We love spending Saturday mornings thumbing through our favourite cookbooks planning what to rustle up on the weekends. Whilst between the pair of us we have quite a lot of options, for this post we’ve whittled it down to our favourite six. These are our tried and tested recipes and the books that you turn to when in need of dinner inspiration. Some of them offer quick and simple recipes, whilst others will have you lost in cuisines of different countries and tempting you into booking your next flight.
What are your favourite cookbooks?
Why we like it: We were in as soon as we read the strapline, “food to nourish the body and feed the soul”. We are a huge fan of Gizzi’s and can’t wait for her new venture to launch in Hackney at Mare Street Market. This book is our favourite of Gizzi’s as it perfectly reflects our style of eating. Proper ingredients, big flavours and balance. The recipes are divided into sections like slurp, crunch, crisp and soothe – LOVE. Gemma actually went to the launch of this book at The Draper’s Arms and got to taste a few of the recipes, and they have been firm favourites in her kitchen ever since.
The recipe for walnut bagna cauda (page 38) is an absolute star. Made of anchovy, walnuts, garlic and double cream it doesn’t sound like the most appetising dish but it truly is heaven. Gemma makes it all the time and it’s a great starter/canape to serve guests with loads of crunchy veg to dip into.
Another staple is the proper bolognaise (page 134) – using a mix of veal and pork mince, and white wine and milk. I know I know but trust us (well Gizzi). It’s a beautiful dish and you can make it in bulk and stock up your freezer for your next pasta dish or lasagne.
Why we like it: Both of us (and the rest of the UK) have a bit of a crush on Nigella. No one can sell food like this woman. This book is a total classic and is full of home cooking that isn’t too fussy, but will keep you coming back for more. Again Nigella had us with the book description here: “whatever the occasion, food – in the making and eating – should always be pleasurable”. We couldn’t agree more.
Favourite recipe/s: The sweet potato macaroni cheese(page 78) is a thing of beauty. It looks beautiful from the colour of the sweet potato, which adds a creaminess and sweetness to the dish, and the crispy sage on top brings it all together perfectly.
Why we like it: Sabrina Ghayour is our guide to all things Middle Eastern, and flavours that until a few years ago we hadn’t really cooked with that much. Sabrina’s books are like a bible for Middle Eastern spices and dishes, and in particular how to bring those flavours to your dinner table at home. The salads in particular are absolutely stunning (everything is beautifully shot in this book!) and we always head back to them in the summer for our lunches.
Favourite recipe/s: Tomato Salad with Pomegranate Molasses (page 160). So simple but showcases the produce, and pomegranate molasses makes everything taste wonderful. This salad is the perfect accompaniment for a summer bbq or healthy dinner.
Why we like it: This book contains all the recipes from Rick’s brilliant TV show of the same name. Travel and food, what’s better than that? Guardian writer Eleanor Morgan says the says about the show that,
“Something has happened with this series, Rick Stein’s Long Weekends. Something quite special. Stein, forever on the edge of his salmon gingham Blue Harbour shirt collar of going full Alan Partridge, has gone full Alan Partridge.”
As well as being an awkwardly hilarious television show, the book is filled with delicious recipes as well as travel tips bound to spark your wanderlust. Reading this book feels a little like sitting down in Rick’s kitchen, while he tells stories of his travels. A perfect weekend treat.
Favourite Recipe/s: Feta Bouyiourdi- Baked Feta Cheese with Tomato, Red Pepper and Chillies (page 142). Listed in the Saturday night nibbles & starters this is a great dish to serve for a group either as a starter or for everyone to tuck into at a party.
Why we like it: Put plainly Rachel Khoo is living Becky’s dream life. Khoo quit her job in London and moved to Paris to learn how to cook. She then opened up her kitchen for small dinner parties and cooking classes. What’s great about this book is it’s beautiful and simple french cooking. The recipes are helpfully divided into: everyday cooking, snack time, summer picnics, aperitifs, dinner with friends and family and sweet treats. The book also features tips on french basics such as roux, béchamel and beurre noisette.It’s a fantastic kitchen staple for french cooking.
Favourite Recipe/s: Bouillabaisse (page 179). This is a Gills given, the classic fish stew. Getting your roux perfected might take a little time but it’s perfect. This dish is comforting and full of beautiful flavours such as garlic, saffron and fennel. It’s a real crowd pleaser served with crusty baguette.
Another of our favourites in the book has to be Tartlettes aux Framboises et Amandes (page 245). You can make these delicious almond and raspberry tarts either as small individuals or one larger tart. This is one of our all-time favourite desserts and it so delicious and not too tricky to make.
Why we like it: It’s an oldie but a goodie. This is one of Jamie’s earlier books and a great staple for the novice cook. These recipes are undeniably easy and delicious. They also come with nutritional information so you can make sure you’re getting a balanced diet.
Favourite Recipe/s: Ricotta Fritters (page 232). Quick, healthy and full of flavours. This is a great midweek meal that is comforting whilst also being light on the calories. Before this recipe we wouldn’t have thought to use ricotta in this manner, but they really do work. Our tip, don’t leave out the anchovies or dried mushrooms, they really bring a depth to the dish.