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Hey, Hey, Donna!

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#1 nerissa

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Posted 17 January 2003 - 03:13 PM

I was wondering what people think about Donna Hay, the Aussie who has produced beautiful, well-stylized cookbooks built on themes like:

"New Food Fast"-cooking from your pantry, divided by how much time a recipe takes
"Off the Shelf"-sort of a primer built around cuisines, i.e. Mediterranean, Asian
"Flavors"-exactly that

I have the first two, and I wish I hadn't bought "Off the Shelf." More style than substance. She doesn't inspire me, but for those desparation dinners when my brain is fried from a long day, I am glad to have her books around.

Edited by nerissa, 17 January 2003 - 03:26 PM.


#2 torakris

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Posted 17 January 2003 - 03:41 PM

I really like Donna Hay's stuff!
I just "discovered" her a couple months ago and now own the fast food book and off the shelf.
The pictures are gorgeous, the recipes are easy and the food is just darn good!
Although I follow some recipes I usually use the book for ideas to create my own recipes.

I haven't cooked too much from Off the shelf yet since my friend has borrowed it since almost the day I bought it, but I did have the chance to make a couscous and roasted squash dish that was excellent!
My friend and I are headed to the nearest Costco on Tuesday (the only place in Japan they sell her books) and she wants to pick up fast food and off the shelf while I want to look at the flavors book and I think we are both going to check out Entertaining.

Her style of cooking (simple and fast) is great for busy people (like me) who enjoy good food.

Edited by torakris, 17 January 2003 - 03:42 PM.

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#3 pixelchef

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Posted 17 January 2003 - 11:28 PM

I really enjoy her books as well. If I want a dish to really impress however, Donna isn't the way I go. But for simple, fast, great-tasting food, she has some incredible recipes. I also agree in that her books are incredibly well designed with beautiful photography of every single dish. The books themselves are virtual works of art, and the recipes inside are fantastic. Great books!

#4 torakris

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 01:04 AM

I really enjoy her books as well.  If I want a dish to really impress however, Donna isn't the way I go.  But for simple, fast, great-tasting food, she has some incredible recipes.  I also agree in that her books are incredibly well designed with beautiful photography of every single dish.  The books themselves are virtual works of art, and the recipes inside are fantastic.  Great books!

I agree with this first comment especially. I would never pull out her books if I was planning a party. It seems to be just good and fast every day kind of food. I want to check out her Entertaining book though.

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#5 Suvir Saran

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 10:55 PM

Her books are attractive and I must agree with the others that I shall open them for ideas when craving something simple.

#6 tighe

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 11:40 PM

I an unabashed Donna devotee. :smile: I have all her books and think they are the best cooking resource available for everyday type meals. My wife and I have given her books as gifts to some cooking-phobic friends and the accessibility of her recipes has really helped them understand that they can cook good tasting food and don't have to eat out of a box.
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#7 Suvir Saran

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 12:08 AM

She even had a good recipe for a Laksa in one of her books. A friend has borrowed them, so I am not sure which one it is.
A friend of mine, who lives in the US, but was born in Australia, and is a cookbook publicist, presented me with her books.
They seem wonderful.

#8 Anna N

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 12:34 AM

I've made the pickled onions from one of her magazines and they have got rave reviews from all the pickled onion fans in my family. Which reminds me, I promised both my son and my daughter a bottle of those - must get cracking on them as soon as they put my kitchen back together again.!
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#9 Suvir Saran

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 12:37 AM

I've made the pickled onions from one of her magazines and they have got rave reviews from all the pickled onion fans in my family.  Which reminds me, I promised both my son and my daughter a bottle of those - must get cracking on them as soon as they put my kitchen back together again.!

Anna, what does her recipe call for?
How are hers different from others?

#10 Miss J

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 03:32 AM

I have "Food Fast," and I have to confess I'm not as much of a fan as I used to be. The pics are lovely, but the ideas are pretty straightforward. When I'm looking for ideas these days, I find that I'm more usually inspired by things I've read on our own Dinner thread. (As much as it's reputed to showcase dinner party cooking, the Dinner thread also has great tips for simple weekday meals.)

It's funny that this should be brought up now, actually. I've been putting together a donation box of my no-longer-loved books, and it was only when I discovered "Food Fast" hiding under the coffee table that I realised I hadn't looked at it in months. More proof that egullet changes how people cook?

Edited by Miss J, 20 January 2003 - 03:33 AM.


#11 nerissa

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 07:55 AM

Actually, I have found what tighe said about Donna Hay's books being a great starter for food-phobic friends to be true also. In my case, my sister is cooking-phobic but now has a boyfriend, and the two lovebirds are into cooking. I gave her a Donna Hay to begin with--Ms. Hay has suggestions on how to stock your pantry for last minute cooking. A no-brainer I would assume for egulleters, but having a well-stocked fridge and pantry is half the battle.

