Our favourite cookbooks of 2017

Myriad cookbooks cross The Forager desk, distracting us with their beautiful photos and mouth-watering promise. Here are six of the best from 2017.

Dec 20, 2017, updated Dec 20, 2017


The big upswing of interest in fermented food and drinks has been accompanied by a swag of new cookbooks on the subject. Ferment (Murdoch Books, $45) is written by wholefood pioneer Holly Davis, who is one of the co-founders of Sydney’s Iku Wholefoods and has been making fermented foods – and teaching others how to make them – for more than 40 years.

The striking cover image is indicative of the high quality of the photography throughout the book, which features recipes grouped under the chapter headings Activate, Capture, Steep, Infuse, Leaven, Incubate and Cure. There’s plenty to relish for both fermenting newbies and those with more experience in the ancient art, from kefir, kombucha and cheesemaking, to delicious savoury and sweet dishes. See Davis’s recipe for Marly’s Toasted Macadamia and Banana Pancakes here.

 The Little Library Cookbook

For lovers of both literature and cooking, a book full of recipes that celebrate stories is an enchanting concept. Australia-born, London-based food writer and cook Kate Young – a “hungry reader” since childhood – shares 100 of her favourite representations of food in fiction in The Little Library Cookbook (HarperCollins, $39.99).

You’ll find a rice, miso, pickles and egg breakfast recipe inspired by a line in Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, Paddington Bear’s marmalade, a treacle tart which replicates Harry Potter’s favourite dessert, mint julep from a scene in F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – plus many more, accompanied by stories and book quotes. Additional recipes can also be found on The Little Library Café blog.

I love India

The vibrant, glossy photos in this cookbook are so gorgeous it’s hard to decide whether to head directly to the kitchen or a simply book a flight to India. Chef and TV host Anjum Anand is the daughter of an Indian father and Pakistani mother who made a new home in London, and I Love India (Hardie Grant Books, $39.99) is a collection of recipes inspired by her own experiences in India, along with evocative stories and memories.

With chapters such as Street-side tiffin, Indian summer, Coastal curries, and On high days and holidays, it includes dishes ranging from sticky saffron dumplings (recipe here) to steamed Nepalese meat momos from the dumpling houses of Calcutta and crispy spinach chaats sold by street stalls in North India.


As InDaily editor David Washington wrote earlier this year, you can make the best bread you’ve ever tasted with just three ingredients: flour, water and salt. But Norse bakers Casper Andre Lugg and Martin Ivar Hveem Field say a good sourdough also takes patience, forethought and love.

Their book, simply titled Sourdough ((published by Hardie Grant Books, $29.99), contains detailed advice for making the bread at home, including how to create your own starter yeast, and has 15 step-by-step illustrated recipes using a variety of grains. Yes, you can buy good sourdough at many SA bakers, but there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of baking your own.

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Poh Bakes 100 Greats

Adelaide cook, café owner and TV host Poh Ling Yeow returns to her first love with Poh Bakes 100 Greats (Murdoch Books, $39.99), which contains 100 of her favourite baked delights, grouped under chapters such as “Savoury Stunners”, “Bake-sale Beauties”, “Oldies but Goodies” and “French Fundamentals”.

In an interview last month, Poh told InDaily that the book reflects her own baking style, which she describes as a mash-up of French and Australiana – from traditional French pastries like croissants and tarts to “all the old favourites, like melting moments, and your CWA-style stuff that everyone grows up with”.

Poh’s quirky style is also illustrated through the colourful photos – including one of her Scottish terriors Rhino and Tim which accompanies the recipe for doggie chicken liver treats.

Los Angeles Cult Recipes

French hamburger aficionado Victor Garnier Astorino (founder of the Blend chain of burger bars in Paris) describes Los Angeles Cult Recipes (Murdoch Books, $49.99) as a “travel diary” rather than a cookbook, and although it features 100 recipes, it does serve equally well as a guide to the wonderful, weird and weirdly wonderful cafes, restaurants, farmers’ markets, food stalls and bars of LA.

Many of the dishes – such as these kimchi nachos from Komodo restaurant at Venice Beach or Chicken Pad See Ew from a family-run Thai restaurant in Santa Monica – reflect the city’s multi-cultural make-up, while others (acai bowls, julienned zucchini with bolognese sauce, veggie burger with a kale side) are indicative of Californians’ quest for wellness.

Astorino took an analogue camera on his food excursions, and his snapshots of not just the dishes but local streetscapes, beaches and buildings are what really make the book stand apart.

See all InDaily’s recipes from 2017 here.


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