I love cooking, and have several hundred cookbooks. Some of them are really interesting, and are great to read and inspire me, others are perfect for when I want to create something special for a dinner party, but I thought I’d focus on the most useful ones – the ones that come out again and again – the ones that end up splattered in food!
So here is my list of the most useful cookbooks ever!
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Meat book is the only thing you need to turn to when preparing and cooking meat. This comprehensive reference book contains everything you need to know about meat; from animal husbandry, through to butchery, and cooking . The recipes in here are varied, original, and every single one I’ve attempted has turned out perfectly. Everyone should own a copy of this book.
Rick Stein’s Seafood
Rick Stein’s Seafood is the best guide to preparing and cooking fish that I have found. Some of the filleting techniques are difficult to master, but the recipes are great. This book contains everything from simply frying fish, to creating elaborate dishes. It has a helpful guide for identifying different types of fish too. Highly recommended.
50 Curries of India
This is the best Indian cookery book I have found. It explains the basics of spice blends and flavourings, and then goes on to provide 50 great tasting recipes. Most of them are quite complex to put together, but I think this is just the nature of Indian food. They are all worth the effort, and by the time you have prepared a few of them you will have such an understanding of the techniques, that you won’t need to follow a cookbook any more!
How to Eat
I love all Nigella Lawson cook books, but this is my favourite. It has a very informative chapter on cooking food for children, with some surprising suggestions of foods which children love (anything with pesto or soy sauce!) As with all Nigella recipes they are easy to prepare, and taste great!
Delia Smith: Book Two
Delia Smith’s Book One covers the basics of cookery, but Book Two is where all the best recipes are! I have cooked many of the ones in here time and time again – it’s perfect for finding traditional, hearty meals for a special occasion.
Passion for Puddings
This book isn’t for everyone, but it is my favourite pudding book by a long way. I must warn you that this book is sponsored by Carnation condensed milk, so every recipe contains it! Despite this fact, all the recipes are unique and I love every single one I’ve tried – they are simple to prepare, look stunning, and taste amazing – recommended for anyone who has a sweet tooth!
The Dairy Book of Home Cooking
This is an essential reference book in my kitchen It doesn’t have many photos, but contains recipes for all the basics; from sauces, to bread and cakes. I think every teenager should be given a copy when they leave home!
The Food of China
This is the best book on Chinese cooking that I have found. The techniques of Chinese cookery are explained simply, and it is through this book that I feel I can finally out-perform the takeaway. Some of the ingredients can’t be found in normal supermarkets, but this only adds to the authenticity of the flavours (and is a great excuse to place an order for Chinese ingredients online!)
Murdoch also produce a whole series of books about the food of other countries of the world. I own the one for India, Morocco and Thailand. The whole series is great, but the Chinese one is the best.
Mrs Field’s Cookie Book
The cookies in this book are so soft and delicious! There are some really different recipes in here – my favourite is marshmallow clouds; making them involves freezing marshmallows, and then baking them inside a cookie ball. I can’t imagine a nicer treat!
BBC Food Website
Finally, this is cheating a bit, as it isn’t a book, but one of the places I frequently go to find great recipes is the BBC Recipe Search. If I can’t find what I’m looking for in one of my books, then this is my first destination on the web. You can search via ingredients, country or chef, and the number of recipes there is growing every day – I recommend you go and have a look!
What are your favourite cookbooks?
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