Cooking over the last few months has, at times, felt rather relentless. The crushing mundanity of it exacerbated by the sheer amount of washing up produced by three meals eaten at home… Every. Single. Day.
Usually the shift in seasons, the darkening of the skies, and the hunger induced by even the briefest of forays outdoors, makes us hanker after new dishes. Normal autumns see casserole pans dragged happily from the back of the cupboard, leafy salads abandoned, and crumbles made incessantly. This year though, you’d be forgiven for having grown quite sick of the sight of your oven. But unavoidably, there are meals to be cooked and long evenings to fill, regardless.
Fortunately, there are plenty of new cookbooks set to provide a little inspiration; respite from your usual cycle of dishes; and food photography that might just transport you. From Nigella’s latest to a magical Christmas collection, disappear into one of these…
Nigella’s timing could not be better with Cook, Eat, Repeat. Part recipes, part musings and essays, it details the food she cooks for herself and shares the “rhythms” of her kitchen, as well as the ingredients that are inextricable from her fridge and cupboards. She offers warmth, food that comforts and fortifies, and words that do the same. We plan to make the wide noodles with lamb in aromatic broth as soon as we can get our hands on the recipe.
Gizzi Erskine’s food is typically big and bold – she wants to feed us, and do it well. Restore hopes to sustain us (doing it affordably), as well as account for the planet. She takes a nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf approach, without a note of righteousness, instead offering up everyday vegetables and ethical cuts of meat, and giving them depth and intensity. We would happily survive on the celeriac bread sauce, lamb neck stew, or the sourdough doughnuts with white chocolate custard, alone.
Chef Tom Kerridge’s Marlow pub, The Hand & Flowers, had a colossal impact on the pub dining scene – it’s still the only pub in the UK to have a clutch of two Michelin stars. This opus draws together recipes and dishes from throughout the pub’s 15 years’ service, from its famed and burnished creme brulee, to the fluffy smoked haddock omelette. This isn’t exactly weeknight grub, but you could easily, and quite brilliantly, lose a weekend trying to construct one of the more spectacular of Kerridge’s recipes.
Flavour should be bought for the hasselback beetroot recipe alone – ingenious, straightforward, delicious. Same goes for the miso butter onions, numerous images of which are strewn across Instagram. Written by the inimitable Yotam Ottolenghi, alongside his recipe writer collaborator Ixta Belfrage, Flavour focuses on vegetables brought to zingy, moreish and punchy life by fusion methods. Don’t expect pomegranate seeds on everything either.
Caroline Eden’s debut cookbook, Black Sea, was a slow burn of a hit, and Red Sands looks set to similarly meld travelogue with food, recipes with cultural nuance. While the former tracked her experiences from Odessa to the Black Sea region, the latter is Eden’s exploration of Central Asia, or the ‘Stan’ countries, beginning at the Caspian Sea. Rich, contemplative and full of food that will enchant, it reports back from lands you may not be all that familiar with.
Kate Young’s gloriously thoughtful and nostalgic niche is taking the foods mentioned in fiction, eaten by some of our collective favourite characters in literature, and making them real and edible. The Little Library Christmas, of course, captures festive food, bravely tackling the Turkish Delight Edmund gorges on in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, as well as spiced quince jelly (inspired by The Owl And The Pussycat) and a Smoking bishop (Victorian mulled wine) as drunk by Ebenezer Scrooge.
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