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  • Food News
  • Saturday, 19 Aug 2017

Eggs at a poultry farm in Hesbaye region near Namur. Photo: AFP

This month’s Cooking The Books column offers books that drill deep into the food of two communities, an ingredient, and a philosophy of cooking.

It’s Always About The Food

Author: Monday Morning Cooking Club

Publisher: Harper Collins

Price: RM152.90

The Monday Morning Cooking Club (MMCC) started as six Jewish women in Sydney who just wanted to create a beautiful cookbook to tell the story of their food-obsessed community. To document heirloom recipes from the older generations, and also to document and preserve the everyday dishes that feed and nurture their families.

From a book drawing on the family recipes of Sydney’s Jewish community, it grew to a second book to collect recipes from Jewish communities across Australia and now, a third book – you guessed it – collects recipes and stories from the Jewish diaspora around the world. So there’s a lot more diversity to the food in this book – from carrot soup with harissa and coconut to chicken sambal goreng, Israeli rice pilaf, and Sephardi biscuits called kakas and babas.

There’s nothing the women love better than testing old recipes scribbled on yellowing paper without precise measurements. They have been meeting every Monday – and Tuesday – and often Thursdays too for 10 years now, collecting, curating, and testing recipes. Ten years of laughter and sisterhood. The most precious takeaway from this book? That every recipe is a gift from the heart. – Julie Wong

Lucky Peach: All About Eggs: Everything We Know About The World’s Most Important Food

Author: Rachel Khong & editors of Lucky Peach

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Price: RM129.90

I've always thought eggs the most perfect of ingredients: ubiquitous yet so versatile that I could (and often do) eat them every day for a month and feature them in a different dish every day. Millions of eaters, cooks, and writers the world over feel the same – definitely among them, the editors of the sadly missed Lucky Peach. So it is only fitting that this is the food magazine’s final cookbook.

Far more than just a collection of egg recipes (although those deservedly take pride of place and we’ll get to them in a minute), All About Eggs delves into the biological and chemical make-up of an egg, egg-related stories about remarkable people (the world’s fastest omelette-maker!), how to decode egg cartons, and what substitutes can be used.

We zig backwards and forwards through history to trace the egg’s changing social status, and zag across geographical boundaries to explore just what it means in various countries and cultures. The editors really have left no egg carton unturned in their production of a definitive tome on the subject, and every essay and anecdote is spiked with the jaunty writing and humour that informed Lucky Peach itself.

Threaded throughout the delicious writing, 88 recipes from around the world celebrate, illuminate and inspire – Taiwanese oyster omelettes; Eggs Kejriwal from Mumbai; rompope, an eggy Mexican drink; the lightest of French souffles; and even “custardy” half-boiled eggs from Malaysia.

My only complaint (the fact that reading this made me hanker for the perfect omelette and scramble is not a valid one) is that the food photos are all clustered in the middle of the book, making flipping back and forth between recipe and photo necessary. But that in no way detracts from the egg-cellence of this book. – Suzanne Lazaroo

Modern Baker: A New Way To Bake Cakes, Biscuits And Breads

Authors: Melissa Sharp with Lindsay Stark

Publisher: Ebury Press

Price: RM167.90

The first thing to know about this book is that it is not just about the unprocessed, whole foods and ancient grains, and gluten free alternatives – as most “new way to bake” books are about – but gut health.

Why gut health you ask? Because it is key to our overall health, both mental and physical. “About 80% of our immune system is our gut microbes, so to be healthy and fight off diseases our gut flora needs to be in championship shape.”

Author Melissa Sharp started on this eating track after discovering a lump in her breast at 36 years that led to a change in diet and career, and the opening of a café-bakery, Modern Baker, in Oxford, Britain, in 2014.

More recently, Sharp and her business partner, artisan baker Lindsay Stark, received government research funding to bring their vision of healthy baking to a much wider audience.

This book continues their passion to spread the word – and that non-medicated sense of wellbeing and happiness the author feels – urging more people to get in the kitchen, “experiment, enjoy – and thrive”.

The good news they want to share is that cakes and breads can be positively good for you (yeah!). Think long-fermented sourdough and gluten-free brown rice starters for breads, and breakthrough recipes like carrot and olive oil cake, and cashew nut icing. – JW

The Indian Cookery Course

Author: Monisha Bharadwaj

Publisher: Kyle Books

Price: RM163.30

Accomplished cookbook author and teacher Monisha Bharadwaj thrills, excites and entices in this delightful Indian epicurean odyssey. Filled with historical details about the many regions in India and their highly-nuanced cooking styles, the book explores the vast tapestry of Indian food from north to south and everywhere else in between.

You’ll discover delicious-sounding recipes for potato-stuffed bread; lamb with spinach; Kerala chicken stew; crisp garlic prawns; spicy scrambled eggs; creamy, buttery black dhal; and fire-roasted aubergine with spices. The photographs of the dishes are beautiful and yet seem authentic – not the picture-perfect stuff you can’t even hope to attain in your home kitchen.

Your mouth is likely to water as you wade through this 450-page tome, and you’ll find yourself bookmarking recipe after recipe, especially as Bharadwaj’s steps and techniques are easy to replicate and don’t seem intimidating at all. The book even includes masterclasses in certain subjects, like how to cook lentils properly.

If you’re angling to master more Indian recipes, this is the ultimate Indian cookbook, one that covers a rich panoply of cooking styles and subjects, and truly opens your eyes to the wonders of the gourmet offerings available in India. – Abirami Durai

Cooking The Books is a monthly column featuring interesting publications about anything and everything food-related. If you’ve come across a good book or want us to review a book, write to us at star2@thestar.com.my.

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