128 recipes that could save your life... or your dinner »

A collection of flavoursome recipes from chef Bridget Davis

By Paula Wriedt
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<i>128 Recipes that saved my life...or at least my dinner</i> by Bridget Davis

128 Recipes that saved my life...or at least my dinner by Bridget Davis

Chicken plus Fig Sausage Rolls from <i>128 Recipes that saved my life</i> by Bridget Davis
Banana Nice Cream from <i>128 Recipes that saved my life</i> by Bridget Davis
Hawaiian Style Poke from <i>128 Recipes that saved my life</i> by Bridget Davis


With this eye-catching title, 128 Recipes that saved my life – or at least my dinner promises a collection of flavoursome recipes that will leave a lasting impression on guests. It doesn’t disappoint. 

Penned by chef Bridget Davis, it is her 'definitive collection' of recipes to date. Some she has created in restaurants, others have been served for loved ones. But the common thread is that all recipes have stayed in her mind over years, tried and tested by many, and which a home cook can pull out at any time to impress family and friends. 

With the grand claim in mind of being presented with recipes that would “save my life”, I delved into the pages and was surprised by the lack of complexity of many of the recipes. In her foreword, Davis reminds us that she set out to present recipes that “rendered a table of guests speechless, had people fight over last offerings and challenged people’s thoughts and ideas about what they eat”. So I probably had preconceived ideas of how difficult the recipes would be. I shouldn’t have.

Davis, in the style of Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson, introduces each recipe with some notes about its origins, suggestions on how to serve or adapt it, or a memory from when this dish was served to her guests. These descriptions give a warmth and storytelling quality to this book, which endear you to the author and make you want to get cooking.

I always feel that I would be doing a disservice to readers of these reviews if I didn’t cook several dishes from the books that I have the joy of writing about. The proof is definitely in the pudding with recipes. Indeed my family would be disappointed if I didn’t, as they await the arrival of my latest books to review as much as I do, since they know we are about to embark on a culinary adventure!

Bang Bang Chicken Salad (p45) was a huge hit with my loves ones and is a great way to use up leftover roast chicken (even though in my house that never happens).  Whilst Davis says the name is taken from a traditional Chinese dish that involved chicken meat 'banged' with a mallet to tenderise it, the end result is more like an Indonesian Gado Gado. Nevertheless it was a delicious combination of crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, shredded chicken and hard-boiled eggs, topped off with a punchy peanut sauce. I served it with warm chicken and it was perfect for a chilly evening.

Catchy recipe titles are a hallmark of this book and they inspire you to make each one to prove the claim.  Who could resist a dish entitled “My Best Mac and Cheese” (p. 89), “Really Good Butter Chicken” (p.90) or “Amazing Bread” (p.31)?  Rather than being grand claims, the titles show the author’s passion for simple food done well – dishes that she knows have impressed many customers and loved ones over the three decades of being a professional chef.

128 Recipes is set out like many cookbooks, starting with items you’d be likely to eat for breakfast or brunch, through to 'sweet thoughts' but with the added bonus of the last two chapters.

The second last chapter 'Jars, Bottles & Keepsakes' is packed full of items to make ahead and have on hand for yourself, but also for gifts. This chapter contains the more traditional accompaniments like Lemon Curd (curiously referred to as Lemon Honey even though it doesn’t contain any), and Tomato Relish.

I was particularly taken however with the Blackberry Chia Jam; Miso Glaze; and the Jalapeno Jam.  Being a chilli lover I made the latter recipe and the the end result is a sweet, spicy, tangy 'relish' with vinegary notes that is delicious on a beef burger, taco or stirred through mayonnaise.

You won't find yourself eating any of the recipes in the final chapter, as lush as they sound.  'Beauty Food' has four delicious-sounding recipes for pampering items such as Coconut Sugar Body Scrub and a Coffee Avocado Facial Scrub, amongst others.

Having not tested anything from this chapter I can’t offer an opinion on these, suffice to say I’m not sure if I relish sitting around for an hour with a warm concoction of avocado oil and honey on my hair. It sounds sticky and I have images of ending up in the shower afterwards with clumps of hair wound around honey.  But don’t let me put you off trying this – it might just be the key to healthy shiny hair!

This is the sort of book I can imagine working my way through and literally ticking off the recipes I’ve tried, adding my own notes as I go.  I don’t think Davis would be offended if readers did this. In fact her foreword urges us to make the recipes our own and breathe new life into them from our own kitchens.

128 Recipes will appeal to a broad range of home cooks and I am sure become a well-used resource in many kitchens.

Read more in the press release here »

See links below for recipes from this book.

128 Recipes that saved my life... or at least my dinner by Bridget Davis is published by New Holland (NSW; Feb 2018; HB;230pp; RRP A$35.00). it is available at all good bookshops and directly from the publishers »

It can also be purchased online via booko.com.au »


About the reviewer: Paula Wriedt is a self-confessed foodie.  Whilst she loves her job running the small charity Cystic Fibrosis Tasmania, her real passion is food.   She lives in Kingston with her two teenage children who have inherited her love of cooking so her house is always filled with the welcoming smells of delicious food. 

As a former State Minister for Tourism Paula is passionate about Tasmanian produce and our beautiful island state.  Travelling is high on her agenda but she enjoys returning to Tasmania and sharing with friends and family the many recipes she discovers on her travels.

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August 01st, 2018
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