Have yourself a Mary little Xmas: And garnish with some Rick Stein, Gordon Ramsay, James Martin and Ottolenghi… Constance Craig Smith selects the year’s best cookery books
LOVE TO COOK by Mary Berry (BBC £26, 301 pp)
LOVE TO COOK
by Mary Berry (BBC £26, 301 pp)
You know you can relax when you’re in the hands of Dame Mary Berry, whose recipes work every time. Il 120 dishes here are just right for cosy family suppers, and she knows exactly what her audience likes: tasty pasta dishes, hearty roasts, a good range of plant-based options and a smattering of decadent puddings.
‘I really do love to cook,' lei scrive, and her enthusiasm is infectious.
RICK STEIN AT HOME
Rick Stein admits he rather enjoyed confinamento and the chance it gave him to cook for his family.
This lovely book is studded with anecdotes and reminiscences to accompany dishes like seafood pancakes, slow-cooked pork in milk and the hummingbird cake he had for his 60th birthday.
RAMSAY IN 10 by Gordon Ramsay (Hodder £25, 256 pp)
Confinamento, lui dice, taught him that food plays an enormous role in ‘cheering us all up’.
RAMSAY IN 10
by Gordon Ramsay (Hodder £25, 256 pp)
Can you really knock up perfect lasagne, curry or sticky toffee pudding in just ten minutes?
While Ramsay concedes that he cooks faster than most, he shows that speedy, delicious food is achievable for anyone.
Based on his popular YouTube lockdown series, this is a splendid book for cooks in a hurry and his list of ‘cheat’ ingredients, like porcini powder (essiccato, ground mushrooms) is a revelation.
by James Martin (Quadrille £22, 224 pp)
SICILIA by Ben Tish (Bloomsbury £26, 304 pp)
James Martin calls butter ‘yellow gold’ and this unashamedly self-indulgent book ranges from sumptuous snacks such as French toast sandwich — incorporating a calorie-busting half a block of butter — to showstoppers such as roast crab with lime and chilli butter and puddings like brown butter cake with bourbon butter glaze. But don’t try using any butter substitutes: ‘They’re not a food,’ Martin shudders.
by Ben Tish (Bloomsbury £26, 304 pp)
After decades of Arab rule in the 9th- century, the cuisine of Sicily still reflects Moorish influences, with saffron, pistachios and pomegranates featuring heavily in the region’s dishes.
This joyful book revels in the food of the Mediterranean’s largest island, from arancini — saffron-scented rice balls — to pasta with almond cream and fresh crab, plus baked sweets and ice creams.
A mouthwatering treat.
SUGAR, I LOVE YOU by Ravneet Gill (Pavilion £20, 208 pp)
SUGAR, I LOVE YOU
by Ravneet Gill (Pavilion £20, 208 pp)
Pastry chef and Junior Bake Off judge Ravneet Gill advises readers to ‘lean into the sugar and have fun’. This lively and colourful book features unusual cakes, biscuits and puddings: highlights include miso, caramel and chocolate tart, Indian semolina shortbread and a no-bake white chocolate cheesecake.
There’s plenty here for baking novices, plus more sophisticated challenges, like intricate patisserie.
THE SHORTCUT COOK
by Rosie Reynolds (Hardie Grant £15, 160 pp)
If your heart sinks at the prospect of cooking yet another family meal, this is the book for you.
These recipes can all be rustled up quickly and feature ingenious shortcuts, such as a super-speedy béchamel sauce, vegetables cooked with their skins on, or smashed shortbread biscuits used as a crumble topping.
Becoming a shortcut cook could be just the thing to wean us off takeaways.
by Orlando Murrin (Ryland Peters & Small £18.99, 176 pp)
Most recipes are designed for four or six people but this friendly, chatty book is aimed at those who cook on a smaller scale ‘in a mood of relaxation, fun and companionship’. Murrin, a former Masterchef semi-finalist, showcases contemporary European food, with some Mexican and Asian influences.
From cowboy chilli con carne to chocolate lava pudding, these are uncomplicated dishes that are just right for dinner à deux.
VIETNAMESE by Uyen Luu (Hardie Grant £22, 224 pp)
by Uyen Luu (Hardie Grant £22, 224 pp)
This charming book declares that the key to Vietnamese cookery lies in ‘balancing sweet, sour, salty, umami, bitter and hot’.
Few special ingredients are required — though good-quality fish sauce is a must — and there are plenty of soups, verdure, roasts, noodle dishes and salads which contain intense flavour but aren’t time-consuming to prepare.
Vietnamese cuisine is happy and joyful, Luu says, and this book proves it.
AN A-Z OF PASTA
by Rachel Roddy (Fig Tree £25, 352 pp)
There are up to 600 different shapes of pasta, from the familiar ravioli and spaghetti to the more obscure rigatoni and cavatelli.
Roddy, a long-time Italian resident, include 50 types of pasta and recipes for the sauces that work best with each.
