Hot reads for cooks

From classic Ballmaloe to veggies to mug cakes, there’s something to suit all tastes

Nervous cooks

Mary Berry Cooks The Perfect ... by Mary Berry (Dorling Kindersley, €30)

She may be best known for her cakes and puddings, but Mary Berry’s repertoire is vast, and this cookbook will provide the answers to such vexing questions as how to “make a well-fitting, decorative pie lid”, or “make a silky smooth custard”.

The Ballymaloe Cookbook, by Myrtle Allen (Gill & Macmillan, €27.99)

The redoubtable Mrs Allen turned 90 this year, and to mark 50 years of her reign at Ballymaloe, Gill & MacMillan have revised and updated her recipe collection. With suggestions as to “how to get a carrot to taste like a carrot”, and “how not to drown a fresh fish”, the cooking newbie will be in good hands


Dinner party divas

The Herb & Flower Cookbook, by Pip McCormac (Quadrille, £16.99)

You might think this book should belong on the vegetarian shelf, but you’d be wrong. There are lots of carnivorous delights here as well as vegetarian feasts, but the unifying strand is that they’re given a flavour twist or presentation kick with use of fresh herbs and edible flowers.

Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes (Simon & Schuster, £21)

The most hyped item of patisserie of the past decade must be the cronut, the doughnut/croissant hybrid created by New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel. Lines still form around the block at dawn for the chance to buy – in restricted quantities – them from his Manhattan bakery. But now you can learn from the master...

Young cooks

Mug Cakes: 40 Speedy Cakes to Make in a Microwave, by Mima Sinclair (Kyle Cathie, £9.30)

There’s a bit of a craze at the moment for “cakes” made in a mug in the microwave, and 15 books on the topic are listed on They might be a bit of a cheat, but young cooks will love making, and eating them, and at least the washing up won’t be mountainous.


Plenty More, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury, £27)

The darling of the bulghur brigade has done it again with another collection of recipes that make vegetables exciting. Plenty More takes vegetables and does just about everything you can think of to them, from tossing to roasting to braising, and then some.