Must-Have Cook Books

I find that I turn more and more to the internet for basic recipes. My laptop sits in the kitchen so it is freely available to consult.

However, rarely an evening goes by when I don’t flick through my collection of cookbooks for inspiration.

It made me think of which books are my corer-stones of my cooking.

I am a great fan of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall ad Nigel Slater, and one of their books is rarely far from my side.

Which books do you value in your kitchen?

My “can’t do without” books are the Be-Ro cookbook, the Battersea cookbook, Floyd on France, Ken Hom and a selection of M&S cookbooks including British Regional, Chinese and French. I do also have the Silver Spoon (indian gift to my husband) and Constance Spry - but these are more for bedtime reading!

That’s a great tip about, thanks. Do you know Slightly cheaper than UK retail (so not the amazon offers unfortunately) but they do ship to France free. Great service. I use them all the time.

I know the ones you mean - try typing her name into the Amazon site, I’m sure you’ll find what you want.
By the way, I want to pass on this little nugget of info in case no-one knows.
You can go onto and click on LIVRES EN ANGLAIS and there is a good selection of books there - I usually do a comparison with Uk Amazon and the overseas postage to see what’s the best deal - French book prices are higher and there is a VAT/ TVA difference, but the UK postage can sometimes mean that the French option is better value.
Happy buying!

Joining this discussion a little late, but had a fabulous lunch with friends on Sunday, and sneaked a look at the book that he was using - MUST find - anyone got experience of Joanne Harris co-written with someone else, (as in Chocolat Joanne Harris), I think there are two books. If Sunday lunch was anything to go by, I NEED those books!

I prefer to “read” Mrs Beeton - I have never tried any of her recipes.
Tamasin Day -Lewis is very good too - I reviewed her supper for a song, and she was very complementary
about what I wrote.
I have a French first edition of the Larousse Gastronomique, which is my pride and joy - it is a real heirloom, and I am lucky to own one.
I think Rachel Allen rides on the back of her mother and grandmother’s success frankly.
Rose Elliot, although perhaps not so well known is a excellent vegetarian writer.
I have her New Complete Vegetarian - a veggie’s bible.

Surprised no one mentioned Mrs Beeton! She has never let me down and although there aren’t many pictures (certainly none in full glorious technicolour of current cook books), the recipes never fail. And on several occasions she’s the only one that’s given me the recipe I need.

Other must haves would be:

  • Tamsin Day-Lewis, her Kitch Bible is wonderful.
  • Larousse Gastonimique as a reference - more of an encyclopedia really.
  • Finally a surprise, Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking. A friend lent it to me and I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t returned it. I am definitely going to buy a copy as I have tried about 5 of the recipes and they have all become firm favourites.

    Does anyone own one of Atul Kochhar’s books? I’ve tried a couple of his recipes from the internet and they have been fabulous. Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

I will - I have just sold their newest “Mums Still Know Best”, but I’ll let you know if anything else comes in.

I watched the hairy bikers this evening, if you get any of there books come in keep one aside for me please, I liked their relaxed attitude to cooking.

I think the Australian Women’s Weekly series is excellent. However, I have managed to buy the older ones on E Bay and Amazon.
The newer ones are good, but the old ones are crammed full of excellent recipes.
I have a large collection of them, and never get tired of reading them, although I often forget that “KUMARA” is Aussie - speak for a sweet potato!
If you get the chance to buy the older ones, pick them up
On Amazon they often go for 1p and then 2.75 for UK postage - the new ones are around £6 each, with half the recipes in.

I too have a few kitchen bibles, for general stuff Mary Berrys Complete Cookbook, really old and to todays standard the recipys are limited and dated but its a really good mix of all the basics. For Chinese, Australians womans weeklys Chinese cooking class cookbook, also an old book but I’ve yet to find a chinese book that replaces it (and Ive got a few!) For Indian, Anjum Anands Indian food made easy, does what it says on the tin! Indian food lovely and easy. Not forgetting my recent favourite Jamies 30 minute meals, as a mum with not as much time as I used to have its a definate for the collection (even though some of the ingredients arent easy to come by here!)

Glad you liked it!
Thanks by the way for the support - I will be sending my first cheque off to the Hemochromatosis Society shortly.

I too use the internet quite a bit, but I wouldn’t want to part with any of my Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Delia books (of which I have quite a few) or my copy of Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess and Raymond Blanc’s Foolproof French Cookery. Although I haven’t read it all yet the Monty and Sarah Don Home Cookbook looks to be a superb addition to my special books.

Anytime daughter, and as i’m going to Britain at the end of the week you can borrow it while i’m away.

Mother, your collection of magazine recipes are legendary, and we have all eaten very well from it. Delia is great, but I do know you do disapprove of the fact she doesn’t wear an apron when cooking!!
I don’t have anything by Pru Leith, but I have heard her Baking Bible is excellent.
Perhaps I could borrow it sometime!

As I love cake making, Prue Leith’s Baking Bible is a must in my kitchen, and how would I manage without Delia? Another must are my files of recipes culled from 100’s of magazines.The pleasure I get from trawling through these give me hours of pleasure and many a family favourite is the result.Chocolate Junk,Chocolate Almond cake with chocolate icing and all the dips at barbeque time I 'll stop now as my family will soon tell me how I go on. So happy cooking everybody

I love Nigella too - some of her recent efforts have not been to good - I wasn’t keen on “Kitchen” at all or Nigella Express.
However, her How to Eat, Feast and How to be a Dometic Goddess are excellent - I too have hundreds of books.

Am sure like most people…I have my regular cookbooks which I refer to almost daily like The Cookery Year…on my second copy of that…first one bought by my husband circa 1979. Rick Stein, The Roux Brothers, Two Fat Ladies, River Cafe, Delia, Nigella, Nigel Slater…all firm favourites. Over the last 35 years I have collected many…usually bought from charity shops…most almost untouched…but I like the well used cookery books too…have hundreds in my collection; I have books covering the foods of most countries…I also like the unusual books, but equally at Xmas I bought new recipe books for friends…and at least 2 for myself when they were marked down in January…am working my way through the latest Masterchef collection…today with friends we had a wonderful warm dill and bacon salad starter and duck confit with gooseberrys on Savoy cabbage from that book, which I highly recommend.