The Ten Best: Party cookbooks

'No-Cook Cookbook' by Orlando Murrin (£16.99, published by Quadrille Publishing)

A year after it was published, I'm still recommending this book to anyone who has to entertain guests but lacks confidence. It's hard to get anxious about cooking when the recipe doesn't require you to do any, and so you are free to worry about other things - the kids, the drinks, the difficult uncle. Murrin's clever shopping tricks will see you safely through weekday menus too.

'The Constance Spry Cookery Book' by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume (£25, published by Grub Street Publishing)

The first edition of this encyclopaedic book was published in 1956 and, while some of the terminology may seem outdated, it's also imbued with practicality and frugality, from which us youngsters could do well to learn. Chapter one goes into wonderful detail on planning a canapé menu.

'Perfect Parties' by Alison Price (£14.99, published by Kyle Cathie Ltd)

The book to choose if you aspire to host an extravaganza. Price's esteemed catering company arranges the type of functions that take a lot of commitment, time and money - dreamlike weddings, celebrity-packed private dos and corporate occasions to wow clients. But even armchair caterers will find plenty of inspiration and useful counsel here.

'Diva Cooking' by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Jennifer Joyce (£14.99, published by Mitchell Beazley)

Don't be put off by the embarrassing title or migraine-inducing photography, co-author Jennifer Joyce is an accomplished teacher and her modern recipes, such as the spicy prawns with Moroccan tomato jam, are delicious. The book is crammed with tips and is strong on the benefits of advance preparation.

'Diffordsguide to Cocktails Volume 5' by Simon Newlyn Difford (£24.97, published by Sauce Guides)

Oh dear. I've just realised I've only got Volume 3, not the latest edition of this professional bartender's bible. Though, with 1,400 colour-illustrated cocktails to work through (including 200 that are made from a cabinet cleverly limited to ten spirits and liqueurs), I had not got to the point of missing the additional 100 recipes the new version contains. The clear photography and instructions make the mixologists' art crystal clear.

'Feast' by Nigella Lawson (£25, published by Chatto and Windus)

How often do you cook for 12 or more people? Not often, and that's why it's good on such occasions to have a book that will help you cope with the volume of food and work required. Lawson's trademark reassuring style is the icing on this delicious cake, tempting one not just to feast but to issue invitations more frequently.

'Party Food' and 'Party Drinks' (£9.99 each, published by Ryland Peters & Small)

Not books, but two smart collections of beautifully photographed cookery cards sold in little snap-shut packs. Simply pull out the recipes you want to make and enjoy the bench space you've just created in the kitchen. The recipes are a "best of" selection from the publisher's archives, including the work of skilled food stylists and authors such as Maxine Clark, Fiona Smith and Fran Warde.

'Living and Eating' by John Pawson and Annie Bell (£17.50, published by Ebury Press)

Take a relaxed approach to entertaining with this new paperback edition of a book designed to bridge the gap between how we eat on a daily basis, and how we entertain friends. Annie Bell's "To Begin" chapter features all the recipes you need for a gorgeously simple (and healthy) finger-and-fork affair, and the food styling is exquisite.

'Rita's Culinary Trickery' by Rita Konig (£17.50, published by Ebury Press)

I don't hold with Konig's advice of buying a takeaway curry and presenting it as your own work, least of all to the mother-in-law, but there are plenty of useful tips in this pretty book, designed to make entertaining easier for people who aren't keen cooks. Most importantly, it resurrects the idea that hospitality and kindness - not culinary dexterity - are the foundations of a good gathering.

'Lyn Hall's Cookery Course' by Lyn Hall (£25, published by Conran Octopus)

Lyn Hall hosted my engagement party with incredible flair in a tiny one-bedroom flat, proving that you don't need a huge kitchen to throw a successful bash. The "Entertaining" section of her book is concise but offers ruthlessly honest advice and instruction that I've seen nowhere else. Like Trinny and Susannah armed with a rolling pin.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living