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Best cookbooks for Christmas 2017

The best cookbooks for Christmas 2017

by Great British Chefs 22 November 2017

A good cookbook should be bursting with inspirational recipes, informative tips and beautiful photography, but a bad one will gather dust on the bookshelf, never to be cooked from. Make sure you pick the right one this Christmas with our complete cookbook guide.

With the abundance of free recipes available online, you might think cookbooks are dying out – but they’re still just as popular with home cooks as they’ve ever been. Full of beautiful photography, authoritative advice and inventive recipes, they’re always within arm’s reach. It’s why our first ever cookbook has been met with such enthusiasm, and why they’re always one of the most popular gifts to give and receive at Christmas.

But with so many cookbooks out there, it can be hard to know which will actually be used, and which will be leafed through once, put aside and never opened again. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favourite cookbooks from the past year and beyond, guaranteed to fill any keen cook with inspiration and get them whipping up a fantastic feast in the kitchen. Take a look at what we’ve chosen and add some to your own wishlist.

For everyone

The Great British Chefs Cookbook

Alright, so it’s our own cookbook, but we promise it will spend more time getting used in your kitchen than sitting on the bookshelf. It’s also limited-edition, so you’ve only got until 3 December to secure yourself a copy. We decided to raise funds for it through Kickstarter, so we could give everyone who pre-orders a copy the chance to help us choose which recipes to include inside, so while you won’t get your hands on a copy until it’s completed next year, the cookbook is still a perfect gift for Christmas as it allows the recipient to be part of the creative process. We could go on and on about how amazing it’s going to be, but for more information head to our Kickstarter page.

For global cuisine

A Wong The Cookbook by Andrew Wong

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After a six-month journey across China, Andrew Wong returned to London and unleashed authentic, regional Chinese cuisine on the capital, from the site of his parents’ old Cantonese restaurant in Victoria. A well deserved Michelin star followed, but Andrew’s food remains incredibly accessible and his book includes instructions on classic Chinese cooking techniques, including noodle and dumpling-making.

Trullo by Tim Siadatan

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If the likes of Francesco Mazzei, Giorgio Locatelli and the late, great Antonio Carluccio are responsible for bringing a true taste of Italy to the UK, Tim Siadatan is undoubtedly taking the baton from them. In Trullo and Padella, he has created two restaurants that have taken the capital by storm with simple but effective Italian cooking. The pici cacio e pepe at Padella has been one of the best dishes in London all year, and the Trullo cookbook is worth buying for that alone.

Oklava by Selin Kiazim

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Selin Kiazim’s star is rising fast since her successful showing in Great British Menu this year, and her Turkish-Cypriot cuisine has already proved to be a smash hit in Shoreditch. The book is just as impressive – packed full of fresh, exciting recipes taken straight from the restaurant, including grilled quails with palm sugar, sumac and oregano, her ever-popular Circassian chicken, and recipes for more typical Turkish fare like köftes, hummus and menemen.

Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura

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Massimo Bottura’s second book is much less about himself as it is about his latest project. At Refettoria Ambrosia in Milan, Massimo has assembled a who’s who of top chefs to cook three-course meals for the homeless, making delicious dishes with waste food. Bread is Gold catalogues the journey, and includes recipes from forty-five of the chefs who took part in the project, including pasta with popcorn pesto by Rene Redzepi, bread tart with caramelized fruits by Alain Ducasse and rice pudding with apple honey ice cream by Ferran and Albert Adria.

Catalonia by José Pizarro

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Few have done as much as José Pizarro to bring authentic Spanish food to this country, and his latest book delves into the unique history and landscape of Catalonia for inspiration. Alongside a host of Catalan recipes – including classics like meat and chickpea stew and silky Crema Catalana – the book is packed full of gorgeous photography. José even includes a few dinner party menus and throws some restaurant recommendations into the mix.

Lisboeta by Nuno Mendes

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Lisbon has a burgeoning gastronomic reputation, so who better to take us on a guided tour of the city’s food scene than Lisbon-native Nuno Mendes? Nuno reveals some of his own recipes for classic Portuguese dishes like slow-baked lamb chanfana and beautiful, flaky pastéis de nata, and his guided tour of Lisbon brings the city to life. If you can’t afford a trip to Lisbon before Christmas, this is an excellent alternative at a fraction of the price.

