My fail safe cookbooks to gift to anyone


I love cookbooks, as many areas of my house would testify. And my favourites are well thumbed, and probably covered in cooking stains, which to me is the badge of a successful book. I’ve also given quite a number of cookbooks to other people over the years, and I know which ones people come back to tell me they’ve used, even if they were reluctant cooks and bakers.

So these may not be the newest, flashiest or cheapest books on the shelves this Christmas, but these cookbooks are ones that I think earn their keep year after year, and every home should have some if not all of them.


Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard - my favourite baking book ever


Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard

I’ve given quite a number of copies of this over the years, because it’s my favourite baking book. It’s also crammed full of incredible recipes, brilliant technique and great photos, written in a way that just makes you want to get into the kitchen straightaway! I love Dan’s writing, and his recipes, and I love to share this book.


River Cottage Family Cookbook - great gift for learner cooks


The River Cottage Family Cookbook

This is a great book for people with kids who want to cook, as it’s written in a way that’s really accessible for kids to read and follow, but not in a patronising way. It’s also great building blocks of cooking so allowing them to move beyond the basics and produce “proper” meals. It’s also a great book for those who say they don’t know how to cook.


The Social Bite Cookbook


The Social Bite Cookbook

I give this one because it’s a good cookbook that does good too. I love Social Bite, think it’s the most fantastic busienss, and I am so pleased to see them going from strength to strength, allowing them to do more good work. Look, if George Clooney thinks it’s a good thing, who am I to argue? If your Secret Santa budget is £10, spend it on this.


The New English Kitchen


The New English Kitchen by Rose Prince

The subtitle to this is how to make your food go further, and I think that the year ahead could be a tough one, and that we might all be tightening our belts just a bit further again. I fell in love with this book whilst on holiday this year, and just think it’s one that you’d end up dipping into time and time again, particularly when trying to work out what to do with leftovers, or stretch a piece of meat to cover more than one meal, or more people. Not short on taste or interesting recipes, I think it’s a keeper.


Star Wars Cookbook - for great food in this galaxy and beyond


The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookies Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes

Ok, this one is a bit of stuff and nonsense, but it is Christmas after all, and I know that this book is always a winner with anyone with even a passing love of Star Wars. I’ve bought more niche cookbooks over time, but none more loved or laughed over than this one. Love seeing people’s faces when they open this one.


So, these are my fail safes, that I think you can gift to just about anyone and be sure of a winner for them, and also for when they start cooking and baking from them. I’d love to know what your go to books to gift to someone else are, and why. And what’s the best one that you’ve ever received and would not now be without?


The Friday Five – my holiday cookbook reading


We had the most incredible weeks holiday in Dorset over Easter, in a beautiful cottage in Beaminster. I would happily never have moved back out, but school and the owners might have taken a dim view of that!


One shelf of fabulous cookbooks



Holiday cookbook shelf two



One of the reasons I loved it was for the fact that it had a cookery book collection to almost rival my own, but without much duplication. It’s a slight cheat on the post as I got through six, but would probably only add five to my collection.


My holiday cookbook reading


Fish Pies and French Fries by Gill Holcombe


Fish Pies and French Fries


I thought I’d featured Gill’s first book, which was the snappily titled How to feed your whole family a healthy, balanced diet with very litle money and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill-fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets – unless you count the garlic crusher…although it turns out I hadn’t. This was my least favourite book out of the six, though great if you’re not a very experienced cook. There was quite a lot of condensed soup in it. And Smash in at least one. Not my kind of thing, but might give it to MFL as perfect for in a rush, trying to feed 2 teenage boys kind of territory.


How to Feed Your Friends with Relish by Joanna Weinberg


How to feed your friends with relish


I rather liked this book, even if the set up is somewhat different to many of our realities. But there are lots of recipes for gatherings of friends and families for all kinds of occasions, and it was the kind of food that made me want to dash into the kitchen and start cooking. Marinated steak with chimichurri sauce and then frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce would make any day good in my book.


The new English kitchen: how to make your food go further by Rose Prince


The New English Kitchen


I think this one is probably the one that’ll make it onto my shelves first out of all of them. I loved the style of writing, but I loved the recipes more. If I’d read this one first then I think I might well have cooked from this whilst I was away. I loved it from the first chapter about bread, and how to use it from day one to day seven, which just showed how much you could with it. Great shopping guide as well. There are hard cover copies on Amazon starting at just 1p so definitely worth a look.


The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater


The Kitchen Diaries


My love of Nigel Slater is well-documented here, though I haven’t bought any of his books in a while. But I loved this one for the same reasons as I’ve loved many of the others: the stories, the recipes, the wit, the honesty. I mean, you don’t spot many admitting that dinner is sometimes baked beans with Worcestershire sauce. Once I’ve worked through the New English Kitchen, then I’m getting this one and working through it throughout the year.


The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo


The LIttle Paris Kitchen


This one has been on MFL’s wishlist, I think he has a bit of a crush on her to be honest. I quite liked it, I would probably cook from it a bit, but it wasn’t my favourite. Let’s face it though, the competition was tough! But the recipes look well written, not over complex and certainly sound very tasty. It’s a maybe from me, love to know if anyone has it and enjoys cooking from it.


Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen


Forgotten Skills of Cooking


I’d featured this one before some years ago, and I’d forgotten why I thought it was a great title. To be honest, it’s a toss up between this and The New English Kitchen for which one joins my bookshelf first. I love Darina’s style of writing, I love the tales she has to tell, and the skills she describes. I’m craving some soda bread followed by a bit of foraging, particularly given there were some great recipes for wild garlic which is just in season.


So, no fancy new titles in here, but I think at least three out of the six will truly stand the test of time. We were lucky to get some fabulous weather so had lots of time on the beach, otherwise it might have been more like seven or eight books! Have you got holiday cookbook reading lined up for your next holiday? Love to know what.