Little Chef, Big Curse, by Tilney Cotton

It all began one winter’s night, five hundred years ago, in a sleepy little village. Snow sprinkled the rooftops and pale wisps of smoke rose from a chimney or two.
The moon had just risen when a shooting star whipped across the sky, trailing a dazzling thread of green and red cinders.

500 years after a curse has been placed on the kingdom of Yurp, Matty Swink finds himself in a spot of bother. He’s a virtual prisoner as general dogsbody in a dodgy restaurant, but dreams of cooking glory. So when the King of Yurp announces a cooking contest, Matty is determined to win it. All he has to do is get Princess Meg to like his dish. But he soon discovers that winning the contest might not be the answer to his prayers.

Little Chef, Big Curse is a funny, action filled tale about cooking, curses and weird moon-rats with big appetites. Matty is a likeable, well-intentioned main character who is the victim of an equally unlikeable villain in the form of Fenella, a restaurateur with a penchant for unsavoury dishes made from whatever she can catch or scrape up. Matty’s story blends humour, adventure and fantasy. The occasional intrusions of the narrator take the reader into the story and add to the fun.

Suitable for middle and upper primary aged readers.


Little Chef, Big Curse

Little Chef, Big Curse, by Tilney Cotton
Scholastic, 2014
ISBN 9781742832692

Available from good bookstores and online.

Love & Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food, by Charlotte Wood

I began really learning to cook in my mid-twenties, at about the same time as I began really learning to write. I have only recently wondered if there is a link between these two things, other than the circumstances in which I found myself: an idle university student in possession of time for dawdling, some vague creative urges and new friends who inspired me with their own creativity and skill with a pen or a frying pan.

Charlotte Wood’s fiction offerings, including Animal People (2011) and The Children (2007) have attracted critical acclaim, but she is also a successful food writer, with her own blog and numerous magazine features including Gourmet Traveller and Good Weekend. In Love and Hunger Wood shares her love of food in an offering which is part memoir, part recipe book, exploring the shared nature of cooking and eating. With section focussing on learning to cook, practical tips for cooking, philosophical observations about food, and comfort cooking. There are over 75 recipes and, most importantly, a real celebration of the communal, loving nature of food and cooking.

Even for those who are not avid cooks, this is a book which makes the reader want to spend time in the kitchen, creating and sharing and simply enjoying the pleasures of good food. At the same time, the quality of the writing is deeply satisfying, bringing together Woods’ two much-loved art forms in a satisfying whole.

Love and Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food

Love and Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food, by Charlotte Wood
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742377766

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

The AWW Cooking School

There is no shortage of cookbooks on the market, but what sets The AWW Cooking Schoolapart from so many others is that it features recipes which even a beginner can cook, with ingredients easily available.

Many recipes include step by step photographs, and the book is divided into straightforward chapters for easy access – pasta, rice, vegetables, desserts, cakes and so on. ‘Special features’ of double page spread help with identification of and understanding of food types including noodles, spices, fruits, salads, cheeses and more.

From the publishers of the Australian Women’s Weekly, this sturdy hardcover offering is ideal for a new cook, giving a thorough grounding in cooking a wide variety of dishes, in a manner which is accessible and informative.

Would make an ideal gift for an engagement or twenty first birthday.

The AWW Cooking School

The AWW Cooking School ACP Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Small Fry, by Susie Cameron & Katrina Crook

We wanted to make the day and what we do a little more fun-filled for our children and their friends. We decided that since they were so keen to help and be involved, particularly in the kitchen, that we would relax and go with it!

Difficulty, preparation time, cooking time are all ingredients of modern cookbooks. Small Fry adds a ‘mess factor’ rating from one to five. ‘Getting Started’ includes information from an Early Childhood Consultant and guidelines for age- and development-appropriate expectations. Chapters are grouped according to ‘Senses’, ‘Concepts’, ‘Everyday’ and more. There are suggestions about how to include children in shopping, unpacking and cleaning up. Recipes introduce children to textures, smells and tastes. ‘Extra Stuff’ provides extension and alternative activities to vary the kitchen experience.

Small Fry is a very attractive book with brightly coloured pages and wonderful photos of children and food. The recipes are mostly difficulty rated ‘one’ or ‘two’ with fish & chips and white bread rated as difficulty ‘three’ and pizza as ‘four’. But this is not just a recipe book. There are suggestions on how to make shopping enjoyable, some gardening tips, play dates, ideas to show children where food comes from and much more. Older children can explore foods that go well together. A section on parties includes food ideas, games and activities. This is much more than a cook book and will be enjoyed by parents, grandparents and anyone who enjoys being with small children (and of course the small children themselves!).

Small Fry – Inspiration for Cooking with Kids, by Susie Cameron & Katrina Crook
ABC Books 2006
ISBN 978073316654

Taste Testers, by Dr Garry Egger

Can you lose weight AND enjoy food at the same time? Doctor Garry Egger thinks so, and sets out to prove it in this pocket size book of tasty recipes.

Egger, the originator of the hugely successful Gutbusters program and, more recently, Professor Trim’s Medically Supervised Weight-Loss Program, offers a range of healthy, easy-to-follow, but most importantly, tasty low-fat recipes for everyday. From creamy chicken and mushroom soup, to mustard and ginger pork and chocolate and amarretto cheesecake, the recipes are so tantalizing that it’s hard to believe they’re recommended for dieters. Each recipe has an indicator of fat content per serve and the book is scattered with cartoon illustrations which give a humorous touch.

Great for dieters and anyone interested in eating better.

Taste Testers: Menus, Meals and Mirth for Weight Loss, by Dr Garry Egger
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Gabriel Gate Guide to Everyday Cooking

More than just another cook book, Gabriel Gate Guide to Everyday Cookinglives up to its name. Alongside over 200 recipes are loads of tips, hints and information backed by Gate’s lifetime in the kitchen. Gate gives suggestions for shopping better, cooking quicker and generally reducing stress in the kitchen.

The recipes themselves are easy to follow, well set out and generally use common ingredients. They include soups, vegetable dishes, light meals, desserts and more.

This is a book you will use over and over, and would be ideal for the nervous novice.

Gabriel Gate is one of Australia’s favourite chefs, recognisable by his French accent and known for his delicious recipes and sound advice.

Gabriel Gate Guide to Everyday Cooking
Allen & Unwin, 2003

How to Teach Kids to Cook, by Gabriel Gate

Yes, having kids in the kitchen can be messy and time consuming, but it can also be fun and extremely beneficial. Teaching kids to cook not only teaches them important skills for independence, but also encourages creativity, an awareness of healthy eating, and allows time for family togetherness.

In How to Teach Kids to Cook, society chef and author of fourteen acclaimed cookbooks, Gabriel Gate, offers sound advice on how to introduce chidlren to the kitchen. There are over sixty yummy recipes for beginner cooks, as well as plenty of tips and hints for parents.

Beautifully presented with clear instructions and appealing photographs, this book is an essential addition to every young family’s kitchen>

How to Teach Kids to Cook, by Gabriel Gate
Allen & Unwin, 2002