July’s Random Recipe challenge is entitled “something a little different…” - the something different being that there is no cooking involved this month. I know. Quelle horreur! No cooking. *breaks out in a cold sweat*
But it’s OK though because this month Dom over at Belleau Kitchen has asked us to photograph our cookbook collection. And watching the entries come in and getting a chance to peep into my fellow bloggers homes has proved strangely addictive. It has also proved to me that what I thought was a fairly substantial collection of cookbooks, is actually a fairly pathetic and paltry gathering. I am almost embarrassed to share my two scant shelves with you. Whenever the OH starts his customary moaning about my cookbook purchasing I am going to direct him over to Susie at Fold in the Flour and then dare him to argue that my collection is excessive. Kudos to Susie whose compendium of cookbooks is BEYOND impressive
Anyhow, Dom asked us to tell a little story about our books so I thought I would share with you those books that are most beloved in my collection. Apologies if you are a regular visitor as much of this is going over old ground – I have raved about most of these books on more than one occasion. If you are a fellow Random Recipe contributor, then you probably have all of these in your collection. But if not, then maybe I can persuade you to part with your hard earned cash for one or two of the following:
Yotam Ottolenghi – a master of flavour combinations and just downright beautiful food, Yotam Ottolenghi has probably done more than any other chef to inspire my love of cooking. The ultimate aspiration of any amateur cook is to be able to make restaurant quality dishes at home and with “Ottolenghi – The Cookbook,” Yotam makes this possible. His follow up “Plenty” maybe not be quite so stellar but is worth purchasing for the caramelised garlic tart recipe alone.
River Cottage – whilst Ottolenghi may have inspired me to cook, Hugh F-W and the River Cottage crew are solely responsible for my interest in seasonality and the provenance of food. Previously assumed to be a crazy-haired placenta-eating chump, a fateful Xmas spent bedridden with the flu when Channel 4 were showing extensive re-runs of River Cottage changed all that. Now, (with the exception of the sweet Swiss chard pie incident) HFW can do no wrong. I love all his books, especially River Cottage Everyday. The ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish’ books I don’t use very often but are just great big beautiful tomes – books to be dusted down and caressed gently every so often.
Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course – everyone needs a cookery bible that they can turn to in an hour of culinary need and this is mine. It’s underrated. I don’t think many people own a copy but IMHO it is a much better purchase than the more famous Leith’s compendium which I also own but never use. Darina’s style is a lot less formal than Leith’s plus it contains the absolutely best recipes for brownies, cookies and tiramisu I know.
South African recipe books – these three little volumes are my favourite South African recipe collections. They may be a little dated but they make exceedingly tasty dishes. My favourite one is the little potjiekos book at the front (if you don’t know what a potjiekos is then see my post here). It is a collection of recipes entered into a potjiekos competition held in 1986 and the dishes all have delightful names such as “Delicious Potjie,” “Otjie Potjie” and “Have-some-more Potjie.” Each recipe starts with a quaint little blurb about the competition entrant along the lines of “ Mr H.F. Coetzee of Virginia’s friends can vouch for the virtues of this potjie….” Great food which makes me smile too!
Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet” – well I couldn’t end a post on recipe books without a nod to Dan and his book of baking brilliance. I raved about it the other day for the forty-fourth time so I am not going to repeat myself. Safe to say, it’s a great book. ‘Nuff said. And I’m obviously not the only one who thinks so as I have seen that distinctive tricolour book jacket on many of my fellow bloggers shelves. As you can see, my copy is falling apart from over use and I think I will soon have to replace it. The only recipe book I will have ever bought twice!