I have rather a lot of cookbooks. In fact Mr EF made me count them recently and I astonished to find I have around 150. Much of one bookcase is stuffed with them.
Some have proved disappointing – the glossy pictures and hype amount to little. Others, well cooking has just moved on so much and what they propose just doesn’t tempt me. Some I use on a very occasional basis, but are good all the same. (Have to confess that I use the Delia Smith Christmas countdown each year). Then there are the others that become firm favourites – recipes you trust, that taste fabulous and hit that particular need on that particular day. I’ve also one dating from 1911 that I’d love to try some recipes from one day.
So what makes a good cookbook, and especially a back to basics cookbook. To me, this is not that the recipes need to be basic, but that the ideas are simple, the recipe is easy to follow and the taste is great. A few books I’ve come across recently have surprised me. I approached these with some scepticism, but have been more than satisfied with the results.
Marcus Wareing’s, How to cook the perfect … has awful photography. If you can get beyond that and try the recipes (which are an eclectic mix to say the least from creamed spinach to lemon tart) they really do work and are destined to become part of your suite of favoured recipes.
A second, the cookbook Back to Basics (The Australian Women’s Weekly Essentials)
refreshingly includes dishes from that region – from Singapore Noodles to standards such as lasagne and spaghetti bolognaise. Ideal, I think, for someone who is a newish cook wanting to extend their repertoire and it’s very affordable too.
The third, snappily entitled Eggs is written by Michel Roux (senior). These recipes are not super simple, but really come into their own when you’ve very few ingredients left in the house except eggs. The recipes are easy to follow and produce very tasty results.
I know that Heidi Swanson started her excellent blog to share the 101 (plus) cookbooks she had at the time. I am sure I am not alone in having far too many, but there’s always the next book that you just must have! I am really excited by the idea of sous vide cookery at the moment, but that needs a whole raft of equipment. Perhaps just the book to begin with.
I have one copy of the Back to Basic recipe book up for grabs. Just leave me a comment below telling me what your favourite cookbook is and I’ll chose one suggestion at random on 23 July.