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The book that got me cooking: Monica Galetti

by Jill Foster

Chef and restauranteur Monica Galetti, 42, on a baking staple from her mother's kitchen, Edmonds Cookery Book.


Search in any kitchen in New Zealand, the country where I grew up, and it won't be long before you find a copy of Edmonds Cookery Book. A collection of recipes compiled by Edmonds, a company famous for its range of baking products, it’s the first recipe book I can remember, and has been going since 1908.

My mother, who was great at baking, used to keep her battered copy in one of the cooking drawers in our kitchen in Wellington. It was a very simple kitchen. The oven was small, with electric heating elements on top – not at all like the fancy professional kitchens I’m used to working in today. But I have such fond memories of standing at the worktop, rubbing in flour and butter to make scones, or making Anzac biscuits, a recipe unique to New Zealand.


My cousins used to call my mum Auntie Cookie because she’d always be treating them to homemade chocolate biscuits. She also used to make things called Afghans. They’re made from cornflakes, chocolate and a sponge mix, and topped with chocolate icing and a walnut. You can buy them in all the shops in New Zealand and they’re amazing, but I’ve never seen them over here.

I still have a copy of the book, and occasionally dig it out when I’m remembering New Zealand and the food I ate in my childhood. Sometimes I’ll mention a certain cake or biscuit but can’t remember the name, so I’ll refer back to Edmonds and be like: ‘Ah, yes – that’s what it was called...’ It’s a trip down memory lane.

I haven’t shown it to my daughter Anais [11] yet, although she’s around the same age as me when I started baking. She loves cooking, but is more into Jamie Oliver and is currently working her way through his 5 Ingredients cookbook with our nanny, which is lovely to see. I’d love to write another recipe book of my own, but they take up so much time and we’ve had such a busy year launching our restaurant, Mere, in London. But who knows, maybe it’s a project for next year?

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