Cookbook Review: Eat Happy

Eat Happy | 30-Minute Feelgood Food by Melissa Hemsley

Published by Ebury Press
Eat Happy
Food on the table in 30 minutes is a life-saver on busy weeknights and this cookbook shows how to do it without opening packets or jars of pre-prepared ‘things’.   With a zero-waste approach to food, Melissa provides plenty of ideas on how to use up ingredients such as swapping out cabbage with pak choi, broccoli or other leafy greens for Monday miso noodle soup or replacing half the grated apple with grated carrot for a more ‘carrot cake’ flavour in the ‘Apple Pie’ buckwheat porridge.

The last recipe in the ‘Bowl Food’ chapter is the ‘Waste not, want not bowl’ which is more guide than recipe and a wonderful way to use up bits and pieces to make a delicious nutritious meal.  Melissa’s Filipino heritage is evident in the panoply of flavours and yet most ingredients are readily available from the supermarket.  Our dinner-in-a-hurry repertoire will be expanded with some new flavours beginning with Korean chicken with sesame sprinkle and Filipino-style steak and onions.

Other recipes by Melissa Hemsley and by Hemsley and Hemsley can be found on their websites.

Recipes from the book that we’ve tried:
Easy granola - Eat Happy | Melissa Hemsley

Easy granola

Granola is toasted muesli in NZ (Kiwi) lingo.  Homemade muesli/granola is a staple in our house and I have a handful of recipes that I make again and again as I can be sure the kids will eat them.  I had committed to making Melissa’s easy granola before I realised I didn’t have all the ingredients, and by committed, I mean I had already started measuring out the ingredients.  And that’s the great thing about granola and muesli recipes, they’re very easy to adapt to what you do have in the pantry.   Instead of all quinoa flakes, I had to use some rolled oats, and in place of maple syrup, I used Wild Kithul Treacle.  That might sound a bit flash but I used it simply because I’d bought it a while ago thinking it sounded interesting and then never used it.  The flavour is similar to a burnt toasty caramel coconut.  I also didn’t have enough coconut flakes so threaded coconut came to the rescue.  With all the adaptations, it could be argued that I didn’t really make Melissa’s recipe but I did keep to the 400 g mixed nuts and 400 g mixed seeds.  I’m glad I did as the end result is deliciously nutty – my regular recipes err on the ‘no nuts’ side to keep the kids happy so this is a breakfast The Anster and I can eat all to ourselves.  The recipe can be found here.
Easy granola - Eat Happy | Melissa Hemsley

Veggie cottage pie with cauliflower mash

For a recent potluck dinner, my dishes of choice were one vegan (Buckwheat and mushroom risotto) and one vegetarian.  A local lad and friend of ours, who lives in a family that eats predominantly vegan food, asked me what had gone wrong when I mentioned what I had made.  I’m guessing he was hoping for a meat-feast and was sadly disappointed.  However, with cottage pies such as this one, the minced meat versions are decidedly second rate.  I’m thinking of making this my go-to cottage pie recipe, it’s that good.  I pretty much stuck to the recipe on this one apart from the courgettes.  Being as it is winter and courgettes cost about $5.00 each, I used some grated frozen courgette left over from summer.  And I cooked the lentils from scratch since I had the time and energy.  Another note, our farmers-market cauliflower’s must be monsters as the ingredient list calls for 2 cauliflowers, about 800g in total.  One cauliflower weighed more than that in itself and the stall owner charged me less as he deemed it to be a bit on the small side.

Cookbook Review: Little Bird Goodness

Little Bird Goodness by Megan May, Penguin Random House New Zealand

Little Bird Goodness
For many people, food intolerance is a huge interruption to everyday life.  Product availability has improved with gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, or egg-free items now being available in many mainstream grocery stores.  Larger cities also have the luxury of vegetarian, vegan or raw food café’s such as Megan May’s award-winning Unbakery Café’s.

With the release of her first cookbook The Unbakery, raw food became more accessible to people living outside of the main centres or without access to café’s catering to specialist eating programs.  Little Bird Goodness, Megan’s second cookbook, is aimed at a larger group of people, not just those already eating raw food.  These recipes are all plant-based but some include a cooked portion to help newbies ease into this type of eating.

Thankfully, only one of our family members suffers from a food allergy/intolerance, but the vitality and enthusiasm of Megan for eating a plant-based diet encourages me to try to incorporate more raw components into our diet.  Simple ideas such as Watermelon dipped in citrus spice mix, chocolate-dipped dried fruit or green superfoods popcorn all look delicious, fresh and healthy snack choices.  The spiced pumpkin salad with caramelised shallot dressing would also fit into our diet without too much trouble ie ordering in a raft of new exciting ingredients.

At the back of the book, the Basics section covers sprouting, (sprouts are fundamental to a raw food diet), as well as fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut all of which are easy and very satisfying to make.

Each recipe includes an equipment needed list which is useful to know before beginning a recipe, particularly as some equipment specified is not what an everyday regular kitchen would have, such as a cold brew coffee maker or a cold-press juice extractor.

First up on my list of recipes to try is the Pea Guacamole and the popcorn.  Megan also shares recipes on her website and for Bite Magazine (such as this delicious-looking intriguing-sounding Winter Spice Buttercup Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting.


Cookbook Review: Everyday Delicious

Everyday Delicious
Everyday Delicious is the second cookbook from Chelsea Winter, winner of NZ MasterChef season three.  At My Table, Chelsea’s bestselling first cookbook, is marketed as ‘hearty, delicious, no-fuss mainstream New Zealand recipes’ and Everyday Delicious continues this theme with recipes specifically created for home cooks. Continue reading

Cookbook Review: Sweet

Sweet: treats to share – Penguin Group

Sweet treats to share
With bookstores & library shelves already groaning with baking books, what can Sweet offer that the others don’t already cover? Continue reading

Cookbook Review: Our food out east

Book Review: Feast

Young Nick points to the Heads beyond the breakwater
Young Nick points to the Heads beyond the breakwater

A trip to Whakatane a few months back saw me looking through my friend Pip’s cookbooks and I discovered Plenty – a really fabulous looking cookbook based in the Bay of Plenty.  The food and photography is superb.  I hoped that one day we could have a cookbook based in Poverty Bay if only just to thumb our nose at Captain Cook and his fellow intrepid travellers.  Young Nick’s Head at the southern end of the bay was the first sighted land of New Zealand.  After a misunderstanding or two between the local Maori and the Endeavour crew led to bloodshed, Cook left with his tail between his legs without the food and provision required to journey on, and in spite or in truth, left us with the name Poverty Bay.

Continue reading