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Top 10 Most Inspirational Cookbooks Of All Time

Updated on July 22, 2013
Top 10 most inspirational and influential cookbooks
Top 10 most inspirational and influential cookbooks

Best Cookbooks Of All Time

How many cookbooks do you have?

Cookbooks are wonderfully inspirational, colorful, informative and have a unique way of influencing our taste buds.

They cover every cuisine, every tried, tested, exotic, weird and wonderful food, beverage, spice, herb, fruit, vegetable, dessert and everything in between.

Some use them religiously to create masterpieces in their own home, others use them for ideas, some as reference books, some purely as coffee table books. No matter how you use your cookbooks, I am sure you have a favourite or two.

Here are 10 of the most influential and inspiring cookbooks that I have come across. I wonder if any of these, or at least the chefs and cooks behind the creations are your favourites too.

Let's go on a culinary adventure.

The Cook's Companion, Stephanie Alexander

The Cook's Companion is to me like the bible of cookbooks. It is the ultimate encyclopedia of every ingredient you could ever imagine to want to investigate. No matter what you are looking for, you will find it, plus details of it's background and what to do with it.

It really lives up to it's name as it really is your companion in the kitchen.

This book is also wonderful if you are just starting out and really do not know where to begin. You may find a simple, step by step recipe which instructs you to prepare a potato or cut up an eggplant (aubergine) but unless you really know what you are doing you might feel lost; this is where this cookbook comes in handy each and every time as it will educate you, guide you and give you that extra knowledge that will ensure you work wonders.

Once you have your head around some of the most exciting fruits, vegetables and spices around you can then try your hand at following some of the recipes also included.

Yes it comes with a price tag, but this is one of those lifetime investments that will have you returning to over and over again.


The Margaret Fulton Cookbook

The Margaret Fulton Cookbook

Margaret Fulton is considered one of the architects of the food revolution in Australia; helping to change the way food was prepared, cooked and understood.

Her unique manner allowed the introduction of worldwide foods into our homes in the 1970s, at a time when little was known about so many; asparagus, for example.

Despite its age, this is a fantastic classical cookbook which will introduce you to some amazing foods from different countries in such a pleasant and simple approach that makes it easy to relate to and provides a great insight into some produce some may have never thought about.

No, it does not have a modern feel, but it is one of those cookbooks that gives you the feeling of home cooked meals, just like our mothers and our grandmothers made.

The Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook

The Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook

The Women's Weekly magazines are an institution in Australia. Not only loved and admired for generations for its content, but also for its wonderful recipes which continue, to this day, to come out of their test kitchen.

The tried and tested meals are known to be ever so reliable and most importantly they work and that is why they have become such an icon in our homes.

Like many other classical cookbooks it has an outdated feel and appearance however it's content is solid and well worth consideration. You know the saying, 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'. Apply that here.

This cookbook has wonderful cakes, recipes and baked ideas and most importantly they work. There are also a lot of seasonal variations, themes and cuisines that you can purchase as separate books if you prefer variety.

Sydney Food, Bill Granger

In the year 2000, Sydney Food, by Bill Granger hit the shelves and introduced us to a whole new breed of cookbook.

I find this cookbook to be a easy and pleasant read and I find that it allows for personal variation which I believe is critical to ensuring you and your cookbook become one. There is nothing worse than seeing a gorgeously looking dish only to realise that you either cannot access an ingredient or just do not like a component.

If you are wanting to feel Australian, or introduce yourself to some Australian cuisines, go any buy yourself this classical inspiring cookbook.

All-day breakfast ideas, seafood platters, classical tarts and slices and wonderful nibbles which you can pack up in a picnic and take with you to the beach.

Remember that Bill Granger is not a trained chef but a home cook and this is why his approach to food is so appealing and successful. Many home cooks use their instinct when creating dishes and so too does Bill. I think you will really like his no-full attitude and fresh outlook.

The Complete Asian Cookbook

The Complete Asian Cookbook, Charmaine Solomon

It is hard to remember a time when Asian foods were not a part of our daily cuisine. It is hard to remember when heading out to a local chinese restaurant the only way to get your dose of chinese food, or when you could never find asian-inspired vegetables and spices in our supermarkets. Then again, who was looking back then. That is how it was back in the 70's; in Australia anyway.

