For The Love Of Books: Worldwide Cuisine

20th January 2017

by Sophie Jackson

Out of all the exciting deliveries we receive here at Cotes Mill, my absolute favourite has got to be the books. This would come as a huge surprise to my family or anyone that knows me, as I’m the opposite of a bookworm! But I do have a secret guilty pleasure (not so secret anymore)…every so often when I’m out and about and going about my day, I will find myself being drawn into a bookshop, making my way to the cookery section (naturally) and flicking through the most tempting books, for hours! I have rarely left actually having purchased a book, but there’s something I find so satisfying about snuggling into a corner and becoming totally unaware of time, the surroundings and the outside world, simply allowing the colours and words to draw you from book to book, without thinking about which book you might need and just going with it.

A great cookbook should emanate a lifestyle, tell a story, make you want to taste the food from the page and be transported into a world where all you have time for is creating incredible things to eat and share with loved ones. You know…the daydreams of Nigella-esque days where you can wake up at your leisure, decide what delicious food to make for your evening guests, unhurriedly strolling down to the market with your cotton string shopping bags and chatting to the friendly market stall holder whilst choosing the plumpest, most vibrant-looking produce, then spending the day luxuriating in the nature of gorgeous home cooking, ready to share and enjoy with the people you love most….

Having confessed my love of cookery-book-binge-browsing, you can see why the book deliveries are my favourite at Cotes Mill…the books we have here are hand-picked and some of the most special and unique around, the kind that you just want to pick up and get your nose stuck into even if it’s not your usual topic. I’ve had a look through them all and have rounded up a few of my favourites – for this blog, it’s worldwide cuisine. We have such a collection I may do a few on different topics!

  1. Provence To Pondicherry – by Tessa Kiros

First up is this interesting and eclectic mix of recipes derived from Tessa’s travels which began in Provence, followed by Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry, La Reunion and Normandy.

Tessa preludes each chapter with a map snapshot of the location and little anecdotes, which gives the book a real authenticity, as though it’s a diary or hand-written cookbook where you scribble your own notes down just for your own reminders and keepsakes. It makes it feel so personal and is one of the lovely details you notice about this book. The photographs are colourful and flicking through you truly get an idea of the inspiration she’s had from different locations, the recipes portray this from Gratin De Pommes De Terre, Plantation Chocolate Cake, Bun Bo, to Potato Dosa, Poulet Au Mangue and Moules Au Cidre. A proper traveller’s cookbook.

  1. Land & Sea – by Alexandra Dudley

This book focuses on ‘simple, sustainable, sensational food’. I knew I liked this book after reading the first sentence of the introduction – “They say food is medicine. For me, I think it’s the cooking that is the medicine…” – I couldn’t agree more! The cover of this book oozes simplicity and just wholesome living.

It’s full of interchangeable recipes – you can easily swap an element of a dish for another, which offers the ever-needed flexibility in our modern day lives! The photographs are gorgeously rustic and ‘homemade-feeling’. With recipes such as Figgy Breakfast Traybake, Pumpkin Parsnip & Almond Butter Soup, Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad, Celebration Golden Chicken, Carrot Tarte Tatin, Sea-Salted Flourless Chocolate Torte. There are too many amazing-looking things in this book to list – I think I’m going to buy this one for myself!

  1. Fress – by Emma Spitzer

Fress – definition (verb) ‘to eat copiously and without restraint’. A bold title for a bold (and bright pink!) book. Even the front cover makes you feel as though you won’t be falling short of delicious food. The colour is irresistible and you just know the recipes inside will reflect this.

A delightful array of recipes inspired by childhood travels through the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Emma’s hearty and homely recipes are amongst dishes that were passed down to her from her Polish grandmother, in the customary way of every Jewish mother when her daughter gets married. This authenticity is contrasted and combined beautifully with her success on the well-known, ‘Masterchef’, television programme – it’s a no-brainer these recipes are going to taste as good as they sound! Baba Ganoush-stuffed Aubergine with Tomato & Fennel Confit, Freekeh Risotto with Roasted Cashews & Minted Soured Cream and Apricot & Orange Blossom Frangipane with Pistachios – if that’s not enough to get your taste buds tingling, I don’t know what is!

4. Sweet – by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

No cookbook collection is complete without a sugar-inspired baker’s bible. With everything from Cookies & Biscuits, Mini-Cakes and Cakes, to Cheesecakes, Tarts & Pies, Desserts and Confectionary, this book really has it all! I’m sure for any occasion you could find something more than perfectly appropriate, not to mention mouth-watering and impressive!

Ottolenghi, the man behind those famously giant meringues, collaborates with Goh, a friend and colleague he’s had since 2006 with a plethora of foodie knowledge, who together create wonderful, hand-crafted sweet treats. ‘The Ottolenghi way has always been about abundance, inclusion and celebration’. The recipes certainly reflect this – Pecan & Prosecco Truffles, Spiced Praline Meringues, Chocolate Banana Ripple Cheesecake, Tropical Fruit Cake, Hazelnut Crumble Cake with Gianduja Icing – need I say more?!

5. Basque – by Jose Pizarro

The recipes in this book are inspired by Jose’s experiences in the Basque Country, Spain. He explains that “for people from the Basque Country, food is the most important thing. It’s sharing big plates of food around the table, it’s celebrating happy occasions, it’s a way of life.” You just know that the recipes are going to be full of soul and authenticity.

Impressively, Jose has worked at some of London’s most prestigious Spanish restaurants, as well as owning 3 of his own restaurants in London, and just 3 years ago was voted one of ‘100 espanoles’- a hugely prestigious award which showcases the top 100 Spaniards around the world, based on how they’ve brought their talents to the masses and demonstrated their Spanish pride through their work. Pretty impressive!

My favourite bit about this book, however, has to be the Basque Menus nestled at the back. Jose has put together 4 menus – ‘Pintxos menu 1’, ‘Pintxos menu 2’, ‘Simple three-course menu’ and ‘Feasting menu for friends’, all with recipes from the book and instructions for the-day-before prep and on-the-day prep. Whether you love being organised or really wish you were better organised, this book is for you! Maybe your dreams of being the coolest and calmest host around could really come true, not to mention blow your guests away with some incredible tasting food…Spinach Blue Cheese & Pine Nut Empanadas, Duck Livers & Chanterelles, Squid Meatballs with Saffron & Almond Sauce, Apple Tatin with Salted Honey Ice Cream…you might just be spoilt for choice!

If you’re stuck for present ideas this season, you are bound to find something for even the non-book worm in your life, or if you have a foodie friend you will be sure to find something they’ve never seen before! Come and have a browse at our Cotes Mill showroom, we have plenty of seats and corners for you to get snuggled into and lost in some lovely books…