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Listography – top 5 cookbooks

March 11, 2012

The Listography theme on Kate Takes 5 this week is 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:

My top 5 cookbooks

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!


16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2012 5:32 pm

    A great list, I love the cauliflower cheese one too!
    I always enjoy Nigel Slater, as he is so passionate, but don’t have any of his books. I’m going to check this one out thank you.
    The vital book looks fab too.
    It’s great to see a fellow vegetarians recipes books. I think because I am the only veggie in our family, I don’t buy enough cookery books.
    Amanda x

  2. indreamworld permalink
    March 11, 2012 6:02 pm

    Not got any of those, the veggie ones sound great – my husband would love those being a veggie! 🙂

    • March 12, 2012 2:15 pm

      They are all good, useful recipe books. If you have other Delia Smith or BBC Good Food cookbooks, you’ve probably already got lots of the recipes in the first two. If you haven’t got any Nigel Slater, Real Fast Food is a good one to start with.

  3. March 12, 2012 1:19 pm

    Some interesting choices there. I too love Nigel Slater and find he is one of the few TV chefs that I can actually watch and enjoy, I really must add one of his books to my collection!

    • March 12, 2012 2:17 pm

      I notice that you’ve listed Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course in your top 5 – it was nearly in mine too but I decided her Vegetarian Collection had the edge for me as I find the whole book useful.

      Do check out Nigel Slater’s books – they are really readable and contain lots of yummy ideas.

  4. March 12, 2012 7:19 pm

    Oh wow – my mum has had that Sarah Brown book forever. The Chilli-bean casserole is mighty good 😉

    • March 12, 2012 7:46 pm

      I haven’t tried the Chilli bean casserole but am looking at the recipe now and will give it a go on your recommendation 🙂

  5. March 12, 2012 10:18 pm

    I really like Nigel Slater. I don’t own any of his books, but his TV shows always make me hungry. The things he can do with leftovers is amazing!

    • March 13, 2012 12:11 pm

      Nigel Slater really loves food and he writes about it so beautifully – I hope you check out his books!

  6. March 14, 2012 9:26 am

    Ooh love a good veggie recipe book. Keen to do a meatless Monday so these look perfect. Off to add the Nigel Slater and Vital Veggies to my wishlist.

    • March 14, 2012 9:30 am

      I hope you enjoy your new cookbooks when you get them. The Nigel Slater book has some meat and fish dishes in it but I still like it very much.

  7. March 15, 2012 12:31 am

    I don’t have a vegetarian recipe book but my parents were veggies so use many of their recipes…Mum’s first book was one called ‘Not just a load of old lentils’…a great title I thought!

    • March 15, 2012 5:13 pm

      Yes that is a great title. I think my taste in cookbooks was formed in my late teens/early 20s at a time when my mum was veggie and lots of my friends were too.

  8. March 17, 2012 10:51 pm

    I love following Nigel Slater’s recipes on tv but don’t own any of his books. Must correct that.

    • March 18, 2012 3:38 pm

      His books are always good to read. Real Fast Food is currently available from The Book People as part of a £5 set of Penguin classic cookbooks if you’re interested.

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