Cookbook Review: A Fresh Start

Nadia Lim's Fresh Start Cookbook
I have a lot of cookbooks; more than I care to count.  I use a lot of them for research and some contain favourite family recipes.  Occasionally, I get one out and I’ll try a couple of recipes to try to find a superb dinner to add to our repertoire of awesome recipes.

As part of my writing gig for the local newspaper, I request cookbooks to review (I also receive some that I haven’t requested which is interesting as it causes me to try recipes out of a cookbook I might not have otherwise picked up and in turn, broadens our food experience even more – as was the case with Rick Stein’s ‘from Venice to Istanbul’).

Nadia Lim’s Fresh Start Cookbook was a cookbook I requested as I am on-board with her nude food philosophy which is about eating food from the sky, sea, & ground, not about eating or cooking food with no clothes on (though, by all means, do so if that is what you are in to).  You can read more about Nadia’s philosophy on her website here.  Eating from the sky, sea & ground is a similar concept to buying the bulk of your food from the outside perimeter of the supermarket – that is where you find the fresh vegetables, meat, eggs etc and less from the inner aisles.  For me, a successful supermarket shop is one where any of the food in packets isn’t so much an edible food in its current form but an ingredient which will combine with other ingredients to become an edible food ie flour and sugar rather than packets of biscuits and chippies.

The Fresh Start Cookbook is part-healthy living, part healthy recipes and part exercise tips and encouragement.  Nadia Lim is known as one of Masterchef NZ’s winners (Season 2) and also for her Food Bag business.  This is her fourth cookbook and the first one to really get me interested in trying a lot of her recipes.  It may be the timing as it arrived just prior to Spring when my food thinking begins to turn to lighter meals with more salad greens and less hearty casseroles and roast vegetables.

My initial glance at Fresh Start Cookbook was full of enthusiasm but that is normal when I get a new cookbook.  Often the enthusiasm wains and the cookbook is added to the pile on the coffee table to be leafed through from time to time when looking for inspiration for dinner.  With this book, I was so enthused I got out my diary and planned our meals for the next two weeks.  Each and every meal has been a success and all of them were deemed to be ‘make-again’s.  What I really like about the recipes is that they use regular normal ingredients for the most part and they are packed full of flavour. I already had Nadia’s second book, Nadia Lim’s Good Food Cook Book, in the bookcase but hadn’t cooked anything out of it but after looking through the Fresh Start Cookbook, I retrieved the Good Food Cook Book and have since made several recipes.  I also succumbed to temptation and purchased Nadia’s first book Nadia’s Kitchen and her third book: Easy Weeknight Meals.

The following recipes are the ones we have tried so far out of Fresh Start.  Looking through the book to find all the recipes I have made, I have rediscovered all the recipes I haven’t made but want to.  I am now going to do the meal planning for the next couple of weeks.

  • Maple-roasted pumpkin + onion soup with haloumi, mint and chilli: I am not a fan of plain pumpkin soup as I find it a bit boring.  This soup wasn’t boring and is a nice change from curried pumpkin soup.
  • Pumpkin, kale + feta frittata: I have made this frittata several times, using different roasted vegetables and silverbeet instead of kale (the pesky chickens had got to the kale)
  • Lentil ragu + eggplant lasagne: I had to try this one despite eggplants being out of season and super expensive, I reasoned away the cost as I often would spend that sort of money on a meat component of a dish for the family so why not spend it on eggplants.  However, as delicious as the lasagne was, I think I will be making this often in eggplant season and not so often in not-eggplant season or should that be eggplant off-season?
  • Bean, corn + kale chilli tacos: yum, yum, yum.  I never thought that we’d not have enough kale and silverbeet in the garden to keep us in dinners for the week but I had to supplement our greens with some purchased supermarket greens.
  • Black pepper steak + mushroom pie: this was good but I’d like a little more pepperiness
  • Chicken + spinach tikka masala with buttered lemon cauliflower ‘rice’: we had regular rice as I’d forgotten to buy cauliflower, but the curry was very very good.
  • Chermoula chicken, pumpkin + cherry tomato bake with coriander + mint yoghurt: another delicious mid-week meal.  Nadia provides a chermoula recipe (which was great as I couldn’t find it anywhere at the supermarket and I had all the herbs in the garden so buying it wasn’t an option anyway).
  • Thai chicken mince salad (Laab Gai): this was the only recipe so far that is a maybe not make again.  Something about it just didn’t work for us.
  • Creamy smoked salmon, leek + broccoli pasta: oh my, this was seriously devine.
  • Root veg topped smoked fish + silverbeet pie: we liked the addition of greens to the fish pie mixutre

Delicious Applelicious Recipes I have yet to try (maybe):

  • raspberry, apple, avocado & yoghurt smoothie: I have to admit I am not super keen on avocado unless it is in a savoury dish so I may pass on this one
  • beetroot, apple & berry smoothie: beetroot in a sweet dish I can handle having made quite a few beetroot & chocolate cakes, muffins and brownies
  • instant cinnamon, apple & almond bircher bowl: I love bircher muesli but I forget to get it ready the night before, this one is, as it says, “instant” and can be ready in five minutes
  • apple, maple & sultana porridge and blackberry & apple porridge: I love porridge so both of these sound like the perfect breakfast for me
  • teriyaki chicken + crunchy bok choy, apple + sesame slaw: Mr L wants to learn to cook Japanese food so perhaps I could start him off with the recipe.
  • apple, peal + sultana filo baskets: I have some filo pastry that needs using, sounds like a plan.
  • apple, blackberry + date nut crumble: We have crumble almost once a week (Sunday night ‘pudding’ tea) so I am interesting in trying a different take on the crumble, this one has dates in the topping and no sugar.
  • oaty apple + sultana muffins: I love making muffins so these are on my to-bake list, you can make them too as the recipe is on Nadia’s website.

If you like the sound of these recipes, visit Nadia’s site here to find other lots of other recipes similar to these (I’ve just found several more recipes that I am going to add to my menu plan….. stretching out to three weeks in advance now).

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