The amount of trees that die each year for the cookbook industry must form a pretty big forest. And even though there are a lot of bad ones of which we can’t understand who would ever commission them, there are also a few pretty decent ones out there. Wonder which titles we turn to in times of culinary need?
*** Jamie Oliver ***
Who? Famous (formerly naked) British chef, makes all things ‘lovely’.
Cookbook? We’ve lost track of how many he has published so far, but we like his latest book ‘Jamie’s Comfort Food’, as well as ‘Saving with Jamie’, ‘Jamie in America’, ‘Fifteen Minute Meals’ and ‘The BBQ Book’ by DJ BBQ.
Favourite recipe? This is technically not a recipe from any of his books we have, but the beef stew of Jamie’s wife Jools forms the basis of Nick’s much-loved boozy stew.
*** Mary Berry ***
Who? The grande dame of British baking, known for her sexual innuendo – soggy bottoms, anyone? – as a jury member on ‘The Great British Bake Off’.
Cookbook? Her first book dates all the way back to 1970, but we only have her ‘Baking Bible’. It has been out in English for a few years, but we recently got a Dutch edition. Berry teaches you all the basics of baking (including insights on moulds, yeast, baking powder and techniques), and shares her favourite cake, tart, bread and pudding recipes. A bible, indeed.
Favourite recipe? Her lemon drizzle traybake is deliciously tangy.
*** Yotam Ottolenghi ***
Who? British-based Israeli chef, has a chain of delis and a restaurant in London, also known as ‘the man who sexed up vegetables’.
Cookbook? ‘Jerusalem’, which he wrote with Sami Tamimi, is a wonderful book. Both chefs were born in the same year in the mythical city, Tamimi on the Palestinian side, Ottolenghi in the jewish part. Apart from authentic recipes from the melting pot of cultures that is Jerusalem, the book also contains a lot of background information and personal stories. ‘Plenty’ and ‘Plenty more’, two vegetable cookbooks, are also worth checking out.
Favourite recipe? Braised eggs with lamb, tahini and sumac. So yum.
*** Jeroen Meus ***
Who? Most of you won’t know him, but we Belgians like to refer to him as ‘the Belgian Jamie Oliver’. Taught his people how to cook and all that. Has a great love for butter.
Cookbook? His cookbooks, which feature recipes from his daily cooking show ‘Dagelijkse Kost’, are wildly popular. We have a few of them, including ‘Mijn 200 klassiekers’ (translates to ‘My 200 classics’), and are big fans of his honest and hands down approach.
Favourite recipe? Definitely his Luikse ballekes, meatballs from the Belgian city of Luik/Liege, served with a sauce made from onions and the local Luikse siroop, an apple and pear juice syrup. A delicious local speciality!
*** Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ***
Who? British TV chef, best known for his ‘River Cottage’ series and back-to-basics food philosophy.
Cookbook? As is the case with Mary Berry, he has also published a library worth of books, but a personal favourite is ‘River Cottage Veg Everyday!’. In Dutch it is called ‘Veg!’, plain and simple. We also have ‘Licht!’ and ‘Doordeweeks’, which are recent translations of ‘River Cottage Light & Easy’ and ‘River Cottage Everyday’.
Favourite recipe? His five-root soup with bacon is dead easy and delicious on cold winter days. It includes all the veg we love: carrots, parsnips and celeriac. We’d also like to try and make his chocolate hazelnut spread with coconut oil.
*** All things Delicious ***
Who? Delicious is not only a brilliant food magazine, they also publish pretty useful cookbooks.
Cookbook? Their baking book ‘Het bakboek’ has proved a source of inspiration many times when we needed to whip up desserts, and their ‘Delicious. Love to cook’ one has delicious (yep) recipes from around the world.
Favourite recipe? Their sugar content repulses Nick quite a bit but to be honest, the raspberry cheesecake brownies have never failed to put a smile on friends’ faces.