Food Cookbooks you really DO cook from...

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Richard Zambuni, May 23, 2019.

  1. Nigel Slater is always my go-to food writer - Appetite, Real Food, Real Cooking. Real Food was the book that really got me into cooking once my wife and I started dating and I realised I'd have to cook for her!
    Hugh F-W's Meat book is fantastic and always seems to have the advice I'm looking for.
    Delia's How To Cook is handy for basic stuff, and Gary Rhodes' New British Classics one is full of textbook stuff on soups/stocks/roasts etc
    Also Locatelli's Made In Italy has huge sections (almost too much!) on Italian classics. I think the risotto section is about 60 pages long!
  2. When I first started doing a fair bit of cooking I bought a number of the books published by Penguin, starting with some of the Elizabeth David books (French Provincial cooking, Spices, salt and aromatics...) Jocasta Innes Pauper's Cookbook, 2 volumes of 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Can't right now remember all 3 authors), and books on various other cuisines (Chinese, Indian, North African...).
    All of these are predominantly texts rather than picture books, and like Tom I do still find these more useful than books of pictures with the odd bit of text. I also very rarely cook exactly the recipe as given, using it more as inspiration than a precise set of instructions, though for things like baking it can be important to distinguish between the parts which are significant (get the ratio of flour and eggs wrong and you may end up with a leaden brick or something which falls apart when cut) and those you can play with.
    Other books I've collected over the years include some historical books - Eliza Acton, a book of medieval recipes edited by two ladies whose names I can't remember right now, and various antique cookbooks bought secondhand - also several by Marcella Hazan, Rick Stein, Gary Rhodes.
    Of course, some of these books are now very rarely referred to because the recipes I have taken from them are now so familiar I can practically cook them in my sleep...
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  3. A truly amazing woman, decades ahead of her time, as her distinguished daughter Daisy Goodwin recounts in her memoir of that untrammelled life. Her 'Country Kitchen' captured today's gastronomic zeitgeist all of forty years ago.
  4. Congratulations to you both Nigel!
  5. We're fairly predictable. The River Cafe blue book gets used the most and then books by Rick Stein (Food Heroes especially), Jamie Oliver, Ottolenghi and Nigel Slater. I often search for a recipe online rather than search through the books of which there are far too many here.
    Richard Zambuni likes this.
  6. I don’t really use written recipes. I sort of learn from other people (especially cooking Indian, Nepali and North African dishes) and tweak and taste. I’m no chef, but I can cook food people enjoy. But K is a recipe user. She has her own book of favourites with the recipes stuck in. But the following list, which might be surprising to some, contains the recipe books she appears to use with some frequency.

    • Claudia Roden- Mediterranean Cookery
    • Sabrina Ghayour- Persiana
    • Anna Jones- A Modern Way to Cook
    • Tibits Cookbook- Vegan Love Story
    I can vouch for each of those having some lovely recipes. I’ve been a Roden fan all my adult life, but Sabrina Ghayour is also really good, for my tastes.
  7. A friend once cooked us a meal from one of Keller’s books. One dish involved the recreation of an egg with a yolk which acted just like a real egg when it was pierced. It was a wonderful meal but we both concluded that our friend, a fine cook anyway, had skills far in excess of our own. I loved Chemistry at “O” Level but never took it further.
  8. I would add:

    Dhruv Baker's Spice - the slow cooked rib recipe in particular

    Rosie Hanson's recipes from the French wine harvest
  9. Ottolenghi - Plenty
    Madhur Jaffrey - eastern vegetarian cooking
    River cafe cook book
    River cottage veg everyday
    Fuschia dunlop - revolutionary Chinese cookbook
    Nigel slater - real good food

    All have been instrumental in my cooking education over many years, the other 50 cookery books on the shelf far less so !
    Richard Zambuni likes this.
  10. Rick Stein's Seafood - not so much for the recipes, but the first half which is a guide to preparing different fish/shellfish
    Fergus Henderson Complete Nose To Tail
    Jamie's Italy
    Paul Bocuse Gastronomique - again, more for preparation techniques than specific recipes
    Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Heaven

    These lot have all served me well over the years. If I want a specific recipe, my first port of call these days tends to be Great British Chefs website. An absolute treasure trove.
  11. Although we have a large collection of books on food Anne tends to use them just for ideas that she adapts as she sees fit. The only exceptions are cuisines outside her usual repertoire, ie Indian dishes, or complex high-end stuff. I’m hoping she’ll have a stab at some of John Williams’ recipes from The Ritz Cookbook although she reckons she might need a week off work to do the prep.:)
  12. Nigel,

    She’s clearly a remarkable woman.
    Nigel Groundwater likes this.
  13. Another big thumbs up for this website, it's an amazing resource.

