Listography – top 5 cookbooks
I always think a test of a good cookbook is how many cooking stains, handwritten notes and other signs of regular use there are. On this basis, my top 5 cookbooks are:
1. Delia’s Vegetarian Collection by Delia Smith
This brings together most of the vegetarian recipes from all of Delia’s cookbooks published before 2002. My most frequently-cooked dish from this book is ‘Cauliflower with Two Cheeses and Creme Fraiche’, which is delicious and much lighter than conventional cauliflower cheese. It’s also very easy and quick to prepare.
2. Vital Vegetables (BBC Good Food Magazine)
I used to have a big stack of Good Food Magazine and Vegetarian Good Food Magazine but then I bought this book, which contains all my favourite recipes from the magazines and is much easier to use because it has an index! The most frequently-cooked recipes from this book are ‘Jane Grigson’s Spicy Parsnip Soup’ and ‘Leek and Blue Cheese Risotto’.
3. Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater
Not just one of my top 5 cookbooks, but one of the books I love most. This is a really great read, as well as having some great ideas for delicious informal food. Actually, many of the recipes in the book could be described as comfort food. The book falls open on pages 170-171, which covers baked potato toppings and mash. I also have an ebook copy, which is handy on holiday and in supermarkets.
4. Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown
I first started using this when I was a student, every time I cooked vegetarian food for friends. Most frequently-cooked recipe: ‘Layered Cashew and Mushroom Roast’, which has been cooked for many a Sunday lunch and even a few Christmas dinners.
5. Vegetarian Student by Jenny Baker
This was a present from my mum when I went to university and it is my most battered and stained cookbook of all. I’ve used this for everyday cooking for myself for the last 23 years, and I still pull it out to check cooking times for vegetables and the quantities for pancake batter. It is not so much a set of recipes as a series of cooking methods and options for different kinds of foods – e.g. what you can put in a veggie lasagne, different ways of cooking eggs, etc. The dish I used to cook for myself most often when I was a student was Kicheri (a one-pot dish with lentils, rice and vegetables). It was very cheap and tasted good.
PS Writing this blogpost has made me feel very hungry. I am about to go and look at everyone else’s top 5 cookbooks so that will probably make me feel even hungrier. This is a great idea for a Listography Kate!