A feast of reading for all kinds of cooks: Cookbooks of 2013

 

Every year I think “that’s it, I’ve got enough cookbooks”. But rather like a black cardigan, or pair of jeans, one can never quite get past the nagging feeling that the next one might just be the perfect one. And then the shelf collapses.

Did I need another book by my all-time favourite recipe creator? I thought perhaps not, but then I leafed through Simon Hopkinson Cooks (Ebury, £25). Hoppy presents whole menus, painstakingly researched and clearly instructed, that will make even the most nervous cook entertain with elan.

I’ve already raved on these pages about Food DIY, by Tim Hayward (Fig Tree, £25), but it’s worth a quick reminder – it’s the funniest, most informative beyond-the-kitchen food book I know. And speaking of instruction-style titles, Master It, by Rory O’Connell (4th Estate, £25) takes the time to explain clearly – and show in photographs – how to do pretty much everything the modern cook might want. O’Connell, brother of the more famous Darina Allen, teaches at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, and his reassuring voice leaps from the page.

Families pop up in many of the year’s most charming food books: Smashing Plates (Kyle, £19.99) is Maria Elia’s authentic response to spending a summer with her dad in Cyprus with dishes drenched in sunlight and Greece’s strong flavours. Meanwhile Florence Knight, the talented young head chef at Polpetto, speaks movingly of the important role her late father played in her career. One: A Cook and Her Cupboard (Salt Yard Books, £26) is a paean to simplicity. As she says “three ingredients at the most, or four at a push; like a film, a lead and two supporting roles”. The chapters are based on key ingredients: eggs, flour, chocolate, nuts, etc. (It should be noted, the recipe for chocolate pots includes ketchup …) Allegra McEvedy’s Big Table, Busy Kitchen (Quercus, £25) looks back to her mother, whose treasured recipe scrapbook was heartbreakingly lost after her death. McEvedy, now a mother herself, offers a bounteous journey through recipes – starting with easy ones for little cooks – and tips for life in her robust, warm voice.

I love the look of The Ethicurean Cookbook (Ebury, £25) and want to explore it properly next year. From deep in the Mendip Hills, there are recipes and lots of background information on produce and how to prepare it that promotes (its creators say) Ethicurianism as a new British cooking manifesto. And if that sounds right on, it is, but it is also beautiful, delicate food arranged by season, of course.

The marvellous Tom Kerridge’s television-tie-in Proper Pub Food (Absolute Press, £20) will find its way to many kitchens, but the one to watch is the lesser known (outside the industry) Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird. I’ve never been to the famous Portland, Oregon restaurant of the same name, but the book (Ten Speed Press, £30) is witty, pretty and offers a stonking array of meaty delights. It’s got me searching for flights to the chilly NW of the US.

Finally, a little and large. Historic Heston by chef Blumenthal, published by Bloomsbury, comes in its own display case, and is as technically challenging and visually astonishing as you would expect (… for £125). I know I will never make the meat fruit, but I’m glad I can read about it, and many other ancient British dishes, in this book. Then there’s A Fork in the Road, a lovely little Lonely Planet paperback (£8.99) with 34 joyous essays from  notable foodies. A delicious present to settle down with on the sofa after the feast.

And now I need another bookshelf.

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week