Cookbook Buzz


This page is grossly out of date. It was drafted in a simpler time when I thought I had all the time in the world to update my blog. Then I bought a dog. And a renovation job of a house. And kept eating for 18 so had to fit in exercise.

So below is my thoughts on some cookbooks. It doesnt necessarily follow that I still use all these. My rule of thumb is I buy them, I use them, I love the look of them, I find one or two recipes, and never really deviate. I find Nigella wonderful to read, and I brave new worlds often with her. I find Anjum Anand wonderfully realistic for Indian cooking, her recipes rarely involve overnight marinades or 4 hour simmering. Allegra McEvedy’s Big Table Busy Kitchen is the cookbook equivalent of a warm hug from someone you love. Its a wonderful compendium for any kitchen. Pam Corbin’s River Cottage Handbook on preserving is brilliant, as is the Bread Handbook.

And of course, Ina Garten. I love her. Foolproof is better than How Easy is That? But my favourite is Parties. Or Barefoot Contessa at Home.

But below is how I felt a few years ago:

Rachel Allen- Home Cooking: Now Rachel is an acquired taste. I quite like her, but you don’t get the sense of warmth I tend to get from Nigella and Ina. But I love her traditional sense of cooking, which is always parlour friendly. And it’s always a first port of call if I’m looking for something quite British….

Nigella Bites/ How To Eat/ Feast/ Nigella Express/ How to be a Domestic Goddess/ Kitchen/ Nigella Christmas/ Simply Nigella: Nigella and Ina fight for the prominent place in my heart. I think they are fairly level pegging at this point in time. Feast is a masterpiece. Kitchen is a gorgeous book. Her books make you feel like you are curling up with a glass of wine and plate of biscuits and descending into a talk that goes on into the wee small hours about everything that makes Nigella tick. And can I say that I would be unable to cook a rib of beef and a Yorkshire pudding without the copy of How To Eat I bought once retired by the library service of East Anglia.

Joy The Baker Cookbook- Joy Wilson: Any Book that heavily features peanut butter is a book that deserves a place on my bookshelf. End of. And Joy The Baker is one of the blogs I have dipped in and out of over the years. Its with absolute consuming bitter jealousy that I note that despite all the recipe testing she does she maintains perfect skin, great hair and a fabulous physique when all I do is dip a breadstick in a jar of Nutella once a fortnight and I’ve got an arse the size of the Isle of Wight. go figure.

Rosie Lovell-Spooning With Rosie: It’s almost like Bill Bryson with added food porn elements. Rosie runs a cafe and deli in Brixton, and her food jumps straight from the deli counter and into life. It is exciting and fresh sounding food, but her real triumph is that she tackles ideas such as food matching and hangover food in a fun way. It was a genius TK Maxx find (sorry, Rosie, but it Is true).

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook- Just when you think you know how to make cupcakes, the goalposts are changed. I pair this with the Alyssa Torey Magnolia Bakery books as my cupcake recipe standards. The caveat with the Magnolia book is to note the quantities. I’ve begun a number of times and then noted I’m making 36 cakes. Im 36- I really don’t have that many friends to palm them off on anymore.

Thomasina Myers Mexican Food Made Simple- The title doesn’t lie. Super inspiring and super tasty recipes. Now if I could just find half the bloody ingredients here in Sheffield

Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa (insert subtitle here- I cannot discriminate)- the high priestess of domesticity. Once you translate broiler as being the grill. I love them all. Parties is, I think, the all round winner, in terms of bang per buck. But Barefoot Contessa at Home includes my favourite Mac and cheese and cake recipes. And I adore Cooking for Jeffrey as a book concept.

Jamie Oliver Jamies Dinners- Love all his books but this one feels like a companion to life not just a hit TV Series. Fab.

Annie Bell Gorgeous Cakes- never has a trip to The Works discount book store paid dividends more!

Anjum’s New Indian- A fabulous collection of indian dishes. From the curry house favourites, to new discoveries, Anjum has brought together an accessible collection of Indian recipes which leap off the page. Now if only I could get my act together to produce a shopping list listing all the ingredients, I may one day make the indian feast I have planned in my head a million times whilst leafing through the pages……

The Good Cook- Simon Hopkinson’s TV series on the BBC of the same name has been a revelation of traditional, homely cooking with modern twists (namely the ingenious use of integrated graphics to give you the ingredients and temperatures, and introducing the use of QR Reader codes on screen to give instant web access to recipes). The book is more of a reflection of Simon than the show, which although somewhat personal has been great simply because it has been very much a cookery programme plain and simply. It comes to something when 5 recipes in 30 minutes seems like great value tv, but Simon has followed the Nigel Slater format and made it less about personality and squarely about introducing great food. Fabulous….

The Essentials of Classic  Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan- Julia Child once said that Italian Cooking wasn’t cooking. Im afraid there is much outdated by one who invested so much in the intricacies of French cuisine. Blur once called an album Modern Life is Rubbish- if I were to subscribe to this theory, it would mostly be in response to the theft of time from us all. When did  it become acceptable, nay expected, that after a 9 hour day in the office we should be guilted into sweating it out for 60 minutes minimum most days in a gym, and pay a premium for the privilege? And as a result of all these bloody cookbooks we must cook from scratch? Bastards, the lot of them. Anyway, Italian food is no longer pooh-poohed. Pizza is no longer peasant food or street food. Pasta no longer a way to preserve crops by drying them. And this book helps you realise that we get it wrong, complicate simple rustic flavours. Try her ragu recipe, and see. Oh and by the way, the Mary Berry Bolognase controversy? She was right. White wine. In your face, haters.



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