I love this challenge from Katetakes5’s Listography this week. Let me re-phrase that: I LOVE THIS CHALLENGE.
As a former cookery magazine Editor and virtual owner of the Recipe Shed, I’ve got cookbooks holding up the walls in our flat. Some I use a lot; others have been flicked through once, then put away, just gathering dust.
Some mean nothing to me; others the world. And these are those. The 5 cookbooks that have a story behind them.
1. MY RECIPE BOOK
My wife bought me this leather-bound recipe book for my birthday four years ago, long before I started a blog, and probably even before the internet was invented. I keep (or rather kept – because I rarely use it now that I have my online Recipe Shed) all my favourite recipes in it, some I’ve tried and tested from other sources, and some I’ve concocted myself. One of my favourites is Southern Fried Chicken, sourced from a magazine called Fresh, featuring around 30 ingredients.
2. HESTON BLUMENTHAL AT HOME
I got this for Christmas last year and spent a very happy hour putting Post-it notes on all the recipes I want to try – around 30 in total. I’ve done about 20 so far, top of the list being the most sublime Chilli Con Carne I’ve ever tasted. The secret ingredient is a Spiced Butter, made with Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup and Marmite. Oh, and the pure crispy, fluffy genius of his triple-cooked chips!
3. HESTON BLUMENTHAL ‘PERFECTION’
This was released to coincide with the great man’s TV series of the same name. It only contains half a dozen recipes, but they are ‘perfect’ versions of them. How to Cook the Perfect Steak is top of the list, followed by Chicken Tikka Masala which took three days in preparation and God knows how many ingredients, but my word, it was the business.
4. ‘BALTI CURRY COOKBOOK’ by PAT CHAPMAN
Pat’s Indian Restaurant Cookbook was the first I ever bought after a back-packing trip around India 10 years ago. It gives you all the basics to re-create restaurant-style curries at home BUT it is surpassed by his Balti book. I was a Balti addict when I worked in Birmingham for four years in the ‘Nineties and longed to make my own. Pat shows you how. There is A LOT of groundwork involved, in terms of grinding and blending several dozen spices, but you can use them as bases time and time again, so well worth the effort. One of my favourites from the book is Balti Keema, based on mince.
5. ‘MEAT’ by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Not just a recipe book, but a science manual about everything to do with a carnivore’s dream, from the breeds of animals, to the cuts, to the cooking techniques. I’ve tried and tasted about half of Hugh’s offerings and my favourite by a long-shot is my variation of his Donnie Brasco Aromatic Shoulder of Pork, cooked for 6 hours. Why Donnie Brasco? Because you put it in the oven and ‘Fuggedaboutit’.
• What have you got in your cookbook collection – and why? Head over to KateTakes5’s Listography and share yours.