Christmas cookbooks: 10 of the best
A mixed bag of goodies, from Dublin cafe food to Indian recipes made simple
Donal Skehan, centre, whose latest offering Eat. Live. Go. Fresh Food Fast is highly recommended, along with four more of our suggestions for Christmas gifts.
The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan (published by Mitchell Beazley, £20)
Great British Bake-Off 2014 finalist Chetna Makan’s signature bakes for the TV show drew on her Indian heritage and love of spices, and her debut cookbook follows a similar path. But it’s not just cakes you’ll find here, there are also savoury pies, snacks and breads, and a chapter with some unusual chutneys and pickles.
Must cook: Pistachio, cardamom and white chocolate cake
Kemp and Daly have had to stoutly defend this book since it was published in April, but whatever your position on their high fat, low carb regime, it’s undeniably a rigorously researched and painstakingly crafted work.
Must cook: Sticky sesame chicken
Simple: effortless food, big flavours by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, £25)
Everyone’s favourite food writer strikes again, this time revisiting a theme she first explored in 2004 and one that has universal appeal – how to make everyday dinners taste fantastic. With food photographs by Laura Edwards that are so beautiful you could frame and hang them, Simple is simply stunning.
Must cook: Parmesan roast chicken with cauliflower and thyme
Eat. Live. Go. Fresh Food Fast by Donal Skehan (Hodder & Stoughton, £25)
Life in the fast lane could have been Donal Skehan’s motto for 2016, and his latest cookbook comes with about as many themes as his passport has stamps. Flitting between South East Asia, Scandinavia and all points in between, this is a book that knows no culinary boundaries. Perfect for when you need fresh inspiration.
Must cook: Orange, feta, coriander and barley salad
Summers Under The Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani (Frances Lincoln, £20)
Usmani brings the flavours, colours and textures of her childhood in Pakistan to the pages of her first cookery book. Family favourite recipes that have been honed over generations of use feature throughout. A guide to six different masala blends, each with recipes, is an interesting and unusual addition.
Must cook: Lamb karahi with fennel and coriander
The Brother Hubbard Cookbook by Garrett Fitzgerald (Gill Books, €27.99)
One of the most eagerly awaited cookbooks of the year, and undoubtedly one of the best. There are no less than four yellow silk bookmark strings with this book, and you’ll need them all, and probably more, to pinpoint favourites in this glorious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean melting pot of ideas.
Must cook: Brother Hubbard’s beef koftas
The A-Z of Eating. A Flavour Map for the Adventurous Cook by Felicity Cloake (£25)
From A is for almond to Z is for zest, Felicity Cloake zigzags around the culinary globe, plucking ideas from everywhere and uniting them in a fresh and exciting way. The author describes this as a book for “when you’re hungry for inspiration, not instruction”.
Must cook: Aloo tikki Scotch eggs
Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books, £14.99)
There are grander and more scholarly tomes about Indian food, but what I really like about this one, from a former fashion editor, is that it is packed with light, bright, modern versions of the classics. Clever illustrations and stylish presentation add to the appeal. It’s in paperback but I wish it wasn’t, as it’s going to see a lot of use.
Must cook: Tarka dhal with spinach and fresh tomato
Provence to Pondicherry: Recipes from France and Far Away by Tessa Kiros (Quadrille, £25)
When you open a Tessa Kiros cookbook, you embark on a journey, and this is an exotic one, following in the paths of the early French explorers. Setting off from Provence, where Kiros visits regularly from her home in Italy, she ventures further afield, to Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry and La Réunion, collectging recipes as she travels, before touching land again in Normandy.
Must cook: Crème brûlée passion et vanille
Salt Is Essential And Other Things I Have Learned from 50 Years At The Stove by Shaun Hill (Kyle Books, £25)
There has been a lot of love for this modest manual this year, and once you open the plain blue cover, it’s easy to see why. The wisdom and wit of one of the UK’s most respected chefs jumps off the pages. It is that rare thing, a truly original cook book – of the type that defies categorisation. You really don’t know what’s going to greet you as you turn the pages; from a recipe for homemade black pudding, to one for Kerala fish curry.
Must cook: Rabbit with mustard crème fraîche and Parma ham