Cookery books galore – inspiration for the new year

Christmas 2011 was all about cookery books. 2012 will be all about cooking.

Christmas 2011 was all about cookery books. 2012 will be all about cooking.

Amazon wish-lists are great. They make sure you get what you want. In our household, this Christmas saw no less than four cookery books under the tree:

  • Darina Allen: Forgotten Skills of Cooking
  • Nicola Graimes: New Vegetarian Kitchen
  • Pushpeesh Pant: India: the Cookbook
  • The Silver Spoon

Forgotten Skills of Cooking

Cuts of lamb from Forgotten Ways of cooking

Cuts of lamb from Forgotten Ways of cooking

Hardback, 600 pages, over 700 recipes, colour photographs.

Kyle Cathie (12 Nov 2009)
ISBN-10: 1856267881
ISBN-13: 978-1856267885

Organised after the traditional main foods (fish, game, beef, dairy and so on), Forgotten Skills of Cooking sets out to take us back to the origins of cooking: from foraging, eating in season and preparing meals from scratch, this is a book about technique as much as recipes. Although a little meat heavy for our every-day use, I really enjoy the vegetable and herb sections of this book. It has great illustrations of cuts of meat, advise on growing your own herbs, and bits of information that are really useful. There are also a section of pickles and chutneys (again I’m tempted by the beetroot), instructions on how to make stock and a lot of good-looking slow-cooking recipes.

The writer runs a cookery school and you can tell that she’s used to answering questions and knows a lot about food and food preparation. This is a comforting and thrift-conscious cookery book that encourages you to cook and eat the whole animal, and all your left-overs.

New Vegetarian Kitchen

Watermelon and vodka crush with pomegranate from New Vegetarian Kitchen

Watermelon and vodka crush with pomegranate from New Vegetarian Kitchen

Hardback, 240 pages, colour pictures.

Duncan Baird Publishers (3 Mar 2011)
ISBN-10: 1844839362
ISBN-13: 978-1844839360

We have quite a collection of vegetarian cookbooks. New Vegetarian Kitchen takes an interesting approach to organising the recipe and groups them according to cooking method: raw, grill, fry, steam, simmer and bake. Each section lists light meals, main meals, side dishes and desserts. Recipes are simple and combine a wide variety of flavours, especially Asian and Eastern. Here, you’ll find cheese and cauliflower custards with roasted tomatoes (baked light meal), black bean mole with chickpea pancakes (simmered main meal), ginger and mango couscous (steamed side) and

(raw dessert). Quite a few of the recipes ask for unusual ingredients, from Asian spices to silver leaf. I’ve failed to find rice paper wrappers in Edinburgh, despite our many Chinese shops (a failing I see as mine rather than theirs) but know where to get raw cacao.

I like a lot of the things that come with dishes and think I’ll be using this book for them more than for the mains: red onion marmalade, chick pea pancakes, caper and herb dressing…

India: The Cookbook

Beetroot chutney in India: the Cookbook

Beetroot chutney in India: the Cookbook

Hardback, 816 pages, 1000 recipes, colour photographs.

Phaidon Press Ltd (28 Sep 2010)
ISBN-10: 0714859028
ISBN-13: 978-0714859026

India Cookbook starts with spice mixtures and pasts and takes the reader on a joyous culinary journey through pickles, snacks, mains, pulses, breads, rice deserts and drinks. It has a 20 page glossary and a thorough index. I’m particularly excited by the dahi ke kebab (yogurt patties), the lime pickle and the various dahls. The beetroot chutney too looks pretty spectacular.

There’s a wealth of dishes in this book and some of them make it clear how time consuming Indian cooking can be. I looked up gulab jamun and decided never to try to make them but only buy them. The main ingredients are khoya (milk solids) and chhena (curds), both of which take time and effort to make. It’s a fascinating book with scrumptious photography and lots of vegetarian recipes. There are dry dishes, sauced dishes, spicy, mild, creamy and sour dishes. All the Indian you could want.

The guest chef section at the end has interesting recipes from some of the best known Indian chef’s. Vivek Signh (Cinnamon Club, London) has a recipe for buttery black lentils that I want to try soon.

The Silver Spoon

Spaghetti carbonara in The Silver Spoon

Spaghetti carbonara in The Silver Spoon

Hardback, 1504 pages, 2000 recipes, colour pictures.

Phaidon Press Ltd; New edition edition (24 Oct 2011)
ISBN-10: 0714862452
ISBN-13: 978-0714862453

The Silver Spoon is, apparently, the one cookery book that Italian newly married couples always get. What I particularly like about it is that it lists recipes by ingredient. Italian cooking, at its best, is simple and fresh. Listing by ingredient encouraging ingredient thinking. Instead of finding a recipe and then trying to buy the ingredients you need to cook it, we should buy what’s in the market or shop and then find a recipe to fit those ingredients. Seasonal and sensible. I sometimes forget to think that way but with The Silver Spoon on my shelf I’m less likely to do so again.

The Silver Spoon uses a whole egg in its carbonara. The next time I make that dish I will too.

The writing in The Silver Spoon assumes basic cooking knowledge. They fit up to four recipes per page, so the recipes have to be concise, which I really like. We don’t have much use for the sections on game or fish but there are lots of good vegetarian and vegetable recipes in this book too. It’s a go-to book.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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