THE LAROUSSE BOOK OF BREAD - ERIC KAYSER

There's something required in bread making that goes beyond the simple kneading and resting. They are, of course, the fundamental stages; you could still make a good loaf without anything beyond that. But to make a loaf look the part, there needs to be further instruction. That's what this book delivers: the important stages and step-by-step photography, demonstrating perfect shaping. Each recipe also has a detailed timeframe. 

 


A BIRD IN THE HAND - DIANA HENRY

It's rare that a cookbook author can focus on one ingredient and get it right, but Diana has done just that. She has taken an ingredient staple to most countries and created an exciting book with reliably succinct methods and recipes, married with her signature, devourable prose.

I made the 'turkish-spiced chicken with hot green relish' for a weekend lunch. The fact that I made it again the next day, says it all. 

The photography - by Laura Edwards - is just lovely. She and food stylist Joss Herd have captured the essence of the recipes clearly and without pretence.  

This is a book to use for years to come. 


Turkish-Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish 

Ingredients - serves 4-6 

For the Chicken

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs

For the Relish

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Sea salt flakes
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 red chilli
  • 15g coriander, roughly chopped
  • Leaves from 8 sprigs of mint, torn
  • 70g pitted green olives,roughly chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • good squeeze of lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve

To marinate the chicken, mix the regular oil, cinnamon,cayenne, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper together to make a marinade. Make little slits all over the underside of the pieces of chicken with the point of a knife. Put the chicken into a dish and pour the marinade over, turning to coat. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge. Leave it there for a couple of hours,or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Make the relish just before you cook the chicken. Put the garlic and salt into a mortar and bash it with a pestle until it is crushed. Halve and deseed both chillies and chop them roughly. Add them to the mortar with the coriander, mint and olives and bash everything together, gradually adding the virgin oil and balsamic until you have a rough paste (it should be chunky, not puréed). Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

Heat a griddle. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, shaking off the excess, and cook it. Start off on a medium heat, cooking the chicken for about two minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another four minutes. The chicken should be cooked right through and singed, but not burnt.

Serve the chicken with lemon wedges, rice or flatbread, a bowl of Greek yogurt and the relish. Cucumber and green salad are good, too.

A Bird in The Hand by Diana Henry, published by Mitchell Beazley, £20 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)

 

THE HERB & FLOWER COOKBOOK - PIP MCCORMAC

I often shudder in fear when I read something about how to keep fresh herbs. Not because I don't like herbs - I'm a cook; I bloody love them - but because I always kill them, and can't deal with the guilt that is soon sure to follow. I hide their shrivelled corpses at the bottom of the bin, so my parter can't see that yet another has perished in my negligence. 

Receiving the Herb & Flower cookbook was how I imagine Moses felt when he received the ten commandments: amazed, relieved, possibly a little bit scared, but with overruling excitement. Pip's book is a reassuring bible. It starts with the simple maxim 'look after plants and they will flourish, neglect them and they die. That's all there is to it.' It approaches herb and flower growing with simplicity. That is so refreshing and reassuring.

The recipes are really lovely and uncomplicated, and the design is gorgeous. It's a revitalising, fresh and very exciting cookbook. 


Rosemary Poached Red Grapefruit

Grapefruit segments are a classic breakfast, but I’ve always found them to be a little too tart in the morning. The sweet juices here will make the fruit much more palatable – you can eat the skins as they go soft on roasting, but that’s entirely up to you. Make them in bulk and keep them in the fridge for a day or two if you like, as they’re just as nice completely cold. 
Substitute the rosemary with… thyme, summer savory, lavender

Serves 2

  • 1 red grapefruit
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 3 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • 3 tbsp smooth orange juice
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Crème fraîche, for serving


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.

Thoroughly wash the grapefruit and cut it into quarters, leaving the skin on. Place the wedges into a small roasting dish.

Pull the leaves off the rosemary sprig and throw them into the bottom of a mixing jug or bowl, with all of the remaining ingredients, apart from the crème fraîche. Beat them together lightly and pour the mixture over the grapefruit. 

