These are the most useful and simple cookbooks I know. They have a down-to-earth approach and diverse recipes that best serve my family’s healthy eating habits. These books have a lot in common. All of them were written by excellent cooks who have a genuine passion for good food, enjoy cooking very much, and know everything there is to know about good food. The recipes are basic, and include endless dishes that kids can easily enjoy. I would recommend these books to any parent, whether they know how to cook or not.
The River Cottage Family Cookbook is a food bible which every family must have! It contains so much relevant information about the history of food, how to grow or raise food, how to cook it, prepare it and preserve it – things that every child should know. For children (and adults) it is more than a just cookbook, it’s an activity book as well. Making homemade butter was a wonderful experiment that kept my children busy for an hour. The recipes are fantastically simple and always come out good. Leo & Alex love making the Choocolate Chip Cookies and are always excited about the results. The drop scones (pancakes) are the best pancake recipe I’ve made so far (and I’ve tried more than a dozen.) They come out fluffy and delicious, even when I substitute almond milk in place of cow’s milk, and olive oil instead of butter to make them dairy free. A must-have book, whether you are a professional cook, or someone who is new to the kitchen. Hugh’s writing is damn brilliant!
Heart of the Artichoke. I love you David! I can’t wait to meet you and have dinner that you cooked, and tell you how much I love your recipes, and how your Pho got my little one hooked on Pho, and how your “Honest Loaf” is honestly one of the best bread recipes I ever made, and how your Apricot Jam changed the way my kids feel about apricot jam (Leo claims that it’s the best jam ever), and how you won over my husband’s palate with your Sweet and Sour Lemon Curd Shortbread with candied kumquat. Again, simple, yet elegant and smart meals.
The Kitchen Diaries. If I had to pick a different father for my children, I would pick Nigel. With his home-cooking, I would never have to worry about leaving my kids with him. I know they would eat anything he cooked for them. My Moroccan Turkey Balls seem plain and boring compared to his Chicken Patties with Rosemary (and pancetta, but I make it without, for different reasons.) The Brown Sugar Lemon Cake with Thick Yogurt is one delicious cake, even when you attempt to make it dairy-free (my version), and the comforting Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa Soup is the best meal for a cool autumn night.
Plenty is definitely not an ordinary vegetarian cookbook. Yotam’s sophisticated approach to vegetables makes you want to become a vegetarian. It always comes in handy when you’re cooking muse has abandoned you – or was never there to begin with. The Wild Mushroom Parcel has a wild flavor and requires little effort. The Warm Glass Noodles and Edamame is a number one bestseller in our house. (But without the edamame. My theory is that soy is only healthy for Asians.) And the Quinoa Salad with Dried Persian Lemons is a creative yet comforting salad which I would be delighted to eat any day for lunch.
My Father’s Daughter There is something about Gwyneth that I love. Of all the A-list celebrities, she is the only one I would like to be friends with (though I’m not sure I want to be friends with her husband – don’t ask me why.) She is sweet, smart, talented, and seems like a great mother and human being in general. I admit, I envy her in many ways. What ever she does, she does well, including cooking. Although she is not a chef, I do find her cooking style brilliant in it’s diversity, simplicity and balance. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love her Spaghetti Limone recipe. It has saved me many times when I had to come up with something really quick and flavorful. The Portobello & Slow-Roasted Tomato Burger is a dish you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy. And her mom’s Lalo Famous Cookies are lovely and harmless treats that a child could easily make on his or her own.