After reading the OFM’s 50 best cookbooks of all time, I was inspired to list three of my favourite. It is a shame to have so few as there have been a lot of great cookbooks published in 2010.
Every year, more and more cookbooks are being published—everyone speaks of how British food has in the past few years encountered a ‘rebirth’ or new lust for flavour. Since moving to the UK I have purchased countless numbers of cookbooks, they are just so varied and relatively well priced. Quadrille, a publisher I worship because they are the forefront of cookbook publishing, churning out amazingly laid out and beautifully produced cookbooks monthly, have come up with a really inspiring and genius series of new voices in food. I think this is a great idea and one that probably other publishers will get on the bandwagon of—promoting new and young foodies and giving any home cook a fresh take or perspective on food.
1. How I Cook by Skye Gyngell (Quadrille)
Skye Gyngell’s style of writing about food comes across so natural and genuine. She clearly knows her stuff in terms of taste and elegance. How I Cook is filled with straightforward recipes dependent on letting quality ingredients speak for themselves. My favourites are banana bread, slow-cooked lamb with artichokes, peas and mint, old-fashioned pancakes, and apple and green tomato pie. Chapter titles are related to meal times or meal occasions such as ‘special occasions’, ‘late night supper’ which gives the book an overall everyday cooking appeal.Whereas Skye’s other books could be seen as recipes for fancy special occasions, this book is more the paired-down little sister. A fantastic addition to the cookbook shelves, and I have to add that all of the baking recipes are to die for!
2. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury)
This choice is pretty much a clear winner. Yotam Ottolenghi is like the king of big and bold flavours. I think Yotam’s recipes are a bit like durian, you either love it or hate it. He must have a brilliant palate to come up with the ‘non-traditionalist’ flavour combinations. Who would have thought aubergine, mango and soba noodles would be so delicious? What’s more is that the whole book contains vegetarian recipes all inspired by a mix of diverse culinary cultures—all sides of the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian. These cover a whole array of vegetables: the countless tasty treats that can come from the aubergine, salads that will make you think twice about calling salads ‘bland’, lentils and squashes. My favourite recipe hands-down has to be the green pancakes with lime butter.
3. Mexican Food: Made Simple by Thomasina Miers (Hodder & Stoughton)
Since winning MasterChef, Thomasina has made a huge success from her Wahaca restaurants. This cookbook is a gem for widening your repetoire of Mexican cooking. The introductory section is fully informative, detailing lots of facinating stuff about the many different kinds of chillies, beans and herbs used in Mexican cooking. I like the salsa recipes, they are so easy but are packed full of smoky or spicy flavours. The best discovery was the coconut ceviche, which was a highlight in terms of flavour sensations for the year of 2010! Dishes not only cover salsas, tacos, burritos and soups but they also include many slow-cooking main courses that are just plain mouth-watering—such as ‘meatballs de mehico’ and chicken and chorizo in an almond mole.