Christmas in a Kiwi cookbook: gift ideas for everyone

The leadup to Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, in no small part because it’s usually when the best cookbooks come out! This year is no exception, and I’ve been awed and inspired in equal measure by some of the books that have been produced by our Kiwi food creators this year.

Every one of these books has been made with New Zealand ingredients in mind – something which I feel very strongly about. Not only do we need to support our own first and foremost, but many recipes made in other countries with different ingredients simply don’t work as well. That being said, these cookbooks are nothing if not diverse – no matter what kind of food your family and friends love, there’s something here for everyone.

Here are a few of my favourites that will make the most brilliant gifts for your favourite foodie friends – or just pick one up for yourself!

My Indian Kitchen, Ashia Ismail-Singer, Potton & Burton RRP $49.99

This beautiful collection of Indian recipes is a bible for Kiwis looking for authentic Indian cuisine that’s created using only ingredients available in New Zealand. With stunning photographs from excellent food shooter Manja Wachsmuth, this is an absolute bible for the foodie in your life who can’t resist a good Indian meal. Some of the simpler recipes you’ll use again and again over summer include Green Chilli & Coriander Paste (ingredients: fresh coriander and green chillies; yep, that’s it!) and Baked Masala Fish, which is a fantastic ‘look what I did’ dish for when you’ve got guests.


Meat & Three, Kathy Paterson, RRP $49.99. Available nationwide and

Regular readers of Bite magazine, or anyone who likes the recipes in Meat magazine, will already be familiar with Kathy’s recipes. This beautifully-produced book is a celebration of New Zealand produce and producers, with very doable dishes that look very impressive but are actually simple to make. Kathy has a way of pulling out the flavours of our meat using easily-available Kiwi ingredients to create some delicious dishes that will remain part of your repertoire forever. Having had the good fortune to work with Kathy on several occasions, I can guarantee there’s no such thing as a Kathy Paterson recipe that isn’t fantastic; while the meat recipes are gorgeous, her baking is pretty second-to-none too. Give this book to someone you want to cook for you!

Topp Country: A Culinary Journey through New Zealand with the Topp Twins, Diva Books, RRP $49.95

There are few characters who epitomise New Zealand like Linda and Jools Topp, and this book will delight their fans. The comedy Dames take a trip around the country, meeting ethical farmers and food producers, home cooks and Kiwi characters who bring their love of the country to life. The pair has persuaded many Kiwis to give up closely-guarded family secrets, and alongside snippets with character favourites, including Camp Mother and Camp Leader, The Bowling Ladies and The Kens, you’ll find dishes like Flower Fritters and Duck Curry, Barbecued Backstrap with Brandy Sauce and Turmeric Terakihi. Funny, very Kiwi and a great read, this book takes you on a culinary tour of New Zealand using great stories, loads of laughs, and unusual and interesting recipes.

Always Delicious: Favourite recipes from the New Zealand Listener, Lauraine Jacobs, Potton & Burton, RRP $49.99

Lauraine is a well-known food writer who is renowned for her work as a food writer. She is particularly renowned for championing New Zealand produce, and trying to get our fantastic produce known and appreciated, not just in New Zealand but across the world. This book is a collection of some of her own favourite recipes from her long-running column in The Listener, and contains some mighty fine tips that will keep your pantry in tip top condition, as well as wine suggestions so you can plan well in advance. My favourites include her Turmeric & Lime Fish Fillets, and the Crisp Cheesy Biscuits that she says last 3-4 days in a sealed container. I wouldn’t know – they have never lasted that long in my house!

La Boca Loca: Mexican Cooking for New Zealanders Lucas Putnam & Marianne Elliot, Potton & Burton, RRP $49.99

Lovers of Mexican fare look no further: this is a book about Mexican food made just for Kiwis! Lucas and Marianne, owners of Wellington restaurant La Boca Loca, created this book after discovering that a lot of people want to learn how to make this popular cuisine themselves. Good Mexican food is based on very simple, fresh flavours, and this book uses just that. There are plenty of favourites like enchiladas, tacos, chicken mole and stuffed chillies, with a few very Kiwi-inspired dishes too. Asparagus with Hibiscus Butter has been pretty popular in my house – this spring, as has this simple recipe for Marinated Fish Salad – one which is going to get a lot more outings this summer too.

Kiwi Baker at Home, Dean Brettschneider, Potton & Burton, RRP $49.99

Baker extraordinaire and judge on The Great Kiwi Bake Off  Dean Brettschneider is without doubt New Zealand’s greatest baker. Dean has bakeries (and a fantastic pizza joint) in Singapore, and across the Middle East, and has created several books so we can learn some of his tricks at home. This is a collection of some of his favourite recipes, and like many of his books, it caters for both novices and those looking to expand their baking skills. It happens to include one of my favourite recipes – his Pork, Apple and Fennel Sausage Rolls (seriously, you have to try them) – as well as loads of useful information on sourdough, which, once you’ve made your own, you’ll be making forever. One hundred per cent a baker’s bible.