#12 Anna N

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 06:54 AM

I've made the pickled onions from one of her magazines and they have got rave reviews from all the pickled onion fans in my family.  Which reminds me, I promised both my son and my daughter a bottle of those - must get cracking on them as soon as they put my kitchen back together again.!

Anna, what does her recipe call for?
How are hers different from others?

Sorry to take so long to answer but your questions precipitated a couple of hours of sheer panic as I searched for the recipe! In the total confusion that is my apartment in the middle of re-decorating I am glad my car is in the underground or I'm sure I'd never find it!

I can't compare Hay's recipe to any other as this is the only one I have ever used to make pickled onions. Without violating copyright I will paraphrase as best I can:

pickling onions
salt
malt vinegar
sugar
yellow mustard seeds
dried chili flakes
bay leaves
peppercorns

Onions are briefly doused in boiling water then drained and soaked overnight in a cold-water/salt brine. The pickling solution is cooked and the onions added for 5 mins. They are then bottled and left for 3 weeks.

If you need more, let me know and I can PM you.

Anna
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#13 torakris

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 03:21 PM

On a trip to Costco yesterday I picked up her New Cook and Flavors cookbook, my friend got 4 of her books including the Entertaining book that I hope to borrow next week to take a look at.
I can't wait to give some of her stuff a try.

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#14 tighe

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 04:06 PM

On a related note....I happened to see Donna on with Martha (no, I don't watch regularly!!) a few weeks back and thought a couple things were interesting about it. First was that I've never seen Martha suck up to a guest that much (damn it, I said I don't watch it regularly!) and also that Donna's training/background is in home economics, not as a chef per se. I'm currently weighing whether or not to fork over the extra $ to for an international subscription to her mag.

I have to say that I think after 5 (or 6?) books, she has ridden her particular look/feel about as far as it can reasonably go. I'm hoping that her next effort will incorporate something new....

Edit:

Also meant to add that I have wondered sometimes if Donna is overexposed, and thus widely despised, in Australia the same way Emeril is in the US and Jamie Oliver is in the UK. If any Aussie natives can comment, I'd love to hear about it....

Edited by tighe, 21 January 2003 - 04:12 PM.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#15 torakris

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 04:22 PM

I have to say that I think after 5 (or 6?) books, she has ridden her particular look/feel about as far as it can reasonably go.  I'm hoping that her next effort will incorporate something new....

Having just purchased 2 of her books in addition to the 2 I already own, I can say I don7t know how much farther she can stretch.
I have been noticing quite a few similarities popping up among the different books.

Not enough to bother me, but enough to be noticable.

I wonder what she will come out with next?

I too was considering an international subscribtion to her magazine, but think I am going to wait a little bit.

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#16 Jaymes

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 04:44 PM

I don't have any of her books. I've looked them over at various times and thought that it might be good to have one although, from my quick perusal, they do appear to be something of a one-note song. So although I don't want them all, or even more than one, I do believe I'd find one useful.

I live alone and sling together stuff for dinner much more often than I did when I was cooking for a large family.

And so, "New Food Fast" has been recommended to me as being a good source for, well, new food fast -- easy and quick ideas and suggestions that I might make for just me.

But. I cannot find it for sale here in the States anywhere. I've looked on eBay, Amazon, etc. I've been told that it is "on back order from the publisher." I've gone to the used book stores and can't find it there either. So, if any of you former Donna Hay fans who are now tired of her would like to sell me New Food Fast, I'd be quite pleased.

Thank you for your support.

:rolleyes:

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#17 Suvir Saran

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 11:23 PM

Thanks for the recipe Anna! :smile:

I have to say I have enjoyed her (Donna Hay's) books.. and I am biased, a friend of mine is her US Publicist.. so maybe I should not say anything... the books are simple but seem straightforward and functional and that is more than what I can say about many others...

#18 torakris

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 03:37 PM

As I was paging through my 2 new books yesterday, I noticed that her recipes never call for salt.
No salt in any of her baked goods, no salt in her pasta water, no salt on her seared/grilled foods only pepper.

In her flavors book one of the chapters is called salt and pepper but ever there the only time she uses saltis when she is baking something in salt or for gravlax.

Anyone know why?

I salt and pepper everything automatically, so I never paid attention before.

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#19 Rhea_S

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 09:41 AM

I never noticed that she doesn't list salt. However, I did cook a yummy Butternut Squash and Chicken Stirfry based on the Pumpkin and Chicken Stirfry in Off the Shelf and there was no salt. The recipe has fish sauce and salt isn't necessary. Maybe Donna Hay just doesn't bother to specify "season to taste" in her recipes?

