What do you think of when you think of a cucumber sandwich? Fussy little wafer-thin slivers of blandness? Well, Cherie Hausler’s garden smorgastarta blows it out the park with its glorious meld of sourdough and almond ricotta layered with pears and dill cucumbers – she stacks the layers into a loaf, ‘frosts’ the outside with ricotta and shingles the sides with cucumber slices to resemble the prettiest afternoon tea loaf to grace a tea table. I love it when a cookbook surprises me and turning the page from this delightful whimsy to the down-home heartiness of a bowl of steaming pea and tofu curry had me thinking, “Here’s someone who knows how to make me want more”. I’m all in for the Barossa Valley farmhouse lifestyle on show and I want nothing more than to spend my days at the scrubbed kitchen table making mulberry ice cream spiked with vine-cutting sticks, artfully arranging sprigs of dried fennel atop my spiced parsnip cake or going for the full-on drama of black tahini and dark chocolate in a blood plum tart. In the foreword Maggie Beer says, “Her recipes are bursting with flavour and creativity…” and you don’t get much more of an endorsement than that. Tracy Whitmey