All we want for Christmas: our cookbook team’s wishlist

The Cooked team
11 December, 2014

Looking for present ideas for food-lovers? We ask the cooking-obsessed cookbook team at Hardie Grant what's on their wishlists.

We know it’s gift guide central out there, so we’ve (hopefully helpfully) honed in on a few ideas for the food obsessive in your life this festive season. The brief to Hardie Grant’s cookbook team was to share what they covet – or what’s been a revelation to them in their kitchens this year.

Paul McNally, publishing director

I'm a man with modest needs. Aside from the practical – I'm out of shelves for my expanding cookbook collection – I'm on the hunt for tinned tomatoes. Not any old tin. The king is the mighty San Marzano: a sweet plum tomato and an Italian import from the town of the same name that seems harder to find than sunshine in Melbourne. It's vital for the Olive-crumbed basil mozzarella with smoked tomato sauce from Daniel Wilson's Huxtabook. I've cooked that dish possibly too many times (it is, after all, fried cheese) and now I'm clean out of San Marzano's delights. If you find a tin, grab it for me – I've got Christmas lunch to sort.

*Beware frauds: The tomatoes are only sold in cans, either whole or in fillets, so anything labelled "puree," "chopped," "diced," "sauce," or "organic" are not the real deal.

Melbourne stockists include: DOC Delicatessen, Carlton. Zia Rosa brand, 400g tin $2.50. Sydney stockists (Solania brand) include: Crown Street Grocer, Surry Hills; Delizie Di Casa, Surry Hills; The Green Olive Deli Café, Burwood. Solania brand also available online at (400g tin $4.80, minimum order $45).

Hannah Koelmeyer, Cooked editor

I first spotted this gorgeous vintage Danish bread slicer in Trine Hahnemann's beautiful book, Scandinavian Baking. It's an enamelled cast iron frame with a steel guillotine, made around 1900, specially designed for slicing dense Danish rye bread. Now, a large, heavy, expensive slicer for a type of bread I don't often eat is definitely not something I need (I honestly would have nowhere to put it in my kitchen), but boy, do I ever covet one. Maybe one day, when I have my dream kitchen ...

You can find vintage Raadvad slicers on eBay and Etsy for around $250 (not including postage which may well cost you the same again).

Roxy Ryan, marketing director

I have had my eye on my mum's Mouli for a decade: this Christmas, perhaps, is a chance to finally own my own. Mum’s is made of orange plastic with a metal insert and looks like it's come directly from the 1970s (it probably has). By squeezing and pressing your ingredients through a fine sieve, a Mouli turns your homemade tomato sauce into something infinitely richer and more delicious than you imagined you could produce. You can also use it for soups or mashed potato. It's one of those gadgets that makes you a better cook without you really needing to do anything – which I'm all for.

Moulis are available from good kitchen suppliers online and in stores. This Emanuel Mouli (24cm), from Kitchenware Direct Australia, is $47.95, plus $7.50 for shipping. It’s not orange, but it’s made in Italy, and it’s nice.  

Lucy Heaver, managing editor

My favourite piece of kitchen equipment – and a great gift for the tortilla lover in your life – would have to be my cast-iron Mexican taco press, which I was lucky enough to procure after the photo shoot for Hardie Grant’s cookbook Cantina. After visiting Mexico last year (quite possibly the most amazing foodie destination on the planet), I became obsessed with recreating the perfect taco at home. Too long had I settled for the pre-packaged tortilla equivalent from a brand, which shall not be named; too long had my tastebuds suffered in silence! But, no more: with nothing more than masa flour, water and this indispensable device I can now have freshly made tortillas whenever I like. Bean tacos for breakfast? Sure! Fish tacos manana? Si! Heated in a pan, on the barbecue or even in a microwave, these freshly made tortillas mean my love for Mexican food shall never go wanting again.

Pick up this wonderfully simple gadget from South American food stores or online (try They usually retail for around $35, but are available at Fireworks for $21.95 – an absolute bargain.

Caitlin Neville, publicity manager

Christmas presents are an opportunity to treat your loved ones to an indulgence they would never normally give themselves. “Functional” and “practical” gifts have no business under the Christmas tree! So, for me, the ultimate indulgence would be a night out at one of my favourite restaurants. I’m a Sydney girl living in Melbourne so on cold, grey days (and there are many!) I literally ache for the sun, water and sounds of my home city. Nothing beats a summer night on the verandah of Cafe Sydney, sipping rose and watching the ferries come and go from Circular Quay. There’s also the small fact that it looks out over that iconic harbor, with that big old Bridge and the seashells of the Opera House. It makes me homesick just thinking about it ... Santa, I swear I’ve been good, please bring be a voucher!

