Answering perhaps the most frequently asked FAQ of them all…
Ok here’s the current deal with food in our house. With lockdown lifting slightly, life is starting to feel a bit busier. With work picking back up and us not having to spend 24/7 inside with me asking Mark for the millionth time if he’d like to me to cut his hair again, the rituals and routines that were once a given every day have fallen by the wayside. Daily walks? Pfft. Gua Sha-ing every single day? Ermmm. A homemade dinner every night that I’ve tended to for at least an hour. Yeah, about that. You get the gist. So we’ve upped our meal box game to four nights a week. There are usually some leftovers that we can scrape together for lunch, we have takeaway once a week and spend one or two evenings having friends or family over for dinner, or visiting them – so the need for meal planning, prepping and shopping has massively decreased, which saves us time (and money!) across the board.
But that doesn’t mean that my recipe books are gathering dust. In fact it makes the process of getting them out all the more enjoyable as it’s usually when we’re hosting, or at the weekends when I have bit more time on my hands to really dig in, relax and channel my inner Nigella. I’m always being asked for a recipe book round-up, so today I’m sharing the most-used ones on our shelf…
WHEN YOU WANT A FANCY VEGGIE DINNER… *‘The Modern Cook’s Year’ by Anna Jones. I’ve spoke about this book before and it’s probably my top pick of them all. It’s 100% vegetarian recipes and my favourite layout of all; with recipes organised into seasons and then each season starting with some breakfast ideas, moving into lunches, then dinners and sides and finally dessert ideas. It makes it so easy to navigate and it’s my go-to when I fancy making something a little more ‘elevated’ whenever we have people over. I wouldn’t say it’s a book that’s packed with practical everyday dishes – although some of them are – but it’s such a good one to have on hand if you like entertaining and don’t just want to make stuffed peppers for your veggie mates.
My favourite recipe? Chard, Lentil & Bay Gratin – P.350.
WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING SUMMERY… *‘Salad Feasts’ by Jessica Elliot Dennison. You know that Tomato, Nectarine & Burrata Salad that I show all the time on my Instagram Stories? That’s from this book and it’s perhaps one of our favourite, favourite things to make – we never tire of it. Although this collection of salad recipes spans the whole year, it’s one that I tend to reach for in the summer when we just want something fresh, and it never disappoints. I also have to give a nod to *‘Tin Can Magic’ which is also brilliant and a bit kinder to the wallet given that most things included in the recipes can be found in your cupboards already. Basically I’m just one big J.E.D fangirl.
My favourite recipe? Tomato, Nectarine & Burrata with Salsa Verde & Toasted Sourdough – P.39.
WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING SUPER SIMPLE… *‘The Green Roasting Tin’ by Rukmini Iyer. You’ve seen this book be recommended to you at least 196 times, right? And it’s for good reason because it’s a classic in my eyes. Given that we eat *mostly* veggie at home this feels like the right edition of the Roasting Tin series for us. It’s 50% vegetarian recipes and 50% vegan recipes with each section being split into super speedy, medium cooking times and slow and low cooking times – again making it an easy one to navigate. We tend to eat more from the veggie side because I do love a bit of cheese on my traybakes, but all the recipes truly just involve one tin. The washing up situation with this cookbook is a dream.
My favourite recipe? Leek & Puy Lentil Gratin with a Crunchy Feta Topping – P. 178.
WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING SEASONAL… *‘Greenfeast’ by Nigel Slater. This is a new addition to our kitchen shelf and we have both the spring/summer and the autumn/winter versions of it. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but seasonal cooking just makes sense, you know? It tastes good, can work out a little cheaper and helps to narrow it down when it comes to the ‘What the hell should I make for dinner?!‘ conundrum. I will say that some of the ingredients in the book feel a tad too high-brow for us, but they can often be substituted for something else that’s easier to source. And the recipes themselves tend to be faff-free and the end result extremely satisfying. A nice option if you want to expand your weeknight plant-based repertoire.
My favourite recipe? Peas, Pappardelle & Parmesan – P.242.
WHEN YOU WANT TO BAKE… *The New Way To Cake’ by Benjamina Ebuehi. For someone who would count baking as a top three activity in my life, I have no baking books. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. So I started off by picking up this one from one of my favourite GBBO contestants from a few years ago and it’s brilliant. Benjamina has made every recipe a modern twist on a basic, making it truly unique in your cookbook stash and a great way to experiment with new ingredients and flavour combinations. There’s also something in there for all ability levels; from easy loafs and biscuits, to layer cakes and even a how-to for a wedding cake if you fancy flexing your decorative muscles. I can’t wait to bake my way through the whole thing. You know that swoony Strawberry Cake that I posted on my Instagram a few weeks back that I made for a pals birthday? That’s from this beaut of a book.
My favourite recipe? Elderflower & Roasted Strawberry Layer Cake – P.110.
SHOP THE POST*
Photos by Mark Newton