It’s hard to imagine a time when I didn’t love curling up with a good cookbook and getting lost within its pages. There are a bounty of cookbooks out there. The things I look for?
I like interesting stories, anecdotes and helpful tips at the beginning of a recipe. It has to be personal and accessible. Well-tested recipes with clear and precise instructions is important. Beautiful photos that captivate me. I want to visualise what the recipe is going to look like at the end. It can’t just be pretty eye candy though and under deliver in terms of content.
Here are a few cookbooks we find ourselves returning to again and again (pages tattered and stained with remnants of ingredients).
The Food I Love by Neil Perry
I’m a huge fan of Neil. I feel with this book that he wants to help me learn how to do a better job of cooking the things I want to make. His notes are instructive and enlivening. Incredibly useful resource for sauces and dressings. Detailed, but not fussy. We use his Harissa (there are 3 different versions in his book) to dress all sorts of food – it’s amazing!
Meat by Adrian Richardson
This book is uncomplicated and simple but there are some elegant dishes. Adrian’s extensive knowledge and passion of all things meat is impressive. This is B’s favourite cookbook by far, mainly due to the Spicy Algerian chicken thighs recipe alone (post coming soon).
Cook with Jamie and Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
I’m a big fan of Jamie’s work. His books remind us that cooking should be fun. Jamie’s recipes are approachable and extremely reliable and are focused on seasonality and freshness which I love. These books were the beginning of mine and B’s foray into cooking for ourselves when we moved in together (and where our basic mastery of pasta comes from). There are too many favourites I could mention but here’s one – Asian squash salad with crispy duck.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
A collection of honest recipes with thoughtful and unexpected ingredients. I love Yottam’s original and innovative approach to vegetarian cooking. The beautifully vibrant photos make you want to try everything the same day you see it. Tamara’s ratatouille is must-try.
The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander
Her recipes are accompanied by thoughtful and scholarly insights that tell you why she does things. Stephanie’s vast array of knowledge shows up in the details. The informative text may seem intimidating but reads beautifully. This is a classic reference cookbook that will help you cook everything. Soft-centred chocolate puddings anyone? Yum!
I’d love to hear what some of your favourite cookbooks are – new or old!