A few cookbooks we’ve loved of late
One of the things that most people have had in common during these last very complicated 12 months is the incredible amount of cooking we’ve all had to take on. Particularly when schools were closed, three meals a day, plus lots of merende were being executed, with very little respite. To be frank, it’s been difficult to keep the imagination and the love for putting together interesting, delicious and healthy food on a daily basis, but luckily we’ve added a considerable amount of cookbooks to our already bulging collection to draw inspiration from. These are a few that really hit the spot for us.
Gill Meller’s Root, Stem Leaf, Flower is perhaps one of the most beautiful cookbooks we’ve ever seen. The recipes and pictures are all incredibly seductive and presented in such a stunning way that we’ve felt compelled to try to do all of them. There is a great simplicity in each dish, but astounding amount of flavour. We write about “a spring soup” and just how perfect it is, here.
On the other spectrum of simplicity is Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage’s Ottolenghi Flavour. We’ve been super fans of his since discovering his Islington shop and restaurant many years ago and his books have accompanied our multiple house moves. However, perhaps finally we’ve lost any fear in approaching his recipes and replacing ingredients that we couldn’t find with others. Given the quantity of processes in most of his recipes, we’ve start seeing it almost as a meditative task, worrying less about the actual process and more about the flavour layering. This book is more than a recipe book, it’s an exploration of how to make food (vegetables in this case) taste so good, all of which is illustrated by recipes. The one we’ve enjoyed doing the most is ‘Pappa al Pomodoro with Lime and Mustard Seeds’, for the flavour, but also for the sensation of it, since in its pure form, pappa al pomodoro is one of the most quintessential Tuscan dishes you can find.
Meera Sodha’s East has been a marvellous inclusion in our library. Living where we do, not being able to travel even just to Florence means that we are starved of Asian flavour compositions. This book has helped us start to be more bold in our table journeys across India, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and all other places in Asia we haven’t even been able to dream of, let alone make window travel plans. Her ‘Caramelized Onion and Chilli Ramen’ became a weekly ritual in our household during this long winter.
April Bloomfield’s A Girl and her Greens (was published a few years ago, but only discovered by us recently. Our journey towards more of a plant based diet was helped by her writing and deliciously vibrant and endearing recipes. More please seems to be the prevailing response.
The only book in this list that is not expressly vegetarian is Letitia Ann Clark’s Bitter Honey. She was kind enough to grant us an interview where she talks about Sardinia and her journey there, but her book is an absolutely lovely journey through what and how Sardinias eat. The writing is beautiful as it transports you across the Med towards this ancient land. So far our favourite recipe is ‘Fregola with Clams and Fennel.’