Top 11 Books on Food & Drink
From our go-to cookbooks to musings from treasured bon viveurs, this is a list for the foodies.
The below books should be top of your list if you’re looking for your next great recipe, to become the resident mixologist or just for your fill of gastronomic literature.
In no particular order….
1. Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi Buy it now here
With his fabulous restaurants and bestselling Ottolenghi Cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi has established himself as one of the most exciting talents in the world of cookery and food writing. This exclusive collection of vegetarian recipes is drawn from his column ‘The New Vegetarian’ for the Guardian‘s Weekend magazine, and features both brand-new recipes and dishes first devised for that column.
Yotam’s food inspiration comes from his strong Mediterranean background and his unapologetic love of ingredients. Not a vegetarian himself, his approach to vegetable dishes is wholly original and innovative, based on strong flavours and stunning, fresh combinations. With sections devoted to cooking greens, aubergines, brassicas, rice and cereals, pasta and couscous, pulses, roots, squashes, onions, fruit, mushrooms and tomatoes, the breadth of colours, tastes and textures is extraordinary.
Featuring vibrant, evocative food photography from acclaimed photographer Jonathan Lovekin, and with Yotam’s voice and personality shining through, Plenty is a must-have for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.
2. Comida Mexicana – Rosa Cienfuegos Buy it now here
Mexican food might seem easy to imitate. But a taco with soul? Now that’s a different story. Many have wrestled with this ancient cuisine and its punch-in-the-face flavours. Most have failed.
Thankfully, Comida Mexicana is the real deal. Rosa Cienfuegos travels the length and breadth of her homeland to bring you Mexico’s most beloved snacks, tacos, tortas and tamales. From the vibrant streets of Mexico City, to tucked-away villages and tranquil coastal towns, each region and every family has their favourite dish and a story to tell. Discover them here.
Ditch the imposters, eat like a true Mexican.
3. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking – Samin Nosrat Buy it now here
Sunday Times Food Book of the Year and New York Times bestseller
While cooking at Chez Panisse at the start of her career, Samin Nosrat noticed that amid the chaos of the kitchen there were four key principles that her fellow chefs would always fall back on to make their food better: Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat.
By mastering these four variables, Samin found the confidence to trust her instincts in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients. And with her simple but revolutionary method, she has taught masterclasses to give both professionals and amateurs the skills to cook instinctively.
Whether you want to balance your vinaigrette, perfectly caramelise your roasted vegetables or braise meltingly tender stews, Samin’s canon of 100 essential recipes and their dozens of variations will teach you how.
4. Momofuku – David Chang & Peter Meehan Buy it now here
From David Chang, one of the hottest chefs in the culinary world, this was his first book, written with New York Times food critic Peter Meehan, packed full of ingeniously creative recipes. Already a sensational world star, Chang produces a buzzing fusion of Korean/Asian and Western cuisine, creating a style of food which defies easy categorisation. That it is fantastic, there is no doubt, and that it is eminently cookable, there is also no doubt! In the words of Chang himself, it is, ‘bad pseudo-fusion cuisine’! The vibrant, urban feel of the book is teamed perfectly with clear and insightful writing that is both witty and accessible. Backed by undeniably informed technique and a clearly passionate advocation of cutting-edge fusion cooking, Chang’s Momofuku is a stunning, no-holds barred, debut.
5. Larousse Gastronomique Buy it now here
Larousse Gastronomique is the world’s classic culinary reference book, with over 35,000 copies sold in the UK alone. Larousse is known and loved for its authoritative and comprehensive collection of recipes. Here it is brought up to date for 2009 in an attractive edition containing over 900 new colour and black and white photographs. All chapters have been read and edited by field specialists, and 85 biographies of chefs have been added. Entries have also been regrouped for increased accessibility.Originally created by Prosper Montagnè and published in 1938, this essential addition to any kitchen has withstood the test of time and become an invaluable source of information for every enthusiastic cook. Without the exaggeration and extravagant distractions of many of today’s cookery titles, New Larousse Gastronomique contains recipes, tips, cooking styles and origins for almost every dish in history.
6. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – Anthony Bourdain Buy it now here
After twenty-five years of ‘sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine’, chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown; from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop the Rockefeller Center to drug dealers in the East Village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable, as shocking as they are funny.
7. On Booze – F. Scott Fitzgerald Buy it now here
A charming collection of F. Scott Fitzgeralds best writing about drink…a most intoxicating read.
8. The New Craft of the Cocktail – Dale DeGroff Buy it now here
Everything You Need to Know to Think Like a Master Mixologist, with 500 Recipes.
The Craft of the Cocktail was the first real cookbook for cocktails when it first published in 2002, and it has had a remarkable influence on bartending. With this new edition, the original gets a delicious update, bringing expertise from Dale DeGroff, the father of craft cocktails, to the modern bar for a new generation of cocktail enthusiasts. The beloved histories, culture, tips, and tricks are back but all are newly revised, and DeGroff’s favorite liquor recommendations are included so you know which gin or bourbon will mix just right.
9. Milk Street: Tuesday Nights – Christopher Kimball Buy it now here
At Milk Street, Chris Kimball and his test cooks use techniques from around the globe to deliver bolder flavors and healthier dishes in less time with simple techniques. On any given Tuesday, you can create interesting, delicious food in a flash.
With more than 200 recipes including quick yet flavorful soups and stews, simple salads, pastas that come together in minutes with ingredients you already have on hand, the home cook’s essential problem–What’s for dinner Tuesday night?–has never tasted so good. And say goodbye to the freezer-burned gallon of ice cream you’ve kept on hand for just this purpose: there are even weeknight-appropriate sweets you can whip up after dinner and still have time to eat before bed.
Best of all, every Tuesday Nights recipe is backed by the rigorous testing for which Chris Kimball is famous. With a photograph for every recipe, helpful tips and tricks for novice cooks and step-by-step visual instruction, each recipe is guaranteed to work when you need it most.
10. Moro: The Cookbook – Sam & Sam Clark Buy it now here
Since it was first published in 2001, Moro: The Cookbook has been one of the most talked about, praised and cherished cookbooks of its time. Sam & Sam Clark share a passion for the food of Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean and their London restaurant, Moro, was born out of a desire to cook within these wonderful traditions and to explore exotic flavours little known in the UK. Both the recipe book and restaurant have been showered with awards, accolades and endorsements and the Clarks have built up a legion of devoted fans.
In their first book, Sam and Sam have distilled the restaurant’s most accomplished and delicious recipes, those that have ensured its extraordinary success. Authenticity is key and their food remains true to the origins of the dishes – heady fusions of warm spices and fiery sauces, slow-cooked earthy stews and delicate flavourings.
This is a must-have book for every cook’s shelves, written and designed with palpable passion and insight.
11. The French Laundry Cookbook – Thomas Keller Buy it now here
The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2019 by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right. And this, his first cookbook, is every bit as satisfying as a French Laundry meal itself: a series of small, impeccable, highly refined, intensely focused courses.
Most dazzling is how simple Keller’s methods are: squeegeeing the moisture from the skin on fish so it sautées beautifully; poaching eggs in a deep pot of water for perfect shape; the initial steeping in the shell that makes cooking raw lobster out of the shell a cinch; using vinegar as a flavor enhancer; the repeated washing of bones for stock for the cleanest, clearest tastes.
From innovative soup techniques, to the proper way to cook green vegetables, to secrets of great fish cookery, to the creation of breathtaking desserts; from beurre monté to foie gras au torchon, to a wild and thoroughly unexpected take on coffee and doughnuts, The French Laundry Cookbook captures, through recipes, essays, profiles, and extraordinary photography, one of America’s great restaurants, its great chef, and the food that makes both unique.
One hundred and fifty superlative recipes are exact recipes from the French Laundry kitchen—no shortcuts have been taken, no critical steps ignored, all have been thoroughly tested in home kitchens. If you can’t get to the French Laundry, you can now re-create at home the very experience Wine Spectator described as “as close to dining perfection as it gets.”
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