Give yourself a complete culinary makeover with these specialist cook books and recipe collections.
Samantha and Samuel Clark Ebury Press, Dhs179, Amazon For followers of the Sams, whose two previous cookery books have been critically well received, there’s more in the same vein – mouthwatering, gloriously-spiced recipes from the eastern Med and Moorish-influenced Iberia, with a seasoning of food history adding a certain erudition.
This time, foraged foods and unusual veg such as artichoke leaves, onion tops, wild poppy leaves and vine leaves figure large, giving a creative, waste-not-want-not edge to the dishes. The vegetable dishes are the most inspiring, although there are fish and meat starters and mains, plus soups, sauces and dessert recipes. Some of the recipes may seem familiar, but that’s to be expected in the Clark’s cooking, which has a very strong identity. A Moro book without, say, a tahini sauce recipe just wouldn’t do.
The recipes make you want to roll up your sleeves and get into the kitchen, or out in the garden. If you’re feeling selfish buy it for yourself. If generosity strikes, buy it for a veggie friend in need of inspiration.
Roopa Gulati Jacqui Small, Dhs49, Amazon Regular Time Out food writer Roopa Gulati grew up in Cumbria, UK, but learned to cook Indian food from her Punjabi mother – then fine-tuned the recipes while working in India for 18 years as a cook and TV chef. This small hardback is the pick of her favourite recipes, from classics such as a stunning version of lamb biriani to novelties such as okra stir-fried with dried mango powder (a taste and texture sensation). It doesn’t have the scope of Madhur Jaffrey’s books, but beautiful photography and very clear recipes make it easy to achieve the correct result. Few recent Brit-Asian cookery books have recipes that work as well as these; it’s easy to grasp the most complex recipes and get gasps of admiration for the results. Keep it next to Madhur’s books.
Phaidon Dhs116, Amazon In Britain we have Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (and latterly Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course); in France it’s the Larousse Gastronomique; in Italy Il Cucchiaio d’Argento (The Silver Spoon). These are the exhaustive manuals of everyday cooking, the books handed down from generation to generation, covering everything from boiled eggs to fillet steaks, fish stews to chocolate mousse, and all sorts in between. Following the success of its 2005 English edition of The Silver Spoon, Phaidon, the celebrated art publisher, is bringing out a translation of the Spanish equivalent, written more than 30 years ago. Much like the Italian tome, it contains a vast arsenal of recipes and techniques organised by main ingredients, as well as potted digressions on various subjects and bonus recipes from celebrity chefs at the end.
As you’d expect given the book’s age, there’s none of the fancy frolics associated with Spanish nueva cocina here; moreover, some readers may be surprised that most of the recipes have nothing to do with the exported clichés of Spanish food (although there are recipes for those things, too). But this is a faithful portrait of what Spain’s food has always been about: good ingredients and simple cooking. Anyone who loves gastropub grub will find plenty of rustic treats to take their fancy. The book’s beautifully presented and, considering the sheer number of recipes, very reasonably priced.