the more food stained, worn & battered, the more used & loved. But there are also the cookbooks you pour over in bed at night or over a morning coffee, sticking post-it notes (or maybe just bits torn off the morning paper) on recipes for hoped for future use. And then there are those which are more about food, people and places than specific things to cook, and those are often the best of all.
Note: this is a work in progress; titles will be added as and whenever time is found and as I make new discoveries!
"One Souffle at a Time" Anne Willan
A Christmas present from son two's lovely girlfriend (now wife), a great cook and baker, this enchanting memoir from Paris' La Varenne cooking school founder, written with Amy Friedman, is a must read for anyone who loves food. A pure delight!
"The Table Comes First", Adam Gopnik
The first Adam Gopnick book I read was "Paris to the Moon." I was so enchanted that I have read everything of his I could find ever since. A wonderful writer found regularly in The New Yorker magazine.
"Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard & the Reinvention of American Taste", Luke Barr
Son two gave me this for Christmas and I was completely enthralled. Wonderfully personal descriptions of the time and the not always perfect people involved. (M F K Fisher was the author's aunt).
"An Omelette and a Glass of Wine", Elizabeth David
Another Christmas present, this time from my husband. It is filled with David's thoughtful writing about food mixed with simple, interesting recipes. A treasure.
"Elizabeth David, Writing at the Kitchen Table" Artemis Cooper
An absorbing, illuminating biography. A must.
"Home Cooking, A Writer in the Kitchen", Laurie Colwin
I am embarrassed to say this New Yorker writer is a fairly recent discovery, prompted by a piece about her which appeared in The New York Times. If, like me, Laurie is new to you, you are in for a treat!
"Chez Panisse Vegetables" Alice Waters
This is simply a beautiful book - illustrated with wonderful linocut images that look almost Japanese and with detailed descriptions and histories of each vegetable to enhance your understanding of their nature and how to cook them. Oh, and recipes too.
"Recipes & Lessons from A Delicious Cooking Revolution" Alice Waters
A charming little book, a Christmas gift from a niece, and one to treasure as it explores the simplest of dishes and the philosophy of cooking and eating seasonally, sustainably etc.
"La Cocina de Mama The Great Home Cooking of Spain" Penelope Casas
I have every one of Penny's Spanish cook books (more on these later), but at the moment I am focused on cooking my way through this - every recipe tried so far is a gem and I am determined to master them all. Have you ever made a recipe for the first time and had it come out as if you were at an amazing restaurant? Try Penny's Hake in Garlic Sauce for a start.
"Naples at Table Cooking in Campania" Arthur Schwartz
As described in The Cook's Blog, this is the food of my childhood. My mother cooked as her own mother had taught her - simple, easily made dishes from the area around Naples where my grandmother was born and from where, with her husband and two year old son, she emigrated to New York at the end of the 19th century. Arthur came to these dishes by a completely different route - inspired by Italian next door neighbours in Brooklyn, he fell in love with the country and its food.
"The Southern Italian Table" Arthur Schwartz
More simple, easily made dishes from southern Italy - including my mother's way of cooking sausages that Arthur explains so beautifully. And much more.
"The Kitchen Diaries" Nigel Slater
A book to dip into again and again by an inspirational writer and television presenter who loves to eat and garden, especially vegetables. He describes the inspirational, traditional fruit and vegetable garden created at his home in London, cooking from the produce it supplies as the seasons change. .
"The Art of The Tart" Tamasin Day Lewis
A gift from my friend Helen, this is a delight not least for the sensational saffron and tomato quiche that Tamasin credits as having been inspired by a Simon Hopkinson's recipe in "Gammon and Spinach" I first tasted a very similar, and absolutely sensational saffron and tomato tart at the wonderful Tangerine Dream Cafe at The Chelsea Physic Garden here in London.
"The Silver Palate Cookbook" Julee Rosso, Sheila Lutkins, Michael McLaughlin
When it first came out 25 years ago, this was the one we all had to have. and then of course we had to have the two that followed, also, "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" and "The New Basics" all of which, much used and spattered, still have a prime position on my shelves.
"The River Cafe Cookbook" Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey
When this arrived on the scene, this was THE cookbook we all had to have and cook from. And it is still, with its siblings - "River Cafe Cookbook Two" "River Cafe Cookbook Two Easy" and "River Cafe Cookbook Green" - much used favourites.
An incredibly handy little book with 100 River Cafe pasta recipes grouped by sauce - raw, cheese, fish, meat, etc. One of a set of one dish titles, all equally useful.
"Charleston Receipts" by the Junior League of Charleston
This was one of the first cookbooks bought with my own money from my first job after college. Called "the bible of Junior League cookbooks", the recipes were influenced by family cooks, many of whom still spoke the Gullah dialect, a centuries old Atlantic Creole language. A treasury of regional culinary customs, a delight to read and cook with.
"The Good Cook" Simon Hopkinson
Simple, authentic recipes from childhood, restaurant career and most memorable meals. A recent addition to my library and a gem, along with "Week In, Week Out" - a seasonal cookbook filled with uncomplicated, not quite familiar dishes you want to make right away. Plus "Roast Chicken and other Dishes"
"Cook Simple" Diana Henry
Only the most recent of her books to find a firm place on my shelves - filled with practical suggestions to make everyday cooking delicious and also easy. Plus "A Change of Appetite" - a new collection of generally lighter, more vegetable/grain based recipes.
"The Foods & Wines of Spain" Penelope Casas
This was Penny's first cookbook, published in 1982, which introduced Spanish food to the US. 400 classic recipes, often from restaurants, beautifully written and easy to follow. And did I say delicious? JUST PUBLISHED: her legacy book "1,000 Spanish Recipes" with moving introductions by her husband, Louis, and daughter, Elisa.
"The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" Revised by Marion Cunningham
A wonderfully classic, comprehensive American cookbook, first published as "The Boston Cooking School Cookbook" at the end of the 19th century and most recently revised (a century later) in 1994
"Mastering The Art of French Cooking" by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, Julia Child
THE cookbook no kitchen should be without. Make sure you have the original version - and in hardback if possible (paperback will not survive the use you will make of it).
This is THE cookbook to have on your shelves alongside "The Joy of Cooking," "Fanny Farmer" and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" - a beautifully written, easy to read view of classic American food by an acknowledged master.
"The Cooking of Southwest France" by Paula Wolfert
When this was first published in 1983, it became an instant classic, and now, 23+ years later, Wolfert has completely revised her groundbreaking book. In this new edition, you′ll find sixty additional recipes – thirty totally new recipes, along with thirty updated recipes from Wolfert′s other books.
Over 300 recipes with spectacular photography - a delightful book to pour over.
First appearing in 1986 in the form of a newsletter, this is an online magazine about the best food and wine - what they are, how they are produced and where to find them. Personal, enlightening and charming
Gather Journal is a privately published, beautifully produced bi-annual magazine about food which recently won 3 Gold Medals at the Society of Publication designers (SPD) Awards Ceremony.
A beautifully designed bi-annual magazine celebrating women and food - those who grow it, make it, serve it etc.
A quarterly journal of food and writing launched by David Chang, owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with collaborator Peter Meehan. Each issue focuses on a single theme explored in essays, art, photography and recipes. Its essays regularly win James Beard awards.
A new discovery, a quarterly magazine just a year old and hopefully around for a long time. (Not to be confused with a restaurant of the same name in New York.)