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5 Must Read Cook Books - They Might Change Your Cooking Life...

Updated on January 25, 2016

In the past few years my obsessions have widened, what started as a shoe obsession, rapidly changed to handbags, then clothes in general, also in there was my long time music passion (but, more on those on another hub).....Anyway, while I can't say those habits have changed much (they are still high on my list of coveted items) I now collect kitchen gadgets and most importantly cook books! I am obsessed with them, I spend my nights reading cookbooks and dreaming of the next recipe I will try; often the weirder the ingredients or the more interesting the recipe the more I will want to try it. Sadly I tend to ponder a little more than do, but never the less, I have decided to bring to you some of my favourite books and I hope they can offer you a little inspiration like they do for me.

If any of these books cross your path at some stage, take a moment to have a quick browse I am sure you will find something worth a try to you never know one of these cook books could find itself pride of place on your bookshelf....

Jamie Oliver - Cook With Jamie: my guide to making you a better cook and Jamie Does....

Admittedly Jamie is my favourite chef....I have watched him since I was in high school and it was Jamie who was my main inspiration to become so passionate about food. My mum bought me my first cookbook and it was Cook with Jamie and definitely the first book that gave me the confidence to get in the kitchen!

There is something amazing about Jamie Oliver's Cookbooks and that is that everything I have ever made out of one always tastes good. Maybe it has something to do with the long list of ingredients, but let me tell you that you will never put up a "bad" dish if you follow his recipe. Another thing with the ingredients - once you buy most of these things (dry spices, herbs and staples) you really don't have to buy that many things just a few replenishments here and there along with some fresh ingredients and you're done, so its definitely worth the investment! I know I said top 5, but "Jamie Does" is another favourite book of mine as everything in it tastes amazing and has a slight exoticness to it (particularly the chapter on Morocco!).

The books are very easy to understand and follow and Jamie has a writing style that makes you feel comfortable with using the ingredients. He explains everything you need to know from cuts of meats, to the different types of pasta shapes that you to can easily make. He also shares helpful tips in each recipe and sometimes little stories that for me give this book a great edge. You can learn a lot of useful information as well as make some delicious food.

Some of my favourite recipes out of these books are -

Cook with Jamie -

Crunchy raw beetroot salad with feta and pear (a christmas favourite)
Pappardelle with a ragu of tiny meatballs (just so yummy and flavourful)
Grilled Spatchcocked chicken with new potatoes, roast vegetables and herby yoghurt (delicious and impressive)
The best shortbread in the world (another christmas favourite)
Jamie Does -

Sexy Sweedish buns (heavenly)
M'hanncha with date sauce (heavenly)
Sweet and lovely honey and pistachio cake (oh and heavenly)

Kylie Kwong - Simple Chinese Cooking

After you try a recipe out of this great book you will never eat at a Chinese take out place again...seriously! Kylie Kwong has an art of getting the perfect harmony of flavours together and creating a bowls of bliss. Her recipes are easy to follow and never disappoint. I think like Kylie Kwong states cutting the ingredients small has a lot to do with it, so instead of getting a couple of key flavours you get to taste everything in one bite. I have cooked quite a few of her recipes and have also learnt the secret ingredient to a good Chinese meal - Shao Xing Wine or Dry Sherry (if you are gluten or wheat intolerant chose the dry sherry option, but double check the label). It honestly takes every meal up to that authentic tasting level. This book gives hearty Chinese meals that are not greasy like take out and actually leave you feeling satisfied.

This is definitely a must read book for any fan of Chinese cooking, because I am pretty sure you have not tasted Chinese food this good unless you are cooking it at home or trying some authentic cooking not laden with oil like in a lot of take out joints. I also enjoy her writing style as all recipes as easy to follow with some featuring photo explanations. A few of my favourites:

Sung Choi Bao of Pork (the best I have ever tasted)
Mongolian Beef
Stir-Fried Chicken Fillets with Cashews
Simple Stir-Fried Omelette (pretty much amazing and great as a quick meal for yourself)
Prawn fried rice

Greg & Lucy Malouf - Malouf

This is a treasure and a half. I have in the past few years developed a love of exotic and interesting food, more specifically middle eastern food. I can't explain what it is about it, but there is a delicious almost secret like world when you dive in. The flavours are so complex and often the food has a jewel like quality (mostly in relation the the pomegranates that seem to adjourn some dishes). I enjoy the rosewater element (a weakness of mine), but also the beautiful saffron to the aforementioned pomegranates, mint and sumac to name a few. Honestly I love all the elements and think this is a great book to delve into for this genre of food if you haven't already. This book is fantastic and is based on the restaurant Malouf in Melbourne which I would love to try out when I go back, I have heard rave reviews. Greg Malouf himself is Lebanese Australian and describes this book (aka: his food as his take on Modern Middle Eastern). Quite a few months ago a friend and I spent a day cooking up a feast for a mini dinner party with a few recipes from this book and it was such a hit. Ever since I have cooked a few things and without fail they taste amazing. Some of the ingredients can be a little tricky to find, but if you can then its definitely worth it.

