The Ten Best Cookbooks

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1 First Catch your Hare by Hannah Glasse

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was published in 1747, but Clarissa regularly cooks recipes from it. "A dish I often do is cooked cucumbers, which is delicious. The curry recipe is also very good."

Prospect Books, £20

2 A New Book of Middle Eastern Food Claudia Roden

As with all of Claudia Roden's books, this is full of entertaining stories and anecdotes that bring her authentic recipes to life. "An essential part of any kitchen library" says Clarissa.

Penguin Books Ltd, £15.99

3 The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

Subtitled Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant, this is "a must-have book for vegetarians and anyone who has to cook for them," says Clarissa.

Grub Street Publishing, £16.99

4 Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book

This is more of a reference than a cookery book, full of facts on the most obscure veg. Impeccably researched and informative, Clarissa thinks it contains everything you're likely to need to know.

Penguin Books Ltd, £10.99

5 The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

"My step-grandfather had a cook called Fuzda who made a fantastic dish," says Clarissa. "It died with him because no one wrote it down, but Claudia Roden found it, in this book."

Penguin Books Ltd, £16.99

6 The Classic Food of Northern Italy by Anne Del Conte

With a glowing foreword from Delia Smith, Anna Del Conte's book on Italian food "appears on cook's bookshelves everywhere". With more than 150 recipes, it's "the Bible of Italian cooking," says Clarissa.

Pavilion, £12.99

7 English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David

"I'm not the world's greatest fan of Elizabeth David," confesses Clarissa, "but she has to be in the 10 best somewhere." This award-winning book is the place to look for old-fashioned bread, muffin and bun recipes.

Penguin Books Ltd, £9.99

8 The Accomplisht Cook by Robert May

"This 17th-century collection of recipes is available in facsimile and it's wonderful," says Clarissa. It is the prototype of the modern cookery book, and includes charming illustrations and a biography of the author.

Prospect Books, £16.99

9 The Rice Book by Sri Owen

As well as containing 200 rice recipes - from how to make perfect fluffy rice to a range of delicious sauces - The Rice Book is an encyclopaedia of rice, with discussions of its history, nutritional value and the myths surrounding it. "An extremely practical book," thinks Clarissa.

Frances Lincoln Publishers, £9.99

10 The Compleat Mustard Rosamond Man and Robin Weir

"This book is full of wonderful mustard recipes and it has the history of mustard as well," says Clarissa. A fascinating read; if you can't find a new copy, second-hand bookshops and websites should stock it.

Constable London, from £6.50

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