This year’s cookery books are simple and Green (lots of wild food), with recipes for real cooks, rather than chef’s eye-candy. Here’s my choice in order of approval.
The Cook’s Book of Ingredients
(Dorling Kindersley, £30)
Exhaustive list of up-to-date ingredients with added recipes, clearly photographed and laid out in the way DK does best, from the obvious-potatoes-to the obscure-rice paddy herb. Ideal, not only for beginners, but also for sophisticated cooks.
What to Cook and How to Cook It
Jane Hornby (Phaidon, £24.95)
More than 400 pages with step-by-step recipes, often taking more than four pages each. They range from a sandwich to surprisingly complex dishes such as coq au vin and curries. The emphasis is on student-type food, although it would suit any beginner.
How I Cook
Skye Gyngell (Quadrille, £25)
Chef Gyngell retains her
common-sense approach to luscious food that doesn’t need a laboratory. Her added tips are worth the price alone.
Recipes and Ramblings
Elisabeth Luard (Oldie, £14.99)
A book collected from her Oldie columns and outstandingly illustrated by herself. Mrs Luard is a veteran and award-winning cookery writer who feels no need to show off. A tasty present.
Kitchen Garden Companion
This writer got into vegetable gardening helping Australian primary-school children to grow their own. Excellent gardening advice (with tips for children) and allied recipes makes this perfect for country mothers, but why it comes with a loose fabric cover like a sofa is beyond me-take it straight off.
The Home Cookbook
Monty and Sarah Don
And now a book from gardeners turned cooks. Good home recipes (chicken pie, toad-in-the-hole, crumbles), with not too much emphasis on vegetables. This is about living in the country with a garden, a few hens, good food shops and farmer’s markets.
Food from Plenty
Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, £25)
A celebration of good food with-out planet-killer guilt trips. Food, she says, is about giving pleasure without extravagance. As always with this writer, an inspiring and beautiful book.
Food From Many
Tessa Kiros (Murdoch, £25)
Greece (arguably) doesn’t have a great cuisine and this book is more enjoyable for its evocative scenes of Greek life. If you long for Homer’s wine-dark sea, this volume is for you (apart from the horrid italic type printed in sickly turquoise).
And now for something completely different
The Flavour Thesaurus
NIki Segnit (Bloomsbury £18.99)
The most innovative cookbook of the year. Niki Segnit explores what goes with what-chocolate with cauliflower, rosemary with rhubarb-with wit, charm and travellers’ tales. Hundreds of ideas, -a brilliant newcomer.