This book is also beautifully presented and would look great as a coffee table book. While it does have some amazing photos it is based more on the content and recipes. I love how this book is set up into more manageable sections such as soups, small dishes, large dishes, side dishes, bakery, sweet and larder as it makes it much easier to find the suitable section for your catering needs. As promised a few of my favourites (which was hard to just pick a few) and I still have so many to try from this book, but so far:

Lentil Tabbouleh (great Gluten Free Option)
Falafel (best one I've tasted)
Imam Bayildi (stuffed eggplant)
SiS Kebabs
Beef Rib-eye with Baghdad Cafe Butter
Saffron Chelow (beautiful golden rice)
Feta-creamed Spinach (so beautiful as a side to a red meat dish)
Pistachio-Halva Ice Cream
Buttermilk Creams with Golden Fruits and Lime Syrup

Niki Segnit - The Flavour Thesaurus

So this book is a bit of a gem. It is perfect for anyone interested in different ingredients and trying to pair them with things that are not always the usual. This book is perfect to gain some inspiration and was written to provide pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. To me personally it's a bit of a bible, while it does feature some recipes; I particularly like it because you can have one ingredient say rosewater, go to the chapter Floral Fruity look up rose and find some fantastic if not unusual parings such as "Rose and Chicken" or "Rose and Saffron" but my particular favourite is the "Rose & Chocolate" which gives indication to a turkish delight inspired ice cream. Sometimes it just offers some insight as to what the pairing would taste like or sometimes a quick recipe is added that makes your mouth water just reading it. This book is definitely interesting and worth a read. The only problem with this book is that it does take some riffling through to find the correct ingredient as its all based on a type of flavour wheel (as noted by the author) which is further broken down into appropriate sections that feature similar flavours from each groups. This great book features a total of 99 flavours and whilst it does not have everything, it certainly covers enough to get the taste buds watering and the mind ticking over...add it to your list.

David Lebovitz - The Perfect Scoop

Have you made your own ice cream? Have you always wanted to try some out at home? Have you ever craved a weird or interesting flavoured ice-cream? Well look no further, this is the only book you will need to start making some delicious frozen treats in no time. The book features the basics of making ice cream including the equipment and the ingredients that will and will not work out. Varied ice cream recipes, sorbets, sherbets and granitas as well as the sauces and toppings, mix ins and vessels that can help you cream your frozen desert masterpiece. One of my favourite things about this book is that it features a lot of curious flavouring such as Parsley, Basil or Saffron ice cream (so weirdly wonderful!), or on another extreme Roquefort-Honey Ice Cream? who would have ever imagined such a flavour? I admit I have not yet had the opportunity to try these however they are definitely on my list. I love how this book is fun, and quite easy to understand. I also love the photos that are provided of some of the delicious treats as they really do make you want to try them out. I have a couple of ice-cream books and this is definitely one of the my top books as it never disappoints; where else can you turn a few pages to find a unique treat such as Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Maple-Glazed Pecans....its like heaven in a bowl....? As usually a few of my fav recipes below -

Cinnamon Ice Cream
Green Tea Ice Cream
Peanut Butter Ice Cream (Yum, Yum, Yum!)
Fresh Fig Ice Cream
Avocado Ice Cream
Fresh Mint Ice Cream
Marshmallow Sauce and Spiced Pecans (so good)

So whilst this is a hub of my top 5 cook books, it definitely is not my whole collection, but rather the few that I can go to at any time and successfully whip up something tasty without to much hassle. I have a lot of other favourite cook books, that I have yet to delve into and discover their complexities, such as Heston Bluthemthal and David Chang whom also have fantastic cook books, but of recipes I have not yet given much time to. I do hope this hub has provided some insight into the contents of these cook books and that it will give you some culinary inspiration to create some lovely food at that next dinner party or just for you!

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    • retromellie profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Australia

      Glad you found it interesting savvydating, thanks for reading....the book "Cook With Jamie" has some lovely salad recipes featured, perhaps you can give them a try sometime? :)

    • savvydating profile image


      5 years ago

      Your presentation is wonderful. The only foods I make well are fish and (lovely) salads. That's it. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by cooking shows like Master Chef. "How do they do it," I think to myself. Now you have given me a better idea why. This hub was so interesting to read. Great job!

      Up & Interesting.

    • retromellie profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Australia

      Yes the perfect scoop is fantastic and definitely worth a try so is Jamie for that matter! hopefully you may be able to satisfy a craving or two with the above info :)

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 

      5 years ago from Mexico

      Never consulted any of these books but I have seen Jaime in action and he is quite a practical guy, so I bet his books are useful.

      The Perfect Scoop sound fantastic too in big part because I am always craving ice cream!!!


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