This weekend my newest cookbook was delivered – the Moro cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark. Moro the restaurant is a lovely place to go for wine and sharing plates in Exmouth Market in North London. The book contains recipes originating in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East and i cant wait to try the monkfish and saffron paella.
Last week Elix’s friend asked her (and me) for some advice on which cookbook would be a good gift for someone who enjoys throwing dinner parties – as we have an eclectic collection what would we recommend. Given how many cookbooks i now own and have added to my collection since i started the blog (i think i have 5 new ones), i thought i would take some of my most used ones and describe my favourite recipes from them.
Seafood – without doubt the best one is Rick Stein’s – A Seafood Odyssey – not only does this book break down fish and seafood dishes by country of origin including Australia, India, Britain, Spain and France it also details substitute items you cannot find what the recipe contains.
Desserts – this was a tough one and i’ve narrowed it down to two. Jason Atherton’s Gourmet Food for a Fiver and the Masterchef cookbook. Both contain loads of easy and cheap ideas for desserts and what i like most about them is that they contain recipes which are made in individual portions. As someone who isn’t as comfortable making desserts as i am with Main Courses this makes the task at hand somewhat less intimidating whilst still inventive and pretty on the eye. My favourites are Jason’s lemon posset and the Masterchef’s homage to Nadia Swahalia’s individual pavlovas.
Pies Hairy Biker’s Pie Book. Without doubt our most used book during winter. This book contains recipes for both savoury and sweet pies and tarts plus handy pastry recipes, which can be made in individual portions and also large ones for groups to eat. Elix and I are trying to cook our way through the whole book – highlights so far include cornish pasties, white chocolate and raspberry tarts and ham, leek and potato quiche.
Asian this was a toughy as i have so many amazing asian cookbooks, Neil Perry, Rick Stein, Luke Nguyen and Anjum Anand. After consulting Elix who is head curry maker in our house we decided on Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. This book is split by country ranging from Vietnam to Sri Lanka and Cambodia to Malaysia. It has a good mix of stir fries and curries, noodle and rich dishes aswell as good balance of meat, fish and vegetables and, in true Rick Stein style, a little background to the recipe. The book also has recipes on how to make sauces, spice mixes and dips which can come in useful for any recipe, not just the Rick Stein ones.
Weekday Dinners – my top 2 here are easy – Neil Perry’s Good Food and Lucas Hollweg’s Good Things to Eat. Neil Perry has so many tasty, healthy fish recipes including our favourites, trout with lentils and salmon with chickpeas and yoghurt aswell as lovely curries (chicken braised in coconut milk with spices is yummy), rice dishes and pasta. Lucas Hollweg splits his book by dish type so there are chapters on pasta, fruit, tarts and roasts. His meatballs which are cooked with spices and served with pasta and a spicy tomato sauce is one of my favourite dishes to cook and to eat and one which many of our friends have been given.
Cooking for Friends – two of our dinner parties stick out here as ones which were a pleasure to cook for aswell as eat and i think our friends left well-fed and happy. Firstly – i cooked a Chinese feast once for my girlfriends before a night out on the town and all the recipes were from…Gok Wan’s Gok Cooks Chinese. His recipe for Char Sui Pork is super easy and looks and tastes amazing. Other good recipes from his book include Char Sui buns, Egg Fried Rice, Chilli and Salt Squid and Prawn Chow Mein. He helpfully introduces the cook to those ingredients and equipment which you need to have in before you start and once you have these (wok, soy sauce, rice wine etc) and the holy trinity (garlic, spring onion, ginger)you are good to go. Secondly i am including two books by one chef – Thomasina Meirs and both of her Wahaca cookbooks. With ideas for sharing recipes including quesadillas, fajitas, guacamole, salsa, salads and tacos as well as big group-feeding dishes such as Quick Beef Chilli, Humble Chicken and Corn pie and Pork Pibil – these books can always be relied upon to help me rustle up tasty Mexican dishes which everyone loves.
So there you have it a quick and easy summary of some of my best cookbooks and favourite recipes from them. I know i’ve missed out Bill Granger, Michel Roux, James Martin, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Tom Kitchen and loads more but im sure as i carry on cooking lots il do another Book Review blog soon.
Happy Reading and Cooking!