Friday food links (cookbook edition) – 2 Jan 2015

The Christmas cookbook haul #excessive

I thought I would use this New Year post to make some notes on the new cookbooks I got for Christmas, and to remind myself of the recipes I’m most excited about making:

Patisserie Made Simple – Edd Kimber

This is the third book from the winner of the first series of Great British Bake off. I was interested in his claim to make french patisserie more straightforward, using everyday ingredients and equipment wherever possible. So far, it looks like it has a nice balance of the traditional and new interpretations with original flavours.

Bookmarked recipe: Simple Croissant Dough

Honey & Co– Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich

This is the book from the restaurant of the same name near Warren Street. I haven’t been yet, not having been to many restaurants in the last year, but have heard many glowing reviews. The food is middle eastern, with lots of israeli and lebanese touchstones. The writing is also lovely – welcoming and honest: “we hired Carlos, a sweet, funny Catalan who was the worst porter we’ve worked with”; “With all the tension that comes with restaurant life, this is one issue we thought we could do without, and so we decided to avoid the subject altogether and not serve hummus at all.”

Bookmarked recipe: so many – and I’m not even halfway through yet, but feta and spring onion bouikos are on the list, for the header note alone.

All About Braising Molly Stevens

This is an older book that I have read US bloggers rave about before. My sister evinced scepticism that braising was a subject that needed a whole book. While it’s true that the basic rules of braising are easy to grasp, getting a really well balanced braise is very tricky. I’m also interested to try some of the vegetable and fish braises in this book.

Bookmarked recipe: The very first one in the book was the first that caught my eye: braised potatoes with garlic and olive oil. It sounds basic, but I’ve never cooked potatoes like this before, and I’m interested to try it. Whole chicken braised with pears and rosemary runs it a close second.

Mast Brothers Chocolate Rick Mast and Michael Mast

The Mast Brothers look like archetypal Brooklyn hipsters, because they are. In a little factory in Brooklyn, they grind cocoa beans and produce powerful, fruity chocolate bars, wrapped in beautifully designed paper wrappers. This book has lots of very chocolatey recipes, but also lots of their story and how they source their beans and make their chocolate – they are very particular. [Note: I think this is my sixth chocolate cookbook. I may have a problem.]

Bookmarked recipe: Chocolate gingersnaps

The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales Lindsay Bareham

I’m not yet sure about this one. I has been on my list for ages, and Lindsay Bareham, like Molly Stevens, has the authoritative tone of someone who has cooked these dishes over and over and knows them inside out. This book is a compilation of some of her favourites, organised by the type of equipment used to make them – the trifle bowl, the cast iron casserole, the mandoline. Although I’m not yet convinced that this conceit works, I love the header notes, and the sense of her passing on well-worn tips and tricks.

Bookmarked recipe: Spinach malfatti, for a trick she passes on from the River Cafe of shaping the delicate dough by swirling it in a wine glass.

Plenty More Yotam Ottolenghi

This has had so much coverage, partly because of Yotam Ottolenghi’s celebrity status. The photography is the first thing that grabs you – page after page of rainbow-coloured vegetables, beautiful, mouth-watering dishes. Cooking from this is a given.

Bookmarked recipe: Beetroot, avocado and pea salad, for the beautiful contrast between the beetroot and red onion with the avocado, lambs lettuce and peas.

Brilliant Bread James Morton

This is another book from a Great British Bake Off contestant. I took it out of the library earlier in the year, and I find James’ scientific approach very appealing. He has a new book out this year on how baking works, which I’m looking forward to.

Bookmarked recipe: Tea loaf

Persiana Sabrina Ghayour

Sabrina Ghayour has rightly become something of a food star in the last year. This book is one of those where I whisked through, sticking a post-it on every other page. I already have a lot of middle eastern books, including Claudia Roden’s, but there is something fresh and easy about these recipes that makes it very approachable. I already feel like I’m going to cook a lot from this book this year.

Bookmarked recipe: Spice-perfumed shoulder of lamb I made this for New Year’s eve with a half-shoulder, which was just right for two. A mixture of rose petals, sumac, cinnamon and cumin is spread over the lamb before slow roasting. It’s both exotic and simple.

Konditor & Cook Gerhard Jenne

There is a Konditor and Cook shop perilously close to my office. Their curly whirly cake is my favourite choice for a comfort-eating treat, and they do great lunches as well. This book compiles their greatest hits from the London shops, with tips from the bakery.

Bookmarked recipe: Sunken pear and black gingerbread cake, as well as the more obvious Curly Whirly brownies.

One Good Dish David Tanis

I have David Tanis’s ‘A Platter of Figs’ and find his style very appealing, if not always achievable. He cooks at Chez Panisse, and is steeped in that California style of cooking that leans on the best, freshest produce, always seasonal and local. There’s no such thing as a ‘hungry gap’ in California, as far as I can tell. This book has lots of very simple, pared back dishes, some to the point of absurdity (garlic toast). But he has a way of putting together simple flavours that is just right.

Bookmarked recipe: Very green fish stew, a coconut-and-lime stew, loaded with fresh herbs.

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