My name is Emma and I have an addiction. I can’t stop buying cookbooks. Despite a towering collection I seem to buy a new one every few weeks! Having tried many different recipes from many different cookbooks, I have decided to put together some reviews of some of the cookbooks lining my shelves. I thought this would be handy for those you trying to pull together some last minute Christmas gifts.
I’m always looking for a good new cookbook, so if you have a favourite whether it’s a classic or something packed with zingy, experimental recipes, please let me know in the comment box below. Also, if you would like me to review a cookbook that isn’t here, leave a comment below and I’ll do some investigating.
1. It’s All Good – Gwyneth Palthrow
For the lovable health nut in your life, this is a great buy. Poor old Gwyneth got an awful lot of flack with this book as a lot of the ingredients are prohibitably expensive, but just do what I did and substitute some ingredients for what you have. Don’t have a jar of Agave Syrup in your press and don’t have a notion what Stevia is? That’s okay, just use honey. If you adopt this approach to the book you’ll find a few gems. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first… especially at the prospect of making a risotto without any wine or cheese in it, but actually it turned out to be delicious and I’ve made it a few more times since. I recommend this book to health nuts who appreciate good food, but don’t mind spending a little extra time (and in some cases money) for the perfect dish.
2. India – Rick Stein
Perfect for folk who have been bitten with the travel bug and so appreciate a worldy kick of spice and flavour in their meals. Also pretty perfect for any man (don’t all men love curry?) This book is a really great book to take off the shelf every week or two for a delicious mouthwatering curry. It is jam packed with countless recipes from different regions of India, using many different types of meat and fish, it also has a great vegetarian section. I have made a few dahls and chicken dishes out of this and they have all been delicious. The photographs are incredible also, like India itself, the book is bursting with colour and life. Rick is clearly trying to stay as true to the traditional Indian recipes as possible, and as a result a lot of the spice blends are made and mixed from scratch. However, I improvised with what I had in the kitchen and it still always worked really well.
3. The Smitten Kitchen – Deb Perelman
For any aspiring domestic goddess with a sense of humour. I really love this cookbook, Deb Perelman is a New Yorker with a very famous food blog The Smitten Kitchen with a huge following, and for good reason- her stuff is delicious! Some of her recipes are a bit bonkers in that American way of throwing marshmallows, peanut butter and oreos in all sorts of recipes, however it is a great cookbook. I got the book in the summer and made some really unusual salads that were really filling and lip smacking good. It goes without saying that all of her cookies, brownies and pies are delicious. And any cookbook that dedicates a section to pizza? Well, with that kind of attention to the important things in life, how could you say no?
4. The Surf Cafe Cookbook – Jane and Myles Lamberth
I really love this book, in fact we ended up with three copies of it in my parents house. I had bought a copy, my surfer sister bought a copy and someone bought my sister another copy of it too! This is a really good simple Irish recipe book. This would be perfect for someone who is just getting into cooking and wants to recreate the classics that their Irish Mammy does best, while feeling “hip” and “surfer cool” at the same time. This book is also really cool as they have loads of photos of the Irish coast, tips on surfing in Ireland and information on seasonal vegetable growing. I will admit, getting this book made me want to chuck in my job, and move to Strand Hill and become a surfer. Alas, I left that to those less square than myself and instead started making their granola. This is a great basic cookbook to get people started, with some nice little twists in it. A great buy for anyone in their twenties who loves the outdoors.
5. Jamie’s America
I’ll admit I haven’t bought this book, or even read it… This is merely a hint to someone reading this to get it for me for Christmas! I never really thought of America as having it’s own cuisine, but after watching the accompanying TV series I was really impressed with a lot of the soul food recipes he made when he travelled through the southern states of America. I never thought that something called “grits” would make my mouth water, but when Jamie tops his off with butter, prawns and sausage, I want to know about it. Would like to hear peoples thought’s on this one.
6. Rachel Allen- Everyday Cooking
The Allen family’s name lines the kitchen in my parents home from the rows of cookbooks bursting from the shelves. The love affair began with Myrtle Allen’s famous “The Ballymaloe Cookbook” which my parents bought back in their heyday, which now has pages loose, little notes scratched in the side, puffs of flour and dried bits of batter on the pages… A sign of a great, well-used cookbook. We also have our fair share of Darina Allen cookbooks, really and truly, she is the ultimate Irish food guru. The only Allen cookbook in my possession in my house in Dublin is this one by Rachel Allen, and really you can’t beat it for a great collection of classic family meals. It’s one I trust to be fool-proof and delicious, always wholesome, hearty food. This would be perfect for the family who don’t have Domino’s Pizza on their speed-dial, and prefer to eat real food that tastes great and is uncomplicated to make. There are sections on Sunday roasts and baby food also, so a really great family cookbook. I also recommend this to guys or gals who are moving out for the first time and need some guidance. Rachel will sort you out.
7. The Little Paris Kitchen – Rachel Khoo
This is for the sophisticated lady in your life who enjoys the finer things, spent her teens watching Amelie and dreams of moving to Paris. This is a modern take on French classics, all done in a very fuss free way in a kitchen so small that it makes mine look like the Taj Palace. Her TV show is great too, and she is really endearing, you kind of want her to be your cool, stylish friend who will happen to cook you up delicious French meals in her free time. I have made a wide selection of the recipes in this book and loved them all. A lot of the recipes are quite rich, so I wouldn’t necessarily advise cooking them every night of the week, but this is a great cookbook all the same. The madeleines are my favourite little treats from the book. It’s a really charming cookbook with lots of great Parisian imagery and illustrations. Tres chic.
8. What Katie Ate – Katie Quinn Davies
Perfect for the arty person in your life who loves cookbooks for the pictures as much as the recipes… That is no disrespect to the food in this cookbook, as it is all truly delicious. But wow, Katie is an incredible photographer. She actually a food blogger of the exciting food blog What Katie Ate who works as a photographer for loads or really cool magazines too, lives in Australia… Basically living the dream. Her food has some really great twists without being pretentious, I mean Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake… eh, yes please! This is definitely a must buy for the person you know who likes to keep up with the foodie trends (you know the type, they can’t fathom eating chocolate or caramel anymore without some sea salt flakes sprinkled on top). There is a lot of recipes in here to keep you inspired, and they’re all pretty easy to make.
9. Desserts – Mary Berry
One of the reasons I don’t do restaurant reviews on this blog is because I would feel really bad giving a bad review… All that bad karma would keep me awake at night wondering when it would come full circle. So how do I say this, this book would be great for your grandmother or other elderly relative who likes to eat exciting desserts such as flan, trifle, ginger snaps, apple tart, Victoria sponge, coffee cake and so on and so forth.