JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Which are your favourite British cookery books?

A couple of weeks ago my sister - who has lived in the US for the best part of 20 years - asked me about British cookery writers. I mumbled a bit, and the conversation moved on. But her question has got me thinking: I'd like to buy her a couple of British cookery books to thank her for having my son to stay (our house has been very quiet, hers probably hasn't) ... and I can't decide which.

So ... which would you recommend? Nigel? Nigella? Moro? River Café? Yotam Ottolenghi? Hugh FW? And then there's Skye Gyngell's lovely book, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Diana Henry - and Sarah Raven's lovely Garden Cookbook. I'm aware that this list is not exhaustive, and does not include a number of my favourite writers (Geraldene Holt, Claudia Roden, Patience Gray, etc etc). Quite a lot of these people have written several books, in which case, which to choose?

Which books do you think represent the best of British cookery at the moment?

Related links

Nigel Slater's top-10 recipes
Honey from a Weed
Ann and Franco Taruschio's Leaves from the Walnut Tree


Peter M said...

Two Fat Ladies...seriously.

Joanna said...

Hi Peter - I completely agree, I would have put them in the list, but it was getting a bit long as it was, and I should have put in this link to Jennifer Paterson's fantastic easy roast beef dinner, which, amazingly, really does work:

I'm intrigued, though, as to what it is about them you like - and which book you think is best?


Alex said...

Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. The man is a bit weird on telly but that book (like all his recipes) is amazing.

Wendy said...

Nigel Slater. But (though it's an amazing read) I don't think The Kitchen Diaries is his best. I adore. Real Food and Real Fast Food.
Also, Simon Hopkinson I love.
Leith's Vegetarian Bible is my all time favourite cookbook though.

Jules said...

I couldn't choose 1 so my top 3 would be Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook, Hugh F-W Meat, Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess.

Olive Oyl said...

Maybe a little left field as he is not primarily know as a cook but trust me, Christopher Lloyd - Gardener Cook, very English, incredibly beautiful (photography by Howard Sooley), great recipes, lovely reading and very of the moment, growing food with love and enjoying the fruits of your labour. Perfect

Magic Cochin said...

I frequently follow recipes by Hugh F-W but haven't many recently published cookbooks. Cliff and I love researching recipes on the web, then we refer to Jane Grigson (Vegetable Book and Fruit Book) or Eliza Acton 'Modern Cookery for Private Families' (1845!!!). For classic English fare we invariably resort to checking out a very old and much used Good Housekeeping Cookery Book. I see on Amazon it's now been rebadged "The Cook's Classic Companion". Yorkshire pud, roast beef, fruit cake, sponge cakes, rice puddings, jam, chutney... nothing too fancy but for basic recipes we use it time and time again.


Sue said...

I live in New Zealand and have a serious cookbook buying addiction (...I'm a bit embarrassed to admit how many I have - though all have been read and many are used) but I always have my favourites very close to hand.
British books included in my essential short list are several of Nigel Slater's (especially 'Kitchen Diaries' and also 'Appetite'). I like Skye Gyngell and Nigella but don't actually use them very frequently.
My favourite UK cookbook though is 'Living & Eating' by John Pawson and Annie Bell, published back in 2001. It stands the test of time for ideas and inspiration.

(The only cook/chef I have never had the slightest inclination to buy a cookbook from is the totally ubiquitous Gordon Ramsay.)

KJ said...

Skye Gingell is actually Australian, although she does live and work in the UK.

For what it's worth my favourite would have to be Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home'. I just love the style of cooking in this book.

Anna said...

Kitchen Diaries, definitely - especially as it's so evocative about his garden, markets, seasonality, specialist food shops - very 'now in Britain'! I love Nigella too, and Domestic Goddess is the most pleasing, I think. It all depends on what your sister cooks, but how about Jane and Sophie Grigson? Sophie's 'Vegetables' has been overlooked, I think - it's fantastic. I would put in a vote for Diana Henry as well... and Sarah Raven's garden book is wonderful, but it doesn't have the ring of a classic to me. It's more of a handed-down family collection for vegetable growers, isn't it? Maybe I dismiss it too soon - have already adopted a couple of recipes as my own! (Crushed new pots with parmesan, and pea and ricotta tart.) I must stop rambling on my favourite topic and get back to work... PS Joanna, have moved from vegetable diaries to so I can write about growing AND cooking!

Glenn said...

I know they're old and outdated, but I *LOVE* anything by Elizabeth David. I'm a Mediterranean food junkie!