Having quite some time ago run out of bookshelf space in my kitchen, there is now a pile of cookbooks slowly growing on my desk. It is quite an eclectic mix this week, from meaty swearwords in The MEATliquor Chronicles to Julia Child and William Sitwell in Cookbook Book, via some little madeleines from Fanny Zanotti’s Paris Pastry Club.
The MEATliquor Chronicles is not a cookbook I would recommend you buy your gran. It is, however, a great book for people who don’t like political correctness but do like a good burger and the whole raw, loud, delicious MEATliquor ethos.
A mix of stories from the burger joint, poems and recipes all put together with a big dollop of disregard for the usual cookery-book format, it leaves me feeling deeply uncool and old. However, you can’t help but enjoy a book that illustrates a meatloaf recipe with a picture of Meatloaf, hair blowing in the warm wind of some Eighties hairdryer. A book that truly reflects its restaurant and authors.
£25, Faber & Faber
From a ballsy book to a very pretty one. The Paris Pastry Club by Fanny Zanotti is a sweet little book full of French patisserie classics and a few more inventive recipes. Zanotti has worked with Pierre Hermé and Heston Blumenthal and currently works at Brasserie Chavot.
Each of the recipes is daintily laid out with beautiful photographs to illustrate and, as a girl who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, I would consider making nearly everything in this book. Yes, it is a little twee – the ‘2 teaspoons talking, a fat pinch of laughter, a pinch of crushed delight’ you’ll find on the cover is somewhat nauseating – but I think you can let that go. It is a good collection of sweet recipes that will serve you well for most occasions.
£20, Hardie Grant Books
Cookbook Book by Annahita Kamali and Florian Böhm is, to be meta about things, a compilation of some of the world’s most influential cookbooks. Each page is a photograph of a page of one of these books showing anything from Orange Delight from the Moomins Cookbook to Roast lamb with mint, cumin and roast carrots from Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume 1.
Not all pages show recipes that you can follow but there are many that you can attempt yourself. This is quite a nice way to experience a huge range of styles, authors and recipes in one big coffee-table book, though prettier than it is practical.
The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal is almost – I say almost – like a culinary version of Greek island-hopping. Obviously, I would never suggest buying this book should replace the real thing, but it is a very nicely curated collection of recipes from the various islands of Greece.
Yes, you have baked feta and classics like moussaka but in among the touristy dishes you have other beautiful ones like pheasant pasta or slow-cooked venison with wheat berries or smoked pork in creamy sauce. Full of summer-holiday-inspiring photography and easy-to-follow recipes, it should bring a little bit of your Greek vacation to your kitchen.
£25, Hardie Grant Books
On the bottom of the stack is Shelagh Ryan’s Café Kitchen, which is full of recipes from the owner of the Lantana cafes. This book takes recipes from all over – Asia, Australia, Europe – and plonks them together.
It isn’t the most original collection I’ve come across but the slow-braised beans with ham hock strikes me as an excellent autumn comfort food dish that I would be very happy to make at the weekend. I’m less convinced about the ‘crack cakes’ (bananas, pineapple, cinnamon and pecans with cream cheese frosting) but each to their own.
£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small