Andina by Martin Morales

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Peru’s incredible fusion cuisine has been a smash hit in the UK in recent years, and Martin Morales has been at the forefront of the revolution. His first cookbook – Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen – was an award-winning masterpiece taken from his first restaurant, and Andina follows suit with yet more inspiration from the Andes. The book pays homage to Martin’s grandmother, who provided many of the recipes in the book, and Martin has even included a collection of short stories at the back to add a lovely personal touch.

For reference and education

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit

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If you’ve ever trawled the internet looking for flavour pairings, or wondered what to do with that overflowing spice cupboard, this is the book for you. Niki Segnit’s seminal work is an indispensable guide to flavour combinations – breaking down pairings with wit and panache, and providing endless solutions to help you deal with things that lurk in the bottom of your salad drawer.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

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Originally published in 1984, Harold McGee’s gastro-bible was re-published with a major update in 2004, and it remains the ultimate authority on culinary science and technique to this day. On Food and Cooking delves into everything you could ever want to know, and does so in incredible detail. If you have any interest in cooking at home, McGee should be sitting proudly on your shelves.

The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez Alt

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J. Kenji López-Alt – often referred to affectionately as Kenji – writes one of the web’s very best food columns over at Serious Eats, and his book is a treasure trove of fantastic information based on his experiments with food. He goes into exhaustive detail on everything from equipment and technique to some of his favourite recipes, but his engaging writing style keeps everything accessible. Very much worthy of a place on your shelves.

Italy Dish by Dish by Monica Sartoni Cesari

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Planning a trip to Italy? Even for fluent Italian speakers, getting a comprehensive grip on the length and breadth of Italian food can be confusing. Monica Saroni Cesari’s miniature encyclopedia does an admirable job of clearing the fog, breaking down Italian food terminology region by region, so when you find yourself perusing the menu in a tiny Tuscan trattoria, you’ll know what to order.

For baking

Nostalgic Delights by William Curley

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Having worked for the likes of Pierre Koffmann, Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White, there’s no one as qualified as William Curley to teach the ins and outs of great patisserie. William’s latest book breaks down the science of sweet-making and includes sections on techniques like chocolate tempering and pastry, as well as a host of nostalgic recipes from Black Forest gateaux and Bakewell tarts to walnut whips.

Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

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Not content with changing the way we think about home cookery, Yotam Ottolenghi and pastry chef Helen Goh are on a mission to overhaul your desserts too. Recipes like tahini and halva brownies and cinnamon Pavlova with praline cream and fresh figs are typical of the pair – modern but comforting – and there are little touches all over that open your mind to the possibilities offered by a well-stocked spice cupboard.

Japanese Pâtisserie by James Campbell

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France has always been the spiritual epicentre of patisserie, but scores of pastry chefs have been moving to Japan in recent years to ply their trade in food-forward cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara. The results have been stunning – perfectly marrying French and Japanese technique and flavour with scientific precision. James Campbell is an incredibly accomplished pastry chef himself, and the perfect man to guide you through these complex creations, including sweets like lemon and yuzu éclairs and savoury treats like mouth-watering panko doughnuts stuffed with pork katsu.

Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly

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‘With Justin, the force is strong and the crumb is good,’ says Fergus Henderson of his former head baker. Justin spent twelve years at St John, and developed their superb sourdough loaf before moving on to found the Bread Ahead bakery. The book has a fantastic range of recipes, and Justin divulges some of his own recipes, including his sourdough starter and Bread Ahead’s incredible donuts, as well as some more inventive ideas like his fennel blossom ice cream and courgette and carrot garden cake.

For everyday cooking

Simple by Diana Henry

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Diana Henry is a master when it comes to elevating simple dishes into something special with a few twists, and her latest book does exactly that. Simple shows you how to take ingredients you’ll find easily in the shops and and turn them into beautiful dishes – including Turkish pasta with caramelized onions, yoghurt and dill, and paprika-baked pork chops with beetroot, caraway and sour cream. There are thoughtful flavour combinations throughout and inspiration from far and wide across the globe.

New Classics by Marcus Wareing

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We don’t need to list his many awards for you to know that Marcus Wareing is one of the country’s most acclaimed chefs. With the help of his protégé and Tredwells head chef Chantelle Nicholson, Marcus has put together a book full of his favourite everyday recipes. His delightful watermelon salad with pickled rind, salted ricotta and coriander stands out immediately as a good example of what to expect – inventive, foolproof recipes – and there’s plenty of reinvented classics too, like his pork schnitzel with ‘nduja aioli.

