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THE COMPLETE SOUTH AFRICAN COOKBOOK (article first published : 2002-06-9)

First published in 1980 and completely revised in 1990, The Complete South African Cookbook has been updated to suit the modern kitchen. It still includes many favourites such as bobotie and Cape brandy pudding, but also includes microwave instructions. In addition, you will find everything you need to know about the preparation of food, advice on storing and freezing, step-by-step guides to basic cooking methods, and many useful shortcuts and serving suggestions.

Magdaleen van Wyk is well known for her flair and imaginative use of fresh ingredients. She has a sound base for her cookery writing with a range of postgraduate qualifications in dietetics and nutrition. Her initial selection for this book ran to over a thousand recipes and she maintains her most difficult task was to decide what to leave out in order to arrive at the final number of 650 recipes. She is the author of numerous other cookery books but this one is arguably the definitive South African cookbook.

In the old days, the standard South African cookbook was the Kook en geniet/Cook and enjoy. In my opinion The Complete South African Cookbook replaces that publication as the stalwart of the kitchen. Do not expect lots of glossy photographs, in fact, there are none. Instead the book is crammed with more than 350 pages of mouth-watering recipes covering most South African food types and tastes.

Before you start cooking, take some time to read the How to use this book section which serves as a quick introduction to cooking. Short and to the point, you are quickly guided to the first section dealing with hors d’oevres.

Each recipe is clear and very easy to follow. The ingredients are listed on the one side, with step-by-step instructions on the other. The recipes are interspersed with helpful hints and suggestions. The recipes serve between four and six people and handy information is provided with the kJ per portion, prep time and cooking time indicators.

You will find all the various possible courses of a meal listed, including soups, fish and sea foods, meat, poultry and game, sauces, vegetables and vegetarian dishes, salads, desserts, baking, in short, everything you will need to cater for any occasion. There are 655 recipes in total and I daresay if you don’t find a specific South African recipe in this book, chances are it does not exist.

While this cookbook may not be as much fun visually as some full colour books, it is a treasure trove of true South African recipes, all thoroughly tried and tested. Published by Struik at R99.95, this is not only a bargain but a must-have cookbook that should be standard issue in every South African kitchen. - Hendrik Baird




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