Food that shows how much you care in Special Delivery »

Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe share their favourite food to make and go

By Kerry Scambler
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Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe

Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe

Ginger snaps with passionfruit curd - Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe
Chocolate Mousse w/ Raspberry cream & honeycomb - Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe
Scandinavian cinnamon buns - Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe
Fattoush - Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe


Yes, we’re talking Annabel Crabb the political journalist.  But before your eyes glaze over at the mention of anything vaguely political and you’re quietly wondering if we at VV have gone mad, be assured we haven’t and this isn’t a tell-all from Kitchen Cabinet.

This is simply a review of Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe’s book Special Delivery: favourite food to make and go.

For those with a political bent, the name Annabel Crabb is probably familiar. She’s a political journalist and articulate commentator who started a second career in television with her series, Kitchen Cabinet. In each show a politician cooks at home for Annabel and she in turn brings dessert.

As in most of our lives, conversations around the kitchen are usually more honest, open and lively and this is usually the case in Kitchen Cabinet, but not all the time. I can think of a few pollies who were clearly uncomfortable over the stove and looked relieved when Annabel offered to assist. All were even happier when she brought out her famous desserts!

The reason for bringing dessert to a politician in this situation, Annabel explains, is to convey that she comes in peace.  She says that bringing food expresses more than just “here’s some soup/casserole etc”, it says “I care enough about you to spend time making something delicious”. 

Here at VisitVineyards, Robyn experienced that same care and consideration when her husband Charlie was very ill, with friends dropping in meals to a family under stress. It not only was a great practical help it showed just how much people cared. And sometimes when you don’t know what to say or how to help, just cooking something up makes a world of difference to those on the receiving end.

Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Labor Leader, told Annabel she cooks big dinners for friends and family as a way of telling them they were important to her and worth her spending much of her limited home time preparing something special.

OK so enough of the political mentions, back to Special Delivery. Wendy Sharp grew up with Annabel in Two Wells in South Australia and they’ve been friends ever since. Food has been, and remains, a huge part of their lives, whether they lived close to each other in Sydney, Adelaide or London or far apart as they currently do. In fact this book was written via email as Annabel is in Sydney and Wendy now in London!

What’s to like in Special Delivery

The recipes – which are for a range of dishes, not just desserts – all start with an introduction on how the dish could help someone, straight forward instructions and of course the crucial advice on how to transport your comfort food to ensure a safe delivery. They are sectioned into:

  • Drop-off breakfasts
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Cakes, tarts and biscuits
  • Puddings and desserts
  • Drinks party

Some of the recipes tagged on my to-try list include:

  • Date and Banana Pancakes
  • Quince Tea Jelly
  • Pink Grapefruit Salad
  • Asian Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup with Coriander Nut Pesto
  • Cranberry ANZAC Biscuits
  • Ginger Fluff
  • Chocolate Pomegranate Cloud Cake
  • Muscat and Almond Jelly

And of course I’d have to try the Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Cream and Honeycomb that was transported (by train no less) to Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull’s farm at Scone. (Also see links below for further recipes from this book.)

Most recipes are vegetarian but many could easily have meat added.

Unfortunately what I think it is the most important section of the book ‘Choosing your special delivery’ appears at the back. Personally I would have liked it at the front, so you focus first on the purpose of your special delivery. This very helpful chapter gives you ideas on what to take to:

  • New parents
  • The unwell
  • The convalescing
  • The bereaved
  • The overwhelmed
  • The lucky
  • The unlucky
  • Party people and
  • Barbecues

It's certainly the chapter to refer to first with your specific person and situation in mind.

The verdict

Personally I love Annabel Crabb’s easy, casual, witty style of writing which reflects her spoken voice and manner so well.

These are dishes that can say anything from “congrats, well done, let’s celebrate”, “this is a bit grim, let’s have cake” or simply “chin up, we’re here to help”.

This is a cookbook that from its title to the intros on each recipe to the section on choosing the delivery has prompted me think more about how I can help the people I care about. Instead of emails and texts saying sorry/take care etc (or that overused and essentially meaningless phrase "don't forget to look after yourself"), I can actually demonstrate it in a practical and (hopefully) delicious way.  In fact I’ve got a good friend in mind right now...


Read the press release here »

And see the links below for a selection of recipes from Special Delivery

Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharp is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, NSW, 2015; HB; 231pp). It is available at good bookshops and directly from the publisher here »

You can also search for it online with »

The ABC TV series Kitchen Cabinet can still be seen on


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June 25th, 2016
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