Best cook books of the year: gift guide for autumn and winter
Best new cookbooks out this year, including Fortnum's, Bread Street, Bake Off stars and the Palomar restaurant. Not a potboiler among them
Thankfully, there's a simple recipe for making a hit cook book:
- If you're a celebrity chef, restaurant, instagrammer or street food vendor done good, you haven't really done good until you've got a book out
- It has to have at least 100 recipes in it, else you're selling the public short
- If you're going to introduce recipes with self-indulgent waffle, make it good waffle
- Else, write a good waffle recipe
- Organise your book by season, ingredient or the time of day you eat it. These are the only three ways the British public can handle information.
Here, then, are the recipe books that are making our mouths water this autumn:
The absolute phenomenon that started out as a blog and Instagram is now a beautiful, beautiful book. Ignore the Instagram cheese of the 'cook love share' tagline and focus instead on how a 'balanced meal' should look. Michael Zee makes breakfast for himself and his lucky fiancé and then arranges the dishes geometrically. For some reason, the format really works. Stats show that people who eat breakfast are generally happier and far less likely to be sociopathics with unimaginative social media skills. And who doesn't love to chew over a good fact like that?
Author of nine beautiful cookery books, we especially like Diana Henry for Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, a book so cosy you actually wanted to live in it. She gathers her recipes for you like a bundle of kindling: and sets the imagination alight. One recipe called for a bucket of snow and some maple syrup. Known for her exotic ingredients, it's interesting that her newest work is titled Simple, published by Octopus and coming very soon. She'll be going back to basics with pared-back cooking. It will be the book to buy your Mum, guaranteed.
The new season of The Great British Bake Off churns out a mix of new contestants, ready to rise to the challenge. The spectacle, which is as fluffy and sweet as a light sponge, makes us look back to Nadiya, last year's brilliant contestant who has gone from strength to strength since her emotional days on the show. The recipe book proves that she's a great writer (she's also writing fiction) and a cook as well as a baker. It includes her recipe for her lemon and orange drizzle fit for a queen- which was served at HRH's 90th birthday. Useful, if you ever have royalty to stay.
The Palomar Cookbook
For those who love simple, warming Jerusalem street food for its taste... and sound- labneh, matbucha, shakshuka... Palomar the book unlocks the secrets to one of London's finest restaurants for modern day Jerusalem cuisine. An Israeli favourite that has broken out in London, this year Palomar's 'little sister' The Barbary, in Covent Garden, stunned our editors with cauliflower that we raved about for days afterwards. Back at the main restaurant, the Palomar nightspot in Soho impresses with its small sharing plates- and now you can bring this communal experience home with mezze and sweet pastry pieces. For dessert? Tahini ice cream.
Sabrina Ghayour is the author behind Persiana, which was an incredible, inspirational book to cook with, charting unfamiliar territory with ease for all home cooks. The British-Iranian chef is better than Ottolenghi for Middle Eastern-inspired food that you actually want to eat immediately, to the point where you even start clawing the page. Her new book comes highly anticipated- though at first glance we miss the look of her sparkly first cover. The sirocco is a hot, dusty wind that hits Europe from North Africa: a romantic title for her mix of Mediterranean and African influences.
Ross Shonhan and Tom Moxon
We reckon that, when it comes down to a weeknight when you're dashing into a Tesco between work and wine, the restaurant book you're most likely to actually use will be Bone Daddies: the London restaurant chain which is holding fort during the current ramen wars as one of the best place for bao and broth in the capital. Comprising a myriad of delicious and easy ramen bar dishes, it's cheeky and tasty, providing you start with a good bone broth.
The Cook Book, Fortnum and Mason
Tom Parker Bowles
Out 7 October
Yes, that's the son of Camilla Parker Bowles, and he's a food critic for The Mail on Sunday amongst other national publications. His last book was all about meat. And Fortnum's? Well, that's the Piccadilly Department store that first opened its doors in 1707. Famed for a recent art exhibition, excellent bathrooms, loose leaf tea (this season, we recommend the Christmas Tea blend) and beautifully assembled hampers, Fortnum's is the best giftshop for the hungry in your life. The cook book, then, comes with an excellent British pedigree and the recipes are no less traditional: scotch eggs and afternoon tea scones, grilled bones and welsh rarebit. But, it being Fortnum's, it will be the best scotch egg you've ever eaten.
Speaking of big daddies: Anthony Bourdain is releasing his first cook book in ten years. The author of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, you'd be forgiven for being surprised that the New York chef is back on the cookbook scene. He's almost above cookery now, having not worked in a restaurant for years and releasing his memoir in 2010. He's outspoken, too; in a recent interview with Nuvo, "Everyone lies in cookbooks. That's why they're generally so frustrating. Nobody ever tells you, for instance, that you're going to screw up hollandaise. It's not gonna happen for you the first time. It takes professionals many repeated times." An intriguing must-read.
Rick Stein's Long Weekends
Out 6 October
Affable Rick Stein is a seafood guru and kitchen shelf mainstay. For those timid about gutting or preparing fish he is the gentle, respectful guide. His new book, Long Weekends comes after the BBC series earlier this year, where Stein was allowed to travel around his favourite European holiday destinations and eat- sometimes putting away two lunches and dinners a day! This book doesn't claim to recreate Bordeaux or condone that amount of gorging, though it will hopefully include his wine-country inspired recipe for steak frites with sauce bordelaise. Delicious.
Bread Street Kitchen
Gordon Ramsay and the kitchen team
The first of a three-book-deal signed with Hodder & Stoughton by Gordon Ramsay. His frankly intimidating television presence actually translates onto the page as competent, skillful and interesting recipes that don't patronise the reader or hide behind avocado on toast (we're looking at you, Nigella). This book takes recipes from his London restaurant at St Paul's and takes the reader through the seasons. Though Bread Street hasn't always had rave reviews, this is a great chance for cooks to tackle interesting, restaurant-worthy fare.
Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cook Book
Oh, go on then, Jamie, just because it's Christmas. The incredibly popular chef has released a Christmas cookbook 'years in the making'. Like King Wenceslas's page, he's following in the footsteps of others: in recent years, Mary Berry, Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith have all gone down the Christmas route. Jamie's book includes leftover tips and vegan plates. Find him maddening or find him charming, someone you know will be receiving this for Chrimbo.