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Food Books

A collection of my favourite food books - the ones I've read and loved and cook from regularly. They're the books that inspire (and are mentioned on) my blog, Poires au Chocolat.

{Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin.} Deserves to be better known in the UK - Laurie's honest, funny writing is wonderfully relaxing.

{Saving the Season, Kevin West.} A big book with a huge amount of information about canning, pickling and preserving. I like the way Kevin has woven literature, history and anecdotes into the book.

{McGee on Food and Cooking, Harold McGee.} An invaluable book. It never leaves my desk.

{Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, Alice Medrich.} One of my current favourites - lots of easy, reliable recipes. I've enjoyed the Queen of Sheba torte, Linzer Blitz torte and Olive Oil Pound Cake.

{Cooking and Dining in Medieval England, Peter Brears.} The best book on medieval food I've read so far. It's huge, detailed, filled with the author's illustrations and covers every aspect you can think of. Truly impressive.

{Salt Sugar Smoke, Diana Henry.} One of the most beautiful books I own and a brilliant guide to preserving. I've tried the blackcurrant cordial and apricot & vanilla jam, adapted the strawberry jam and have many more recipes earmarked.

{Cooking in Europe 1650-1850, Ivan Day.} A useful overview of the period. Contains 199 recipes from around Europe translated and explained for the modern cook.

{Hoosh, Jason C. Anthony.} An unusual and compelling book about Antarctica and food, ranging from the heroic age of Scott, Amundson and Shackleton (seals, scurvy and starvation) to the past few years of relative luxury.

{Gorgeous Puddings, Annie Bell.} Classic puddings with simple, reliable recipes - I like the chocolate fondants, sticky toffee pudding and crème brûlée. It's a good place to jump off from.

{How Baking Works, Paula I. Figoni.} Though I think McGee is generally better for science, it's nice to have a book that focuses on baking. Good for information on ingredients and what they do i.e. fats, sweeteners etc. Has exercises and experiments but I haven't tried them.

{Ice Cream, Laura B. Weiss.} Another good book from the Edible Series. I learnt a lot about early ice creams, ice houses, gelato, sundaes, soda fountains and the spread of commercial ice cream.

{Cooking for Kings, Ian Kelly.} Not so much a biography of Antonin Carême but of his fascinating career as a chef and pâtissier for the rulers of Europe (including Napoleon and the Prince Regent, later George IV). I love how many full or double page pictures are scattered through the book. Includes some of his recipe but I've never tried one.

{What to Eat?: 10 Chewy Questions About Food, Hattie Ellis.} I read this thought-provoking book last year and today it was nominated for two Guild of Food Writers Awards.

{Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi.} A visually stunning, colourful book. All of the recipes have been excellent so far but I love the sweets in particular, including the tahini cookies, chocolate krantz cake, semolina, coconut & marmalade cake and the clementine & almond syrup cake.

{The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman.} I've loved the 3 recipes I've tried so far - I'm sure many of these will become familiar friends.

{Scandilicious Baking, Signe Johansen.} Absolutely gorgeous baking book. The Toscakaka and various buns are my favourites so far.

{The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden.} A huge, beautiful book bursting with stories and recipes. Particularly love Pepa's Fish Soup (so easy! so good!) & Rice with Chicken and Roasted Peppers.

{Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats, Bee Wilson.} Topical at the moment with the horse scandal. Brilliant and sometimes stomach-turning.

{One Pair of Hands, Monica Dickens.} Thoroughly entertaining book by the great-granddaughter of Dickens about her life as an 'ex-debutante turned cook', published in 1939 when she was 22.

  • Jackie

    This has been one of my favourite books since I was a teenager! Hugely enjoyable.

{Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: Fuchsia Dunlop.} Excellent memoir about eating, training as a chef, researching books and living in China and the contrast with the UK.

{The Hive, Bee Wilson.} Captivating.

{Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain.} As the review goes, 'Elizabeth David written by Quentin Tarantino'.