Roast the fruit in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the grapefruit with a slotted spoon, leaving them to cool on a plate. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and bring to the boil for 5–10 minutes or until syrupy.

Divide the grapefruit between two bowls and pour over the syrup. Add a dollop of crème fraîche and serve immediately.

The Herb & Flower Cookbook, Pip McCormac. Quadrille, £16.99. 
 

SPICES & SPANDEX - TOM PERKINS

Food is naturally an adventurous topic. We can learn a lot about the world and its diverse culture through different meals and interesting ingredients. But no single meal, no matter how varied or novel, can be as culturally enriching as this book. 

Over 501 days, Tom Perkins and his mate Matt, cycled through 26 countries. They captured this peckish pilgrimage in some of the most stunning photography I've seen. They noted some beautiful recipes, and the trip inspired many more. 

This beautiful book isn't one for the cookbook shelf. This is a book that should adventure from coffee table to kitchen and back. A book to admire and to exploit. Well done, Tom! 

Seared Tuna Steak with a lychee, avocado, rocket salad & a soy sauce, honey & red Chilli dressing

Ingredients

  • 4 x 200g tuna steaks {roughly 2cm thick}

  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • 4 spring onions (finely sliced)
  •  juice 2 limes (zest of 1)
  • 2 whole red chillies (de-seeded & finely sliced)
  • 2 large handfuls rocket
  • large handful fresh mint (roughly chopped)
  • large handful fresh coriander roughly chopped
  • 16 lychees (peeled and cut in half)
  • 2 avocados (peeled and cut into slices)


Place all of the tuna steaks in a shallow dish. Combine the soy, olive oil, honey, sesame seeds, spring onion, lime juice, lime zest and the chilli in a cup and mix well. Pour over the tuna and make sure all the steaks are evenly covered. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to marinade.

Get a griddle pan to a high heat and then place on your tuna. Sear for a minute on each side (including the flanks) for rare. Add an extra minute if you like it a little more well done. Once cooked to your liking, place all the steaks on a chopping board while you construct your salad.

Combine the rocket, mint and coriander and divide evenly among the four plates. Do the same for the lychees and the avocado. Slice up each steak into 1 cm thick pieces and place on top of the salad. Use the remaining soy marinade to dress the salad. Finish with an extra squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of more toasted sesame seeds.

Spices & Spandex is available to buy for £25 at Tom's website (click here) or on amazon (click here). 

DUCK AND WAFFLE - DANIEL DOHERTY

I am often unsure how to feel about cookery books written by restaurant chefs. There is a necessary distinction to be made between home cooking - of which I am a doer - and restaurant cuisine - of which I am an eater. It's necessary because it is often said that to translate a restaurant-derived recipe into a domestic kitchen isn't an easy feat. 

This book obliterates that preconception, entirely. 

Daniel Doherty is, undoubtedly, one of my favourite chefs. He's worked all over London as head chef, and is now executive chef at Duck and Waffle - a 40th floor restaurant in the City of London, with the best views and the best food. His style of cooking and use of flavour combinations, he admits, aren't descended from one particular cuisine. It's that variety that makes him so brilliant. He's a chef who can, and will, use any flavour combination that best suits a particular ingredient, rather than attempt to fit the ingredient into a repetitive repertoire and limited larder.

This cookbook is doubly jaw dropping: metaphorically for the inspired ideas; literally for the immediate urge to eat every recipe. You'll be mightily impressed. 

Duck & Waffle: Recipes and Stories, Daniel Doherty. Mitchell Beazley, £25.

MONTEZUMA'S CHOCOLATE COOKBOOK - SIMON & HELEN PATTINSON

I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who doesn't like chocolate - though if I had the slightest sense of their disdain I'd probably keep a distance. This is a smashing little book, one you'd use when you have that urgent craving for something chocolatey, intense and gratifying. 

Husband and wife team Simon and Helen Pattinson quit their city jobs as lawyers and travelled to South America. It was there they found a deep inspiration to set up their own chocolate factory, and that's precisely what they did. 