Rachel Day, editor

I have a confession to make. When a recipe (such as Greg Malouf’s crushed broad beans or Sevtap Yuce’s mint and garlic yoghurt dip) calls for a garlic clove and sea salt to be smashed on a board with a sharp knife, I never do it. I usually mull on it for, oh, a second, and then take the easy option and use my IKEA Vardefull garlic press. I know a press achieves a different result to the garlic, salt, board, knife combo, but life's short, and garlic was made to be pressed (in my kitchen). At $6.99, it’s an obtainable, covetable, and hard-wearing tool I wouldn’t do without. Get pressing!

Olivia Fleetwood, publicist

It’s impossible for me to choose just one item this Christmas! I’m hoping that a few blocks of Liefje’s Smoked Salt chocolate will make it into my stocking. Handmade in Melbourne, this dark chocolate is intensified with shards of bitter cacao nibs and sprinkled with hand-smoked Murray-Darling salt. Chocolate alone won’t do: I’d love to get my hands on this Silampos white polished marble platter (pictured). It’s something a little different for a cheese plate, and I’d also use it as a pretty serving platter for the dark chocolate and blackberry cake that I plan to bake for my sister’s birthday in January (iced with ganache made from Liefje chocolate, of course). Lastly, a paella dish is perfect for serving outside on a warm night, especially if it’s piled high with fresh mussels and prawns and I’m cooking up Ben O’Donoughue’s paella for a crowd.

Liefje chocolate, $8.95 (and if it’s a gift, they’ll add a handwritten note when you order online, too): for online orders and stockists in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Silampos white marble board (26cm), $25.50; Terracotta oven-to-table Graupera paella dish (32cmx7.5cm):

Julia Kumschick, international sales director

I’m just about to hop on a plane to New York to get the US sales team excited about titles Hardie Grant will publish NEXT Christmas and there is one item I’m desperate to buy while there – a ridiculously good mandoline ... stainless steel with millimetre precision, the kind that requires you to wear a steel glove to operate as the blades are so sharp. A couple of years ago I brought one back for my mum and have had appliance envy ever since. For those of you shopping locally, there is a brand called De Buyer (with 4-10 millimetre blades), pictured, available at Chef’s Hat for $275. But a quick search online will reveal others, too, at this investment-for-life end of the market.

Mandolines vary in price from as little as $20 to $250-plus. See, or any quality kitchen supplier.

Jane Willson, digital publisher

Almost as important as the food you serve are the vessels you serve it on – or in. Sure, that’s a big call, but when it comes to shared feast scenarios, I insist that handsome plates and platters (ideally with a little kick up at the edges) are superior to bowls every time. A conversation starter like these striking 28-centimetre numbers (with said curved edges) from Melbourne-based designers Bonnie and Neil fit the bill perfectly; the question is whether Rio the parrot, rhododendrons or watercolours take your fancy. I’d be happy with one of each. If I close my eyes I imagine myself delivering Suzanne Zeidy’s rotisserie chicken to the table (and to much acclaim) on one of these.

Stoneware plate with natural tint and clear glaze (in concrete or white), 28cm, $80; Buy direct from the website or see stockists in every state. 

Mark Campbell, design manager

I'm obsessed right now with Pureharvest Coco Quench, which is an amazing coconut–rice milk hybrid. It might sound a little hipster/on trend, but it's super delicious, I buy it by the truckload, and it would be a great stocking filler for that person in your life who wants to avoid or cut back on dairy. I discovered it while casing another customer in my local health food shop and, for something containing coconut milk, it's actually quite low in fat. It's mainly made from brown rice and water, but importantly has most of the flavour of coconut milk without being heavy. I use it in quite a lot of smoothies (such as these) and it's also an alternative for soaking your bircher muesli – particularly for a creamier result. Sometimes I even drink it straight, like a boss.

Pureharvest products are available at good health food shops and supermarkets including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. Price varies but Mark pays $3.50 at Wholefoods, Fitzroy.

Still at a loss? Check out our bookstore. It's packed full of great gifts and members receive 30% off!


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