The Edmonds Cookery Book is back and it’s better than ever!

New Zealand’s favourite cook book gets its first major overhaul since the 1990s

New Zealand’s best-selling book of all time has been revamped to match modern tastes and reflect the way
Kiwis are eating in 2016, under the expert eye of art historian and food authority Alexa Johnston.
In its first major overhaul since the 1990s, the Edmonds Cookery Book, 2016 Edition has made space for modern trends including home-made pasta, gluten-free options and bliss balls, as well as a variety of
delicious new classics.
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Alexa Johnston has meticulously researched, tested and refined each recipe, with many featuring
charming historical notes. The photography and food styling has also been updated.
The new version of the classic Kiwi cookbook also includes the re-introduction of favourites from
previous editions.
Elsie’s Finger Biscuits are back from 1923, Marshmallow Shortcake from 1976, Arabian Nut Cake from 1952, and Cheese Loaf from 1986.
Found in almost every Kiwi kitchen, the Edmonds Cookery Book is the quintessential guide to cooking and baking in New Zealand.
Goodman Fielder Managing Director Tim Deane said Alexa Johnston was the obvious choice to review the
Edmonds Cookery Book.
“As a historian with a special interest in New Zealand baking and the author of many cookbooks herself, Alexa felt like the right person,” said Mr Deane.
“The Edmonds Cookery Book is an extraordinary part of New Zealand history and something of a national
treasure, having almost reached iconic status.
“It was important that we kept all the nostalgia and charm of the book while updating it to be relevant to the way Kiwis are eating today, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
First published in 1908, complimentary copies of the Edmonds Cookery Book were sent to young couples
announcing their engagement, creating a strong tradition of gifting that has continued throughout the decades.
“These days the book is more likely to be given to teenagers leaving home for their first flat, or to international visitors seeking a unique slice of Kiwiana,” says Mr Deane.
Alexa Johnston says Kiwis’ changing eating habits over time can be tracked through the different editions.
“For example in the 1990s there was a big trend for low-fat, which was reflected in the recipes. You started
seeing things like ‘Health Loaf’.
“Portion sizes have also changed through the decades. Early New Zealand baking was quite lean due to wartime restrictions and the limited availability of ingredients.
“Back then you’d use two cups of flour to make 12 scones, now many scone recipes call for more flour and result in fewer, larger scones.
My preference is for a smaller treat that you can enjoy with a cup of tea, rather than these giant doorstoppers you see nowadays.”
When asked to select her top picks from the new edition, Alexa struggles to choose a favourite.
Her picks include Lemon Fried Chicken Drumsticks, marinated in garlic and lemon juice then coated in flour and fried until crispy.
“Perfect for picnics and always a hit whenever I make them.”
She also calls out Crumpets, Cinnamon Scrolls, and Focaccia from the updated Breads section, which includes a revived recipe for Potato Bread from the 1930s.
Alexa has improved the recipe for Ginger Crunch, emphasising the spicy slice is supposed to be thin and crunchy, not thick and cake-like.
“Somewhere along the way it evolved into a giant cake-y slab, but thin and crunchy is so much better.”
The Edmonds Cookery Book 2016 Edition is available from 20 September from supermarkets and 27 September from booksellers.
The Edmonds Cookery Book 2016 Edition: What’s changed?
– Less popular recipes have been removed, but can still be found on the Edmonds website:
– Classic recipes from previous editions have been brought back.
– New recipes have been introduced, including Cashew Cream, Portugese Custard Tarts and a
new range of gluten-free recipes.
– Updated photography and food styling.
–  Each recipe has been tested and refined, if required.
About Alexa Johnston
Like many home cooks, Alexa Johnston learned to bake from her mother. Paula Johnston was a busy school teacher and minister’s wife, but through her patient and smiling encouragement of Alexa’s early – and sometimes disastrous – kitchen experiments she created an enthusiastic and confident cook.
Fast forward to 2016 and Alexa has published many cookbooks, including Ladies, a Plate: Traditional home baking (2008), A Second Helping: More from Ladies, a Plate (2009), ‘What’s for Pudding?’ (2011) and ‘Ladies, a Plate: Jams and Preserves’ (2013).
Alexa Johnstone is also an Art Historian and Curator, holding an MA in Art History from the University of
Auckland. She spent nineteen years as a curator at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and was Principal Curator from 1990 until 1997.
She is also the author of a number of historical books, including Sir Edmund Hillary: An Extraordinary Life (2005), and ‘Frances Hodgkins: Femme du Monde’ (2009).
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