Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Favourite Cookbooks – Part I

I love to cook yet get bored very easily so I am always on the lookout for new recipes. I could look online for new ideas but there is something about cookbooks that I can’t resist, particularly if they are from one of my favourite chefs/cooks.

The following is part one of a list of my absolute favourite cookbooks filled with recipes and ideas that I never tire of and use again and again.

Barefoot In Paris – Ina Garten

I ADORE this woman, her books, and her TV show. Her recipes never fail and she has perfected the art of taking simple ingredients and turning them into something delicious and elegant. She is my go-to for dinner parties and everyday recipes. She has seven cookbooks and to pick the one I love best is like picking a favourite child – impossible. However, I am featuring Barefoot In Paris over the others because she has successfully taken a traditionally intimidating cuisine and made it very accessible. Prior to this cookbook I wouldn’t have dared to attempt French dishes even though I love French food. Her approach is to feature easier bistro and countryside cooking making the recipes simple to make and pretty foolproof. I never thought I would ever make things like Mussels Mariniere, Coeur a la Crème and Crème Brulee but now I do.

Jamie At Home – Jamie Oliver

I now have a growing collection of Jamie Oliver cookbooks and, to think, not too long ago he used to annoy me. In recent years, however, he has really become enjoyable to watch on TV especially since he started focusing on healthy family dinners. I love his approach to using seasonal ingredients and I have never made a recipe of his that I didn’t like. I discovered this particular cookbook right at the time I was trying to plant my own garden. He not only gives recipes but advice on growing your own vegetable garden. His overall approach (and this can be said of his other cookbooks too) is to keep recipes simple using the freshest of ingredients. The passion he has for what he does is contagious and makes me want to learn more about food and be a better cook.

Nigella Christmas – Nigella Lawson

I have to give credit to the Brits; they really know how to do up Christmas right. Perhaps it was my Canadian upbringing that makes me gravitate towards the British way of celebrating the Christmas season and this book makes me feel like I’ve been transported to the U.K. in December. It is almost encyclopedia-like in the amount of recipes and information contained in it. Don’t like turkey for Christmas dinner? No worries, try the recipe for prime rib, or goose, or ham. I particularly like the section on what to do with turkey leftovers. I also like how she gives menu ideas for the other celebrations you may have during the festive season like a Christmas brunch or Boxing Day dinner.

Best Summer Weekends Cookbook – Jane Rodmell

Just looking at the cover of this cookbook makes me yearn for the hot days of summer (especially since we are in the middle of a blizzard as I write this). This book gets a lot of use during barbeque season but don’t let the title fool you, it contains many recipes that can be made at anytime of year. If you were to take one cookbook to the cottage for the summer, this would be it. The author even makes note that most of the dishes can be prepared with things you already have in your pantry. It is beautifully photographed and contains great recipes to enjoy on your patio with just your family or for entertaining a crowd. I love that this book reminds us that summer is very short in Canada so we should make the most of it.

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