Friday, 24 December 2010

My top 3 books of 2010

Rose Prince
'Kitchenella` is Rose Prince's feminine hero of the kitchen.  The book is a paean to all the women who, day in and day out, practically and unselfishy, cook for their loved ones for little thanks.  With chapter headings such as Quick, Cheap and Filling, Things that please children, and A plate of something special its aim is to encourage, and aid, the nurturing instincts of busy women.  Coming from a family of cooks, Rose Prince has developed into a respected freelance food writer and broadcaster.  She is generous in her credit to those who have influenced her.  It is not just a recipe book but, as she puts it, "... a book of answers and ideas, a conversation between people who share an interest in solving problems."  Pan fried plaice with lettuce hearts and lemon is simplicity itself and totally delicious.

Tender Volume II
Nigel Slater
Part two of food writer Nigel Slater’s “Tender” series of books.  Inspired by his experience of acquiring a garden and the joys of growing, and being inspired by, your own food.  Volume 1 centred around vegetables and has become a much-thumbed addition to my bookcase.  This one covers the subject of fruit.  If you have the first volume you will certainly want to own this well written, handsome and beautifully photographed book.  It’s packed with easy to cook, but never boring, recipes in Slater’s trademark non-lecturing style, which encourages you to think for yourself rather than to slavishly follow a recipe.  How about' Roast duck legs with squash and blackberry and apple sauce', or 'Rhubarb cinnamon polenta cake'?

The Geometry of Pasta
Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy
Although the idea for this book came from graphic designer Caz Hildebrand, owner/chef of London’s Bocca di Lupo restaurant,  Jacob Kenedy, is the writer.  The result is a beautifully stylish, photo-free, tome with Hildebrand’s black and white graphics and Kenedy’s take on classic Italian pasta dishes.  The theme is the science, history and philosophy of pasta.  The book explores the Italian preoccupation, summed up by the book’s full title, “the perfect shape + the perfect sauce = the geometry of pasta”.  Some of the recipes would be difficult to reproduce in a domestic kitchen.  For instance, you may not be able to buy calves or lambs brains for the basic Agnolotti as easily as a professional chef can, but alternatives are given.  Other recipes almost take longer to pronounce than to cook, like 'Garganelli con Prosciutto Cotto, Panna e Piselli'.