Our favourite cookery books

The Kitchen Diaries II
Nigel Slater (4th Estate, £30, *£24)

Culled from ‘a scruffy hotchpotch… of anything and everything I need to remember’, the second phase of Diaries covers a collection from the notebooks, such as how to use up marmalade and praise for Heinz baked beans ‘embellished with a bit of chilli or Marmite’. Cooking as it really is, but by a master craftsman; a book for serious home cooks.

Hugh’s Three Good Things
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
(Bloomsbury, £25, *£20)

HFW does simplicity very well. Obviously, more than three ingredients are needed, but these are the essentials of each recipe: tomato, bread and olive oil; steak, Cheddar and gherkins; carrots, almonds and cumin. You get the idea-follow the recipes and then think of your own.

Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £26, *£20)

What marks Nigella out from other cookery writers is the quality of her prose. Read the intro here to spot the real person behind the glamour-puss persona. The recipes are her unique version of Italian dishes, with modest disclaimers about authenticity. I’m going to enjoy making them, especially trying her idea of cooking chips from cold. Petrina Tinslay’s photos are terrific.

Recipes from the
English Market
Michelle Horgan (Cork University Press, £25, *£23.50)

The 1788 English market in Cork was voted one of the 10 best in Europe, so it’s a clever idea to ask stallholders to reveal their recipes. We get O’Flynn’s Bangers and Mash and Bresnan’s Beef Casserole with Murphy’s Stout, plus advice on buying knives and the history of Milleens cheese. A broth of a book.

Salt, Sugar, Smoke
Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, £20, *£18)

Preserving with salt, sugar and smoke is, at first sight, rather abstruse. But Diana Henry is adept at convincing us of her own enthusiasms. Being obsessed with ingredients myself, this is the book for me: I smoke my own salmon, salt my own bacon, marinade my feta under oil. Terrific for dedicated cooks.

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Let’s Eat
Tom Parker Bowles (Pavilion,
£25, *£20)

The author starts off with a rant about using seasonal and local ingredients (how boring to have no lemons), but continues with delicious, sensible recipes such as My Mother’s Roast Chicken (and we know who she is). Neither boring nor fussy-a very good read.

The Food of Morocco
Paula Wolfert (Bloomsbury, £35, *£31.50)

Family Bible-sized, with excellent photography by Quentin Bacon, this must be the final say on North Africa’s most delectable food. It’s genuine and scholarly, but you need to be enthusiastic about the cuisine to tackle this. Good for cookery-book collectors.

Limoncello and Linen Water
Tessa Kiros (Murdoch, £25, *£22.50)

In the Kiros mould of family connections, recipes and photographs (her husband is Italian). The book does cover linen water and laundry, but it’s more about simple cucina casalinga from handwritten family recipe books. The styling by Michail Topuros and photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis are superb.

Mark Hix on Baking (Quadrille, £20, *£18)
Baking, as Mark Hix points out, is not just about cakes. So we have cheese straws, baked onion, salmon and chicken, sausage rolls and grissini. Even better, Mr Hix has no problems about using ready-made, all-butter pastry-it saves a huge amount of trouble.

Foolproof Cooking Food for Family and Friends
Rosemary Shrager (Hamlyn, £18.99, *£16.99)

You can tell that this chef is also a teacher. Recipes are described in perfect detail, with added photographs, plus there are des-criptions of equipment, jointing and the difference between small and large julienne. Very helpful, but I wonder why anyone makes their own pork pies (five pages) when the shop ones are so good.

Peter Gordon (Jacqui Small, £25, *£20)

Genuinely easy cooking for every day, but with a Peter Gordon twist-balsamic butter on scones, a soup of cucumber, coconut and dill, and dried fruit with maple syrup and almonds. All delicious, all easy, all different.

Ard Bia Cook Book
Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy (Atrium/Cork University Press, £35, *£32)

Ard Bia is a Galway restaurant and pretty friendly it looks. Recipes vary from Irish ones, such as Dillisk scones, to tagines and tabbouleh. Lots of advice about ingredients. Immaculate design, but why use portrait photographs with the face hidden behind teapots and tin trays?

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press, £27, *£23)

More in the Culinaria tradition, a portrait of one of the most famous and diverse cities on Earth. The design and photography by Jonathan Lovekin are striking, but the recipes are just a bit exotic for most of us (however, do try the spiced rice pudding by a Glaswegian cook).

Magnus Nilsson (Phaidon, £35, *£30)

I don’t think even the publishers mean you to cook from this lovely-looking book. You need a large Nordic forest to hand for ingredients-‘vinegar matured in the burnt-out trunk of a spruce tree’, ‘scallops cooked over burning juniper branches’ and birch syrup. You also need a very good botanical encyclopaedia so you don’t poison yourself. But, it’s fun!

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