Food Cookbooks you really DO cook from...

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

  1. This is a distressing revelation as I have mapped out my dotage around days spent reading a book in a deck chair, pottering around the garden whilst tending quietly to the bbq and wrangling a hunk o' brisket into a state of juicy, smoky perfection. Perhaps I should reacquaint myself with the rules of bridge as a solid plan B.
  2. Is that the chap behind
    That is one of the best, most useful websites I've ever read.
    Chris Davies likes this.
  3. After wine pages, of course.
  4. Of ones not mentioned I have used Mike Robinsons Country Kitchen a lot.

    i have 2 volumes of a Ballymaloe (Cork) cookbook, one called Forgotten skills which is handy to get an idea about just about anything.

    I have 2 very early big sweary Gordon books called Passion for... which are excellent and pre date the cookbook boom.
  5. What a great thread!

    Marcella Hazan - Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking - reference I wouldn't be without though don't consult it all that often as so familiar
    River Cafe Cook Book (blue) - does this count as a TV chef's picture book? Just love it... the recipes, the design, typography and the photography inspire me. My copy is absolutely filthy
    Another vote for Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories - you generally learn something every time you cook from this book (or Second Helpings).
    I don't think anyone yet has mentioned Diana Henry, I'm a big fan of Food from Plenty, from which I reckon I have cooked about a third of the recipes, probably a record.
    Also Hugh F-W's Meat book has a place in the kitchen and does get consulted a lot.
    Kylie Kwong's My China is a fabulous book though much more than just recipes.
    Jamie's Italy - this is a great book, his enthusiasm flies off the page. Don't get the snobbery about him, I love reading it and most of the recipes are nicked from Marcella anyway so you can't criticise it for content.

    Guilty pleasures I almost daren't admit to:

    Ken Hom's "Foolproof" series are really simplified versions of Chinese and Thai recipes which while they may not be "correct" gave me the confidence to go shopping in a chinese supermarket and give this kind of cooking a go, which is surely part of the point. That led to buying his "Chinese Cooking" big book which I do rely on a lot.

    Jamie Oliver Naked Chef series - a lot of the recipes are nicked from the River Cafe so there is duplication but I still won't send these to the charity shop. Perhaps my kids will find them useful one day.
    Maureen Matthew and Will Taylor like this.
  6. No. It has pictures but in those days, long before the ladies went on TV, they were groundbreaking rather than the obvious padding(I suspect food photography and its reproduction to be almost infinitely cheaper than it once was) they are today. I think it's one of the most influential and original recipe books ever published while wondering if anyone actually follows the recipes, which often seem impractical with regard to quantities.
    To invoke Fay Maschler last Wednesday, it is the River Cafe that most typifies the Tony Blair style of Italian restaurant that has usurped the prestige of the Lionel Blair versions we mostly knew before.
  7. I have a pocket size River Cafe Vegetable cookbook that is pretty cool.
  8. Indeed it is. An absolute treasure trove of BBQ info.

    What I really like about is the emphasis on first principles which are established firmly in exhaustive scientific research and which puncture a million BBQ myths along the way. His recipes are based on understanding these techniques as opposed to step-by-step didacticism, which is especially important with BBQ as there are so many variables to account for - weather, kit, fuel etc. Slavishly following a recipe would rarely work.

    Fortunately MH has the good sense to recognise that epicurean pleasure should always trump lab-derived perfection so the latter always remains subservient. To my mind, he's the BBQ equivalent of a terroir man (incidentally he used to be a wine critic in a former life), and his craft has evolved to a level of maturity which has left him unfettered by technical hangups. Like the great neo-classical painters, he has stumbled upon the lost art of simplicity.
    Colin Wills likes this.
  9. Did the saddle of lamb belle epoque from that for a dinner party the other day. Bit of a faff but it was really, truly excellent.
    Alan Smeaton and Thom Blach like this.
  10. It’s currently on my neglected shelf but two recipes rapidly became stalwarts when I first got it which I still use a lot today. The grilled leg of lamb (they are wrong to say it only works with spring lamb, I think - almost the opposite is true) and maiale al latte. They were the first I saw to suggest including lemon peel in the latter, which now seems obvious and vital.
  11. Tom, I'm glad!

    Love the River Cafe book, and have probably cooked 1/4 the recipes I would guess.
  12. I've cooked a lot from that first blue River Cafe book too - agree with Tom about how important it seemed when it came out. Several recipes are embedded in my routines, such that the book isn't consulted for them anymore - there's a pasta with aubergine & a parsley/tomato sauce that gets a regular run-out, among others.

    I never found it as unreliable as legend had it at the time - there was so much fuss about the chocolate nemesis recipe that made national media coverage for being apparently unmakeable - IIRC there were two wrinkles - the quantities given were enormous (easy to fix) and the cooking time wasn't long enough but after that it's fine & I've made it many times. Their green book is also very well used.
  13. Well, that goes without saying, Thom. :D And neither is there anything wrong with that, nor does it make you wrong.