I like the Donna Hay books for those days when I have little desire to cook or need something fast. Her recipes are comfort food for me and my fridge and pantry have always been stocked with many of the ingredients she uses.

#20 Jaymes

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 09:45 AM

I like the Donna Hay books for those days when I have little desire to cook or need something fast. Her recipes are comfort food for me and my fridge and pantry have always been stocked with many of the ingredients she uses.

So, Rhea, if you were going to recommend only one of her books, for exactly that kind of thing, which would it be???

Everyone? I only want one, so which should I get??? :rolleyes:

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#21 tighe

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 12:49 PM

Everyone?  I only want one, so which should I get??? :rolleyes:

New Food Fast definately, if you can find it (fast or otherwise). It seems to be rare and elusive these days.....

The 'no salt' observation is really interesting and not something I'd noticed before. Many of her recipes do have an Asian bent to them and include soy sauce or fish sauce (as Rhea points out).
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#22 torakris

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 02:21 PM

I second the fast food book, this book really delivers!
Good food in as fast as 10 minutes.


the salt thing is really interesting, she does use a lot of soy and fish sauce and then even self raising flour in baking, but somethings especially the grilled/sauteed meats could benefit from at least a sprinkle.
Almost every recipe includes pepper though.

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#23 Bella S.F.

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 05:04 PM

Anyone know about or like the Donna Hay cookbooks? She is an Australian writer/chef. I can't resist her books. (I have 5 of them.) The recipes do not have a lot of ingredients. They are simple and pure. Most of them you would have no trouble throwing together after a busy day at work. Everything that I have made out of them has turned out great. The books are also quite beautiful. She has a great photographer and there is a photo for every recipe. You can open up any of the books to any page and want to have what you see that night.

Anyone else use her books/recipes?
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#24 chezcherie

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 10:35 PM

i'm also a donna fan. have you seen her magazine? i get it from barnes and noble. it comes out every other month, and, as it's australian, the seasons are reversed, but it's really a quality publication, and i save every issue.
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#25 Bella S.F.

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 06:20 PM

chezcherie,

I haven't seen her magazine yet. I just "Googled" it and Amazon offered it at $86.71 a year. And that's just for 6 issues. That must be one hell of a magazine. I will have to take a look at it next time I'm near a Barnes and Noble, although I must say that there are more recipes in the 5 books of hers that I have than I wil ever be able to begin to make. That does not stop me from buying more of the books though.

Do you also have her books, or do you stick to the magazines?

It does not seem that many people know about her. No one I know has ever heard of her, so I have been giving her books as presents. When we go to someone's house for dinner, we usually bring wine. We have some friends with extensive wine cellars who have something in mind that they want to open. (Or many things!) I like to bring a cookbook to give them. I have gotten many people hooked on Donna Hay that way.

I don't know if the lack of responses to this thread also means that people are not aware of her, or if it is just a case of "too many threads... too little time".
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#26 SaltySnack

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 08:10 PM

There's a blogging contest out there called Hey, Hey It's Donna Day! Where the previous winner of the last contest hosts the current challenge and each person has to make a specific Donna Hay recipe.
Check out winos and foodies blog for the info. She's the one who started the whole idea.

I may have my info a little wrong, but there's definitely a whole group out there who are into Donna Hay. And if you have a blog, you can join in too!

(note, I have no blog, and have never cooked anything by Donna Hay)

#27 chezcherie

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 08:27 PM

i have the books and the mags...."i'm cherie and i am a cook addict."
the mags are BIG...like mini-editions of the books. i think they run about $10 an issue on the stand, but i succumb each time. i keep thinking i should subscribe, but then i don't. (btw, that price seems lower than i think it actually is...that may be australian dollars or something...still, i think it might be worth it.)
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#28 torakris

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 02:50 PM

Hey Bella,
I am starting to think we have a lot of the same cookbooks... :biggrin:
I am also a huge Donna Hay fan and have 4 of her books. I had never heard of her when I was in the US but I found her cookbooks at the Costco in Japan and became hooked. Her food is really so simple and tastes really wonderful and I am a sucker for the beautiful pictures of every dish in the book!

The only things I don't care for are her baked goods, but I have this same problem with Jamie Oliver's baked goods as well. Everything just seems so dry, maybe in the US we just like our cakes really moist?

So what are some of your favorite dishes? It is time I pulled the books back off the shelves..

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#29 Marlene

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 05:13 PM

I have to say, I'd never heard of her, but I just ordered some of her books to check out!
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#30 fou de Bassan

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 05:36 PM

Donna Hay is huge here in Australia. I haven't cooked from her books but the recipes seem to be as you describe, Bella. Easy, relatively quick and with good flavor. She seems to be the equivalent of Martha Stewart here.
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