My latest purchase, Jo Pratt's In The Mood For Food, doesn't even have a home on my shelves. I'm clearly going to have to buy some more shelves.
My recipe books are an eclectic bunch, and I love them all, but inevitably I have my favourites. Here, in no particular order, are my top ten:
- Jo Pratt's In The Mood For Food. It is my most recent purchase but doesn't make it onto the list just because it is a shiny new toy. The book is so pretty to look at, and unashamedly written for women - the title and the pink floral patterns say it all really. I am always in the mood for food, so of course I was going to like it!
- Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington Davis. This is one of the most original recipe books I own, and one that I turn to again and again when I am cooking for friends. One of the chapters is called 'Junk Food' and has recipes for a burger night, a kebab night and pizza night. Of course everything for these evenings will be home made, and the real genius is in the recipes for the relishes and dips and other extras that make junk food night so good. His sweetcorn relish recipe is amazing.
- Annabel Karmel's Favourite Family Recipes. I own nearly all of the great Annabel's recipe books, and I love them for the fact that without fail her recipes are incredibly easy, very quick, and children love them. She somehow manages to take the drudgery out of feeding small children day in and day out - and put the enthusiasm back in. We ate her tuna bake tonight for tea.
- Tarts With Tops On by Tamasin Day-Lewis. A brilliant title and delicious pies. Her Cornish Pasty recipe is my favourite...and I've tried a few now.
- Cooking Like Mummyji by Vicky Bhogal. This is another very recent purchase, but probably my favourite in this whole list. The curries I have made from this book are so simple, and very, very tasty. They are also authentic British Asian recipes - when I cook from this book, my kitchen smells properly East End.
- Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food. I have all Nigel Slater's books, I read his Observer column most Sundays, and I think he is a genius. But this was the first book of his that I bought, and also the first recipe book I ever owned (aside from a criminal 'student cookbook' that I acquired when I first left home and which did not deserve the title of cookbook in any way) so it is a great favourite of mine. Nigel Slater is one of the few cooks who is a writer first and a cook second.
- How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. I also have all of Nigella Lawson's books, and love and use them each of them regularly. This book I take to bed and read when I am poorly, it makes me feel so good. There is a whole chapter called 'The Chocolate Cake Hall Of Fame'. Brilliant.
- Sheila Lukins' USA Cookbook is a book so thick and heavy and rammed with recipes that I don't think I'll ever cook more than a fraction of them. Which is a great shame as the recipes are very good and make me nostalgic for some good American home cooked food. All four coleslaw recipes are worth trying.
- Hugh F-W's River Cottage Family Cookbook is heavier on pictures and principals than on recipes, but the principals are so close to my own that I can forgive him. Try the spaghetti bolognese, even if you've been cooking it your own way for years. Hugh's way is just better.
- From Anna's Kitchen by Anna Thomas, is currently out of print I think, but well worth tracking down second hand if you want a really inspired and imaginative vegetarian cookbook. I was vegetarian for more than five years in my twenties (until I craved meat so badly when I fell pregnant with C) and over half the meals I cook now have no meat or fish in them. This is the only book I've found that really celebrates vegetables and doesn't see a lack of meat as an inconvenience or a reason not to enjoy food.
I'm feeling bad about the ones that didn't make it into the top 10 now - I can see that these reflections will lead to some more cooking!
This post is for my friend Anna, who recommended In The Mood For Food so highly and gave me the top tip about Hugh's bolognese. Thank you!