    I couple it with Rick Stein's India - almost for its beautiful photography alone.
    I use Simon Hopkinson books a lot, both Roast Chicken and Other stories and Second Helpings.
    Nopi by Ottolenghi is almost exclusively our source for "special" dinners when guests are in - it has an ability to deliver really impressive dining in a relatively accessible way.

    The Momofuku cookbook is being used quite a lot recently, and its sister "Dessert" restaurant, Milkbar's cookbook is actually surprisingly good.

    My biggest "fail" of late is the Gunpowder restaurant cookbook. Made significantly worse by the (lack of) editing, and it's really quite blind to a lot of India.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    Mark Palmer likes this.
  14. Not even a mention so far of my easily most used over the last ten years or so; Roast Chicken and Other Stories (and its companion - Second Helpings of Roast Chicken. If the definition of a well used cookbook is the use of several recipes this would pass muster four or five times over.

    Most often used others would include Simple Chinese Cookery by Kylie Kwong (really simple and slightly formulaic Chinese restaurant cooking, but still very effective for midweek family meals where a simple palette of storecupboard ingredients can be used for a broad range of recipes), Marcella Hazan’s - The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking recommended here by one T. Blach as “the only Italian cookbook one would need” which has proven to be sufficiently so for my needs.

    Lastly, The Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Catherine Phipps, bought as a simple accompaniment to my now beloved pressure cooker which has surprised me by its continual use giving useful timings but also highlighting a surprising breadth of possible uses for the beastie.

    Oh yes and Michel Roux’s - Sauces, bought as a remainder by my mother-in-law for £2.00 and given to me because she thought I “might find it useful”. Indeed.
  15. La Cuisinière Provençale - J.B Reboul
    The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling - Meathead Goldwyn
    On Food And Cooking - Harold McGee (not strictly a recipe book)
    Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery
    The Naked Chef - Jamie Oliver
  16. Meathead Goldwyn. You sure?
    Thom Blach likes this.
  17. Hopkinson has immaculate taste and writes superbly. I love all his books.
  18. My "cooking" these days is a very simple assembly. I have given up on attempting anything remotely complex years ago although if time permits I might just about consider making a consommé (from Simon Hopkinson's "The Prawn Cocktail Years") to accompany Madeira. My time these days is mostly spent sourcing ingredients and then working out how to do as little as possible with them.

    Marcella Hazan then Simon Hopkinson are probably my most used sources historically, although the book that I refer to mostly now is Shirley Booth's "Food of Japan" (although the results are seldom inflicted on guests).
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  19. What's wrong with Meathead Goldwyn? He's the doyen of low and slow cuisine.

    I can only assume you're more of a Big Bob Gibson man....

    Or maybe even Matty Hayden?
  20. I suspect Mark assumed an autocorrect error,as did I, but a quick internet search has enlightened me, I shall investigate his oeuvre forthwith.
  21. We succumb every now and then to a full colour ex-masterchef style cookbook which then gets left well alone.

    However I regularly turn to Anjum Anand’s “I love curry” and HFW’s “veg” series.
    Neil Sellen likes this.
  22. No mistake. Meathead lives!
  23. My two current go to books, at least for meat and fish are: Low and Slow by Neil Rankin which I find covers most styles from grilling and roasting to smoking; and Fish by Mitch Toni’s, which covers all the different pescatarian options and some foolproof recipes.
  24. Interesting to see the Meathead recipes, and I'm familiar with Rankin's work. I admire the aesthetic but quite strongly nowadays don't want my food to taste of smoke, I can always enjoy an illicit cigarette if that is the mood I'm in. This is very much a function of age, I think. I am proudly carnivorous but there is no denying that the appetite for flesh cooked over fire diminishes with the years.
  25. Leith's Cookery Bible; when I need to remember timings for boiling and poaching eggs.

    Apart from that, they only function as inspiration.
    Antti Jokinen likes this.

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