    Just tried to find that pasta one, and the only one I could see dates from 2010. Are you nine years behind on the Grauniad, or have I missed one? :D
  14. Over the years have had many cookbooks, and tried recipes from many of them including Readers Digest Cookery Year

    But the ones I regularly cook recipes from are
    Delia Smith: Complete Cookery Course - so many things, but I refer only to it now for the measurements for Yorkshire Pudding, but it taught me so many things that now I know by heart
    Madhur Jaffrey: Indian Cookery - one recipe I regularly make and the page is well stained

    I don't have any Jamie Oliver books but I regularly cook his Jools Favourite Beef Stew, adapting the recipe: I don't know where I first got it, maybe the Guardian but I've printed it from his website, and in the last two weeks I've cooked his Aubergine Arrabiata after seeinghim cook it on his TV programme on C4 but its noticeable that the recipe online differs from the book and both differ from the TV show. But the principles are the same.

    Most recent cookbook I bought after a rave review in the Guardian (here) is Kenny Shopsin's Eat Me - The food and philosophy of Kenny Shopsin and although it contains more than 100 recipes and is gorgeously illustrated there is not a single dish there that I want to cook.,
  15. How to make fresh pasta – recipe

    Though it is in a different series,which I hadn't realised.

    I really don't want to appear more of a curmudgeon than necessary but what upsets me about this sort of thing is the thought of the numberless thousands of people who will end up with a mess of flour and dough and a resolution never again to use their pasta machine; people are often more likely to feel that they lack the skill and patience required rather than that they were simply given the wrong information. Sometimes one has to go beyond the book, which is why I so admire the Serious Eats approach.
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
    Andrew Stevenson likes this.

  16. Will great Choice with Reboul, although not easy to cook from. May I commend Medecin, especially his rabbit recipe.
    Others self explanatory, except for curries and bugles, great Raj history and cuisine

  17. Of course you also need A Concise Encyclopedia Of Gastronomy by Andre Simons 1952.
    How else would you know what to do with Armadillo, Badger,Bear,Camel, Cassowary eggs, Elephant, Giraffe, Guillemot, Hedgehog, Hippopotamus, Kangaroo, Lion, Manatee, Penguin, Squirrel and Zebra. Once we sign our new Brexit trade deals it will be the most wanted book of them all especially on here as quite a few have wine matches as well.
    Thom Blach likes this.
  18. That's one I've had on the shelves for quite a while now - it's a fascinating addition to the cookbooks, allowing you to see where the proportions and methods in a recipe are critical and where they're a matter of taste. I found it interesting too to find out why for example you want the freshest eggs for some purposes while older eggs would be fine - or even better - in other recipes.
    Andrew Blunsden and Nick Amis like this.
  19. Amazon and Abebooks have received multiple orders from me as a result of this thread; many thanks to all. I am particularly looking forward to Meathead Goldwyn, who I wouldn't have thought of otherwise and who will be a good addition to my Pitt Cue book and the ongoing romance between myself and my barbecue.

    Richard Olney & Simon Hopkinson get used most of all here, particularly the former. Another I use regularly is J. Kenji López-Alt, both in his recent book but also his recipes on the Seriouseats website.
  20. Nigel Slater was interviewed in to today's Times, where the conversation turned to the cookery writers of an earlier generation:

    "....and Delia? “Delia is a rock. People turn to her when they want to know how long to cook the lamb for.” He adds, “Even if it might be too long.” He makes an “Oops, sorry, bitchy” face. I like him already....".
    Andrew Stevenson and Thom Blach like this.
  21. Is Mr. Goldwyn's career trajectory a prime example of nominative determinism?
    Will Devize likes this.
  22. Shellfish.. Anton Mosimann
    part encyclopedia, part cookbook. Recipes have not dated

    Cooking for Friends... Raymond Blanc
    A chef with natural good taste
  23. I'm a bit of a Raymond Blanc fanboi. My wife sent me on the cookery course at Le Manoir for my 40th birthday (in those days it was a four-day residential course in three stages and this was Stage 1; I went back two years later and did Stage 2). The most well-used cookery books on our shelves are:-

    Raymond Blanc: Recipes From Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons; Cooking For Friends (possibly the most well-used of all); Blanc Mange
    Reader's Digest: The Cookery Year; Guide to Creative Cooking and Entertaining; Complete Guide to Cookery
    Elizabeth David: French Provincial Cookery (which started it all off for me); Italian Food
    Alastair Little: Keep It Simple ( a brilliant book)
    Rick Stein: English Seafood Cookery (so old the author is identified as Richard Stein); Taste of the Sea
    Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book
    Mireille Johnston's French Cookery Course Vols 1 & 2
    River Café Cookbook (Blue)
    Marco Pierre White: Canteen Cuisine
    Ottolenghi: Jerusalem
    Nigella Lawson: How to Eat
    Claudia Roden: The Food of Italy
    Delia Smith's Winter Collection and Summer Collection

    We used to cook a lot more Indian and Chinese food than we do nowadays and we do have some well-thumbed books in those genres. These days we cook a lot of South East Asian stuff but not from any one particular source of recipes.

    We have dozens more, not least because when people know you're interested in food they buy you cookbooks, many of which you wouldn't have bought yourself. But we have lots of others which do get a modicum of use.
    Thom Blach likes this.
  24. How To Eat seems in form to be so closely based on the 1964 Daily Telegraph Bob Viveur Cook's Book by Fannie and Johnnie Cradock that it can't be coincidence. I'm not suggesting plagiarism for a moment but I would take a large wager that the Lawson family kitchen contained a copy when she was growing up.
  25. I own far too many, but the only one that ever really gets any use is Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course. A fabulous collection of recipes and techniques. Stephen Harris’s The Sportsman book is a new addition and I envisage a few things being tried from that in the coming months
    Alex Jagger likes this.

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