It may seem a little lacking in imagination to give someone who loves cooking a cookbook for Christmas but I really think it’s the gift that keeps giving. I love being given new ones, I especially love that someone has put some thought into giving me a cookbook that has recipes in that'll take me on a new and exciting culinary adventure and hopefully make me a better cook. The gift of food is a great one.
So, these are my top 5 cookbooks that I think would make the foodie in your life very happy. Obviously, if you’re into self gifting who am I to stand in your way?
Daria Allen’s Ballymaloe cookery course
I love this cookbook, so much so my dust sheet is disintegrating. It is packed with a huge variety of really delicious and easy to follow recipes that always work. The book is broken down into categories as well as meals. In each section there’s a master recipe and then variants on that which allow you play around with ingredients and get more adventurous. This book has something for everyone and really is a cookbook bible in my opinion. I often look at this for inspiration and reminders on how classics are put together. I've given it to a few foodies in my life and they too have gone on to cherish it.
Family faves: the courgette lasagna and the soda bread loaf (Arch loved this as a newly weaned baby). Before I had Archie and leisure time was a thing, I would regularly make chocolate brioche or popovers with strawberry butter for breakfast from Ballymaloe and don’t get me started on the Tarte Tatin.
Indian Kitchen by Maunika Gowardhan
If you’re a regular here you’ll know that I recently reviewed this cookbook and I’m a big fan. I’ve made maunika’s Dal for the family several times in the past few months and I have a list of other delights I plan to make when I have a little more time and headspace. This is a great addition to any cookbook collection, it’s got loads of recipes you’ll actually want cook for the family whether they’re carnivores or veggies.
Family faves: Tardka dal and mattar paneer
For a more in-depth review click here
Stephane Reynaud’s 365 good reasons to sit down to eat
This is a bit quaint and has slightly bonkers notes on each page but it is full of great recipes for adventurous cooks. I was given this myself one Christmas a few years back and I still use it and love it. The notion that you’ll cook something from it everyday, which is the basis of the book, is romantic and highly unlikely but the seasonal inspiration element is really helpful. It has some classic French recipes in it like a proper ratatouille for instance, which was a game changer for me, and I now make a lot
Family faves: the coconut cream kebabs and amazing ratatouille
River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy
This was given to me when it was time to wean Archie and I loved it. It’s packed with healthy recipes for little ones that can also be made for the whole family. It’s broken down into seasons and so helps inspire but also helps you eat what’s ‘in’ making a little bit more eco. There’s a great chapter on nutrition and what littles ones need at various stages which I found incredibly useful and reassuring at the time. This is a great gift for someone with a baby approaching the weaning stage or the health conscious parent of a toddler.
Family faves: The roasted veg sauce (Archie used to devour this), polenta chips, Basic bread (which I used to make Arch every week when I first weaned him) and baked apples but I could go on and on...
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
I’ve been a long time fan of Deb’s blog (www.smittenkitchen.com) and before Archie came along I’d spend many an hour in the kitchen recreating her amazing baked creation. Deb was always my go to if I was craving something baked and indulgent, in time I started to test out her savoury recipes and found they were just as good as their sweet counterparts. So, when the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out I couldn’t wait to get my mitts on it. The book’s sectioned into meals with a great section of veggie recipes and a good chunk, as you’d expect, dedicated to baked/sweet things. It’s not one I use everyday, purely because I am rubbish at remembering to refer back to it, but it is one that has a very firm place in my heart.
Family faves: the everyday margarita pizza was always a winner in our house until Archie recently declared he no longer like pizza, full stop. The gnocchi in tomato broth is straight comfort food.
Indulgent treats: The lemon bars, the tiny but intense chocolate cake and the chocolate peanut butter cookies.
For a more in-depth review click here