Then along came the Complete Asian Cookbook. A cookbook which revolutionised our home cooking and opened up the world to us.

All too often it is hard to re-create the wonderful meals we see propped in glossy recipe books, but this cookbook not only gives you the basics to preparing many Asian favourites, but also great simple ideas on how to mix and match the ingredients without putting far too much of this or that and overpower your creation.

This truly is an inspiring cookbook which can guide a newbie into the world of Asian yummies. It will give you not only a view of classical dishes, but also some with a more of a western-slant to them.

Despite it's age it is a great, easy to use, educational cookbook for the home cook.


Thai Food

Thai Food - David Thompson

Thai food is full of such wonderful flavours. I find that when I eat it I ask myself why it has taken me so long in between dishes. The home cook who loves Thai cuisine or Thai inspired meals must have this book in their collection.

What makes this book so special is that it is not just filled with wonderful coloured pictures and recipes, but also stories and background information which really helps to make the meal complete. It gives the produce and dish created a sense of purpose.

Whilst some classical cookbooks are purely for reference, this is more than that. You will be surprised at how fast you can learn to whip up a quick meal with so much flavour. And when you get game, you can attempt his more complex dishes (I'm not there quite yet!).

Everything from meat cuts to sauces, to how to harmonise flavours and how to achieve the authentic Thai balance. Simply inspirational.


The Australian Women's Weekly Kids' Birthday Cakes

Every Australian mum has this cookbook or knows someone who does and it is probably covered in food, sugar, sticky fingers and lots of love. These tried and tested birthday cakes are winners each and every time they are created in our homes. Generation after generation.

Now, these cakes are not just any old round cake.

There are Barbie doll cakes, swimming pool cakes, fairy castles, ladybugs, flowers, creatures, trains, trucks, cars and almost everything you can think of. Most recipes use everyday confectionary and ingredients which are easy to locate. The hardest part will be deciding which cake to bake.

There are so many choices! This is the ultimate birthday cake recipe book. Nothing comes close to this one.

Maggie's Harvest

Maggie's Harvest - Maggie Beer

If you have never seen or heard of Maggie Beer let me introduce her. She is a warm, lovely, appealing and friendly-faced lady with a chatty and familiar tone about her. It is this unique character which transposes directly through her bones into her cooking.

Her passion for food is contagious and what makes her methods so appealing is the way she uses seasonally harvested produce to create her masterpieces. We all know that seasonal fruits and vegetables not only are fresh but are priced far more appropriate so buying freshly harvested seasonal products is everything that Maggie Beer is about.

Her discussion of food is a great read as you are educated about the ingredients and then shown how they naturally marry together.

Arabesque

Arabesque - Greg and Lucy Malouf

Middle Eastern food is another one of those cuisines that has ingredients and flavours which most put into the too hard basket. But time to think again. Get yourself Arabesque and you will soon change your mind.

This is a simple to follow, factual and amazing cookbook which gives you a wonderful introduction into spices and their uses, history of ingredients used in common dishes and history of the regions where the food originates from.

What this book allows you to do is feel comfortable to pick up a once-unknown spice and bring it home into your kitchen and create something that you never dreamed was possible.

Off the Shelf - Donna Hay

Donna Hay has a way with cooking. She is appealing on so many levels and so too is her cooking. No matter what level you are up to you can learn from Donna.

Her recipes and the accompanying photographs make for simple cooking and her techniques make cooking fun.

Donna has a way of turning what we may never think of into a meal or allowing us to look at what we may think of as a truly unreachable dessert into a home cook's dream.

You could probably almost fill a library with the amazing cookbooks she has published over the years, but this is just one. One of my favourites.

Inspired?

Feeling hungry? or do you feel like you have just enjoyed a 10 course meal?

I hope these cookbooks have left you wanting to learn more or create more dishes in your own homes. They will not only educate you in some amazing foods and ingredients but also help to introduce into your homes meals that you never ever thought you could create.

They have helped to shape my life and those of my family and I hope they can introduce something new into your world.

Are any of my favourites yours too? Or have you got a completely different list altogether?

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    • Cherry Red profile image

      Cherry Red 5 years ago from London, England

      The Arabesque book sounds wonderful. I will also be checking out a few of the others too. This is a great round up cookery books. Thanks!