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Best Collection Books of Food & Cooking

Best Collection Books of Food & Cooking

The Food of Sichuan

By Fuchsia Dunlop

Cookbook of the year for me. A masterwork to be measured next to the best of Claudia Roden, by a skilled cook and writer immersed in the food and region. I have toyed over the years with paying mad money for a copy of the original 2001 edition (I still might if I had any relatives to leave me money), but this retested, revised, refined edition is – whisper it – maybe more accomplished. A book to be kept near the cooker, to be splattered in red oil. AJ
Buy it for: adventurous cooks

The Book of St John

By Fergus Henderson & Trevor Gulliver

The Book of St John by Fergus Henderson & Trevor Gulliver.

Photograph: PR

Latest addition to the St John collection, with more than 100 new recipes to mark its 25th anniversary. Who else will wax lyrical about brains (“a wonder, fluffy clouds of joy”), pluck (“the measure of an animal’s life”) and tongue (“the most well-behaved of the organs”)? A celebration of comfort food in its finest sense with a strong section on puddings. Worthy of its legacy. AJ
Buy it for: committed carnivores


By Georgina Hayden

Hayden’s love for Greek Cypriot cooking and flavours was not formed in the sun-drenched Med but in her grandparents’ restaurant in north London. Here she shares the recipes she grew up preparing and eating. Some come from family members, others are Hayden’s own interpretation, all have been adapted for the British home cook. MT-H
Buy it for: the irresistible orange, yogurt and filo cake, portokalopita

Be My Guest

By Priya Basil

A powerful meditation on hospitality which moves between the author’s Indian heritage, upbringing in Kenya and present-day life in Germany. Hospitality, says Basil, can reveal, “the true topography of a society, its landscape of reciprocity, its borders of give and take”. Packed with such brilliance, whether pondering family, food waste or the basic idea of recipes, which “represent one of the easiest, most generous forms of exchange between people and cultures”. GG
Buy it for: your next dinner party

We Are the Weather

By Jonathan Safran Foer

We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Photograph: PR

Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast is the subtitle of Foer’s book on the climate crisis, with food being a way, he argues, that individuals might help with a situation that is undeniably universal but can feel oddly impersonal. He calls that sensation “fatigue of the imagination” and much of the book is spent wrestling with it. It helps that he puts his own flaws out front, acknowledging that though he no longer eats meat he “can’t imagine a future in which I don’t want to”. GG
Buy it for: lowering your carbon emissions

Greenfeast Spring, Summer and Autumn, Winter

By Nigel Slater

Two compact volumes of seasonal, fuss-free, meat-free recipes. “Not strictly vegetarian”, according to the Observer’s cookery writer, everything here twins ease of use with deliciousness. Dishes are designed to be mixed and matched and there’s delight in sympathetic ingredients, whether that’s a warming bowl of shiitake mushrooms and soba noodles, or an indulgent treat of chocolate, dulce de leche and cantucci. GG
Buy it for: the flexitarian in your life

Nothing Fancy

By Alison Roman

This is not a book about “entertaining”, folding napkins or the like, but one of accessible, delicious recipes and simple tips to take the stress out of cooking. Skip to the snacks for Roman’s coveted labneh with sizzled spring onion and chilli aka “The Dip”; not forgetting her perfect herby salad and the revelation that serving baked potatoes at a dinner party is a brilliant and sensible idea. MT-H
Buy it for: the “overnight focaccia, tonight

The Quality Chop House

By William Lander, Daniel Morgenthau and Sean Searley

Some books are worth waiting for. Perhaps not the 150 years that there has been something to eat on its Farringdon Road site, but QCH is a proper restaurant and this is its proper cookbook. As carefully put together as the Chop House wine list, all the good things are here: the mince on dripping toast, the confit potatoes. As handsomely presented as you’d expect. AJ
Buy it for: someone who loves to entertain

Sardine: Simple Seasonal Provençal Cooking

By Alex Jackson

Sardine by Alex Jackson.

Photograph: PR

The cookbook of the small Old Street restaurant of the same name. Yes, the cooking of the south of France has been well – and beautifully – trawled by some of our favourite food writers, the likes of Elizabeth David, Alice Waters and Richard Olney. But this is a quietly compelling work that makes its own case for inclusion. Jackson is a talented writer and cook with an inquisitive mind who wears his knowledge lightly. AJ
Buy it for: the terrific chocolate, hazelnut and pear tart

Mandalay: Recipes and Tales From a Burmese Kitchen

By MiMi Aye

This will likely be an introduction for many to an underappreciated cuisine, partly because of the politics of the place. Worry not, you are in excellent hands. Aye is a gifted recipe writer and opinionated champion of the food of her family (see, for instance, the short section on “Why MSG is A-OK”). This is a book to read as well as cook from, packed with evocative imagery. AJ
Buy it for: the fish noodle soup, stay for the duck egg curry