This beautiful book, also an affectionate guide to Italy, its regions and culinary history, shows just how versatile and varied pasta can be.
by Ed Smith (Quadrille, £ 25, 256 pp)
City lawyer-turned-chef Ed Smith arranges his recipes according to flavours, from ‘fresh and fragrant’ and ‘chilli and heat’ to ‘spiced and curried’ and ‘cheesy and creamy’. His inventive dishes, such as swede, sage and Cheddar gratin or haggis wontons with chilli oil, often require a fair amount of skill.
OTTOLENGHI TEST KITCHEN: SHELF LOVE by Noor Murad and Yottam Ottolenghi (Ebury £25, 257 pp)
Crave is the book for confident cooks eager to try something new.
OTTOLENGHI TEST KITCHEN: SHELF LOVE
by Noor Murad and Yottam Ottolenghi (Ebury £25, 257 pp)
Famous for his love of esoteric ingredients, Ottolenghi insists that Shelf Love uses only those that are likely to be found lurking in your store cupboard. Come sempre, he has an original way with pulses, vegetables and grilled meats, and there’s also a selection of sumptuous sweets.
With tips on ingredient substitutions and how to prepare dishes in advance, this is Ottolenghi’s most approachable book yet.
by Claudia Roden (Ebury £28, 320 pp)
In her latest book the great food writer Claudia Roden, adesso 85, flits between the cuisines of Italy, Francia, tacchino, Egitto, Spain and Morocco. Five years in the writing, Med is both a beautifully produced cookbook and an engaging travel journal.
Roden’s dishes positively burst with zest and colour and, from her spiced saffron rice to a classic French lemon tart, this is the sunniest of books.
ONE POT, PAN, PLANET
by Anna Jones (4th Estate £26, 336 pp)
Anna Jones’s stylish vegetarian food has earned her a devoted following.
These fresh, appealing recipes, such as halloumi, lemon and caramelised onion pie, green pepper and pistachio risotto or a superb baked dahl, can be cooked in a single pot, pan or tray.
There’s great emphasis here on reducing food and plastic waste: Questo, lei dice, is ‘a way of eating that will help the planet’.
VA VA VOOM VEGAN CAKES by Angela Romeo (Ryland Peters & Small £16.99, 144 pp)
VA VA VOOM VEGAN CAKES
by Angela Romeo (Ryland Peters & Small £16.99, 144 pp)
Making a melt-in-the-mouth cake without eggs, butter or milk is quite a challenge, but this luscious book shows how it can be done.
It’s packed with more than 50 vegan cakes and bakes, from rose petal chocolate cake to a gin and tonic traybake, and there is a recipe for egg-free meringues using aquafaba, the liquid from chickpeas, instead of egg whites. A book to delight even non-vegans.
A COOK’S BOOK
by Nigel Slater (4th Estate, £30, 512 pp)
Reading Nigel Slater is like meeting up with an old friend; few cookery writers draw you into their life in quite the same way.
This magisterial book, a collection of his most frequently cooked recipes, is crammed with clever ways with chicken, easy stews, wholesome salads as well as classic puddings.
Nothing here is too complex, since Slater’s mantra is ‘let’s just make something good for dinner and enjoy ourselves’.
by Matt Tebbutt (Quadrille £22, 224 pp)
Chef Matt Tebbutt, presenter of the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, believes weekends are all about leisurely meals, whether that’s brunch, a family barbecue or a convivial Sunday lunch.
His recipes take in many different cuisines, so you’ll find Alpine-style stuffed bread, American Cobb salad, Cape Malay lamb curry and apricot Linzer torte. This is fun, relaxed cooking for people who enjoy experimenting with different tastes and flavours.
FINCH BAKERY by Lauren and Rachel Finch (DK £20, 239 pp)
by Lauren and Rachel Finch (DK £20, 239 pp)
The Finch sisters, social media stars who run a Lancashire bakery, made their name with treats like candy floss cake, red velvet cookie sandwiches and their famous layered cake jars.
Their debut book guides you through creating cakes with eye-catching icing, and fun taste combinations — lemon and blueberry blondies, chiunque?
A cookbook for young bakers who want to make Instagrammable cakes.
FROM THE VEG PATCH
by Kathy Slack (Ebury £25, 287 pp)
Kathy Slack is a food writer and keen vegetable grower and manages to combine both of her passions in this delightful book, with chapters built around everyday produce such as courgettes, beans, kale, tomatoes and pears.
From pea and paneer curry to beetroot cheesecake with green sauce, the recipes positively burst with freshness. An inspirational guide for anyone wanting to get more fruit and veg into their diet.
by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Pavilion £26, 243pp)
The authors run Honey & Smoke, a popular London restaurant which specialises in grilled Middle Eastern food, and believe grilling gives food a unique intensity of flavour.
Chasing Smoke is not only a strikingly original cookbook but also a travelogue taking in the cuisines of Turkey, Giordania, Israele, Egypt and Greece.
The recipes are clearly explained and, although they may sound exotic, do not require too many fancy ingredients.
To buy any book on these pages per 10% discount visit www. mailshop.co.uk/Christmas or chiamata 020 3176 2937