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Essential British Cookbooks


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I feel British cookbooks, especially those published from the mid 1990s onwards, are too similar to Australian/NZ cookbooks to be really interesting for me. Strangely enough, I have never been a fan of Jamie Oliver because of his manners and his food seem to be identical to Bill Granger or Julie Le Clerc. Gordon Ramsay is too showy.

I do like Marcus Wareing's works and Gary Rhodes's works are good. Margaret Patten's works sound good and what I want - something of British cuisine without the excessively trendiness of the last 10 years. The French influence are not as widespread in NZ or Australia, and the traditional food backs up the historical origins of the "good old Kiwi tucker" very nicely.

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... Margaret Patten's works sound good and what I want - something of British cuisine without the excessively trendiness of the last 10 years. ...

You would be absolutely correct in stating that Margueritte Patten is not "excessively trendy".

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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For those who own (or had a thorough read through) both Nigella Feasts and Nigella's Christmas, which do you recommend and why? I'm leaning towards Christmas at the moment (which I hear can be used any time of the year really) since I've heard great things about it while with Feasts, I've read a few disappointing review (although I adore the series itself).

I already own How To Eat and How To Be A Domestic Goddess and I really love both -found them wonderfully wordy (I love Nigella chatter) but also full of substantial, reliable recipes.

I've only thumbed through Christmas. Didn't buy it.

But having bought Feast in a Charity Shop, I'm actually rather impressed.

I should state that I really don't like TV-Nigella, but find her writing both sensible and thoughtful. (How to Eat is a bloody good book, and Domestic Goddess is a super home cake book.)

Feast is ostensibly about lifting food beyond the humdrum, making it suitable for special occasions.

However, its only on reading through the thing that the subtext emerges of food as an affirmation of life, and celebrating that.

Remembering that it was written in the aftermath of the death of her first husband lifts it way beyond the realm of recipe books.

I think it counts as a 'good book'.

If you like Nigella's territory, maybe take a look at Nigel Slater's "Appetite". (Don't be put off him by the IMHO somewhat egocentric Kitchen Diaries.) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Appetite-What-You-Want-Today/dp/1841154709/ In Appetite, the focus is entirely on delivering the primal attractiveness of the edibility of the food. Brilliant title.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I would hazard a vote for Fergus Henderson's "Nose To Tail Eating". It's a lovely book to read, although the amount of ingredients is very much a personal matter (and I believe that may be his point). I have not bought the second book (but shall when I'm in the UK in February) so I reserve judgement.

Having said that, I would second David Thompson's Thai Food. Yes, it's hard to find some of the ingredients, but his history and general working principles are very, very good. I know I'm a heathen, but work with This book for the ideas, and then improvise as you must. (Has anyone seen his Thai Street Food yet?).

And I also second (or third) Heston Blumenthal's Perfection series. I also have the Big Fat Duck Cookbook, but I haven't had the free time to read it yet, so I shan't venture a verdict.

And it's hard not to like NIgella. Her "How To Eat" is a very nice book.

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For those who own (or had a thorough read through) both Nigella Feasts and Nigella's Christmas, which do you recommend and why? I'm leaning towards Christmas at the moment (which I hear can be used any time of the year really) since I've heard great things about it while with Feasts, I've read a few disappointing review (although I adore the series itself).

I already own How To Eat and How To Be A Domestic Goddess and I really love both -found them wonderfully wordy (I love Nigella chatter) but also full of substantial, reliable recipes.

I've only thumbed through Christmas. Didn't buy it.

But having bought Feast in a Charity Shop, I'm actually rather impressed.

I should state that I really don't like TV-Nigella, but find her writing both sensible and thoughtful. (How to Eat is a bloody good book, and Domestic Goddess is a super home cake book.)

Feast is ostensibly about lifting food beyond the humdrum, making it suitable for special occasions.

However, its only on reading through the thing that the subtext emerges of food as an affirmation of life, and celebrating that.

Remembering that it was written in the aftermath of the death of her first husband lifts it way beyond the realm of recipe books.

I think it counts as a 'good book'.

If you like Nigella's territory, maybe take a look at Nigel Slater's "Appetite". (Don't be put off him by the IMHO somewhat egocentric Kitchen Diaries.) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Appetite-What-You-Want-Today/dp/1841154709/ In Appetite, the focus is entirely on delivering the primal attractiveness of the edibility of the food. Brilliant title.

Thanks for the recommendation. I suppose I'll get Feasts then; I do enjoy all things celebratory about food. The only reason I had to stop and ponder was because I've heard a few people say the recipes didn't work for them. This may be an individual issue then.

Nigel Slater is another one of my favourites; actually, I have Kitchen Diaries and I love it! hee

I've also been tossing up between Appetite and Real Cooking. Have you had a look at the latter? Appetite definitely sounds like my kind of food though.

Another British chef (recently discovered) I appreciate is Jo Pratt. Good, simple homely food -I have her 'In the mood for food' and it's brilliant.

I don't know why but generally speaking, I prefer British cookbooks to American ones. Something about the way they're written.

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Hi,

I'm new here - well, been lurking for ages, but this is my first post :)

This thread prompted me to sign up properly.

Some great suggestions, and I guess you're looking for more modern stuff, but unless I missed it I couldn't see anyone mentioning Mrs Beeton:

http://www.mrsbeeton.com/

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My blog: http://foodandgardens.posterous.com/

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Hi,

I'm new here - well, been lurking for ages, but this is my first post :)

This thread prompted me to sign up properly.

