I used to read novels, but at some point I swapped fiction for food and now I’m far more likely to order the new Ottolenghi than I am a crime thriller or autobiography. I’m at peace with it though and it does mean that my home is filled with more delicious dinners as a result.
Over the last 12 months there has been rather few occasions to really cook for friends. The odd socially distanced garden supper offered a short lived opportunity to operate my own test kitchen, rustling up dishes from my latest lockdown purchases on very willing guinea pigs.
With restaurants closed (for now), we’ve all had to brush up on our cooking techniques and if you’ve been craving some of your favourite flavours from the comfort of your own four walls, then you may well have invested heavily into some new cookbooks too.
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Despite regularly updating my shelf with new releases, I am entirely guilty of constantly returning to old favourites when I want to indulge or impress. Here are a few of my favourite cookbooks and one new one that I’m looking to add to my collection.
First up: Ottolenghi. Come on, you knew that was coming right? I have a solid collection of Ottolenghi cookbooks and I have favourite recipes in all of them. If you’ve not tried any books by the current king of cookery, I literally don’t know what you are waiting for. I know it’s cliche but he really is one of my favourites and while his book Nopi, is essentially beautiful but too much effort for me (I see it more of a coffee table book to be honest) – the subsequent books Plenty and Simple and everything in between are packed with brilliant recipes from everyday suppers, simple lunches and feast worthy plates that I have cooked time and time again. In fact you’ll notice that my Ottolenghi cookbooks are pretty filthy because they’re so well used. I’m such a fan that I may have even accidentally pre-ordered his new book whilst writing this (Ooops).
I know not everyone feels this way but honestly in Jamie Oliver I trust. If I’m looking for a recipe for anything online and a version pops up on Jamie Oliver’s site I immediately feel safe that it will turn out as stated. One of my favourite Jamie books is actually Save With Jamie and there are a few recipes in there I’ve adapted and batch cooked over the years time and time again – particularly the beef tagine recipe. Save With Jamie shows you how to use up leftovers from other meals but you can easily adapt plenty of the recipes to cook from fresh if you like the sound of them. It’s packed with ideas, easy to navigate and pretty tasty too.
Dishoom was the restaurant people kept telling me they missed when hospitality closed due to national lockdown, so if you’re missing your Dishoom fix but not too sad about not having to queue out the door waiting for a table, then this cookery book is all your dreams come true. My favourite thing at Dishoom is obvious breakfast and brunch and the fact I can now russle up my own Masala Beans and Kejriwal (or amazing chilli cheese on toast with fried egg) at home means I never really need to go out again. Thanks.
This book is a great bible of flavour for those that love a British Indian restaurant. It’s easy to follow and the recipes are honestly very damn tasty. Toombs gives some great insights, hints and tips and really ensures you can get the flavour you’re craving at home.
While I’m not a vegetarian (anymore – but that’s another story) I do really love vegetarian cooking and finding the best possible sides and veggie dishes on offer. This vibrant vegetarian cookbook has so many good recipes that are just packed full of Middle Eastern inspired flavour. Ghayour’s other books are also an absolute treat for the tastebuds too and I thoroughly recommend Feasts and Persiana too!
So what’s next? I’m currently eyeing up this book…
I’m 100% drawn in and sold by the very tasty shakshuka residing on the front of this book but more to the point, as much as I love cooking I actually despise washing up and mess, so the idea of one pot cooking, tray bakes and anything that requires minimum effort is actually my absolute favourite. So watch this space…
Imagery: courtesy of authors / publishers
Feature image: courtesy of author / publisher: Foolproof One-pot: 60 simple and satisfying recipes by Alan Rosenthal, £12.99, Waterstones