Whether you’re too cold, too poor or just too busy; we know that in January you’re more likely to turn to your kitchen cupboards than to London’s newly opened eateries - however enticing they may be. Don’t forget to have a look at the special offers to see if we can save you some cash but if you’ve got your heart set on home cooking, here are three of our favourite new cookbooks to get you through the winter months.
1) ‘James Every Day: The Ultimate Collection’ - James Martin
The lovable Yorkshire lad first appeared on our TV screens back in 1996, but James Martin’s no-nonsense approach to classic dishes has stopped him from becoming yet another tiresome celeb chef. In ‘James Every Day’, you’ll find new recipes as well as some favourites from his past bestsellers like ‘Eating In’ and ‘Delicious’. We love this collection because it’s well suited to cooks with limited time (and cash), who have little or no interest in fussy creations served on enormous plates. It’s a hefty tome divided into hearty chapters like ‘meat’, ‘soups’, and ‘pies, tarts and batters’. (Dessert fans will love his unashamedly calorific puddings.)
Unlike other celeb cookbooks that we read like bibles but rarely use; ‘James Every Day’ is full of recipes that you’ll actually cook. There are dishes that you could knock up mid-week for the family and those that would satisfy even the most demanding dinner party guests. Some of our favourites include the pan-fried cod with vanilla shrimp butter; honeyed duck confit; lobster, mango and rocket tarts; and the dangerously decadent white chocolate, whisky and croissant butter pudding. If that all sounds like hard work, how about some chargrilled peaches with amaretto and basil?
If you, or someone you know, can’t imagine Saturday mornings without ‘Saturday Kitchen’; you’ll love this book.
2) ‘The London Cookbook’ - Jenny Linford
For someone who knows their way around London’s foodie hangouts, or anyone looking for hidden gems; Jenny Linford’s new book is a real treat. She’s been a food writer and gastro tour guide for years, so ‘The London Cookbook’ is packed full of stories, memories and great photos, as well as recipes and recommendations. The foodie map and directory is invaluable, especially if you’ve ever wanted to plan a food tour of your own.
Jenny says that the recipes ‘reflect the cosmopolitan diversity of London’, so you’ll find Spanish chickpea and chorizo stew alongside chicken teriyaki, and Jewish chicken soup next to traditional fish pie. You’ll need a good imagination, though, as there are few images of the finished dishes. That said, we think this book is perfect for Londoners who don’t cook but love to eat - and there’s plenty of them about. Linford’s insights into local producers, delis and markets are as heart-warming as they are practical. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Postcard Teas, Paul A. Young, Neal’s Yard Dairy or Smithfield Market; you won’t be disappointed.
3) ‘Indian Summer’ - Cyrus Todiwala
If you’re looking for something a little spicier, then the new book from Cyrus Todiwala of Café Spice Namaste might be the one for you. ‘Indian Summer’ is a slim and colourful addition to any kitchen cupboard and focuses on light, tasty recipes - ideal for those of us who are still dieting! Cyrus’ first book, named after his East London restaurant, was perfect for beginners and ‘Indian Summer’ feels like a natural next step. He says, ‘This book includes tangy and refreshing salads and delicious light meat and poultry summer dishes and barbecues…My idea is that you should be able to prepare this food with the minimum of fuss to the give the maximum of pleasure. It is food to share with family and friends in the garden!’
He’s right - all of the recipes are easy to follow and less time consuming than you might expect from past experience with cooking curries. Dishes like monkfish tikka; crisp chickpea pakoras; and Goan-style mango chutney would be perfect for laid-back summer evenings; while Parsee green fish curry and roast chicken Madurai masala are ideal winter warmers.
If you fancy trying out Café Spice’s food, why not drop hints about their Valentine’s offer to your significant other? At £30 for 3 courses, including a glass of bubbly; it’s a bargain!
(Don't miss the great recipe for spicy stir-fried prawns on page 27. Thanks to Inkwell Media for the pic!)
Asian flavours: ‘The Food & Cooking of Malaysia & Singapore’ - Ghillie Basan and Terry Tan. If, like us, you wonder if there will ever be an authentic Malay restaurant in London; you should invest in this while you wait. After seeing Tan cook at the Brick Lane Chilli Crab Festival last year, we pre-ordered this incredible collection of 150 recipes and haven’t disliked a single one yet. The full-colour photographs for each dish are a big help for beginners and the recipe for…is not to be missed.
Carnivore dreams: ‘Beef’ - John Torode. Written with the style and confidence you’d expect from the Masterchef star and man behind Smiths of Smithfield, ‘Beef’ is all about the best cuts, the biggest flavours and doing great things with less expensive bovine bits. As our friends over at foodepedia put it, ‘Eat every dish in this book and you’ll end up looking like a Dickensian character but wouldn’t it be worth it?’ (Read their full review here.)
Pre-order: ‘The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’; ‘Simple to Sensational’ by Pearl’s chef Jun Tanaka; ‘Seasonal Food’ (what’s in season when and why); and the irresistible ‘Come Dine With Me’ guide to dinner party perfection.