How many cook books do you buy? For me if it has some great pictures with easy to follow recipes then I’ll buy it. The Gent has often bought me books for Christmas etc, all of which have been used at least as reference books, especially on the occasional insomniac nights. Looking at the wonderful pictures and being inspired by the recipes helps my brain to relax and get back to sleep.
My latest acquisition is Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen‘. I bought this because I wanted the recipe for Venetian Carrot Cake, which I have yet to make. This is quite a thick book with 190 recipes and some wonderful colour pictures, I just had to buy it. The ‘Nigella Bites’ book contains the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe that I’ve made over the years. This recipe has never failed me and continues to be my favourite chocolate cake.
One book I’ve used quite a lot this year, the wrinkled, well used pages give evidence of this, is Rachel Allen’s ‘Bake’. I’ve added pencil ticks at the top of the pages to indicate how good the recipe is and whether I should make it again. In the side columns I’ve added notes on how I changed or double up the recipe. Great pictures, but not with every recipe. If you are a home baker, this book is a must. Many years ago I spent the most wonderful couple of days at the Ballymaloe Cookery School where Rachel now teaches. It is my greatest wish to go back there one day.
Another favourite of mine and one I refer to for all my pastry making is The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis. The page ‘Mastering Pastry’ has more of my pencil markings in the side columns than the text itself. But it is a much-loved book.
After watching the Barefoot Contessa series on the Food Channel, I just had to have a couple of Ina Garten’s books, so I ordered ‘Back to Basics’ and Barefoot in Paris.The family favourite recipe is Salmon with Lentils in the Paris book. I alternate this with Tuna instead of the salmon. What I wouldn’t give to be able to fly out to East Hampton and visit Ina in her lovely home and learn more about American Cooking.
Two books that I’m constantly referring to are Afternoon Tea Parties by Susannah Blake and The Perfect Afternoon Tea Book by Antony Wild and Simona Hill. I say constantly referring to, because I look for inspiration for my Secret Afternoon Tea Events which I hold once a month. Antony Wild, the book says, “has a strong tea heritage. His Uncle founded the famous Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms in Yorkshire“. As soon as I read that, I knew that this book was perfect for me. It contains a chapter on ‘The Etiquette of Afternoon Tea” lots of Sandwich recipes, Finger Food, Cakes and Tarts, in fact everything you need to know about Afternoon Tea. Betty’s has a Cookery School . I’ve been to one of their open days and it has some fabulous kitchens. This year I wanted to attend the Advance Kitchen Skills 5 day course only to find it fully booked up.
Susannah Blake’s Book Afternoon Tea Parties also contains information about Tea along with a Host of Themed Afternoon Tea Party recipes such as the Baby Shower, Valentine’s Day Tea and many more. If you are an Afternoon Tea fan, these 2 books are great to have in your collection.
Last, but by no means least, I have the old proverbial Stork Baking book. This was my mum’s, and the one recipe I use from this is the Scone recipe. Even this I have adapted. Then there is my own file that contains recipe pages pulled from magazines, that one day I will get around to making but can’t bring myself to throw away until I do. As a result the collection grows until it almost makes a book in itself. I think we all have a file like this one.
So there you have it, some of my favourite Cookery/Baking books. What are you favourite books and what do you recommend I buy next.