When the doorbell rang with yet another Amazon delivery I stopped to look around the kitchen and suddenly noticed my mum’s addiction… cookbooks. I have never known anyone to have so many (and actually use them!) so for today’s post I thought I’d run through some of her favourites and take a look at how cookbooks have evolved over the years.
This is just some of them, you can double this collection to get an idea of how many sit on our kitchen shelf. It all started with a Mary Berry book in 1978 – this came free with my mum’s first ever food processor. A whole book of baking with a food processor and still to this day we swear by the chocolate brownie and apple cake recipes. Delia Smith was probably the first chef she really started following as her cookbooks were simple and great if you were just starting out. Her recipes range from all different kinds of meals, but it’s just great everyday food.
Jamie Oliver came next and he was the first big TV chef to catch my mum’s attention, the first ‘celebrity chef’. Jamie Oliver launched as the ‘Naked Chef’ and he suddenly made cooking really exciting and fun. Jamie’s recipes had more of an Italian theme to them and she liked how he’d use a lot of fresh ingredients. Nigella Lawson sits in a similar boat to Jamie but with a slightly more luxurious, indulgent feel to her cooking. Her recipes were always quick and easy and my mum liked how they would always work – there were never any cooking disasters with her recipes. Nigel Slater has some gorgeous ideas in his book but the way the cookbook is set out makes it more reading material than cooking material. My mum finds her self reading this one like a book rather than flicking to a quick recipe when she fancies something.
So now let’s talk about Ottelenghi and I think this is where it all changed. My family love his restaurants so of course my mum eagerly bought all of his cookbooks as they came out. His recipes are middle eastern themed using a lot of raw, fresh ingredients and personally I think he kick started the “healthy eating” trend that we see so much of these days. Honey & Co is very similar and takes inspiration from the middle east with delicious, healthy recipes and this kind of food is a personal favourite of mine.
My mum has always been into healthy eating, she’s a massive salad lover, but at this point she really started cutting out excessive sugar from her diet and trying to eat healthier overall. She found loads of great recipes in Sunday supplement magazines, so as well as all the cookbooks there are books of papers all over the place too. She finds good ones in magazines too such as Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s book “It’s All Good” came after Ottelenghi and this is a massive favourite in our house. It’s healthy but not vegetarian and with a house full of meat eaters this makes things much easier. She really got us all into healthier eating but whilst still making delicious, filling food.
So then what I find really interesting is how things changed after that. Suddenly our cookbook shelf is filled with super super healthy recipes with books like Deliciously Ella, Hemsley Hemsley, Get The Glow and The Detox Kitchen. My mum didn’t even know who half of these girls were but she found them on Amazon and thought they looked interesting. We don’t eat vegan or gluten free in our house so she tends to take the recipes for flavour and healthy eating tips but then adding in our own meat and good carbs where possible.
Cookbooks have come along way and I think right now we are in some kind of crazy health craze, but the recipes are more interesting than ever. If you’re like my mum I thick it’s great to be able to take a recipe and play around with it to suit you. Take inspiration from the books but make it your own. What’s your favourite cookbook to take inspiration from?