Books for Christmas: The aspiring chef

• Dec 18, 2018 •

Treat the aspiring chef or dedicated foodie to these two stellar sets of cookbooks this Christmas.

Transport yourself to Italy with Giorgio Locatelli’s sumptuous recipes, discover some of the most delicious vegetarian food you can cook thanks to Anna Jones, and try something new with Anja Dunk’s delectable German dishes.

Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings is a long-awaited revival of this underserved national cuisine, proving that there is more to German food than Bratwurst and Black Forest gateau.

Anja Dunk’s German food is gently spiced, smoky and deeply savoury. From recipes such as whole-wheat buttermilk waffles to caraway roast pork and red cabbage, quince and apple slaw, her way of cooking is vibrant, honest, quick and deeply intertwined with the seasons and the weather.

Featuring over 200 recipes for the everyday family table, as well as for snacks and special occasions, Anja’s cook book is an essential guide to all the basics of German cuisine, providing inspiration for appetising and comforting meals throughout the year.

Peppered with evocative anecdotes and outspoken observations on the state of modern food, Made In Italy definitive and universally celebrated compendium is a delight to read and cook from. Opening with an extensive guide to preparing antipasti and culminating in a mouth-watering selection of desserts – via soups, risotto, pasta, fish and meat dishes – Giorgio Locatelli’s masterpiece is the must-have contemporary Italian food bible, seamlessly combining the historical insight of a food writer with the hands-on expertise of a top chef.

Divided into six seasons, Anna Jones’s The Modern Cook’s Year contains over 250 delicious vegetarian recipes interspersed with tips on everything from seasonal music playlists to flowers to look out for in each month of the year.

It includes:

Start of the Year: Spelt with pickled pears and pink leaves and Chocolate and blood orange freezer cake; First Warm Days of Spring: Elderflower dressed broad beans and leaves with burrata and Chickpea farinata with slow cooked courgettes; Herald of Spring: Spring chickpea soup with salted lemons and Rhubarb and rose geranium frozen yoghurt; Summer: Smoked aubergine flatbreads and Beetroot tops tart; Autumn: Orzo with tomatoes and feta and Honey, lemon and coriander seed cake; Winter: Velvet squash broth with miso and soba and Chocolate rye porridge with quick honey pears.

Guiding you through the year, from the coldest winter days to the long light summer evenings, The Modern Cook’s Year is set to become a contemporary classic.

 

In Made In Sicily, Giorgioembarks on a gastronomic tour of Sicily, a beautiful, sun-drenched isle with a rich and unique culture.

This follow-up book to Made in Italy explores the ingredients and history and introduces you to some of the cooks, fishermen and growers that make Sicily what it is, with regional recipes ranging from insalata di rinforzo, a famous island salad made with cauliflower, to four kinds of caponata, pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs, Sicilian couscous, and the celebrated dessert, cassata. ‘When people talk about Sicilian cooking,’ says Giorgio, ‘they always speak about the influences from the Greeks, the Arabs, the Spanish… but I really believe the biggest influence is the land and the sea. They determine the produce, which has stayed the same, throughout all the cultural changes. What grows together, goes together, as my grandmother used to say, and it is the simple combinations of beautiful ingredients that makes Sicilian food special.’

A Modern Way To Eat is a vegetarian cookbook packed with quick, healthy and fresh recipes, that fits perfectly with how we want to eat now.

How we want to eat is changing. More and more people want to cook without meat a couple of nights a week, or are looking for interesting ideas for dishes for their vegetarian friends (whilst pushing their own vegetarian repertoire beyond a red onion and goat’s cheese tart or a mushroom risotto). At the same time we want to eat food that is a little lighter, a little healthier, a little easier on our pockets, but that won’t have us chopping mountains of veg or slaving over the stove for hours.

Packed with recipes that explore the full breadth of vegetarian ingredients – different grains, nuts, seeds and seasonal vegetables – and alternative approaches to cooking that avoid too much dairy or heavy carbs and gluten, this is a cookbook for how we want to eat now.

From Tuscan tomato and bread soup to monkfish stew, simple spaghettis or lemon and pistachio polenta cake, Made at Home is a colourful collection of the food that Giorgio Locatelli loves to prepare for family and friends.

With recipes that reflect the places he calls home, from Northern Italy to North London or the holiday house he and his wife Plaxy have found in Puglia, this is a celebration of favourite vegetables combined in vibrant salads or fresh seasonal stews, along with generous fish and meat dishes and cakes to share.

In a series of features he also takes favourite ingredients or themes and develops them in four different ways, amid ideas for wholesome snacks, from mozzarella and ham calzoncini (pasties) to ricotta and swiss chard erbazzone (a traditional pie), crostini to put out with drinks, and fresh fruit ice creams and sorbets to round off a meal in true Italian style.

Many more of us are interested in eating healthier food on a regular basis but sometimes, when we’re home late, tired after work, and don’t have time to buy lots of ingredients, it can just seem too complicated.

In How To Cook, Anna Jones makes clean, nourishing, vegetable-centred food realistic on any night of the week. Chapters are broken down by time (recipes for under 15, 20, 30 or 40 minutes) and also by planning a little ahead (quick healthy breakfasts, dishes you can make and re-use throughout the week). Anna’s book is a truly practical and inspiring collection for anyone who wants to put dinner on the table quickly, without fuss, trips to specialist shops or too much washing up, but still eat food that tastes incredible and is doing you good.

Looking for more gift inspo? Check out our guides for Sistersliterary lovers and the deep thinkers.

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