Friday 26 September 2014

Bangalow Banquet, and Edible Treasures- book review

I love collecting books and have many cookbooks on my shelves- and I just keep buying more- shamelessly and willfully. And I just saw that the new Matt Preston is coming out, and the new Belinda Jeffery, and the new Annabel Langbein- oh where will it end?!  Can these people not stop writing wonderful books that I simply must have?  Anyways, guess what?  I recently bought another Public School fundraiser cookbook to add to my collection.  When Mr Pickings and I headed down to Bangalow recently for the Sample Food Festival I bought the Bangalow Banquet cookbook which has been put together by the P & C, and Community Children's Centre.  It is a lovely book full of photos of the locals, and lots of stories about the history of the town and surrounding area.  There are heaps of recipes including lots of old faves like chicken cacciatore, beef stroganoff, lamingtons, sausage rolls and so on.  There are also some modern recipes like the one from Belinda Jeffery (who has to be one of my very favourite cooks) - salmon, spinach and chermoula rolls.  I had locked on to this recipe before realising that it was one of hers!  I am keen to try the cream cake with strawberry icing, and the raw strawberry and coconut fudge.   Oh, and did I forget to mention the fetta, rocket and zucchini slice?  And the lemon and garlic chicken?   There is a useful index at the back, and many photos throughout the book.  The book is divided into Early, Middle, Now and Future Years with recipes throughout.  There is a recipe from Cecile Yazbek (I have her interesting book Mezze to Milk Tart) for a spinach and black-eyed bean bake which looks healthy and tasty.  The recipes look well-written with a list of ingredients at the start of each, followed by the how-to.  I believe that the ladies of Bangalow spent many happy hours testing the recipes to make sure they turned out well.  You can check out their Facebook page for further info. and how to order if you can't make a trip down there (or up there, depending on where you live).
I also have in my collection a lovely little book -Edible Treasures-  from the Wanaka Primary School on the South Island of New Zealand.  It is jam-packed with great recipes like sushi, nachos, quiche, soups, cakes, sweets; homey recipes like lambs' shanks and shepherd's pie, and lovely simple recipes like ginger ale chicken which I make quite often.  It is not quite as elaborate and polished as the Bangalow book, but it has some great recipes, nice stories about the locals, and also has a recipe list at the start of the book, and photos of many of the dishes.  The ginger ale chicken is very handy in that you can just chuck all the ingredients in the baking dish and go off for an hour and a half doing whatever takes your fancy.  Then come back to a delightful-smelling kitchen - as Mr Pickings will testify upon coming upstairs from his office.

Ginger Ale Chicken:

This is my version of the recipe.  I have added whatever took my fancy on the day.  The original recipe calls for a packet of mushroom soup, and one of onion soup but I have adjusted to use fresh ingredients. You can use other vegetables or herbs, or throw in half a cup of wine as you wish.
Serves 4-6


1.2 kg chicken thigh fillets
250g mushrooms finely sliced
1 red onion finely sliced
1 medium red capsicum finely sliced
1 large potato diced
3 cloves garlic chopped
handful of chopped parsley or 4 tsp of lightly dried parsley
salt and pepper  (I used 1 tsp of truffle salt and 1/4 tsp of saffron salt)
1 tsp of black elderberry concentrate (optional)- a dash of Worcester may go well here
300ml bottle of dry ginger ale
a drizzle of olive oil
juice of half a lemon


Slice the thighs into 2 pieces down the join and layer them on the bottom of a baking dish
Layer on all the other ingredients over the chicken pieces
Pour over the ginger ale
Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top of everything
Cover and put into a 180C oven for one and a half hours checking each 30 minutes
After the first hour, pour over the juice of half a lemon and put back in the oven for the other 30 minutes
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes, and some steamed broccoli or other greens

veggies ready for chopping; chicken halved and in the baking dish

chopped veggies layered over the chicken; squeezing the lemon half

all baked and ready to eat with steamed veggies

I really love browsing through local cookbooks as it gives you such a sense of the place and the people. And both Bangalow and Wanaka are such delightful places to get to know!

the exterior of Bangalow Public School  (author- moi!)

Lake Wanaka (author Stephanie Searle via Wikimedia Commons)


  1. Oh, saying no to a new cookbook is hard, Sherry - but as I say there are worse additions:)

  2. That chicken looks outstanding, Sherry!!

    1. It was rather good Maureen. And of course much better the next day.

  3. Yum Sherry, chicken looks awesome! I'm a fellow cookbook collector and always on the look out for different cookbooks that support local communities. Good choice.

    1. thanks Jem. I really like to support local communities this way and you end up with great recipes. win win!:)

  4. I shamelessly collect cookbooks too - to the extent that I now need to find new shelves for them all. This recipe sounds great - always love a new chicken recipe.

    1. i keep moving hubby's books downstairs so i have more room for my cookbooks- very shameless of me:)


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