My Cook Book Collection

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I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a photograph of bookshelves in an interiors magazine, I can’t help but scrutinise the picture to see what they have. I’ve even been known to go out and buy books after first seeing them in some house tour or other, perhaps in a bid to have a slice of their lifestyle for myself.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d show you my cook book collection. Its home is the shelves on our kitchen island and it contains a mix of TV chefs, cookery writers, specialist books and classics; some incredibly well-used, others less so, and a few not at all (to date, anyway!).

Whilst occasionally I edit out books I’m not keen on to make room for more, there are several books on these shelves that will forever be assured of a place in our home, for a whole host of reasons. Here are a few of them:

1) ‘Real Cooking’ by Nigel Slater – Received as a gift from some dear friends nearly 13 years ago, I credit this book with sparking my love of food and cooking. If I was to have a desert island cook book, this would be it.

2) ‘The Complete Illustrated Cookery Course’ by Delia Smith – Everyone should have a copy of this modern classic in their kitchen in my opinion. Whilst it shows its ages in places, it remains my ‘go to’ book for everything from dumplings to Christmas cake.

3) ‘The Naked Chef’ by Jamie Oliver – This is another book I’ve had for ages; I really associate it with my post-university years and the first place that my husband and I bought together in Shepherd’s Bush. Jamie may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really admire him for everything he has achieved in the last decade or so, and will always be grateful to this book for teaching me how to make risotto.

4) ‘Roast Figs & Sugar Snow’ by Diana Henry – I’d buy this book for the title and photography alone. Happily however, the recipes are fabulous and really come into their own at this time of year. Hailing from the snowiest parts of Northern Europe and North America the dishes are the epitome of seasonal cooking.

5) ‘Tropical Asian Cooking’ by Wendy Hutton – Another sentimental choice as I’ve actually had this for over 10 years. It was a gift from the hotel where my husband and I spent our honeymoon and is a lovely reminder of a blissful two weeks of winter sun. Shamefully, I have yet to cook a recipe from it, which I suspect is down the the long lists of ingredients needed for many of the recipes, however now I’ve rediscovered it, I think I will resolve to make something from it soon.

6) ‘No Time Party Cakes’ by Carol Deacon – Never has there been a more misleading title for a cookery book as the decorations are intricate and take hours (see the castle cake on front cover for evidence!). That said, my children use it like a catalogue and choose their birthday cakes from its pages each year, so for that reason alone it will forever occupy a place on my bookshelves as a reminder of their childhood parties.

7) ‘How to Eat: The Pleasures & Principles of Good Food’ by Nigella Lawson – I think many would argue that this is another modern classic. Covering everything from kids’ food to dinner parties, cooking for one or two and preparing meals in advance, this weighty tome has a wonderful narrative style and a ton of tips for making life in the kitchen a little easier. I think I have lost count how many times I’ve made the ‘Gooey Chocolate Puddings’ for friends and family. Insanely good and super-easy.

Which cook books do you treasure and why?

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