The recipes in this book are appealing. There's a wide range from chocolatey nibbles, chocolate bakes and even savoury chocolate dishes. It's certainly inspired. 

Marbled Three-Nut ‘Get-Going’ Bars

prep 50 minutes, plus 25 minutes baking, plus 1 hour chilling V makes loads


Ingredients 

  • 120g unsalted, unroasted nuts (pecans, peanuts and cashew nuts)

  • 50g dried apricots
  • 50g sultanas
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 25g bran flakes, gently broken up
  • 25g crisped rice cereal
  • 1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses syrup
  • 250ml condensed milk

For the Topping

  • 150g very dark chocolate, minimum 73 per cent cocoa solids
  • 75g white chocolate

Special Equipment

  • Baking tray measuring 5 x 20 x 20cm
  • Bain-marie or heatproof bowl

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Roast your peanuts, pecan and cashew nuts on a baking tray for 5 minutes. When roasting these little beauties, keep an eye on them and ensure they are golden and not burnt! Leave to cool.

Take the cooled nuts and the apricots and chop them roughly so they are about the same size. Mix together with the sultanas, oats, bran flakes and crisped rice.

Next is the sticky bit that our three little girls love to help with. Line a 20 x 20cm baking tray with parchment paper. Gently heat the molasses and the condensed milk until warm and fully blended, and then add the fruit and nut mix. Put this mixture into the baking tray and press down reasonably firmly with a tablespoon.

Bake the base mixture for 20–25 minutes until it is golden and not burnt. Leave to cool.

Get the chocolate topping ready by melting the dark and white chocolate separately in a bain-marie or a heatproof bowl over a pan of water that boiled 5 minutes earlier and is now off the heat and cooling. Stir occasionally until smooth. This stops the chocolate burning.

Once the base mixture is cool, carefully turn over the tray and turn out the solid mix on to a board or cooling rack.

Pour the dark chocolate on top of the base mixture and then add the white chocolate. Spread the topping with a palette knife to give a generous marbled chocolate top. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour and then chop into suitable sized bars.

Montezuma’s Chocolate Cookbook by Simon and Helen Pattinson. Kyle Books, £16.99. 

 

 

PATISSERIE MADE SIMPLE - EDD KIMBER

I adore Edd Kimber. Not only because we are good friends, but also because of his bloody good recipes, his stunning style and his manifest passion for baking and patisserie. So when he showed me the layout for his new book, Patisserie Made Simple (still untitled back then) it was instantly clear just how hard he had worked creating the recipes. In fact, it took him a year and a half to write, and you can tell that every single recipe has been considered in great depth. 

The book oozes Edd's reassuringly unassuming style. With gorgeous photography by Laura Edwards (lauraedwards.net) and Edd's personal prose, the passion for everything food is tangible. 

The recipes are precisely what is promised in the title: patisserie made simple. The simplicity comes in all forms: ingredients that are obtainable, methods clearly explained, and most importantly Edd has, where possible, used equipment that most keen bakers will already have or at least have access to. 

The book is full of recipes that you'd want to bake, admire for a while, then devour. And with Christmas approaching, what better recipe to celebrate than an edible gift?

Laura Edwards

Passion Fruit Caramels

Ingredients - Makes 30  

150ml passion fruit pureé (approx. 10 fruit)

300g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, diced

Method

Halve the passion fruit and scrape out the seeds and flesh into a sieve over a small bowl. Push the flesh and juice through the sieve and measure out 150ml of this purée. Lightly grease a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin (although the exact size is not crucial) and line with foil or baking parchment, then grease the lining. Have this ready by the hob, so that it is right by you when the caramel reaches the correct temperature.

Put all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Cook until the sugar and butter have melted, then cook the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 122ºC. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the caramel into the prepared loaf tin. Leave to set for at least 4 hours before cutting into pieces. These caramels will keep for up to one week wrapped in baking parchment and stored in an airtight container.

Taken from Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber, published by Kyle Books. Priced at £19.99. Photography by Laura Edwards.