Monday, February 14, 2011

My recipe book collection

I'm not a much of a collector. To me, if something hasn't been used in the last 12 months, I'm quite happy to pass it on or charity bin it.
The closest thing I have a collection is my recipe books. I've just had a declutter here too, so the books above are those that I actually use.
I love my recipe books. If I'm stuck for something to read, I'll read one of my books. They are a constant source of inspiration.
I've collected these books over the past 20 years. The first book I bought was Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course, which is the spineless book on the top shelf. This book really taught me to cook, and though the recipes are a bit dated now, I still refer to it.
The latest addition to the collection was Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals. I haven't used this yet at all, but that will change. OK, but not a must have.
I think I have enough books now, so I try to be discriminating when I buy any new additions. I don't have much truck with books that aren't practical in my situation, so I don't have any "celebrity chef" books, as I think they are more about being a chef, not a cook. These days, I look for books that are both practical and cover new ground in my collection. It also helps if I think the recipes will appeal to the family.
I use all my books, but my Top 3 (at the moment, because this constantly changes) would be:
Complete Perfect Recipes, by David Herbert. I think this has been reprinted recently, and is certainly worth seeking out for its comprehensive collection of simple recipes. Anything you might want to cook is here. Great for beginner cooks too, with clear instructions.
Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery. A great book for enthusiastic bakers like me. Every recipe I've tried out of this has been a winner.
The Pressure Cooker Recipe Book, by Suzanne Gibbs. Started my love affair with my pressure cooker nearly two years ago, and still in constant use.

The least useful? How to Eat by Nigella Lawson. I haven't cooked one recipe out of this tome, but it earns its place simply for the fabulous writing about cooking and eating. Nigella's prose always puts a smile on my face. I love anyone who loves her food as much as I do!
Do you have a favourite cookbook? What is it, and why?


africanaussie said...

Just this weekend I went through my recipes - I have too many slips of paper, and odd articles that I stashed into a huge messy pile. So my project for the week is to consolidate. My favourite recipes are found in Sundays at Moosewood - a collection of vegetarian recipes from around the world. The Moosewood Restuarant (in Martha's vineyard USA) is a place I would love to visit someday.

Paola said...

I have lots of slips of paper with random recipes on them too!
Sundays at Moosewood sounds interesting. I'm on the lookout for a good vegetarian cookbook. Cheers!

Sonia said...

Ah, now you're talkin' my language. I do have a few celebrity chef cookbooks; some are good, some have been rubbish and have been extracted from my house.

My favourites have to be Jamie Oliver (he's an Italian at heart!), Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion. The Cook's Companion taught me that you do not need a pretty picture to get an idea of what you're cooking. I felt maybe sometimes I was so focused on the picture and not on the recipe. This big fat book tells me how to cook anything and I've become a better cook for it.

Paola said...

I do like Jamie Oliver's books. I've got Ministry of Food which is great for everyday meals. I don't have any Maggie Beer. My private joke is that nearly every recipe features verjuice...surprise, surprise..she sells verjuice!
I've got an early edition of Stephanie's Cook's's up there on the top shelf, right. I do refer to her often too, normally when I've got an ingredient I'm not sure how to deal with. For example, I've got celeriac growing at the moment, but I've never actually cooked it. Stephanie's book is perfect for these situations..

emilysincerely said...

I don't have a fav cook book. I find I have scraps of papers like others with things torn out of newspaper or jotted down. Need to organize those. I do that from time to time and go on a spree of making them or throwing them. I have a binder of recipes I like and use that most frequently. Those recipes are collected from friends and blogs (like some of your recipes!). Like someone else mentioned - has to have a photo - I want to know what it looks like. ha

Libby said...

Well done sorting out your books. I need to do mine again - esp. with the change to mainly vegan eating. Plus I find that I'm getting recipes online more and more. Okay, I'm going to commit to doing a recipe book purge this week in your honour :-).

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

I get my recipes from all over the place, magazines, web searches, some cookbooks.
I guess my favourite cookbook would be A NZ Country Harvest Cookbook by Gilian Painter (see my latest post at
Although I did glance through Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food and liked the layout/concept, I don't own a copy.