Book Review: “RecipeTin Eats: Dinner” by Nagi Maehashi (@recipe_tin @MacmillanAus)

RecipeTin Eats: Dinner (Pan Macmillan Australia, October 2022) by Nagi Maehashi

If you enjoy cooking – or, if you simply enjoy food – then you are likely to have heard of Nagi Maehashi, Australia’s most popular food blogger, and her website RecipeTin Eats. Even her dog Dozer has received the title “Australia’s best-loved food tester”.

The statistics alone are astonishing: Launched in 2014, Maehashi’s website now boasts 140 million visitors per week, with a 4.5 million-strong social media following. In 2021, she founded the not-for-profit organisation RecipeTim Meals, which has since provided more than 30,000 made-from-scratch meals for the vulnerable in Sydney.

Published in October 2022, Maehashi’s debut cookbook RecipeTin Eats: Dinner was the No.1 bestselling book throughout the Christmas/New Year period. It remained Australian’s most popular non-fiction book until Prince Harry’s Spare arrived in January 2023.

It is perhaps reasonable to suggest that readers embrace Dinner because they like Maehashi’s recipes, regardless of the fact that many of them already exist on her website. It can also be seen as a show of support for a fellow Aussie who has been hard at work for years to build success upon something that she genuinely loves doing.

But the cookbook itself is not without merit. To start with, it contains 150 recipes carefully curated for home-based cooks at all skill levels. The majority of the ingredients can be found in ordinary supermarkets, and a sufficient amount of notes are supplied to explain the preparation, cooking, presentation and storage procedures.

The recipes range from comfort food to fast-and-easy favourites for weeknights, salads, soups as well as rice and noodle dishes from a variety of cultures, simple but delicious desserts, and special treats for festive occasions. Each recipe also comes with a QR code, which readers can scan to watch a convenient how-to video online.

Meanwhile, the many expertly composited and beautifully shot photos makes the cookbook particularly satisfying to those recipe users who must have images or at least illustrations included in their reading, As for those pursuing the culinary art, much can be learned from Maehashi’s aesthetic skills in arranging and showcasing her dishes.

Above all, the cookbook makes for a pleasurable and relaxing reading experience. Indeed, if Nigella Lawson is said to be a “domestic goddess”, then Maehashi is just like the girl next door who can be heard yelling and laughing and rolling all over the floor with her fluffy, cheeky dog. There is no pretence. Whenever you want to cook, it is only because you enjoy cooking, eating and sharing.

If that makes sense to you, then you can understand why Dinner is such a delightful cookbook. The only drawback is that it does not offer a ‘tap or hover to scale” function featured on Maehashi’s website, where you can discover how much of each ingredient is required to downsize a mouth-watering 12-serving strawberry cheesecake for a family of four.

(Come to think of it, you can simply visit the RecipeTin Eats website. Or, surely each family member would be happy to have three servings in one go…)

Note: This book review was originally titled “Highly enjoyable ‘Dinner'” and published under the title “Best-loved” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, March 21, 2023, P.12.


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