Best winter cookbook: British Seasonal Food

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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is a very special book full of inventive and delicious recipes that really show a deep understanding of Britain's fields, rivers, woods and seas and all they have to offer. This is the point of Mark Hix's book, to me (Quadrille, £25), in that it doesn't just deal with our mainstream ingredients, but also other intriguing things from our isles. It's a book about discovery.

Recipes are laid out month by month, showing what produce has just started appearing – this makes the seasonal aspect that much more precise and helpful.

There are many straightforward and easy things to cook, such as crab on toast and spring lamb salad, but dishes like braised wild rabbit with St Georges mushrooms, or soused gurnard with sea purslane should not put people off buying the book. Rather, it should encourage them to try out and engage with new things – with help from the friendly and informative text.

A real sense of environments on a plate spills out of this book, with animals, fish and vegetables cooked up with their neighbours in an honest and uncomplicated approach to the stove.

The photography (by Jason Lowe) makes everything look utterly delicious – even the things that some might find strange. Apart from the food and pictures, though, the whole look is beautiful but modest in its layout, and features wonderful illustrations. Overall, the clean look, pictures and upbeat voice give the whole thing a very cheery feel with months of good eating to look forward to. A cracking book!

Runners-up

Everyday Harumi A great guide to Japanese for beginners, using ingredients available in the UK.

£20, Conran Octopus

Nigel Slater's Tender is lovely. Vegetarian food has never been less dull.

£30, 4th Estate

Matt Tebbutt's Cooks Country Gutsy full-on fare; cooking with proper heart.

£20, Mitchell Beazley.

'What to Eat Now', by Valentine Warner, Mitchell Beazley, £20

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