Nathan Outlaw’s Home Kitchen by Nathan Outlaw

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Nathan Outlaw’s previous books have all tackled fish and seafood – he is, after all, the authority on such things – but Home Kitchen is proof that he’s no one-trick pony. The multi-Michelin-starred chef takes on family-friendly home cooking in his fourth publication, offering up over 100 straightforward delicious recipes, from classics like pea and ham soup and sticky toffee pudding to dinner party fare like his prawn and Champagne risotto.

For dedicated cooks

Hook Line Sinker by Galton Blackiston

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Ever since his early days at No. 1 Cromer in Norfolk, serving up some of the best fish and chips in the country, Galton Blackiston has been passionate about seafood. Hook Line Sinker is firmly aimed at competent home cooks, and is packed with over ninety genuine Michelin-star-level recipes inspired by Galton’s travels across the globe, including blow-torched sea bream with Sauternes and curry sauce, squid ink crackers with smoked salmon and lemon purée and crab claw tempura with lime mayonnaise.

Meat & Game by Tom Kitchin

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Tom Kitchin is is a chef with an extraordinary touch when it comes to meat and game cookery, so if you’re looking for a mentor, you’ve come to the right man. From his restaurant in Edinburgh, Tom cooks the most incredible meat and game dishes, and his latest book is a heartwarming roll-call of classic recipes, including roast pheasant with cabbage and apple salad, steak and kidney pie and braised lamb shanks with lemon confit.

River Café at 30 by Ruth Rogers

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To mark the incomparable River Café turning thirty this year, Ruth Rogers and her River Café head chefs have come together to create a celebratory book, complete with recipes, new photography and some unseen archive images from long ago. The best recipes from the original blue River Café cookbook have been updated and included alongside thirty new recipes, including panzanella, risotto with porcini and girolles, and their famous chocolate nemesis. A perfect coffee table accompaniment.

The Sportsman by Stephen Harris

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It was a lemon tart at Chez Nico that convinced a thirty-one-year-old Stephen Harris to become a chef. Twenty-five years later, Stephen runs The Sportsman pub in Seasalter, Kent – a hugely acclaimed award-winning gastropub, with a burgeoning reputation for quality, locally sourced food. Stephen’s cookbook is not for the faint of heart – the recipes are straight from his kitchen at The Sportsman – but there’s an abundance of fantastic British cooking here, including some of his much-admired lamb recipes.

Prime by Richard Turner

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Like Stephen Harris, Richard Turner came to food later in life after a seven year stint in the Paras. Between Hawksmoor, Pitt Cue Co and Blacklock, he has a considerable claim to the throne as London’s king of meat, and Prime delves deep into a subject close to his heart – beef. Richard delves deep into techniques for perfect beef cooking and breaks down the differences between different breeds, as well as including his favourite recipes and sides from all across the globe.

Back in the Saddle by Hayden Groves

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In 2017, chef Hayden Groves joined a team of amateur cyclists and took on the three Grand Tours (Giro d'Italia, Le Tour de France and Vuelta a España) to raise £1 million for the Cure Leukaemia charity. This book not only charts their story, but includes recipes from the different regions Hayden visited during his gruelling ride. It's a beautiful coffee table book, and if you know anyone who loves both being in the kitchen and going out for a cycle, we can't think of a better gift.

For cocktail lovers

The Cocktail Guy by Rich Woods

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Rich Woods has been described as ‘Heston Blumenthal for cocktails’ in some circles, and whilst his approach to mixology is inventive, it’s still relatively approachable for novice mixologists who fancy whipping up cocktails for dinner parties. Rich breaks down every aspect of the perfect cocktail, from techniques and equipment to a vast collection of recipes, and his first book features everything from basic drinks to his most creative and challenging recipes.

Wild Mixology by Valeria Mosca

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Foraging is just as valuable in the world of mixology as it is for cooking – there’s a wealth of ingredients sitting on your doorstep and all you need is the know-how to use them. With Wild Mixology, Valeria Mosca provides more than just an invaluable guide to sourcing natural ingredients for your cocktails; she also breaks down myriad ways of processing and preserving them and offers up thirty of her own cocktail recipes.

Good Together: Drink & Feast with Mr Lyan and Friends by Ryan Chetiyawardana

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Ryan Chetiyawardana is one of London’s most celebrated cocktail creators. His second book is more a labour of love than a mixology bible, and Ryan has enlisted some illustrious friends from around the globe to contribute some of their favourite recipes – including the likes of Mark Birchall, Robin Gill and Joan Roca – for him to mix accompanying cocktails to. These aren’t tried and tested recipes from either of his bars; instead, they’re an interesting introspective into how you can tailor your cocktails to a dish or occasion and widen your mixology repertoire.

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