Here are some of my top pics for this summer’s cookbooks.
The Prohibition Bakery Book
Who doesn’t love a cocktail in the sun? This is definitely a grown up baking book with loads of funky ideas for mini cupcakes inspired by famous cocktails (like the mojito above). A great book to call on if you are planning a party this summer.
The Book of Latin American Cooking
If you want to get into the mood for the Rio Olympics this summer then this book will help you cook up a taste bud tingling storm. Although it was originally published in 1969 it’s bang on trend with the emergence of restaurants like Lima and Ceviche. It’s packed with delicious recipes which show how the food cultures of the South Americans became fused with that of the Spanish conquistadors and will take you way beyond guacamole and chips. I absolutely love the way Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz writes so it’s a pleasure to read as well as cook from.
The Yoghurt Cookbook
Before you dismiss this book as being dull you should take note of the author’s name. Arto der Haroutunian is a fount of knowledge when it comes to middle eastern cuisine (he wrote 12 cookbooks during his relatively short life). I almost dismissed it myself until I read his name. Whether you like yoghurt or not this is an incredibly seductive book. After a short introduction on the history of yoghurt and how to make it the book launches into the recipes. And what recipes they are. You can open the book at almost any page and be inspired from prawn pathia to Moroccan style eggs. This is a book to make your belly rumble.
I do like to see regional cookbooks in print (although it’s a shame we don’t shout about our regional food in the UK quite as much). I feel it gives you a much better picture of a country’s food, and does away with the pretensions surrounding some culinary traditions (e.g. French food in general). It’s lovely to see Jacques Médecin’s book back in print. It captures the simple essence of Niçoise cuisine, which the author claims have been influenced by Italy and Provence rather than France as a whole (the area only became part of France in 1860). The recipes are rustic and provincial than haute cuisine and even include one for a genuine salad niçoise (Médecin informs the reader that one of his reasons for writing the book was because “all over the world, I have had the most unpleasant experience of being served up leftovers masquerading as Salade Niçoise.”) If you like the works of Elizabeth Luard and Elizabeth David then this is a book for you.
Veggie Fast Food
Let’s face it, in these time poor days even the most ardent cook welcomes the odd short cut and quick recipe in the kitchen. This is a great little book containing flavoursome recipes such as Manchego quesadillas which are quick to prepare and can be in no way classified as “junk food”. Many of them can even be veganised making it flexible too.
Vegetarianism: A History
If you love reading about culinary history and fancy a ‘meatier’ read on the beach this summer then you’ll enjoy this book by Colin Spencer, irrespective of whether you are a vegetarian or not. It provides a fascinating insight into the practice of vegetarianism from pre-history through to the modern day touching on topics like Pythagorus’ avoidance of beans through to early modern thoughts on meat free diets from the likes of Thomas Tryon. Unlike some scholastic works Spencer’s prose is engaging to read and it could be dipped in and out of if that’s your preference.