The Ten Most Useful Cookbooks – Ever!!!

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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!

Meat

 

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?

Remember the Comment of the Week Competition! I’m looking forward to reading your comments!


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34 Comments

  1. Yes, Indian recipes are complicated with different spices used for different recipes. Sometimes 20 spices are used in a single recipe.

    Ours is a diverse country with varied food habits. Even I am not aware of all. I am learning!

    Gonna check the cookbooks.foodbooks you mention here.

    WG: Cookery Special

  2. I love the cookie books – with kids at home i am always on the look out for good recipe books..

    nothing like the feel of a much loved cookbook.

    E.H>

  3. hagelrat says:

    I love the way you have responded to this topic! I have some of the same Chef’s but none of those books.

  4. Jackie says:

    gautami – Indian recipes do have lots of different ingredients – I can almost fill a whole shelf in my kitchen just with Indian ingredients! They take a lot more time to prepare than other dishes, but are often worth the time – I really enjoy them! I’m still learning things about Indian cookery, as it is such a complex cuisine. I love learning though!

  5. Jackie says:

    Erotic Horizon – My children love cooking too! Making cookies is great, as it entertainss them, and at the same time produces great food!

    Hagelrat – Thank you! I hope this post has been useful – I love cooking – I don’t know why I haven’t posted about cook books before!

  6. susan says:

    Oh, may have to pick of the curry book! And the chinese one is very tempting, too. Enjoyed your post. Thanks.

  7. Jackie says:

    Susan – I recommend you start with the Chinese one – there are some amazing dishes in there, and they are all so quick and easy to prepare – the Indian one is much more time consuming…but why not treat yourself to both!!!

  8. Beth F says:

    Nice list — since I own 1000+ I can’t pick out a favorite.

  9. Jackie says:

    Beth – Wow! I’ve never met anyone with more cookbooks than me before!! I really need to sort through mine, as I don’t use half of them. There are probably only about 50 which I use regularly.

    How many of your 1000 do you actually use?

  10. Frances says:

    Love Nigella Lawson but have never checked this one out. Looks as if a trip to the library is in order. Just love the way she thinks of food as pleasurable, social rather than a mere collection of nutrients. And she is extremely funny. Always got a kick of her eating out of her refrigerator late at night on her show.

  11. Jackie says:

    Frances – I love Nigella too! Some of her ingredients are a bit obscure, but overall they are great!

  12. Simon S says:

    For a moment then I didnt think there was any Nigella on the list and would have been most shocked, then I spotted her. Though her Christmas show was a bit bizarre my first Christmas Dinner was a huge hit thanks to it!

  13. Molly says:

    Many of these cookbooks I have never heard of before – but of course I have and love the Mrs. Fields Cookie book :)

    I will be posting about my on again / off again love affair with cooking later this week and have included some of my favorite cookbooks as well.

  14. Sarah says:

    I rely on Bill Bryson and Donna Hay’s books for most of my cooking, I will have to investigate your choices.

  15. WordLily says:

    Mmm, that curries cookbook sounds divine! I’ve made a few curries successfully and would love to expand my repertoire! The Chinese one sounds good, too! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Jackie says:

    Simon – I agree – her Christmas show did contain some surprising things! I love her ham cooked in coca cola! It is the best recipe for Christmas ham I’ve found.

    Molly – I look forward to reading your post about cookbooks – I always enjoy finding new ones to read!

  17. Jackie says:

    Sarah – I didn’t know Bill Bryson had any cookbooks – is he the same one I’m thinking of – the one who writes funny books about travel? I’ll have to go and have a look!

    WordLily – It is great to cook a successful curry isn’t it? It took me a long time to work out the secret. I think having proper ghee and making sure you fry the spices is a good start to the perfect curry!

  18. Bonnie says:

    I collect cookbooks as well but don’t use them nearly as much as I should. I am going to make an effort to try more cooking recipes and be creative. Your post has inspired me along with watching my favorite cooking shows! In the US, I love Top Chef and Chopped( a new show on Food Network) and another called The Chopping Block that was hosted by UK Chef Marco Pierre White. Sadly, it was just cancelled but I found that you can still watch all the episodes online. I wrote a post about it yesterday.

