Cook up your Christmas feast with recipes from the best new cookbooks

Looking for different ideas for your festive celebration? Our food editor Hilary Biller has put together a delicious three-course lunch menu using simple recipes from some of her favourite cookbooks published in 2018

18 December 2018 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt from 'Ottolenghi Simple' (Ebury Press).
Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt from 'Ottolenghi Simple' (Ebury Press).
Image: Jonathan Lovekin



'Ottolenghi Simple' (Ebury Press) is yet another winner from renowned Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who uses simple ingredients to make scrumptious meals. The book was co-authored by Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth. 

Says Ottolenghi of this starter, “One of the beauties of this dish lies in the exciting contrast between the hot, juicy tomatoes and fridge-cold yoghurt, so make sure the tomatoes are straight out of the oven and the yoghurt is straight out of the fridge.”

Serves: 4 as a starter or mezze


350g cherry tomatoes

 3 tbsp olive oil

¾ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp light brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

3 thyme sprigs

5g fresh oregano: 3 sprigs left whole and the rest picked, to serve

1 lemon: finely shave the skin of ½ to get 3 strips and finely grate the other ½ to get 1 tsp zest

350g extra-thick Greek-style yoghurt, fridge cold

1 tsp Urfa chilli flakes (or ½ tsp regular chilli flakes)

Flaked sea salt and black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.
  2. Place the tomatoes in a mixing bowl with the olive oil, cumin seeds, sugar, garlic, thyme, oregano sprigs, lemon strips, ½ teaspoon of flaked salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix to combine, then transfer to a baking tray just large enough to fit all the tomatoes together snugly. Roast for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to blister and the liquid is bubbling.
  3. Turn the oven to the grill setting and grill for 6–8 minutes, until the tomatoes start to blacken on top.
  4. While the tomatoes are roasting, combine the yoghurt with the grated lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon of flaked salt. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
  5. Once the tomatoes are ready, spread the chilled yoghurt on a platter (with a lip) or in a wide, shallow bowl, creating a dip in it with the back of a spoon. Spoon over the hot tomatoes, along with their juices, lemon skin, garlic and herbs and finish with the picked oregano and chilli flakes. Serve at once, with sourdough or focaccia to mop it all up.
Quick sticks doner from 'The Real Meal Revolution: Low Carb Cooking' (Robinson).
Quick sticks doner from 'The Real Meal Revolution: Low Carb Cooking' (Robinson).
Image: Supplied



South Africans swear by the Banting diet and can’t get enough recipes. In his book 'The Real Meal Revolution: Low Carb Cooking' (Robinson), Jonno Proudfoot offers a feast of mouth-watering recipes and excellent information.

Serves: 4


1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tbsp sumac

½ red onion, peeled and cut into chunks

125ml double-thick yoghurt

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

600g deboned lamb shoulder, sliced into strips

2 large, thick bamboo skewers, soaked in water, or metal skewers


  1. Place the oregano, thyme, sumac, onion, yoghurt, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and whizz them into a smooth paste.
  2. Cover the lamb slices thoroughly with the paste. Place them in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to infuse.
  3. While the lamb is marinating, fire up the braai (you can do this on a griddle pan or hot pan too).
  4. Thread the lamb onto the skewers, packing each piece as tightly as possible.
  5. Place the skewers on the hottest part of the fire to get as much charring as possible. Five minutes a side should do it.
  6. If you want them cooked all the way through, pop them in the oven at 200°C for another 5 to 10 minutes, or place them to one side of the hot coals and leave them in the kettle braai with the lid on for 10 minutes.
  7. To check how pink the skewers are, use your fingers or a pair of tongs to pull the meat slices apart. You should be able to see all the way through to the skewer.
  8. When they’ve reached the desired “doneness”, remove them from the heat. With one hand, stand the skewers upright. With the other hand, use a knife to carve the skewers like a Turkish pro. Your guests will dig it.

Cook’s note: This dish goes well with tzatziki and grilled tomatoes.

Panna cotta with peppery strawberries from 'Yummy Easy Quick: Around the World' (Plum).
Panna cotta with peppery strawberries from 'Yummy Easy Quick: Around the World' (Plum).
Image: Mark Roper



'MasterChef Australia' delivers on great entertaining and judge Matt Preston has just published his second cookbook 'Yummy Easy Quick: Around the World' (Plum), featuring 135 of his favourite dishes. Great photographs too.

Serves: 4


3½ gold-strength gelatine leaves

200ml full-cream milk

1 vanilla bean, split

395ml pouring cream

230g (1 cup) caster sugar

2 × 250g punnets strawberries, hulled and halved

200ml prosecco

Juice of 1 lime

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften.
  2. Place the milk and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and bring just to boiling point, then immediately remove from the heat. Take out the vanilla bean and use a small knife to scrape the seeds into the milk. Stir well.
  3. Squeeze the gelatine leaves to remove any excess water. Add the gelatine to the hot milk and stir until dissolved. Be patient and make sure it has completely dissolved, then set aside for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  4. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the cream and 80g of the sugar into the milk mixture. Strain through a sieve into a jug, then pour into a 500ml (2 cup) jelly mould. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or until completely set.
  5. Meanwhile, place half the strawberries in a small saucepan with the prosecco, lime juice, a pinch of pepper and the remaining sugar. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving the sauce and setting the solids aside (see cook’s tip below). Leave the sauce to cool completely.
  6. Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and have your serving plate ready. Fill your sink with hot water, deep enough to dip the base of the mould into. Lower the base and side of the mould into the water, being VERY careful not to let it submerge completely and wet the panna cotta. Keep it there for 5 seconds. Place the serving plate over the mould and flip it over. Say a prayer to all you hold holy and the mould should lift off with a few gentle shakes.
  7. Top with the strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries and finish with an extra pinch of pepper.

Cook’s tip: The remaining pulp from the sauce can be used as jam for your morning toast or served over gelato for a quick dessert.