In my house there are cookbooks and bedroom books. Cookbooks, as you can imagine, are the ones I cook from: they’re faded, horny, and stained with the colors of countless fine dinners. Bedroom cookbooks are different. These are the ones I flip through at night with a full stomach: the cookbooks that I know deep down and that I will never cook. The cookbooks in the bedroom feed my food dreams, while those in the kitchen feed me in my real life.
When I wrote my new cookbook, Cook As You Are, I knew from the start that it had to be a cookbook. It had to be realistic, with easy-to-follow recipes and ingredients you could actually afford. I tested the recipes in a normal, messy kitchen, with standard bog equipment and ingredients purchased from the large nearby supermarket.
It’s not romantic but it’s still special: it’s real cooking, for real people – the everyday food that keeps us going. Here are 11 of my favorite dream cookbooks for normal and real cooking …
1. One Pot: Three Ways by Rachel Ama (Hodder & Stoughton)
This clever vegan cookbook by Rachel Ama contains smart tips for avoiding the age-old problem of what to do with leftovers. If you’re tired of cooking a big batch of something that you then have to eat night after night, Rachel is here to help. The Caribbean-style ackee, for example, has spinoff recipes that include an ackee breakfast burrito and ackee fried rice. These are creative and thoughtful recipes to banish boredom from dinner.
2. Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater (Penguin)
It might not be his biggest or brightest cookbook, but I think it’s one of Nigel Slater’s best work. In Real Fast Food, he has tons of quick and simple recipe ideas that are easy to prepare, but exciting enough to pique your kitchen’s curiosity. Reading this book, you get the impression that the simplest foods are the ones that delight the author the most, and the enthusiasm is contagious: everything from sandwiches to simple scrambled eggs sparkle under the Nigel Slater treatment. .
3. Carbohydrates by Laura Goodman (Quadrille)
Laura Goodman knows that the cornerstone of good home cooking is, more often than not, carbohydrates. In this cheerful and cheerful cookbook, she goes from potatoes to rice, pasta and beyond to show you how to find joy in your carbs. Highlights include the marmalade bread pudding and mustard farro with sausage and kale. It’s time to say goodbye to low-carb fad diets once and for all.
4. Rukmini Iyer’s Quick Roasting Box (Square Peg)
Author of the million-sold Roasting Tin series, Rukmini Iyer has spent years perfecting the art of simple baking dinners. In this book, she focuses on quick recipes that can be on the table in under 30 minutes. A personal favorite is the peanut and chili beef with red peppers, sweet corn and spring onions. Saving you from chopping, stirring and fussing around endlessly, Rukmini is the queen of midweek dinners for a reason.
5. Carpathia by Irina Georgescu (Frances Lincoln)
This book is a hymn to Romanian cuisine, which has not always received the attention it deserves here in the UK. I like the thoughtful way in which its author, Irina Georgescu, balances authenticity and realism: the recipes are richly researched but always explained simply. It is a cookbook that will thrill and nourish you, whether or not you already know Romanian cuisine. Chicken Mushroom Pearl Barley Pilaf is one of the recipes you must try.
6. Shivi Ramoutar’s ice cream cuisine
How many of us have a horror freezer full of frozen leftovers that we really should throw out? With The Ice Kitchen, Shivi Ramoutar is here to save us from this frozen purgatory. She cleverly explains how to cook, freeze and reheat your meals ahead of time, so you have homemade frozen meals ready to go whenever hunger strikes. The recipes here are specially written with that philosophy in mind, and include Cheddar French Toast and Butternut Squash and Sage Pasta.
7. Poppy Cooks by Poppy O’Toole (Bloomsbury)
TikTok star Poppy O’Toole did something really smart – she translated and developed her hugely popular cooking videos into a cookbook format, but without losing its warmth, authenticity, or relativity. Poppy is a chef by training, guiding us through classic techniques but never losing sight of the fact that home cooking should be fun. By the way, his caramel apple crumble is a next level.
8. Complete Chinese Cookbook by Ken Hom (BBC Books)
Ken Hom is an amazing cook and an even better teacher: following any of his recipes makes you feel as confident as if he was standing right next to you. In this much-loved book, he lovingly guides readers through a diverse selection of Chinese recipes, from chiu chow-style sweet and sour pork to sautéed broccoli with ginger. Most of the dishes here are quick, with minimal cooking time for maximum flavor. This is home cooking at its best.
9. Community Comfort by Riaz Phillips and many others (Tezetapress)
This beautiful ebook was published to raise funds for those left behind after the deaths of black, Asian and ethnic minorities from COVID-19. Along with having an amazing philosophy, it’s loaded with recipes you’ll come back to time and time again, from Filipino mushroom lugaw to roasted plantain and pistachio ice cream. It’s home cooking from around the world, united in the service of a very good cause. You can buy it exclusively from tezetapress.com.
10. One Tin Bakes Easy by Edd Kimber (Kyle Books)
The sequel to Edd Kimber’s bestselling One Tin Bakes, this new cookbook takes his back-to-basics baking philosophy to a new level. Everything here, from chocolate chip and pecan pie bars to rhubarb and custard pavlova, can be made in a standard 22x33cm roasting tin, with adaptations available for baking in bread molds as well. It’s a truly refreshing book, which makes baking a bit more accessible to those of us who don’t have a box, gadget, and mold and for all occasions.
11. Tin Can Cook by Jack Monroe (Bluebird)
Jack Monroe has been committed to making cooking affordable and accessible since his very first cookbook, but with Tin Can Cook, they’ve really hit their stride. This is an ingenious and inventive cookbook of recipes that breathe new life into canned foods, from sardines to cannellini beans and fruit cocktails. Much generosity and care has gone into these recipes: Jack is determined to respect not only these much-maligned canned foods, but also respect food bank users, home cooks, and the budget-conscious who use them. depend.
Ruby Tandoh’s Cook As You Are is published by Serpent’s Tail, priced at £ 19.99. Available now.
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