    Back to cookbooks, I haven’t heard of many of your cookbooks except I do own Mrs Fields Cookie Book and the cookies are fabulous. I am going to look for the Nigella cookbook as the chapter on cooking for kids sounds great. I’ll also check out a few others and the BBC Food Website.

    Thanks for sharing your 10 most useful cookbooks with us!

  19. Jackie says:

    Bonnie – I haven’t heard of the cookery shows you mention. I love watching cookery programme too. They give me some great ideas.

    I’m not sure you can call me a cookbook collector – I’m more a cookbook accumulator! I don’t ever set out to get new cookbooks, they just seem to appear! Thank you for visiting my blog!

  20. Karen says:

    Since I am an absolutely horrible cook (just ask those that have ever been exposed to the dodgy results of my efforts!) any cookbook is a godsend to me! I need a book with clear, precise instructions – starting with the very basics (i.e. turn on oven). There is a very comprehensive cookbook written by Australian chef, Stephanie Alexander, which I find really helpful. It takes you though the basics as well as including many, many recipes – just perfect for me!

  21. Violet says:

    Indian curries are actually really simple to follow. Once you know how to cook say 5 curries of different styles, you can cook any curry.

  22. DebD says:

    I’m not much of a chef, but enjoy trying new things (even if I don’t get much kudos from my family for trying). Thanks for these recommendations… I’ll have to go look for a few of these titles.

  23. Jackie says:

    Karen – I don’t think I’ve heard of Stephanie Alexander, but agree that working out the timings of everything is very important. I always find it useful when recipes say to pre-heat the oven at the beginning.

    Violet – I think it is learning to do the first 5 that is the problem! I think I’m almost there now, but do still have the odd curry disaster. I’ve found that all I need to do is add a can of coconut milk, and most curries can be saved!

    DebD – I’m sorry to hear that your family don’t give you kudos for trying. It’s through the experiments that you learn great new dishes – I hope you manage to find a few more good ones soon.

  24. Margot says:

    I too have hundreds of cookbooks so I was surprised to find that I could not match one of your books. I find that a wonderful treat in itself. Now I can search for some new books. lol Thanks for a great post.

  25. Jackie says:

    Margot – I think it is probably because there is a big difference between cooking cultures in different countries. I love finding the best ones from other places, as they often have very different ideas.

  26. Debbie says:

    I think you are my new best friend… a commrade in arms.
    Yay, for anyone who has 100’s of cookbooks. But now I’m going to be wanting the ten best!! I don’t think I have any of the ones you listed.

  27. Jackie says:

    Debbie – I would love to know your favourites. I think these are very UK biased, so would love to expand my knowledge to include the best in the world!

  28. Violet says:

    You know it’s funny but not all Indian curries use coconut milk. It’s mostly used in South Indian cuisine. I don’t use coconut milk in any of the curries I make, except may be fish curry.

  29. Janeym says:

    Wow! Lots of new titles to play with. Have loads of books and always get one for Xmas but have to confess almost always consult Delia as well just to be sure! Love them and have some of your top ten but will be checking out the others! Does anyone else take cookery books to bed just to read? Perhaps we should all post our top ten?

  30. Violet – I hardly use coconut milk in curries either – it is only when they go wrong that I get it out! If something tastes a bit funny then plenty of coconut will make anything taste nice!

  31. Jackie says:

    Janeym – I’d love to compare other people’s top ten with mine. I’m always on the look out for new cookbooks, as I love creating new dishes. I look forward to seeing other people’s list. Leave a link here if you do one, and I’ll add a link to my post above.

    I don’t take cookbooks to bed with me – they are too heavy! I always read them on my big, comfy sofa instead!

  32. claire says:

    Those are very useful cookbooks. Bookmarking them, because I need useful ones for my family!

  33. Jackie says:

    Clare _ I enjoyed admiring your cookbook collection too! You have a few I have my eye on!

  34. Joanna says:

    I love cooking too and buy cookbooks all the time, but I don’t have as much time for cooking as I’d like. Or maybe I’m just lazy! :-) I do love looking at all the pretty pictures of lovely meals though! :-) And I’m a Nigella fan too!

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