1.Like Grandma Used To Make, Rebecca Sullivan
Before I go on, I need to declare the author of this delightful book is a dear friend of mine. However, I love it so much I just had to include it. Written by Rebecca Sullivan, of Dirty Girl Kitchen fame, this book is not only full of gorgeous recipes but also lots of handy tips for the householder. Best read wearing a twin set and drinking a nice cup of tea, the book is full of great, easy recipes from another time. Focusing on using seasonal, local and organic ingredients, the recipes are easy to incorporate into your everyday cooking and steer you towards cooking from scratch - think home-made butter, pistachio and rose brittle, roast chook, or lemonade. Not unlike a CWA Cookbook for 2013. What I like most about this book is that it’s one that will actually get dirty from overuse. From the limoncello and boozy eggnog to the myriad of lovely jams and pickles, I’ll be having a crack at most of them.
2. The OzHarvest Cookbook
OzHarvest is simply bloody good idea. Since 2004, this organisation has delivered over 15 million meals to the homeless and vulnerable in Australia by rescuing restaurant and supermarket food about to be thrown away. But this is not your average non-profit cookbook. The OzHarvest crew have assembled a veritable supergroup of Australian chefs who were given the challenge to submit three recipes using rescued food. The recipes wander across many continents but remain firmly in the realm of comfort food which is great because you might actually cook them. Buy it not only because you are supporting a fantastic cause but because the recipes are excellent.
3.The Ethicurian Cookbook
In 2010, four friends got hold of the keys of an overgrown Georgian walled garden with a restaurant housed in the glasshouse in Barley Wood in Wrington, Somerset. In just 5 days they overhauled the place and on the sixth day opened the doors of a new restaurant focusing on seasonal and local food made using artisan techniques and championing their local food community. This is not only a book that I wish I had written but basically I just want their life. It certainly looks like they have a rollickingly good time. The book meanders through the seasons and charts their relationship with their garden and the beautiful vegetables it produces. The recipes are divine and focused on heirloom varieties, the styling is stunning and the notes that tell their story well written and engaging. Grab a cup of tea and settle in to be transported to a walled garden far way where a group of four mates are making their dreams come true. As they say, “We rarely leave this beautiful walled garden; it is an absolute paradise.”
4.The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz
Not often is a book called seminal and people really mean it. Well, my friends this is one of those occasions. Sandor Katz is heralded in the USA as the leader of the fermentation craze that is sweeping the nation. This book is a fantastic 101 on all things fermented giving you easy to understand instructions and a fair dose of inspiration to grab a cabbage and get some kimchi on the go. It is quite the missive and covers not just the basics of cultured vegetables but also goes into mead, beer and kombucha and much more. His writing style is really lovely and approachable and I’m sure your copy will be well thumbed in no time. If there is one book to buy on fermenting, this is it.
5.NY I love you, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara
For the first year I lived in NYC, I never made it ‘upstate’. I was obsessed with the skyscrapers, lights and yellow taxis not to mention the pastrami, bagels and donuts. But, if you take a drive less than an hour north of NYC you’ll be transported from the gritty urban metropolis to a landscape littered with abandoned red barns, lush apple orchards and roads groaning with farm stalls. This juxtaposition is astounding and is what makes NY state so special. It is this rich agricultural history that chef Daniel Humm and his general manager Will Guidara from the award winning restaurant Eleven Madison Parkwant to celebrate. Over 150 recipes that are a little fancy for the home-cook but are beautifully shot and devised with each focusing on a specific ingredient and a farmer who grew it. This book is part of the new wave of cookbooks where the farmers and producers and as much a part of the story as the chef, and for good reason. A perfect coffee table book, spend some time on the couch with it and delve into the beautiful recipes and stories. But beware, you might be booking a ticket before you finish the first recipe.