Favourite Cookbooks Part 1
When I get my hands on a new cookbook it is never far from reach for at least the first couple of weeks. After a quick flick-through at the shop, I impatiently wait for a solid block of time back at home where I can devour each page without interruption. Then it will stay on my desk for a few weeks to refer back to when trying some recipes. Then it moves to the bookshelf where, when I get a moment, I will pick it up and open at a random page to refuel on some inspiration or keep going back to the tried and tested recipes. I love to totally immerse myself in the author’s style and story. This is why I particularly enjoy reading cookbooks with lots of background, or beautiful location photography and kitchen imagery. Novels (especially the travel genre) with recipes included have always appealed to me too, for this very same reason.
Cookbooks. My love for them knows no bounds. And it seems I am not alone. I’ve asked some all-round stylish foodie & design bloggers about their favourite cookbooks (that’s Lucy Feagins of The Design Files cookbook shelf in the first picture). And what great sports they have been! Check out the photos they took of their collections or absolute favourites. It seems cookbook love is universal and everyone is more than willing to share a recommendation. In this case their two favourite cookbooks, which, as one said, is like asking someone to name their all-time favourite album.
It’s a tough decision for me. I always go back to Neil Perry’s Good Food – lots of classics, the kind of no-fuss food a chef might cook at home. Then there’s Matthew Evan’s The Real Food Companion – such passion for food and supporting sustainable food practices, it makes you want to go and live on a biodynamic farm pronto. Here’s a peek at some of my collection – not all cookbooks, but mostly…
I need to get to Ikea for another bookshelf…
Lucy Feagins of The Design Files (leading picture)
The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
NO ONE writes better on food than Nigel Slater. This book in particular is just such a great read – it’s not just a ‘recipe book’, but more like a year in the life of Nigel’s culinary adventures. So, so good. Makes you hungry. And makes you realise even the best chefs have cheese on toast for dinner sometimes!
The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander
Really how could I not include the bible of the Australian kitchen? Any question you ever have about cooking ANYTHING, ask Stephanie. This book is better than Google.
Katie Quarmby of Foodie & The Chef
Favourite cookbooks….at the moment – they change almost weekly:
Food Safari by Maeve O’Meara
Most-used recipe: Kibbeh bil Sanieh – this is a gorgeous minced lamb and burghul recipe from Syria… the best way to describe it is as a layered “meat” cake. I love how this book (based on the SBS TV series) not only presents gorgeous recipes in a country-by-country format, but also reveals some of Australia’s most exciting hidden gems for cultural cuisine.
Where Shall We Go For Dinner? Tamasin Day-Lewis
Most used recipe: Risotto Balsamico – a very brave, very beautiful dish that let’s the simplicity and quality of it’s ingredients do all the work. This book changed the way I thought about food, I recommend it to anyone. Part memoir, this book follows Tamasin on her gastronomic and romantic adventures around the world.
R: A selection of favourites from Jessie James of Follow Studio
Jessie James of Follow Studio
Marie Clare Dining by Donna Hay
This one’s a bit of an oldie now, but I love it for it’s simple and timeless approach to cooking beautiful meals and pages and pages of inspirations for preparing, arranging and displaying.
India: Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant
I love this book for it’s no nonsense compendium style recipes for anything and everything Indian. All traditional Indian recipes adapted for a modern kitchen. Heaven!
Anna Rummey of Rummey Bears
My all time favourite book is Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. My husband and I consider it our culinary bible. We’d be lost without it. An encyclopedia of food listed by ingredient. Her Spag Bol is the best, but over the last few weeks we’ve grown to love her lentil recipes too. It’s a common catch-phrase at home to say “Hmmm… let’s see what Stephanie says about that!”
Another one I love is Rose Bakery’s Breakfast Lunch Tea. Hands down the best scone recipes ever. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve made the date scones. When our daughter was first born and we were having visitors I’d insist that my husband made them for our guests. I think I ate scones almost every day for a month. The carrot and seed salad is another favourite, and the book itself is beautifully designed, with a very rad fluro green cover!
Hayley Blease of Little Pinwheel
Currently I am doing a cleanse and this includes eating a lot of fruit and vegetables. I completed a similar cleanse with the same Naturopath last September and I felt amazing enough to make a lot of the food and meals part of my everyday life. It is all simple, yummy food that I added a few extra treats to after the cleanse had finished. I introduced cheese! I have a love of it, from haloumi to goat cheese. I find anything that you can add olive oil and salt to is going to dance in your mouth!
The books in the pic above are the ones I love and the food that is now a regular part of my diet. There is one with roast vegies and goats cheese that I took the other day and the other is a lentil coconut dahl, which is one I made today for the cleanse.
Michelle Crawford of Hugo & Elsa
I love cook books and read them all the time, like a novel. That said, I’m quite ruthless with my collection and happily pass on outdated books or simply ones that I’ve stopped using. I don’t have room on my shelves for books that don’t earn their keep.
So, having to choose only two is really extremely very hard. I have favourites, usually new ones that I might use often until the next ones come along. Currently I’m loving Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Sarah & Monty Don’s The Home Cookbook, whilst dreaming about how soon I can get my hands on copies of Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume 1 and 2. However, if I go by my method of useful or out, I shall list my two oldest books, as by virtue of their staying power, they must be good.
My oldest cookbook is Claudia Roden’s The Food of Italy. Published in 1989, my edition is 1990 so I’ve had it for at least 15 years and still use it often. Each chapter details a region of Italy, so it’s a history, geography and cooking lesson in one book. The recipes are simple delicious, authentic Italian recipes and it’s the food I love to eat. One of my favourite recipes must be the caponata, an antipasto dish of eggplant, tomato, capers. Having a big jar of this in the fridge to snack on makes me truly happy.
My second favourite which I’ve had since 1997, is the bible of cookery, Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. I’m lucky enough to own both editions. I tend not to use recipes in this book so much, but the tips on seasons, selection and storage, or how to make self raising flour, oven temperatures, and the column listings for what flavours go with what ingredient. The one recipe I do use often is in the basics section (second edition) is for muffins. It makes a moist muffin with a tender crumb, and is a great blueprint for all manner of flavours. A real winner.
R Mandy of 16 House’s favourite cookbooks
Mandy of 16 House
I would have to say Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, just because the recipes are so simple and nostalgic, and really never seem to fail. Plus the photography is so beautiful. I would say her recipe for homemade icecream is one of the best and simplest ones I’ve found. A new book I bought recently called Grillhouse by Ross Dobson. Full of really hearty, pub style recipes and once again, amazing photography.
OK, so are you completely falling over yourself to get your hands on some of these cookbooks? Grappling with how you could have ever got by without a copy of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion ? Nodding your head in agreement at some favourites or dying to share yours? Tell us all about it in the comment section.
Part Two is coming tomorrow.Share this on: