As we move into 2021, it looks like many of us will still be spending more time at home and, so, naturally that means many of us will spend more time cooking. After 9+ months of more home cooking, are you looking for a little inspiration? I’ve got you covered today with some recently-released cookbooks you might enjoy!
Jamie Oliver’s 7 Ways
What can I say? It’s a Jamie Oliver cookbook. I’m a huge fan of Jamie’s, especially his recent work (Quick and Easy Food, Veg) and this latest book is no exception. Based on the premise that there are certain “hero” ingredients in our kitchens (broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, chicken breast, sausages, salmon fillet, sweet potato, aubergine, eggs, minced meat, potato, peppers, prawns, white fish, whole chicken, mushrooms, steak and pork – this is based on real shopping data), this book offers seven different ways to prepare them – “maximum flavour with minimum effort” (and aren’t we all looking for a little more of that these days?
Offering solutions to common barriers to getting a meal on the table (don’t have time, bored of cooking, in a rut, don’t know what to cook, don’t want to shop, hate washing up, don’t know how to cook, feel like eating takeaway), this book is a brilliant source of inspiration for when you find yourself staring at the same basic ingredients with no clue how to do something different for tonight’s dinner.
In typical recent-Jamie style, the book is beautifully laid out – clean and simple with photos of each dish and “one pager” recipes (read: short ingredient list, simple recipe). So you can see at a glance if you have everything you need and how long it’s going to take. Recipes are divided into the ingredient categories listed above but there’s also a handy index of different preparations (“Fakeaways”, One Pan Wonders, Traybakes, Pasta, Salad, Soup and Sandwiches) so you can quickly find a certain type of dish regardless of the ingredients.
Like Jamie’s other recent books, 7 Ways is on my “always being used” shelf and will stay there for its ease of use and quick inspiration!
Nigella Lawson’s Cook, Eat, Repeat
Anyone else feel like the last 9 months were some version of shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up on repeat? Yup, well Nigella’s dialled into that with her latest cookbook “a delicious and delightful combination of recipes intertwined with narrative essays about food.”
From the publisher: “Within these chapters are recipes for all seasons and tastes: Burnt Onion and Aubergine Dip; Butternut with Beetroot, Chilli and Ginger Sauce; Fish Finger Bhorta; Spaghetti with Chard and Anchovies; Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce; Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts; and Wide Noodles with Lamb in Aromatic Broth, to name a few. Those with a sweet tooth will delight in Chocolate, Tahini and Banana Pudding; Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake; Basque Burnt Cheesecake; and Cherry and Almond Crumble.”
Quite unlike Jamie’s book, there is a book where the recipes are intertwined with stories so it’s a little more verbose than a regular cookbook (though if you are familiar with Nigella, you will be familiar with her style). This is a cookbook that is just as at home on your coffee or bedside table as it is in the kitchen – you’ll want to read this book from cover to cover before you start cooking from it – it’s such a delight and it really is hard to tell whether the recipes or the stories are the star! Ultimately you’ll end up wanting to cook the recipes because of the stories she tells but if this book just becomes inspiration for you to get back in the kitchen and cook something, that’s ok too! Highly recommended in both the “to read” and to “cook from” categories.
Best of Bridge 5-Ingredient Cooking
There’s been a slew of “x-ingredient” cooking and baking books recently so I was interested to see how the Best of Bridge authors would handle the challenge!
From the publisher: “Best of Bridge 5-Ingredient Meals includes all the beloved flavors and mealtime favorites the Bridge books are famous for, using fewer ingredients in easy-to-prepare recipes. All of these 5-ingredient recipes have been developed in the classic Best of Bridge fashion we know and love, but with the modern convenience we seek today. Try a creative, fun recipe like Mac ’n’ Cheese Gnocchi, Grilled Mussels with Mango Chutney, Pecan Turkey Cutlets, Blender Banana Oatmeal Pancakes or Middle Eastern Meatloaf — all designed to inspire mealtime prep without the fuss.”
Can a recipe for a dinner dish REALLY contain just 5 ingredients? What about salt/ pepper/ oil etc… Well, sensibly, 5-Ingredient Cooking recipes use five main ingredients, “plus “free pass” or freebie ingredients that are staples in most people’s kitchens; salt, black pepper, water and oils […] don’t count in the main ingredients” for each dish. Phew!
Like all Best of Bridge books, this one is spiral bound (SO clever for a book that you want people to actually USE in the kitchen, it lays flat!) but doesn’t have images for each recipe (there are sections throughout the book with photos, though) and is printed in block capital letters (in a font not unlike Comic Sans that is meant to look like handwriting from recipe cards) so it harkens back to the original BoB book which was a collection of recipes published by a group of women in a decades-old bridge group – recipes they had prepared and enjoyed together. So, all the BoB books feel a little bit like a cookbook from another era in some ways. The “mostly text” look of the books can sometimes feel a bit intimidating (if you are a visual cook that needs images of each recipe it might not be what you are used to) but once you get into reading the recipes, they are written in an easy-going, encouraging style and you can see that they really ARE simple and feel completely do-able, even on a busy weeknight. The 125 recipes are divided into the following chapters: Breakfast & Brunch, Appetizers, Salads & Sandwiches, Soups, Beef & Veal, Chicken & Turkey, Pork & Lamb, Fish & Seafood, Vegetarian, Sides, Sweets and Basics (includes meatballs, pesto, pasta sauce, self-rising/ raising flour and pumpkin spice mix) so there really is something for every meal.
