From time to time, everyone needs a little inspiration in the kitchen. Easy though it would be to fall into always rustling up the old favourites – after all, there’s something slightly terrifying about attempting a new recipe – the old adage of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ rings true in this case. Here to make your journey into the unknown smoother is our pick of the best cookbooks on the market, which we believe should be well-thumbed essentials in every kitchen. In our experience, a physical book is a much better companion than a recipe hastily looked up on your phone. Fold down the pages, make notes of your own preferred cooking times in the margins and for heaven’s sake, don’t worry about the odd splash or splotch – these books are here to be leant on, learned from and, most importantly, loved.
Spring: The Cookbook by Skye Gyngell
If you’re lucky enough to have visited Spring at Somerset House, you’ll know that chef patron Skye Gyngell is a master of grown-up, honest menus that showcase the best of the season, influenced by cooking culture from around the world. Throughout lockdown, we’ve had to forgo the elegant confines of Gyngell’s restaurant for our own kitchens, but Spring: The Cookbook has ensured that her favourite recipes, at least, are never far from our table. From perfect pasta dishes to superb seafood (not forgetting the out-of-this-world ice cream for which Gyngell is fast becoming famous) this modern tome has everything you need to create sumptuous suppers, night after night. There’s also plenty of fascinating insight into Spring itself, including details of how Gyngell came up with the décor, the art, the staff uniforms and the table settings. If you’re looking to recreate the restaurant experience at home, you really can’t do better.
Spring: The Cookbook by Skye Gyngell is available now.
Greenfeast by Nigel Slater
It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to Nigel Slater. An industry titan for decades, he’s one of Britain’s best-known chefs and his much-loved column in The Observer Magazine has provided the inspiration for more Sunday lunches than we could list. Slater has published a stack of cookbooks alongside his award-winning biography, Toast, which was later adapted into a popular television series. Our favourites, however, have to be his latest: the two editions of Greenfeast which hero quick, seasonally-led recipes that make vegetables the star of the show. Beautifully bound and presented, they’re packed full of ideas that almost convince one to give up meat all together. Our recommendations? The spring vegetables with peanut sauce and the peaches with blackberries and ice cream – heaven in food form.
Greenfeast: Spring, Summer is available now.
Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter is available now.
Asma’s Indian Kitchen by Asma Khan
All hail Asma Khan, the Indian-born, British chef, restauranteur, author and all-round powerhouse. Founder and owner of Darjeeling Express in Covent Garden – which employs an all-female kitchen so that, as she puts it, ‘no one needs to shout’ – Khan has made it her mission to give back through her work. She supports Second Daughters Fund, which encourages families in India to celebrate the birth of second daughters, and in the past has offered up her restaurant to aspiring female chefs to use as a supper club space. Quite apart from her inspiring commitment to philanthropy, Khan knows a thing or two about brilliant Indian cooking. Telling Khan’s own story alongside recipes that pay homage to her royal Mughlai ancestry, Asma’s Indian Kitchen is low on effort and high on reward. Trust us when we say you’ll never want to order a takeaway curry again.
Asma’s Indian Kitchen by Asma Khan is available now.
SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi
No one does flavour quite like Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who’s eponymous delis and restaurants are just as popular as his bestselling cookbooks. Recommended by The Sette’s favourite tastemakers in interviews more than any other cookbook, Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE topped bestseller lists for The Sunday Times and The New York Times and won at The National Book Awards when it was released in 2018. It’s no wonder: full of dishes that celebrate the inventive elements and taste combinations with which Ottolenghi made his name, but with minimum fuss and hassle, SIMPLE is a game-changer for those who want to produce something impressive, but aren’t sure where to start. From spiced salads to richly fruited cakes, there’s something for everyone in this timeless classic.
SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi is available now.
One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones
When undisputed queen of cooking Nigella Lawson gives a cookbook her ringing endorsement, it’s safe to say you can’t go wrong. ‘There’s so much humanity and wisdom in it,’ says Nigella of One: Pot, Pan, Planet, the latest tome from sustainable chef Anna Jones. ‘Perhaps one shouldn’t feel like this, but so often books that attempt to steer us into a more responsible and sustainable way of living feel like reproaches or reprimands. There is none of that in One: Pot, Pan, Planet. Anna Jones always delivers: reading any recipe of hers is like receiving a promise of dependable deliciousness.’ We have to agree with Nigella that in this collection of over 200 simple recipes, Jones celebrates reducing waste while never compromising on flavour. Of course, as the name suggests, most of the dishes can be made with just one pot or pan, making them supremely stress-free to boot.
One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones is available now.