So. Here's a summary of some of the books I bought, and what they are up to as the year draws to a close.
Yotam Ottolenghi's first book, Ottolenghi the Cookbook, was bought on a whim, because someone somewhere on the internet had mentioned it. I am extremely glad to have this book in my collection because every recipe I've tried is a winner - the flavours are fantastic, the ingredients are interesting but not too hard to find, and most of the dishes are easy to make. There aren't pictures of every dish in the book, and it's kind of difficult to make a barley salad look interesting, but Ottolenghi manages to convey a sense of fun, making each dish exude an uncomplicated naturalness that's mouthwatering in its simplicity.
My favourite recipe of the year is this buttered prawn, tomato and olive dish that tastes amazing and is so quick to prepare.
Usually before I buy, I flick through a book to see if any of the recipes 'speak to me'. Tobie Puttock's Cook Like an Italian cried out (in an Italian accent) 'ah, signorina, compri questo libro, è buono per voi!*' accompanied with a clicking of fingers. I love the clear recipes and descriptions of ingredients and how they are used in Italian cooking. I also like how the book has footnotes on adjusting the recipes for gluten, dairy and lactose intolerance. There are also little paragraphs on the various Italian towns (Parma, Venezia, Lucca, Firenze!) and it's like going on a mini tour of the regions. I've only made one recipe so far (this lovely gnudi with pancetta and broad beans) and I can't wait to try more. Molto bene!
*bad translation: 'hey lady, buy me, I could be so good for you!'
Lives up to the Hype Award
You'll notice that most of my cookbook purchases are by so-called 'celebrity chefs', ie. chefs who have restaurants and have suddenly discovered the benefits of Fame (chef fame, not Fame dance school fame). I wasn't expecting much from Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris's Your Place or Mine?, but the book lives up to the Masterchef hype. It contains lots of do-able recipes (with a brief chatty piece by each of the guys on why they chose it) and they (the guys) do come across as very likeable, in case you didn't already know it. The best part of the book for me are the photographs - full page portraits of each dish that will have you licking the drool off the page before running to the kitchen to grab a saucepan to start cooking. I made Gary's tasty Miso with Eggplant and tried to replicate the colourful picture in the book - both the eggplant and the pic do the original dish justice, I hope.
Well, now we come to the award of the night. It goes without saying that it is unlikely I will be making anything from this book because a) I can predict my own failure, b) the pictures are so stunning that I prefer looking at the pictures rather than getting hands on, and c) come on, really, as if!
And the award goes to ... Bentley by Brent Savage. From the thick, black embossed cover to the 'OMG! look at that!' recipes, this is one good-looking book. Brent Savage does say in the book it was a challenge to think about the recipes in the context of homecooking, and there are an abundance of recipes requiring a Pacojet, liquid nitrogen and trimoline - if you need to look these things up in the Glossary, then see c) above.
But the photographs and dishes are really inspirational, and who knows, one day, when I'm feeling ambitious or insomniac, I may give them a go.
I do have other cookbooks in addition to the ones in the photo above. Of the ones here, delicious More Please deserves a mention because I love delicious magazine and this book is a collection of similar recipes (easy to prepare, nicely styled and photographed).
You may notice that I have The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Bakerella's Cake Pops. Both bought due to the writers' blogs and both never used - the books are alright, I just prefer the blogs.
There you have it.
A year of cookbooks and of cooking.
Here's to more cooking
and cookbook buying in 2011.
Tabitha cat checks out the nominees
Where's my goodie bag for being a presenter??