Some great suggestions, and I guess you're looking for more modern stuff, but unless I missed it I couldn't see anyone mentioning Mrs Beeton:

http://www.mrsbeeton.com/

Welcome! IMHO one reason no one mentions Mrs Beeton is because the Britain of Mrs Beeton is too distant in culture from the Britain of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay as to the point of being incomprehensible. If Margaret Patten's food is said to be of historical interest only, you can gather that many modern Britons think Mrs Beeton better belongs to the museum.

They only buy the book for the purpose of literary analysis and gender studies at universities, not as a practical cookbook!

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I'm sure you are correct - it is a curiosity these days I guess - but I still think there are some great recipes in there.

Funny you should mention Jamie Oliver too, I'm glad to see he didn't get too many mentions in this list - I'm not really a fan. I loathed him in his early days, but had sort of warmed to him with the later stuff. Then I recently watched most of a Jamie at Home marathon on TV and after a few hours I found I was totally bored with his food - it is almost all the same - very formulaic.

I also recall seeing Jamie Oliver branded salt when I was in Sainbury's in the UK last time I was home - it was twice the price of Maldon - that's just ridiculous to me!

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My blog: http://foodandgardens.posterous.com/

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  • 1 year later...

Egullet folks,

I'm an American looking for a few (2-3) of the best British cookbooks that include modern takes on traditional British cuisine (or, at least British ingredients even if the dishes are not traditional). I have started with Gordon Ramsay's Great British Pub food (and I also regularly cook his shepherd's pie from Cooking for Friends). This is a good example of what I am looking for - nothing too advanced for me to cook at home; modern dishes without being too posh. Where should I go from here?

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Have you looked at Nigella Lawson's cookbooks?

I have two or three of the books published a few years ago and found some excellent and certainly not difficult recipes.

Yes Chef! includes recipes from several chefs and might work for you as a reference to see whose recipes and methods make the most sense for you.

The National Trust produced a cookbook of traditional British recipes this past December. I bought it for my collection and have spent a lot of time reading through it but have not yet prepared any of the recipes. (I have a huge backlog of "to-do" recipes that I must do first.)

It is beautifully written and as one reviewer wrote (before the U.S. publication and what prompted me to purchase it) it has some old recipes that you would have difficulty finding anywhere else and they have been brought up to date for today's kitchens.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Egullet folks,

I'm an American looking for a few (2-3) of the best British cookbooks that include modern takes on traditional British cuisine (or, at least British ingredients even if the dishes are not traditional). I have started with Gordon Ramsay's Great British Pub food (and I also regularly cook his shepherd's pie from Cooking for Friends). This is a good example of what I am looking for - nothing too advanced for me to cook at home; modern dishes without being too posh. Where should I go from here?

I'd recommend New British Classics by Gary Rhodes. Not sure that it's still available in the US - I bought mine 7-8 years ago. I think it hits exactly the subject matter you're looking for.

Edited to add link to Amazon UK:

New British Classics

Edited by rickster (log)
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I second the Gary Rhodes recommendation, either New British Classics or the cookery year books sound like just the thing. His TV persona is somewhat annoying, but the recipes are good.

Other recommendations would be anything by Mark Hix, or possibly this one that I was having a flick through the other day Canteen:Great British Food

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Another mention for gary rhodes,i have had all his books at some point,most lost or lent out to other chefs,the complete cookery year is very good,very easy to follow recipes.Marcus wareing books are also very very good,nutmeg and custard being my favourite.

My stand out book is cooking by tom aikens.I have been working in Lancashire uk ,around gastro pubs,hotels and restaurants for 25 years now,and this is by far the best ive found.cant recommend it enough.

Previous favourites are river cafe and canteen by marco,as i posted in another thread.

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  • 1 month later...

Hey... We cannot forget the brilliant work of the Two Fat Ladies!

I just purchased River Cottage Everyday and think it will be a fun book to cook from this summer.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Another vote for Gary Rhodes and his "New British Classics" - it gives readers not terribly familiar with traditional British dishes a good introduction/overview and has some nice updates and modern presentations of classic dishes.

Thumbs up also for Nigella's "How to Eat" and "How to be a Domestic Goddess" for their fail-safe recipes and warm, personable Nigella chatter. Much less enamored of her other books, though :(

A supporting vote also for the late, lamented Keith Floyd, his personality and much-missed TV series ....

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  • 8 months later...

Thanks to Masterchef The Professionals I received three cracking books for Christmas:

Le Gavroche Cookbook, Michel Roux Jr

Sauces, Michel Roux.

Pastry, Michel Roux.

I'm posting this from my phone and interestingly Android wants to change Michel Roux to Michel Food.

All lovely books with loads I want to cook. First up the Potato Pie from Pastry. Having not done much with pastry before I'm loving this book.

The pate brisee-lined tin is in the fridge resting at the moment...

IMAG0372.jpg

I shall update you with a photo of the finished pie.

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I'm not aware of that one, Thanks.

Pie has gone in the Aga. Here she is ready to go...

IMAG0373.jpg

I followed the recipe to the letter, using the size of tin specified but had 25% of the filling remaining.

I know I probably shouldn't be posting all this here but still...its exciting isn't it!

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The pastry was a definite improvement on my usual - which is how my grandma used to make it (no egg or sugar, and 50/50 butter/lard - roux's recipe is all butter).

Not enough seasoning in the finished pie and, despite 30% longer cooking time for the pie and at least treble the cooking time of the potatoes and onion in the pan (about 20 minutes instead of the recipe's suggested 5-6 minutes), the pots were ever so slightly undercooked.

It was okay - a little bland from lack of seasoning but, even with the addition of a bit of salt on the plate, it's not something I would rush to make again. Nowhere near as nice as a classic french onion tart for example.

I made it primarily because I had all the ingredients to hand and wanted to try making pastry to Michel Roux's recipe. In that regard, it was a success...

IMAG0378.jpg

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