Ten cookery books that should be under every foodie’s tree this Christmas
Given the unsavoury year we’ve had, wouldn’t it be nice to end 2020 with a guarantee that the next one will be more palatable? Look no further than your local bookstore. Whether you’ve only just discovered your kitchen or you spent the Great British Bakeoff final thinking you’d have been a more worthy winner, there’s no better way to expand your repertoire than recipes from one of the country’s best chefs. This December, instead of committing to some miserable New Year’s resolution involving a chocolate detox or an all-kale diet, set a more enjoyable culinary goal by adding some of these books to your wishlist. It’s a great way of supporting a hospitality industry hampered by closures, and by ordering from bookshop.org, you can support independent businesses without leaving the house.
Flavour, Yottam Ottolenghi
Ottolenghi has sites all over London, and even during lockdown he’s been busy delivering his trademark plates to every corner of the city, If you’ve somehow not heard of the Israeli-English chef, or you didn’t get on the Simple train, it’s not too late as he has just released a new book, Flavour. Within its pages, Ottolenghi and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three key elements of flavour so that you know exactly how to pack a punch, and why it works, whilst offering up a series of delicious veggie dishes that are low-effort but high-impact.
Simply, Sabrina Ghayour
It turns out Ottolenghi doesn’t have a monopoly on minimalistic cooking. Ghayour’s new book may not be as stunningly beautiful on the outside as her 2017 offering Feast, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts (especially when the content is food-based). Rather than telling you how to cater for parties, this new kitchen bible is all about whipping up easy yet effective everyday dishes. Tasty food needn’t be tiresome, just as weekday meals needn’t be boring. If you’re a veggie, we also recommend checking out Bazaar.
Writer, photographer and Caribbean food enthusiast Riaz Phillips has come together with a vast array of chefs from minority communities to produce a collaborative cookbook, the proceeds of which go towards The Majonzi fund. The charity was set up to help support the BAME families that have been most affected by Covid, and the book itself is intended as a compilation of comforting dishes from people of colour that might help readers to cope in these trying times. Featuring many high-profile contributors, from 12:51’s James Cochran to GBBO’s Ruby Tandoh, this list of recipes inspired by world cuisine is guaranteed to be a treat for the tastebuds.
Nadiya Bakes, Nadiya Hussain
Speaking of the Great British Bakeoff, it would be remiss not to mention that previous winner Nadiya Hussain has just released her latest book, Nadiya Bakes. Since claiming the trophy back in 2015, the baker has become a familiar face on TV, starring in several series, and now she is back to save us from our pandemic panic with a cookery course that will keep our minds on far sweeter things. The contents cover everything from traybakes, biscuits, tarts and breads to showstopping desserts and even “no-bake” cakes, meaning that there is something for every mood and occasion, all served up with that signature smile.
Cook. Eat. Repeat. Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson has become iconic not only for her cooking but by the shamelessly sensual way in which she presents it. But who can blame her for taking pleasure in every plate when it tastes that good? Her new book, Cook. Eat. Repeat. delves even more into the experience of eating by interspersing recipes with stories and reflections from Nigella’s life. The chef wants to tap into the real meanings and emotions that stem from ingredients and dishes, rewriting the standard cookery book format. With indulgent plates such as Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts and decadent desserts like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, it’s suitable for formal dinner parties and lazy Sundays alike.
From Beder’s Kitchen
There’s another exciting charity cookbook that launched this year amidst the chaos of Covid, and it boasts an equally impressive range of contributors, from Gordon Ramsay and Yottam Ottonlenghi to Judy Joo, Romy Gill and Carla Henriques. Proceeds from the book go towards mental health charity Beder to help raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. The book is split into six themed chapters to help you target different areas and look after both your body and mind: Start Your Day The Right Way, Happy Gut, Happy Life, Fast Food, Soul Food and Sweet Treats.
Restore, Gizzi Erstine
If you’re looking for a book that offers not just recipes but also an illuminating exploration into the environmental impact of the food industry, this is the book for you. Delving into the ever-important issues of sustainability and ethical practice from farm to table, Erstine’s book offers up over 100 recipes using seasonal produce that are good for the planet without compromising on flavour. It’s the perfect way to gain insight into cooking from scratch and will instruct you onto how to better use up your ingredients with minimal waste, whether you are using meat or plant-based produce.
Cooking for Christmas, Dishes to Delight
Last but certainly not least, for a themed Christmas cookbook that goes to a good cause, look no further than this timely offering from Dishes to Delight. Compiled by Bre Graham, this collection suggests a decadent repertoire of dishes for the whole festive period, from a special stuffing to a classic baked brie and even an indulgent alternative to the usual flaming pud, Christmas Ice Cream Cake. The book was made in response to the current crisis and as well as including an essay about unplanned Christmas, all proceeds from the project go to Refuge, a charity which helps to find vulnerable women a safe place to stay in these trying and isolating times.
The Whole Fish Cookbook, Josh Niland
Considering that most of us know how many health benefits there are to seafood, it seems about time we put more of it on the menu. With the help of Josh Niland, anyone can learn how to treat everything from classic salmon fillets to cod liver with the respect it deserves through more than 60 examples of the best nose-to-tail cookery. The chef is keen to stress the importance of reducing food waste to create a sustainable industry, but more than that, he wants to show us that this kind of practice isn’t just for forward-thinking restauranteurs; it can be extended to our own kitchen. Encompassing recipes that range from fish cassoulet to the perfect fish and chips, and techniques that cover dry ageing and achieving the ultimate crisp-skin pan-fry, this really is the comprehensive guide to fish cookery.
A Life Kitchen Christmas, Ryan Riley
If you know someone living with cancer, Ryan Riley, author, chef and founder of Life Kitchen is launching a free, limited-edition cookbook to offer some festive cheer for patients nationwide. Life Kitchen is the UK’s first cancer cookery school and was created to help those who have lost their sense of taste and smell through treatment to experience the joy of cooking once again. The book is intended as a way of relieving the pressure of the holiday season, providing accessible recipes which require less time in the kitchen so that more time can be spent making memories with loved ones. With only 7,000 copies available, A Life Kitchen Christmas can be ordered through Ryan’s website free of charge, bar a small £2.95 postage fee.