I love cookbooks and I am well and truly a cookbook hoarder… I love to buy books, my house is a miniature library and this is amplified when there are books on food and drink involved! Here you can read honest cookbook reviews of my latest purchases.
If you have a cookbook that you would like me to review please do get in touch via my contact page.
River Cottage Veg Every Day! By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
This is one of my most used cookbooks, it is informative and full of great recipe inspiration for eating more vegetables – which in turn makes my food bill somewhat smaller! I adore the butternut squash and fennel lasagne, it is creamy, comforting and delicious. I am a meat-eater, and it baffles me when vegetarians are cooked or given the same meal as meat eaters but with a poor fake-meat substitute (veggie chicken nuggets/sausages I am looking at you) and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall obviously feels the same. These dishes are hearty, using seasonally easy to come by ingredients, and the vegetables are the stars of the show. There is no fussy cooking here, it is hearty, wholesome home cooking.
POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) By Russell Norman
Polpo is such a gorgeous cookbook, gives you lots of information on Venice and Venetian food and it has my go-recipe for pizza dough. There are a great variety of main courses, crostini, cocktails, desserts – and lots of seafood (which I adore). I loved this cookbook before I had been to Venice, and I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful city last spring. When we were there we sought out local restaurants and discovered lots of fresh and tasty dishes. So many of these I found I could recreate from Polpo when I returned back home, from the delicious salt cod to the heavenly pork and beef polpette. The only dish that I can’t get to work (and is super fiddly) is the fried stuffed olives, but other than that every other dish has been fantastic. Highly recommended!
Baking Made Easy By Lorraine Pascale
The selection of cakes, bakes and savory dishes in this cookbook is great, it covers pretty much every occasion (there is even a little croquembouche – which is a traditional wedding cake in France). If there is a sweet dish you want to try out it is probably in this book, from cookies, honeycomb and tarte tatin to jam roly poly and rum babas. There are also a few breads and savoury dishes as well, so it ticks both sweet and savoury boxes. The recipes are clear and the photographs mouthwatering, this is a great book for baking inspiration.
Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon By Claudia Roden
This is a gem of a cookbook. The detail on the ingredients, cooking styles and flavours used for each country is fantastic. It is split into the three countries, with an introduction for each, followed by a chapter division of starters, main courses and desserts which makes it really easy to navigate. It has great recipes for quick dinners such as the sauteed chicken with tomato pilaf (one of my favourites) or the kofte kebab with tomato sauce and yoghurt. There are also lots of lovely dishes for when you have guests over, from delicious tagines to chermoula marinated cod with potatoes and tomatoes. The photographs of the dishes are mouthwatering, however I do wish there were photographs for a few more of the recipes, especially the more unusual ones.
If you are lucky enough to live by the sea, or have a fantastic fish counter nearby, then this book is perfect – however, if like me you live a few hours from the coast, sourcing some of the ingredients can be tricky. That said, if you are splashing out on an expensive fish then you want a cookbook in which you can trust the recipe will work and taste great, and that is certainly the case with Rick Stein’s Spain. The book focuses on each individual region, with plenty of introduction to the traditional flavours, landscape and people who have influenced the cuisine. One of my most favourite dishes ever comes from this book, baked scallops with guindilla pepper, chorizo and breadcrumbs. We cook it every new year as a starter, it is heavenly! The small spicy Moorish kebabs are delicious, and rice with monkfish, saffron and red peppers is a firm favourite.
Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond By Sabrina Ghayour
Persianna is a cookbook that will make you very hungry! I cooked most of our New Year’s Eve feast from it – the dips and salads went down very well indeed, especially the pistachio and feta dip and the spicy tomato and pepper dip. Unlike many eastern cookbooks which have some tricky to find ingredients (unless you have a specialist shop down the road) the only thing I have needed to purchase has been Pomegranate syrup, which if you plan to cook a lot from this book is a great investment. Other than that everything else has been very easy to purchase. I really recommend the delicious tomato bulgar wheat dish, a great alternative to rice or pasta for dinner and it is so easy to make! The tagines and stews I have cooked so far have all been absolutely delicious! Only word of warning is that the recommended salt quantities seem very high, I halve or even quarter them.