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  • Amy Minichiello

Cookbooks and "tea" biscuits

"I don't read novels I read cookbooks." This is what I say when asked "what book are you reading at the moment?'. Although, I must admit I really do enjoy getting lost in a good book every now and then, but more often than not you will find me with my nose in a book of the culinary variety.

My shelves are laden with them, creative masterpieces by cooks, chefs and bakers, all with two things in common. A love for food and a love for sharing that passion.

A bound book that you can actually hold in your hands is a beautiful thing. Each turn of the page excites the senses; its the smell of the paper, the sound as each page is turned and the feel. Its the beauty of the photographs, the joy in the words and the transportation into the cooks world which provides the reader with an enjoyment that becomes so pleasurable that you just want to immerse yourself in as many of these creations as possible.

Many a dog-eared page, scribbled note, splatter, oil mark and bits of food grace the pages of quite a few of these books in my collection, with each one telling a story of its own. There is a particular page in my Little & Friday book that is covered in lemon stickers and another in Emma Galloway's "My darling lemon thyme" that has now turned a lovely shade of cocoa brown.

Its these pages that tell others, who may take a wander through your collection, just how loved these recipes are and how many times they have been created. Who were they created for and for what reason; A celebration, a picnic, a gathering or simply "just because."

It is through these books, some of which have been turned to time and time again over the years, that I learnt how to cook. I would study the recipe and follow it to a tee, carefully measuring and weighing each ingredient. The authors became my teachers, my inspiration and led me down a path of discovery. I had found my passion and I whole heartedly entered into the world of food glorious food! Not only in the cooking of it but everything that comes along with it, the sharing, the eating and the memories that are created. These books allowed me to become more and more confident in the kitchen and continue to do so.

You see the thing about cooking is that you never stop learning. There is always new flavour combinations to be explored, new ingredients to try and of course new cookbooks to lose yourself in. So, I thought that I would I share a few of my favourites with you. In no particular order here is my list, they always provide me with inspiration and new learnings. These are the ones that sit above my kitchen bench, in prime position ready to be plucked from the shelf whenever I need that helping hand.

What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies

Easy by Bill Granger

The Country Cookbook by Belinda Jeffery

Treats from Little & Friday by Kim Evans

River cottage Veg everyday by Hugh Fearnley_Whittingstall

Bluebells Cakery "Sweet & Savoury" by Karla Goodwin

My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway

Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery

Living the healthy life by Jessica Sepel

Bluebells Cakery by Karla Goodwin

Ostro by Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Jackson & Levine by Laura Jackson and Alice Levine

A table in Venice by Skye McAlpine

Australian Womens Weekly "Bake" (this was one of my first cookbooks and travelled around Australia with us!)

Magazines have also had a huge impact and the ones that I would regularly devour were...

Donna Hay

Gourmet Traveller (only in the last few years though, as before this they used to intimidate me a bit, the recipes always seemed a little more complicated)


and more recently Country Style

I would also quickly "steal" the food section out of the paper each morning at the café I used to work at.

And of course there were the TV shows, in fact it was the beginning of MasterChef that really lured me in and made me want to learn more. Others included...

Rick Stein

Rachel Khoo, The Little Paris Kitchen

Nigella Lawson

The cook and the Chef

Food Safari

Jamie Oliver

Yotam Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast

Perhaps if I have inspired you to head to your local bookstore to purchase one or two from this list you may just like to bake a batch of these lovely little rosewater, lime, currant and dark chococlate "tea" biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea as you settle yourself into your comfiest chair and get lost amongst the pages, contemplating what will be on your next "to create" list. In fact, these biscuits were inspired by a recipe from Bluebells Cakery. Happy reading. x

Rosewater, currant, lime & dark chocolate "tea" biscuits.

Makes about 12, depending how big or small you decide to make them

150g almond meal

110g caster sugar

pinch of salt

zest of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon rosewater

1/3 cup of currants

1/3 cup dark chocolate (the best you can afford, I love using Callebaut dark-chocolate callets)

2 free-range egg whites

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted

Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper and pre-heat your oven to 160c.

Combine the 1/4 cup of icing sugar and caster sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, add the almonds, sugar, salt, lime zest, rosewater, currants and chocolate, then stir to combine. Lightly whisk the egg whites just so that they are combined, then pour into the rest of the ingredients. Stir until it all comes together, then roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls, dropping them into the bowl of icing/caster sugar and coating them all over.

Place them on the prepared tray, about 5cm apart sprinkle over a little more of the sugar and flatten only ever so slightly with your fingertips. Pop into the oven for about 18-20 minutes, or until they are just starting to turn a shade of gold.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. If you can wait that long! They keep really well, I have just had the last one with a cup of tea as I type this up and I made them over a week ago now. A great little biscuit to whip up at a moments notice and equally nice to share with others. x

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