I have absolutely loads of cook books, many, I’m embarrassed to admit, I have never used. I am so easily seduced by the mood in the book shop, drool-worthy images, mouth-watering descriptions and the tactile feel of quality paper stock. I’m carried away by the lifestyle images and not really thinking about weeknight rushed cooking in my cramped kitchen. I imagine there are many of you out there nodding your heads in agreement – busted! We all have more cook books than we use; those that spend their time looking good on shelves or coffee tables, and a small stable of stained, rather dog-eared favourites on high rotation.
My fail-safe, go-to, every day favourites are Jamie Oliver and Donna Hay, and I have a huge collection of print-outs from websites and recipe cuttings from magazines and newspapers and the backs of food packets, and bits of paper where friends have hastily jotted down recipes for me. These form the back-bone of my repertoire. The new favourites I’m exploring right now are A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones, and Moroccan Soup Bar – Recipes of a Spoken Menu by Hana Assafiri. I’ve done a bit of a dance with Plenty and Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, with mixed results and a large portion of my life I will never get back. I have a few strange ones I’ve brought back from holidays, like Specialities of the House from Kenya’s finest Restaurants by Kathy Eldon, featuring recipes such as Mbaazi wa Nazi, pigeon pea and coconut milk curry (sorry – no idea what pigeon peas are). I’ve never made anything at all from Quay – food inspired by nature by Peter Gilmore, but the photos are seriously stunning!
I thought a cook book review series might be a good idea, to help me get out of my rut and try a few new things. Who knows, maybe some will join the high rotation gang after this. So, I’ve decided to share my go-to cook books with you, review a couple of new favourites, and possibly (not promising anything) try out a few of the never-touched books.
I’m going to aim to review one cook book per month, trying out a few recipes and sharing my experiences with you. They will be all sorts of books, new and old; high-brow and humble. I’m sure the results will be mixed, but I’m hoping it will be a bit of fun and my family will be glad to try something new. It’s going to take a bit of time and organisation, so please be patient. Are you ready?
Wish me luck!