Tuesday 20 February 2018

MasterChef winner Mary Carney: My favourite cookbooks

My love affair with cookbooks began as a child. I used to sit on the counter beside by mum as she made the dinner, engrossed in her copy of 'Mrs Beeton's Guide'. However, it wasn't until I moved to London that I developed my own collection, spending my lunch break sitting in the local bookshop absorbing as much information as I could from the world's chefs. The following are my current favourites.

The Cook's Book --

Published by Dorling Kindersley

Every cook needs a bible and this is mine. I guarantee that if you read this book and follow its instructions you will be able to recreate any dish competently.

It is a step-by-step guide to every aspect of cooking, with contributions from 18 of the world's leading chefs. It also includes a number of their signature recipes and an introduction to many of the most popular world cuisines.

What separates it from other guides is the inclusion of many how-to pictures -- for example, you can see how to roll pasta, how to deglaze a pan, how to skin a flat fish and how to carve a turkey. The pictures make all the difference.

Tender by Nigel Slater

Published by 4th Estate

Nigel Slater is one of my favourite cooks. I love his uncomplicated, fresh and thrifty approach. He is a prolific food writer so it is difficult to recommend just one of his books but 'Tender' with vegetables as the star of the show is probably his best.

Vegetarians will love this book but meat eaters will also find something to love -- whether it be recipes for exciting sides or a more substantial meat-free substitute like his chickpeas with pumpkin, lemongrass and coriander.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Published by Ryland Peter and Small

I love to bake. It's a pleasure to create pretty, tasty treats for friends and family. While I love all styles of baking I have a particular love of American goodies since Carrie Bradshaw introduced them to us back in the noughties.

I used to live around the corner from the famed Hummingbird Bakery set up by Tarek Malouf, an American-born baker.

I quickly became addicted to their rich and moist red velvet cupcakes.

I tried to recreate them but mine were lacklustre so I was delighted when they published their trade secrets in 2009. I pre-ordered four copies, helping to spread the cupcake craze.

It's a beautiful book with classic recipes, gorgeous photos and simple instructions.


Published by Ebury Press

Yottam Ottolenghi is an Israeli chef, writer and restaurateur based in London. He has four laid-back cafe- style restaurants in the capital and has recently opened Nopi -- offering a high-end interpretation of his innovative food.

While his food is difficult to classify, it is always colourful, exciting and fresh with bursts of flavour. His style is probably best described as a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours with the occasional addition of French technique!

His cookbook is a revelation, introducing new ingredients, flavours and combinations.

He shies away from traditional dressings and salads and relies on ginger, chilli, garlic, honey, sesame oil, and citrus juices to give that wow factor.

Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

Published by John Wiley & Sons

There are very few books that give readers a glimpse of how chefs develop their dishes. This book, published in 1996, is one of the few to explore this talent.

It is not an ordinary cookbook; it is a reference book which explains how to juggle and contrast flavours, how to balance dishes and menus and how to inspire diners with visual presentation.

It is an illuminating and intriguing read. I'd recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn about the creative process. It's not glossy or colourful but it is a hidden foodie gem.

Quay: Food Inspired by Nature by Peter Gilmore

Published by Murdoch Books

You may have noticed how more and more restaurants are using edible flowers and pea shoots to give a natural look and feel to their food. If you would like to see this style executed to near perfection then I would recommend 'Quay' as the ultimate coffee table book.

Peter Gilmore is the executive chef of one of Australia's most renowned restaurants -- Quay. This is food like you've never seen before. His book is a visual and culinary treat. The recipes are inspiring.

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