From the Oven to the Table

By Diana Henry

There’s so much to love about the latest from the Sunday Telegraph writer. Although subtitled Simple Dishes That Look After Themselves, don’t be lulled into thinking there isn’t a keen and current cooking brain creating these recipes (roast cabbage and XO crumb, anyone?). Its great strength lies in updating and upgrading food you’ll want to produce with a flourish. Deliciously photographed, too. AJ
Buy it for: turning a meal into a special occasion

Pasta Grannies

By Vicky Bennison

It’s no secret that Nonna’s cooking is best. And now the wisdom and recipes from Tuscany, Puglia and Sardinia’s finest home cooks are all in one place. From 79-year-old Vanda’s tagliolini with shrimp to 97-year-old Giuseppa’s fingernail pasta with tomato sauce, there is enough pasta inspiration here to last until you, too, can cook as well as an Italian grandmother. MT-H
Buy it for: the stories behind the nonnas’ most treasured dishes

Zaika: Vegan Recipes from India

By Romy Gill

Zaika: Vegan Recipes from India by Romy Gill.

Photograph: PR

Saturated in memories of a happy Bengali childhood, infused with a subtle hint of sadness at her much-loved mother’s recent death, this is Bristol-based chef Romy Gill’s first book. Centring on vegan dishes because it is the food she grew up with, it would be easy to think you might live well eating and cooking from here. Dishes that caught our eye: the roti, the saag and her famous samosas. AJ
Buy it for: its clarity and its evocation of love

My Last Supper

By Jay Rayner

Why wait, asks OFM columnist Rayner, why not eat your last meal right now, when there’s time to enjoy it? You can always take stock of your life so far, as he does in this left-field memoir, with dishes and ingredients a chance to reminisce – the excellent chapter on salads takes in a teenage drug-bust that makes the national press. There’s plenty of professional wisdom, too, including an explanation of why, if a restaurant’s chips are good, the rest of the menu probably will be too. GG
Buy it for: someone who plans every meal, no matter how far ahead

The Whole Fish Cookbook

By Josh Niland

The Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland.

Photograph: PR

Subtitled New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think, and for once this doesn’t feel like hyperbole. There is a clear idea captured here that runs through these pages like, well, a fish backbone: that we don’t treat food from the sea in the way we should; that something akin to “nose to tail” eating is called for because of deliciousness and respect. There are smart thoughts here on dry-ageing, curing and butchery, a whole “fabulous fish philosophy”. A bit cheffy sometimes, but an important book. AJ
Buy it for: someone with an open mind and a sharp knife

Tartine: A Classic Revisited

By Elisabeth Prueitt & Chad Robertson

Along with Tartine Bread, this is one of the more influential baking books of recent times, the titular San Francisco bakery inspiring similar operations around the world. Like their work, this updated version is precise and beautiful, with 68 new recipes, tweaks to 55 old favourites, plus exceptional new photography. Now you don’t need to travel halfway round the world to eat their morning buns. GG
Buy it for: patisserie fiends

Eat Run Enjoy

By Billy White

Requiring serious training, many hours on your feet, with no guarantee of success – endurance running and high-end cooking are similar, says Stockholm-based British chef White. And he should know. He excels at both, though you don’t need run 100-mile trails to appreciate his food here. Packed with delicious nutritious meals, snacks and staples, plus inspirational interviews with other long-distance runners. AJ
Buy it for: someone who might like encouragement to exercise

Midnight Chicken and Other Recipes Worth Living For

By Ella Risbridger

A mix of recipes, love story and memoir, Midnight Chicken is powered by Risbridger’s depression and her boyfriend’s death from cancer, just as she was finishing this book. “I wrote it in part to keep our world alive even if he couldn’t be,” she says of a collection that neatly explains how cooking knits itself into the day-to-day business of living. GG
Buy it for: comfort (and the recipe for midnight chicken itself)


By Jeff Gordinier

Hungry by Jeff Gordinier.

Photograph: PR

Few people have spent as much time with René Redzepi, the chef behind Copenhagen’s Noma, as Gordinier, food editor of US Esquire . Here he tags along during a time of great change, Redzepi temporarily decamping to Mexico then revolutionising his approach to cooking all over again when opening Noma 2.0. Along the way, Gordinier locates what makes the world’s greatest cook tick. First there’s his outsider status as an immigrant from Macedonia. Then there’s his almost pathological curiosity, shared by the international crew of talent he gathers around him, all bound together by his ethos: “keep moving”. GG
Buy it for: anyone who dreams big in the kitchen


By Meera Sodha

One hundred and twenty fantastic dishes from purple sprouting broccoli pad thai to paneer, tomato and kale saag, plus lots of ways to make tofu taste good. Some recipes are from Sodha’s vegan column in the Guardian, others, new. Traversing not just the culinary domain of her own heritage, Sodha finds inspiration in vegan dishes from other parts of Asia too, describing the restrictions of her column as a “catalyst for creativity”. MT-H
Buy it for: the salted miso brownies

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