Thursday, March 3, 2011


Choosing five of my favourite cookbooks, as I am about to do, has been a much chirpier task than I expected it would be. No ripping up endless lists, no pros and cons, no testing of recipes (most of them have already been cooked again). The books that I love have left me wishing I had written them myself.

There are about thirteen books which I can easily say I consider brilliant - they look good, they read well and, most importantly, they work. Annie Bell's Soup Glorious Soup, Spooning With Rosie by Rosie Lovell, Maddhur Jaffrey's Curry Easy, and Green and Black's Ultimate have all slotted smoothly into a competitive ten. But they haven't quite cut the mustard.

I've chosen the books I always turn to, those whose pages have to be prised apart from leftover remnants of the recipe I've cooked and cooked and cooked; recipes which I know by heart, but have me leafing through the book for new inspiration. They are not all new - some very old - but they have been loyal and I love them.


1. Food From Plenty by Diana Henry

Beautiful, delicious, foolproof, easy and efficient. A recipe is followed by a leftover recipe, just as mouthwatering as the first. Just my kind of cooking. Undoubtedly my favourite book of the last year.

2. 30-Minute Supper Observer Penguin 60s by Nigel Slater

40 recipes, each one 30 minutes. A pocket-sized piece of heaven which I would take anywhere with me. From Baked Potato to Poached Skate to Hot Peaches - hearty recipes from such a small book. Every page reveals a classic and, in return, every page is splattered with bits from the ingredients list.

3. The Apple Source Book; Particular Uses for Diverse Apples by Sue Clifford and Angela King.

A new discovery. Recipes are sandwiched between lists of apple varieties, the history of cider and darling illustrations. Try the Hot Beetroot in Apple Sauce and the Braised Partridges with Apples and Figs.
I don't even like Apples...

4. Books For Cooks 4, 5,6 by Books For Cooks

Not a biased decision in the slightest, but one made purely because I love every single recipe in the book - a rare thing when you look back at some of the old dears sitting unloved on the kitchen bookshelf. I haven't made them all, but I've tasted many and all of them have been winners.

5. Tender 1 and Tender 2 by Nigel Slater

Cheating I know. 3 Nigel's on the list? And two in one category? Well, you can't just have one!
These books may seem beasts to tame but whether you cook from every recipe or not there are words, equally as exciting, to get lost in. The photography is lickable, the produce is seasonal, and the Pork and Rhubarb is unmissable.

All books are similar in many ways but each have their own character. I'll have them for life. Happy World Book Day.


  1. These are wonderful. But no River Cafe Cookbook?
    Your blog is getting better and better xx

  2. A fine list, Miss Hogg, though for me it's Nigel's Kitchen Diaries that are the pinnacle of his books. Totally wonderful. Do you have a copy?

  3. I don't, sadly. But I agree - it's a cracker.