Here are my top 5 Cook Books for the cook in your life this Xmas. These are all on my Xmas list!
Heston Blumenthal’s TV series, “In Search of Perfection”, shown on BBC2 in autumn 2006, was so popular and successful that he has been commissioned for a second series this autumn. This book will accompany the series in the same way that Heston’s first book, “In Search of Perfection”, complemented the original programme. It will examine a further eight classic dishes to find out how to cook them to perfection, as well as exploring the culture and history behind the food we eat. The list of dishes to be featured is: Trifle, Baked Alaska, Fish Pie, Hamburger, Peking Duck, Chicken Tikka Masala, Risotto and Chilli Con Carne. This will be another fascinating, original and inspiring look at kitchen classics.
Next on my list is Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver. Now I’ve never been a huge fan of Jamie Oliver, I like the things he cooks but I’ve never really enjoyed one of his TV series. Until now… I really loved Jamie at Home, the way he took things we can all grow in the garden and cooked good looking and, hopefully, good tasting meals.
This book is very close to my heart. It’s about no-nonsense, simple cooking with great flavours all year round. When I began writing it, I didn’t really know what recipes I would come up with, but something began to inspire me very quickly…my vegetable patch! I came to realise last year that it’s not always about looking out at the wider world for inspiration. Being at home, feeling relaxed and open, can also offer this. I love to spend time at home in the village where I grew up, working with the boss, Mother Nature, in my garden and seeing all my beautiful veggies coming out of the ground. Inside, you’ll find over 100 new recipes, plus some basic planting information and tips if you fancy having a go at getting your hands dirty as well!
Next comes Nigella. What is it about her that men love so much? I can’t see it myself but my brother and butcher both like her! Her recent TV series Nigella Express showed that you could make adventurous great looking meals in minutes with the minimum of fuss. Just what us working people need!
‘full of wonderful, quick ideas with that typical mix of nostalgic, eclectic and delicious that you expect from Nigella’
‘One of the appealing things about Nigella’s brief introductions to each of them is that she thinks not just as a cook, but as a eater…’
Another TV show I enjoyed this year was Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. Rick really made me long for a foodie trip round the Med each time I watched this programme. Warning, I reckon this book will make you long for a holiday!
A favourite pastime of the English — whenever the sky is grey — is to thumb lovingly through sumptuous recipe books such as Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes and be transported to sunnier climes while (simultaneously) being inspired to tackle these delicious-sounding recipes. To read this book is very much like entering the exotic world the author unfolds for us, and Stein’s culinary journey takes us through all the islands and along the coast of this exquisite region. For Stein, this is as much a book about the striking personalities he met along the route as he located the region’s finest cuisine. And as the people he met reminded him over and over again, culinary ‘trends’ are simply not considered in this region: the crucial thing is the quality of the ingredients and who are the best producers of such essential commodities as olive oil.All of this, of course, chimes perfectly with Stein’s own views on such issues, and he commendably ignores the various trends currently driving much cookery, presenting to us here a hundred recipes, including Feta and Mint Pastries, Corsican Oysters with a Pernod and tarragon dressing, along with many others that will inspire and delight. It’s a battered cliché to say how essential impressive photography in a cookery book such as this is, but Earl Carter deserves particular commendation here for showcasing Stein’s creations.
Finally a Cook’s book, rather than a Cook Book. Gordon Ramsay rates him as one of the best food writers around today and I must agree. Nigel Slater writes fantastic cookery books (Real Food is one of my all time favourites) but he also writes good reading books as well. His autobiography Toast was a huge hit (very interesting) and his crossover book The Kitchen Diaries was very popular last year. This year he brings us Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table. Nigel uses his wit and clever writing style to look at British cooking and eating habits. One for the foodie to read at their leisure!
I hope our small guide has given you some ideas for the foodie in your life. Christmas Kitchen Gadget guide to follow soon!