Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Gifts : Books for Cooks

With two weeks to go until the big day, there's still time to get presents for your loved ones.  If they're like me and fond of a cookbook or two, might I make some recommendations?  Here's five of my favourites and I think they're perfect books for cooks.

French Regional Food
This book had me at the word French.  I'm a lover of French food and love the regionality of produce in my favourite country from Normandy cider, jars of Mogette beans in the Vendée and Gâteau St. Honoré in Paris.  Written by famed chef Joël Robuchon and historian Loïc Bienassis, French Regional Food is a book to read at your leisure, discovering just how regional French food can be.  Part culinary guidebook, part recipe compendium, this book will fill you with knowledge and inspire you to cook one of the many dishes within.  I'd love somebody to bake me a clafoutis aux cerises noires from Limousin after Entrecote Bareuzai from Burgundy.  

French Regional Food is published by Frances Lincoln Publishers and is priced at £25

How to Be A Better Cook
Lorraine Pascale has had a varied career path since she retired from modelling and has transitioned from catwalk to cuisine very successfully.  Originally known for her baking skills, she's broadened her horizons to make cooking  easy.  A girl after my own heart.  There's TV series after series to accompany the books too and with this fifth book, Lorraine has written this book for reluctant cooks.  Like The Hubs.  He says "reluctant", I say "bone idle and why bother when your wife does all the cooking".  Seventeen years together and the most I've been presented with is a ham and cheese sandwich.  I think I'll bookmark the Tortilla Pizza Bites, Duck & Watermelon salad, baked Miso Salmon and the Spiced Apple Tarte Tatin.  Should I hold my breath though???

How To Be A Better Cook is published by Harper Collins and is priced at £12.49

Can you really write a cookery book about the humble egg?  Michael Ruhlman thinks so and has filled over 200 pages with his culinary exploration of the world's most versatile ingredient.  This isn't his first book and in fact Michael has already written or co-written over 20 books on topics as diverse as chicken fat and dry cured meats.  Egg is divided into seven sections which covers whole eggs, eggs as in ingredient and eggs when separated.  It sounds a little bit bonkers but it actually makes so much sense when you keep reading.  There's a recipe for the perfect fried egg sandwich (I'd substitute the mayo for ketchup), a stunning lemon cream cake and comforting blanquette de veau.  There's even a flowchart at the back of the book which ties everything together perfectly.

Egg is published by Jacqui Small Publishing and is priced at £25.00

Artisan Drinks
Lindy Wildsmith wrote one of my favourite books of 2013 - Cicchetti - which was all about Venetian bar snacks.  Now, bar snacks need drinks and she's filled the gap perfectly with this new book which is all about crafting your own drinks from scratch.  This is a collection of beautiful recipes which mixes old favourites like Ginger Beer (a pivotal ingredient for my favourite Dark n' Stormy cocktail) and modern classics like Damson Gin Fizz.  I have two friends who I know would absolutely adore this book.  G makes his own cocktails and F forages in the countryside so they would have weeks of fun adding to their repetoire.

Artisan Drinks is published by Jacqui Small Publishing and is priced at £25.00

Mich Turner's Cake School
Mich Turner is one of the UK's Queen of Cakes.  She started her career as a patisserie buyer at Harvey Nichols before founding the Little Venice Cake Company in 1999.  She has made cakes for every star you can think of, and then a few more.  In fact, my Mum spotted one of her wedding cakes when we were planning our wedding and was doing her level best to persuade me to order it.  Budget, what budget?  Sadly, common sense prevailed and I had a much more simple cake on the day.  This book is for bakers who want to expand their repertoire and understand the mechanics of baking.  It's full of common sense tips and advice which will change your from nicely average to top of the class.  I adore the Raspberry Rose cake which would be perfect for any elegant occasion.  

Mich Turner's Cake School is published by Jacqui Small Publishing and is priced at £30.00

Other books I loved this year included Bread on the Table, Dinner, Bake Like an Italian, Japanese Soul Cooking and The Nation's Favourite Food Fast!

Tell me which was your favourite - I'd love to know!

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