The cook in your life will love these recipe books

These are not your ordinary recipe books, mind you. In fact, you’ll probably want to get yourself a copy too...

str2_xmasbooks_ma_10A Year Of Good Eating; The Kitchen Diaries III

Author: Nigel Slater

Publisher: Fourth Estate; 560 pages; RM118.90

Does the world need more recipes? Well, Slater asked himself that question and presents the answer with the third volume of his kitchen diaries series. The book flows like a beautiful novel that is a collection of all the good things that Slater has eaten over the last few years; added to that is a trove of recipes and moments he wants to share with his readers.

In this book, he bakes, he stews, he stir-fries, he roasts, and even surprises himself with new methods and ingredients. He writes that the book has a plethora of vegetables, grains, and fish dishes that his parent’s generation wouldn’t have known. And he seems obsessed with spelt, miso, and freekeh, all of which he uses generously in his recipes.

If you want to enjoy Slater’s latest work, you musn’t be afraid of words because this non-pictorial, text-heavy book can seem daunting. Yes, there are gorgeous photographs of food in the book, but not all recipes are visually represented. So you have to try the recipes with the hope that they will tastes as good as how Slater describes them. .

He chronicles every day of the year with a recipe – from New Year to New Year’s Eve, and 365 days in between – so you can attempt to re-create A Year Of Good Eating yourself at the beginning of 2016. Good luck! – Sharmila Nair

str2_xmasbooks_ma_12Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes

Authors: Nicolaus Balla & Cortney Burns

Publisher: Chronicle Books; 366 pages; RM152.90

Balla and Burns are fiercely loyal to making anything and everything by hand. The book is a snapshot of the menu at Bar Tartine, their San Francisco restaurant where collective creativity thrives and authenticity is seen as a slippery concept that exists to be evolved and interpreted.

Their kitchen is a project kitchen where something new is always brewing and the technique section of the book records all of this. Their ammunition is an arsenal of powders – green onion powder, black garlic powder, yoghurt powder, burnt bread powder, etc – and dried, fermented or sprouted foods, all made in the kitchen to be used to layer flavours into their food.

Want to make your own bottarga? Feta cheese? Vinegars? Infused oils? The other half of the book elaborates on the recipes using the homemade products in Techniques so you can’t begin to cook anything until you have made the basic ingredients but the food looks really interesting and wholesome. So get cracking. Now I just need Santa to leave a dehydrator under the tree. – Julie Wong

str2_xmasbooks_ma_11Bistronomy: Recipes from the Best New Paris Bistros

Author: Jane Sigal

Publisher: Rizzoli; 237 pages; RM181.77

Brush up on bistronomy (bistro + gastronomy), that movement that began in 1992 and is still making waves in France. Sigal defines it as French casual fine dining characterised by refined and inventive food, a relaxed attitude, and scaled down prices. Her story traces the journey of bistronomy superhero Yves Camdeborde and his influences, to the second wave brought on by Basque-French chef Inaki Aizpitarte.

While Camdeborde’s food was still classic French cooking, Aizpitarte combined unlikely partners on one plate. His neo-bistro Le Chateaubriand was the ideas factory pushing this cultural shift. The spirit of bistronomy is perhaps best summed up by Daniel Rose of Spring: “It’s 20% about the cooking and 50% about the buying; the rest is about cleaning and organising.” Buying refers to the obsession with products, super high quality and preferably sustainable and local. This means new ways of sourcing through small producers, directly or through slow food purveyors. And it’s not just about caviar and truffles but the ordinary onion and radish.

The 100-odd recipes in this book are selected for the home cook. That means only recipes that do not require technical equipment or exotic ingredients. “These recipes are proof that French cooking is alive and well and living in Paris,” sums up Sigal in this definitive book. – JW

str2_xmasbooks_ma_9Everyday Super Food

Author: Jamie Oliver

Publisher: Michael Joseph/Penguin Books; 312 pages; RM142.95

Oliver has already published 16 cookbooks and yet he claims that his latest work, Everyday Super Food, is the most personal book he has ever written. He reveals that he personally underwent a complete journey through the world of health and nutrition in order to write the book. I have to say he does look healthier in his latest TV appearances.

One quick flip through the book and, yes, you can tell that Oliver has gone to the “light” side. There are no recipes of anything drenched in oil or thick slabs of meat cooked in piggishness. The food in the book looks clean, minimalistic, and healthy. But instead of feeling turned off by his new approach, I felt inspired and, heck, even excited to try out some if not all of the recipes.

There is a photograph – taken by Oliver himself – to accompany every dish, and if the colours and the styling of the food don’t attract you, the simplicity of the recipe will. There are about 30 breakfast, 30 lunch, and 30 dinner recipes, all of which Oliver believes will fit within a daily structure of calories.

And the book does not just contain recipes for food prepared the healthier way, but also acts as Oliver’s medium to spread his gospel on eating right. – SN

str2_xmasbooks_ma_7Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change The Way You Cook

Author: Kristen Miglore

Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 271 pages; RM122.90 is a regular stop on my daily online food crawl. The site – which was started as a community for cooks – has interesting articles, it’s pretty to look at, and its database has enough not-your-ordinary recipes to make it appealing.

Many of them appear in the Genius Recipes column, which features recipes from both established and lesser-known authors and chefs. But what you get is more than a list of ingredients and instructions for what to do with them. Kristen Miglore, who writes the column and researches the recipes, also includes an assessment of what makes each one outstanding – in other words, genius.

The column is always a delightful and educational read – little wonder then that it was nominated for a James Beard award, the highest honour for food and beverage professionals in the United States.

Now, 100 of the column’s greatest hits have been compiled into a book. Each one comes with tips, shortcuts, and mini recipes. You’ll find unexpected ways of using an ingredient (some recipes only have one ingredient!) or a really unusual cooking technique that will make you rethink that recipe you always thought was perfect.

Miglore once wrote that a recipe is genius if it will change the way you cook. The ones in this book will definitely make you consider it. – Jane F. Ragavan

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