Cookbooks By Mel Alafaci

Culinary Quickies Cookbook

Easy Recipes, Chef Skills, Food Styling and Presentation Ideas.

Chef Mel Alafaci runs the show at Vanilla Zulu Cooking School. She’s been cooking professionally since 1992. Her intoxicating enthusiasm, authenticity and unique culinary lingo will have you hungry to flex your muscles in the kitchen. Mel is brilliant at adding humour, shortcuts and tricks to all those tedious tasks that you have to endure. Every recipe has been designed, tried and tested by Mel and she is proud to share these with you.

Discover a Chef’s Secrets On How To:

  • Be faster, happier and more efficient in your kitchen
  • Make basic boring ingredients into sexy dishes that will get you a round of applause every time.
  • Have more confidence in your kitchen by increasing your skills, and live happily ever after rehashing amazing recipes again and again.

Customer Reviews For “Culinary Quickies”

It’s obvious as to why Mel isn’t an executive chef hidden in the kitchen of a fancy restaurant: she was born to perform!  We laughed and learned as Mel took us on a protein palooza: pork belly, lamb shoulder, lamb backstrap, salmon, barramundi; I lost track!  There were tips and tricks along the way with plenty of witty anecdotes peppered throughout. This woman needs her own TV show.

The cookbook itself has an intriguing layout and is full of original ideas. There are tips on food shopping, how to avoid menu fatigue and a dozen ways to jazz up everything from cheese platters to humble mince!

Some of my favourite recipes to date include:

Culinary bark – Mel espouses the virtue of making these quick, easy, cheap and impressive crackers for cheese platters.  She also alerted me to the fact that we pay between $70 – $110 a kilo for water crackers and shards of bark in deli stores! I’ve made these a few times now and have impressed all and sundry.  It’s hard to argue with a recipe that only needs 5 minutes in the oven.

Whipped butter– I’m amazed I didn’t think of this before.  Who doesn’t want several flavoured butters in their freezer just waiting to add love and lusciousness to the plate?  Truffle butter using Aldi’s truffle salsa has been a huge hit in our house.  Steak has never been so delicious.

Sun-tanned beer-braised pork belly – I’ve made this four times! I was commissioned to do a cooking demonstration in February and needed a pork belly recipe that could be done in a three-hour window.  Not an easy task!  Mel’s magic recipe allows for as little as 75 minutes cooking time and perfect crackling every time; I swear!  I’ve done this recipe with a 1kg piece and with a 3kg piece – same cook time, same result.  Absolutely fabulous and a crowd pleaser I’m thrilled to have permanently in my repertoire.

Blinged Goats Cheese Balls– a modern take on the infamous 70’s Cheese Ball! Goats cheese or cream cheese balls, rolled in pretty petals, spices and seeds! These are lightning fast and look gorgeous on a cheese platter.

Amanda Mapp the Brisbane Foodie

“Hello everyone, do yourself a favour and get the Culinary Quickies cook book by Mel, some fabulous recipes!  I did the Rosti Cottage Pie the other night, yummy, easy and perfect mince with NO grey liquid in the pan!”

Susie French

“Mel dispelled the myths surrounting the difficulty of preparing a family meal and has given us the confidence to do more cooking and entertaining”

Jackie & Steve

“We have been to three cookery courses at Vanilla Zulu, and each one has been different but all have been very enjoyable. We brought some friends with us for the last two courses – everyone said it was a great evening  and we all had fun – very entertaining, interesting and delicious! Mel is a fantastic presenter – knowledgeable, practical and amusing. Our group is planning to come back for another course in April.”

Alexa

“Chef Mel moved from South Africa to sunny Brisbane where she opened Vanilla Zulu in 2011, bringing her big smile and happy nature with her.  She has just published her book of recipes, tips and hacks to help you create magic in your own kitchen.  The book is written in her endearing style, with plenty of quirkiness, but provides solid information and tips for the confident cook and the culinary novice.  You will find dozens of quickie recipes, and innovative ideas for meals. The recipe for Magical Moroccan Mince with pistachios and date gravel inspured this reviewer to take the brave step of letting the mince do its own thing without stirring on a high heat, until the meat became brown and luscious. I now find myself using this technique often when cooking a protein.  As does the hubby!”

Sherry Mackay Sherry's Pickings Blog Spot

“I’ve been cooking for many years & never realised I’ve been cooking mince incorrectly my whole life!  Your chopping, cooking & plating techniques inspire me in my everyday cooking.  So much flavour and so easy.  I also loved your practical tips for freezing pastes, lime leaves etc…”

Katherine Meldrum

“Mel’s so much fun, informative & teaches things that I thought were difficult in the kitchen which are now a breeze.  She has a great knack of making simple dishes look exciting”

Kerstin Knott

Mel’s “Culinary Quickies” Book Signing Event