This is a great book to pull out on a Saturday afternoon to plan a week’s worth of meals in advance. Check the recipes, see what you have on hand in terms of ingredients and what you feel like cooking and make sure you buy any extra ingredients so you’re never more than an hour away from a really great home cooked meal even on a busy weeknight (yep, even with “stay home” orders, life can be busy with online classes and meetings and social events so you still need to make sure you’re eating a proper meal!).
Pantry to Plate
Now here’s a little gem of a book which is not your typical cookbook either but it’s charming and packed with useful advice and recipes PLUS, it’s illustrated (I do love an illustrated cookbook!). Also, could there be a better time for a book like this:
“Eliminate the what’s-for-dinner dilemma! Pantry to Plate collects 50 staple ingredients in the cupboard, fridge, or freezer, and features 70 recipes that use only those ingredients.”
It’s the perfect book for those of us hunkering down for a winter of more “stay home” orders and who are forever facing the “what’s for dinner? dilemma”! No matter how many cookbooks you have, it seems this is a question everyone asks themselves daily! As Stephenson says in her introduction “It’s great to get lost in the escapism that some cookbooks can provide, but one way or another, my pantry needs to be stocked; otherwise I can’t really cook.” Right?
A lot of people feel they can’t cook something for dinner because they lack the pantry or fridge staples – they might have a beautiful cut of meat or a piece of fish but if you don’t have any other ingredients to DO anything with them, you’re stuck. This book aims to end that issue once and for all, offering a very comprehensive list of ingredients that, if you have them on hand, will help you get a good meal on the table anytime! The list includes pantry, fridge and freezer staples which will definitely have you set up for success and Stephenson gives brand recommendations as well as some substitutes too.
The recipes themselves are exactly the sort of foods you’d be proud of making and serving at home – simple yet flavourful recipes organised into the following chapters: Eggs for All Meals, Soup AKA The Easiest Meal, Carbs (Rice & Pasta), Beans are your BFF, Eat your Veggies, Protein Heavy and Sides (and Turning them into Meals). There’s also a fab chapter with “Meals for Every Kind of Evening” where Stephenson gives recipe suggestions for meals that are:
- Truly 30 minutes or less
- Weekend Cooking
- Family Friendly
- Fancy Enough for Guests
- Very Packable (AKA Lunch Friendly) and
- Make Ahead
It’s a true gem of a cookbook packed with ideas that will have you bookmarking pages, checking your pantry and making a list to (re)stock staple items and, generally, feeling like dinner is do-able EVERY night, not just when you are super organised!
Cook, Eat, Run
Nope this isn’t just a cookbook for people who run (although there is some excellent information about fuelling for runners), it’s actually got a ton of quick, easy and flavourful recipes that anyone – whether you run or workout or not – will enjoy!
From the publisher: “Cook, Eat, Run offers a no-nonsense approach to eating for runners and athletes of all levels. From filling breakfasts and high-protein snacks to post-run energy fixes and speedy suppers, it’s an essential companion for anyone looking to seize control of their fitness regime. Featuring 70+ simple recipes suitable for eating solo or for dining with friends, Cook, Eat, Run provides meals that work with your lifestyle rather than against it, whether you’re a ‘Couch-to-5K’ newbie or a pro-runner. There’s a section dedicated to on-the-go fuel including homemade energy gels, hydration drinks and energy bars, alongside recipes from elite runners including Sara Hall, Kara Goucher and Molly Huddle, making it a must-read for anyone totting up their miles. No fads. No calorie counting. Just real food for real runners.”
I follow Charlie on Instagram and I really like her realistic approach to running and eating and I wasn’t disappointed in the cookbook. She’s a Registered Dietitian so the book includes a ton of information about nutrition (perhaps less important if you’re a casual runner but definitely need-to-know if you run any distances or are training for a race). With loads of “real food” alternatives to fast food or convenience snack options, this is a great book for anyone who simply wants to get wholesome real food meals on the table faster. Add to that the nutritional information (Portion Sizes, Protein, Gluten, Carbohydrates, Glycaemic Index, Fibre, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals and Hydration) and you have a complete package for runners and active people too! There’s a Store Bought Staples list as well as some suggested Meal Plans to get you started but once you’ve cooked a couple of the dishes, you’ll be on the road to seeing how quick and easy these meals are to prepare so meal planning yourself might come easier.
Chapters include Homemade Running Fuel (gels!), Breakfast, 20-Minute Meals, Pre-Run Fuel, Refuel (Sweet and Savoury) and Snacks so there really is something for everyone. Recipes are short and clearly written, ingredients are easy-to find and sometimes include store-bought staples where it makes sense (hey, not everything had to be made from scratch!) and her 20 minute dishes DO come together in 20 minutes! I love this book as a source of inspiration for meal planning! Highly recommended for runners and non-runners alike!
What about you – what new cookbooks are you drawing inspiration from?
Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received copies of 5-Ingredient Cooking and Pantry to Plate for review purposes from the publishers. I purchased Cook, Eat Run, Jamie Oliver’s 7 Ways and Cook, Eat, Repeat for myself. I was not asked to write about these books and am not being compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own
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