Autumn is always a bumper time for cookbooks - and this year has seen some really inspired and eclectic titles. There’s certainly plenty to put on your Xmas present list, so here’s our roundup of the best.
The London chefs
Their third book is full of recipes you’ll want to cook again and again... whether it’s cookies which mix up in a few minutes which you can store in the freezer to bake on a rainy day, vibrant chickpea salads or a BBQ aubergine with tahini and jewelled rice. Eat it at their Fitzrovia restaurant, love it, make it at home.
Ideal for anyone with a BBQ in the garden - or just a decent grill, with a host of recipes inspired by the Middle East and North Africa. Find out how to make the infamous cauliflower shawarma (hint - a LOT of baharat spiced butter is involved). There’s an excellent buttermilk fried chicken and glorious hummus bowls rich with tahini and topped with all sorts of wonderful roasted veg and herbs. A book of sunshine even when it’s grey and gloomy outside.
Max’s sandwiches, served up in his tiny cafe in Crouch End, fast became the stuff of legend. Now with this book, you too can learn the Six Rules of Sandwiches. Find out why focaccia is the best bread, and what’s so wrong with sourdough that it elicits an expletive. Why everything is better deep fried. And why no cheese? This book is definitely the best thing since sliced bread. Oh, wait...
As Marcus Wareing’s executive chef at Tredwells, Chantelle is clearly ridiculously talented. In this book, she’s focussed that talent on creating amazing vegan dishes which really don’t make you feel you’re missing out. Many of these have proved so popular in the restaurant there’s now a whole Vegwells menu... but as well as stunning veg dishes you can learn how to use things like Aquafaba to great effect - from vegan meringues and mayonnaise to an excellent sticky peanut butter pudding.
Everything that’s brilliant at Robin’s restaurants - the Dairy and Sorella - springs from their impeccably sourced produce, much of it homegrown at the farm where they rent a large plot. They make the best use of it through pickling and fermentation which sounds scary but, as the book shows, a lot of it is not madly complicated, simply about taking your time. Learn how - and why the flavours of fermented food are at the basis of so many of Robin’s dishes. One to celebrate the best of this country’s wonderful produce.
The opposite of Simple (below), this book is a work of art, full of recipes exactly as they are made in the Ritz kitchen, beautifully photographed by John Carey. Marvel at the sheer amount of work and skill that goes into each dish, the processes and the perfectionism - and maybe start with the recipe for scones on page 112.
Family recipes which go back generations, following the route of the old Darjeeling Express from Bengal through Calcutta, to the foothills of the Himalayas. Grow confident with spices - and check out the useful menu suggestions at the back, enabling you to combine the recipes into whatever you need - from a feast for one, to a vegan dinner for friends.
Another gorgeous seasonally organised book which makes the very best of the wonderful produce you can buy at Borough. There are stories behind the producers too, and recipes which are both approachable and interesting - while always respecting the ingredients themselves. Go shopping, come back and make the best apple pie you’ll ever try - nduja and honey toasties, and a huge bowl of kritharaki with Cavolo Nero.
In the cookbook for his flagship restaurant, Jason Atherton's brought together eighty of his favourite Pollen Street Social recipes. With a focus on the best ingredients (and the producers responsible for them) he'll walk you through how to make everything from canapés and afternoon tea delights to recipes such as Fruits of the Sea, Cartmel Valley Venison Loin and Pistachio Souffle.
If you're after a book that looks so good you want to lick the pages, then Kricket - an Indian-inspired cookbook is the one for you. Photographer Hugh Johnson picked up a Fortnum & Mason award for Best Photography for the gorgeous images in this book by Kricket's co-founder Will Bowlby. As for the content - we want to make the Crab Scotch Egg with Moilee Sauce and the spicy Goan Sausage Roll right now.
And more to recommend...
Everything you need for your seasonal entertaining from the Christmas dinner itself, to all sorts of luxury festive treats, plus the only turkey pie recipe you’ll ever need. Feed your guests the marmalade pear frangipane tart and a giant chocolate trifle, and recover afterwards with their classic beef tea broth.
A book which inspired so many people not just to fall back in love with cooking, but with eating and enjoying food. It’s now been reissued, 20 years on, and is no less remarkable today. “I have wanted to make you feel that I’m there with you, in the kitchen, as you cook”, Nigella writes - and as you stir up her Greek lamb stew, or make rice pudding or clementine cake, rediscover the simple joys of measuring and stirring and the smell of warm butter filling the air.
A wonderful collection of Middle Eastern inspired recipes from all sorts of chefs and bakers, from Yotam Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater to the guys behind The Good Egg and Arabica Kitchen. Plus some recipes from Syrian refugees who’ve made a new home here. Plenty to suit all sorts of skill levels from spiced date custard tarts to cheesecake and a cherry pistachio babka. Plus proceeds all go to UNICEF’s work supporting Syrian children caught up in the war.
At last - an Ottolenghi cookbook full of approachable, easily achievable recipes with no compromise on flavour or flair. There’s a clever acronym behind the title - but importantly it’s full of really brilliant Middle Eastern inspired dishes which you can make with storecupboard ingredients or whip together in a few minutes. Try the leeks
So much to love in Gizzi’s latest book, packed with comforting, highly covetable dishes which anyone would enjoy cooking. These are all designed to take time, without too much effort - but time really is the only way to produce a proper ragu (or a vegan bolognaise), an impossibly cheesy aligot, an impressive lemon meringue pie, or the ultimate salt baked potato, filled perhaps with smoked haddock mornay.
Organised by seasons, this is the kind of book which will make you wonder why you bothered cooking meat or fish. It’s got everything from easy one pot pastas, to glorious root vegetable pies and galettes, and breakfast ideas like blueberry vanilla drop scones. Plus plenty of tips on substituting other ingredients for the ones in the
The Hot Dinners guide to Christmas in London
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