbook to navigate. Beautiful colour photographs accompany each recipe, which are listed under the headings: good morning!, lovely lunches, feeding family & friends, salads, what’s for dinner mum? and sweet things.

Included is a handy conversion chart – something I wish every cookbook had (I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted trying to convert American recipes to Australian measurements).

Recipes vary from the more exotic-sounding, such as the Quail with pistachio, orange and sage butter and Whole poached trout with celeriac rémoulade to one of my Nanna’s old favourites – Butterfly cupcakes. All the recipes are written in an easy to follow manner; there’s nothing too difficult or out of reach for the everyday home-cook.

praline_2I decided to give Anna’s Tealight chocolate mousse with pistachio praline a go as my test recipe. Now, you’ll need to read the book to get the actual recipe… but I can tell you as the first time I’ve ever made praline – it was a success.

Praline is one of those things I’ve always been a bit wary of in the kitchen; too much can go wrong (think burned toffee, burned skin, a big old messy pot to scrub…) but this was simple, everything I needed was already in my pantry and fridge, I escaped without burning anything, and the clean up was immediate with hot water. Too easy!

I didn’t have any tealight glasses handy to serve, so instead used my favourite glass tumblers that are reserved especially for desserts. And the verdict from my family? More please…





 ‘Anna Gare – Eat In – The Best Food is Made at Home’

207 pages

Text by Anna Gare

Photography by Ian Wallace

Published by Murdoch Books 2013

ISBN – 978-1742663890



Okay. Deep breath. I’m going to try really hard here to give a straight-up, unbiased review…

…but I don’t think that’s possible. I lovedlovedlovedlovedloved When We Wake by Karen Healey. It completely entranced me for the few hours it took to devour it.

The premise of When We Wake was interesting enough: Sixteen year old Tegan Oglietti is at a climate change protest when shot and killed by a badly-aimed sniper who was trying for the Prime Minister instead. Tegan doesn’t remember dying, but she remembers waking up 100 years later after being cryonically frozen and thawed. She’s the first person ever to be successfully revived, making her an instant celebrity. This doesn’t so much thrill her – she’d rather get on with the business of being a normal teenager and grieving for the family and life she left behind. School, friends, boys and the political issues that defined her in her ‘first life’ are still foremost in her mind. For Tegan, being the puppet of ‘Operation New Beginning’, the army and the scientists who raised her from the dead isn’t her idea of a fun time.

The thing is, Tegan wasn’t exactly your pliable, cookie-cutter teenager the first time around. When she died in 2027, she was not only obsessed with social issues, but music as well. And not just any old music; she loved the ancient band The Beatles. Karen Healey uses this in a novel way – each chapter is headlined by a well-known Beatles song and Tegan uses her knowledge to sing their songs in times of stress. As the first-person narrator of the story, I was sucked in by Tegan’s voice from the first paragraph. She’s strong, funny, loyal, clever and fiercely independent with a sense of empathy and compassion for others that makes her impossible not to like and cheer for.

But Tegan and her likability isn’t the big issue with When We Wake. It’s consequences. Underneath the main character’s (and secondary characters – did I mention how well formed each and every one was?) amusing and self-deprecating voice is a whole world of consequences. Literally. Things change over a hundred year period, and while I wouldn’t label When We Wake as dystopian, it comes close. Some things are better. Marriage is no longer the domain of just a man and woman. Meat and animal products are no not eaten by (most!) humans. Technology has reached the point where computers can be scrunched into a tiny ball and stuffed inside your pocket. But there’s also major climate issues; Australia has a zero immigration policy and there are new diseases to replace the old ones. ‘Illegal’ immigrants are kept in prisons up north and religious fanatics have split the church. Sounds unbelievable, huh. Oh… wait…

The majority of When We Wake is set in Melbourne, Australia, and the surrounding suburbs – which happens to be my home city. It’s obvious the author has spent time living here too. Even the college Tegan is allowed to attend is named for one of our most real and beloved philanthropists (side note – there is actually a college in the area by this name). As a science fiction novel, I possibly would have like to see a bit more science, mainly in the explanation of the revival process which is glossed over a little. But the truth is it doesn’t matter to the Tegan, so it doesn’t really matter to us either.

When We Wake is Karen Healey’s third novel, and the second one I’ve read. While the last one didn’t grab me the way this one did, I can’t wait for the sequel. This is an important book. Not just for Young Adult readers, but everyone. It will make you question your morals, your everyday decision making and your government. I think we’ll be hearing much more about When We Wake when award season rolls around.

Oh, and you neeeed to read it. Right now.

Moonlight & Ashes by Sophie Masson is a gorgeous retelling of the Cinderella fairytale – though probably not as you know it.

Based loosely around the German Cinderella – Aschenputtel – this isn’t a story where you’ll find Fairy Godmothers and Princes who come along to rescue poor Cinders (renamed Selena here) whose fate is out of her own control. Nope, this gutsy heroine does it all herself … with a little help from a hazel twig and some pretty cool magics.

Moonlight & Ashes kicks off where we expect it would. Selena is a slave to her evil step mother and sisters, while her father remains distant and aloof, not seeming to care what becomes of his daughter with his first, deceased wife. Her existence is miserable by all accounts – her step sisters now own the beautiful dresses and jewellery that were once hers, her place is with the lowest of the servants, scavenging for food and a friendly ear. Society has shunned her and the family renamed her as Ashes. But this Cinderella has a secret, bigger than any of them can imagine, told to her by her dying mother: she is a Moon Sister.

Many years ago, magic was outlawed and the last of the Moon Sisters were captured or killed by the Mancers, a menacing and politically powerful association of men and sorcerers. Theirs is the only magic authorised by the government. Selena is, of course, terrified of being found out by the Mancers, and will do anything to stay under their radar and away from magic. She denies anything to do with her Moon Sister heritage. Then, on her sixteenth birthday, she dreams of her Mother and the hazel twig. And this is where things get interesting.

I loved Moonlight & Ashes. I loved that Selena is strong enough to not only take charge of her own life but also the lives of those who she cares for. She’s a fantastic heroine. Far from perfect, Selena makes plenty of stupid mistakes and takes risks that will have you cringing as you turn the page. The story moves quickly, with the Cinderella ball and prince storyline pretty much over and done with in the first eighty or so pages. From there, it’s all adventure, deceit and honour. Ah, and the romance bit. Well, this is based on the Cinderella fairytale you know. Yep, capital F Fairytale – and who doesn’t appreciate a little true love? Just don’t think you already know how this romance ends…

I do wish there had been space to investigate and learn more about the co-stars of this story such as Andel, the barge-dwelling philosopher, Olga, the Ruvenyan Werewolf and Tomi, who I felt was over-looked. They were seriously engaging and interesting characters. Maybe we can cross our fingers for a spin-off there?

Moonlight & Ashes is the first Sophie Masson book I’ve read, so when I looked the author up I was pretty happy to find she had a bit of a back-list. Like, in the vicinity of fifty novels. Fifty! I’ll be checking some of those out. And so should you.

Moonlight & Ashes by Sophie Masson

Published by Random House

Paperback, 318 pages

ISBN – 978 1 74275 379 9

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