The Friday Five – Celeb Cookbooks with a Twist


In the course of a tidy up, I came across probably the weirdest food writing we own, so I’m taking it as the start for this week’s Friday Five. These are cookbooks with a celebrity connections, either a real person or fictional, but not a celeb chef.


Lobscouse & Spotted Dog


1. Lobscouse & Spotted Dog by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman & Lisa Grossman Thomas – this is not your average cookbook, but is a perfect gift for a foodie with historical interests. Or any one who is a big fan of the Aubery Maturin books of Patrick O’Brian. But next time you want a maritime themed dinner party, this has recipes for Sea-Pie and Frumenty. Sounds yum!

2. Joy of Liberace: Retro Recipes from America’s Kitschiest Kitchen – I nearly bought this in LA last year, and have regretted not doing so ever since. Talk about bling cooking! Go on, cook on the kitsch side!

3. Fit For a King: Elvis Presley Cookbook– well, it had to happen, from the King of Kitsch to the King. This is a collection of Elvis’ favourite recipes. Of course there are peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but also Black Raspberry Shake, Bacon-Almond Dip and Sweet Potato Pie. So, don’t be hungry tonight, but take it easy with some of these, you don’t want to be too big a hunk of burning love!

4. Labelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About – who knew Patti Labelle knew where the kitchen was? And even if she didn’t really, then there are some great recipes, and great anecdotes to really spice them up. This one will surprise people when they browse your bookshelves!

5. Reel Food – a great read on food in film, which seems appropriate given all the hype around Julie & Julia at the moment. This is not so much about recipes, in fact completely short of them, but a great read for any foodie. It might also throw out some interesting DVD choices, from Amelie to Bonnie & Clyde and The Navigator.So go on, bring a little glitz and glamour to your foodie’s bookshelf! Give the gift of a little star quality!

Not every cookbook has to be sensible, food should be fun and some these books are definitely that.


The Friday Five – five degrees of separation


I am feeling a little uninspired for the Friday Five, done a lot of driving today, so going to try an experiment. Let’s see where the Amazon recommends feature takes me in four books from the starting point of one of my cookery books. Here goes!


Dough by Richard Bertinent - perfect cookbook gift for a food lover wanting to get into bread


1. Dough by Richard Bertinet – every time I read this I deeply regret having an intolerance to wheat! Happily, it allows me one wheat treat a day, just about. And if I could eat no other bread, I would eat every recipe from this book!

Which skips to:

2. Ottolenghi: The Cookbook – this is definitely on my list of places to go and eat. This is my style of cooking for everyday eating with a Mediterranean twist: fresh, simple, all about the ingredients. I am definitely adding this to my wishlist!

Which leads us to:

3. Venezia: Food and Dreams by Tessa Kiros– never seen this book, but the title had me at hello! I’d love to go to Venice, so that’s the dreams bit done, and I bet the eating is good! It sounds like this is as good for the photography as the recipes, which is always a plus (but not the other way round, good photography cannot save poor recipes). I am going to read this with a Bellini in hand and dream of Harry’s Bar.

Slipping gently towards:

4. Ripailles by Stephane Reynaud – I featured this in the French food feature, but very happy for it to be in this list. Again this has gone on my wish list, and if you want a fantastic contemporary but not fussy French cook book I would go for this one. I browsed through it in Waterstones the other week and it is truly mouthwatering!

Bringing us finally to:

5. The Clatter of Forks and Spoons: Honest, Happy Food by Richard Corrigan– uncanny, in that I looked at this one today in the local bookshop. I go in swings and roundabouts on Richard Corrigan, the genial Irish chef. It’s sort of like Terry Wogan with added cooking. And, don’t get me wrong, I love Terry Wogan. And maybe I’d love Richard Corrigan all the time after reading this. I think it was some of the Great British Menu stuff that put me off. Still, I love the title, it sounds distinctly uncheffy and fits in nicely with the food philosophy of this household. And it sounds exactly like any meal around Mini Gourmet Girl, as grace, patience and not dropping her cutlery whilst waving her hands around to accompany excited talking are skills MGG has yet to acquire!

That was quite fun! Try it with one of your cookbooks, it’s amazing what new discoveries you might find. Which to me is what food is all about!

No sign of Kevin Bacon though.


The Friday Five – Preserving the best


One of the things that struck me in France was that there were still lots of preserved things on the shelves (and I’m not talking about Bardot), not just in the jam aisle. Although the jam aisle was definitely crammed with interesting flavours that you don’t necessarily get here.

Preserving certainly fits in with the grow your own, credit crunch vibe, and really allows you to extend the season of your hard grown produce. So, here’s a round up of my five choices to preserving your best:

1. The Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Home Preserving – this is my go to book on the subject. Covers everything from jams to chutney, bottling to drying and smoking, if you want a primer for preserving this is it. My original copy show a price of £8.50, Amazon Marketplace sellers have it from £11.59, which is not enough to tempt me to sell!

Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber


2. Mes Confitures: The Jams & Jellies of Christine Ferber – I guarantee you did not know there were so many jam flavour combinations in the world! Everytime I open this book I want to make another one! Organised by season so you can make the most of what’s around, the recipes and photographs are wondeful. A definite keeper.

3. Keeping the Harvest – one for all the allotment owners, I think this is an update really to the first book, with similar subject matter, although doesn’t cover meat products.

4. Preserved by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler – new out in paperback, this is a very attractive book with great photography and covers a wide variety of preserving methods, including making your own sausages and salami (assuming you have a pig to preserve). There’s also a useful guide to building your own smokehouse. In case the fancy takes you.

5. WI Book of Preserves – of course we know there’s more to the Women’s Institute than jam and Jerusalem, but if you don’t think there’s more to jam than the WI then this is the book for you!

Now all you need is a trip to John Lewis or Lakeland for supplies, a bountiful harvest, and you’re all set. Hopefully like your jam.


The Friday Five – great French cookbooks


This week’s Friday Five has a particularly Gallic flavour, as by now our housesitters (aka Gran & Gramps) will have moved in to tend the house and garden, and we’ll be en route to France. Which of course means two weeks of over-indulging in great food and wine. Although given the exchange rate, we may be cooking a lot more of it ourselves!


french provincial cooking


1. French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David – a legendary cookery book, but with great recipes that have stood the test of time. Every home should have a copy.

2. Rick Stein’s French Odyssey – this is still one of my favourite Rick Stein’s series, if only out of pure jealousy at the trip he did on the two boats. And the cooking isn’t bad either!

3. Ripailles – a new book, but almost worth it for the photography alone, which is just stunning. Not just French cooking, but the whole way of life, and from simple everyday cooking through to grand dishes. Great stuff.

4. Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Jane Grigson – a little more niche, but definitely tastes of France. I once went to a restaurant in Paris that was all about pork. It was the most amazing meal, and I’ve never found the place again. I’ll have to content myself with cooking from this. But if anyone knows of a little restaurant in the 7eme then let me know!

5. Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie: Recipes from Thirteen Outstanding French Bakeries – seems only right to finish with a book dominated by sweet stuff! It’s one of the great joys of being in France to me. There’s also good bread recipes and things like savoury tarts, so you could make a whole meal out of this book.

So we’ll be enjoying our French escape, with more foodie tales and ideas to follow! Just the drive down the coast to contend with first!


The Friday Five – let’s start at the very beginning…


If, as a foodie, you’re at all like me, you will have shelves groaning with cookery books, food writing and magazines about food. The food and drink section of any bookshop will be your first stop, where you will lovingly eye up titles. Sound familiar?

So I’ve decided to feature 5 books each Friday, about different aspects of food and drink, some serious, some not, some for true foodies, some for dabblers, but always something that you can add to your wishlist. And let me know what yours are on each subject, love to hear! May just find a new title to add to those bookshelves!

For the first outing of the Friday Five, I’m starting at the beginning, with the 5 books that really fired my love of food.


The Be-Ro Home Recipes Book


1. The Be-Ro Home Recipes Cookbook – I still have my mum’s copy of this that is probably at least 35 years old, but love each and every recipe. When I’m feeling nostalgic, or just need comfort baking I turn to this. If you missed out on this, there’s a 40th anniversary edition available.

2. Delia Smith’s One is Fun – I had this when I first left home, and cooked from it lots. When I left one particular flatshare, I discovered that although I could cook most of the braised steak au poivre blindfold, I couldn’t finish the dish. This because my flatmate always did the last bit whilst I made the mash. The chocolate mousse is still my go to recipe.

3. Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater – any book with recipes for bacon sandwiches and smartie sandwiches is absolutely fine by me. Spoke to the need for good food, in a hurry, possibly the worse for wear. Which happened quite a lot.

4. The New Moosewood Cookbook – my godmother sent me this. I think she knew I was cooking from number 3 a lot. There aren’t a lot of smarties in this one. Or bacon. But I did cook quite a lot from it in attempts to be healthy.

5. A La Carte Magazine – not strictly speaking a book, but in the 80s this was food porn at the highest level! My mum used to buy it and I used to spend hours looking at the recipes and photography, which was luscious. Can’t even find any on eBay, but Gastronomy Domine has a recipe on her blog from there, so have to make do with that!

Love to hear what were the books that stoked your interest in food! And if anyone has any copies of A La Carte, be interested in hearing from you! With the resurgence of dinner parties, it must be time to bring back the Black and White dinner parties!