A recipe for rivalry: how to select the perfect cookbook

Whether you defer to Delia or prefer more contemporary culinary instruction, Time Out has the cookbook for you

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Kitchen Essential –

Classic

The Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith (BBC Books, £15)
Glossy, sexy cookbooks may come and go, but this cult classic is a cook’s must-have. First published in three parts between 1978 and 1980, this ‘omnibus’ version has sold nearly three million copies, which means a fair few of you already have it in a cupboard somewhere (if not, go ask your mum). It’s particularly good at teaching the basics – how to make a stew or the secret of crunchy roast potatoes. Her recipes may not always be thrilling, but they are failsafe. You can always depend on Delia.

Click here to buy 'The Complete Cookery Course'

Contender

Leiths: How to Cook (Quadrille, £30, published Sep 12)
If you’re serious about cooking, Leith’s is the place to learn. Originally founded by Prue Leith (you may remember her from the beeb’s ‘Great British Menu’), the year-long, £20,000 diploma can set you up for a career in food. If that seems a bit extreme, you can join short ‘enthusiast’ courses or, even better, arm yourself with this guide to essential kitchen skills and classic recipes, which are all broken down into step-by-step tutorials. Best of all, you won’t have an instructor breathing down your neck as you attempt to julienne your carrot, so if you cut your finger off (as has happened), no one needs to know.

Click here to buy 'Leiths: How to Cook'


Staying On Trend –

Classic

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (Ebury, £25)
When it hit the shelves in 2008, this book fast became a must-have, providing smug conversation points at dinner parties. ‘Oh, have you tried such-and-such by Ottolenghi? It’s diviiiiine.’ Back then, the exotic ingredients, from camargue rice to labneh, were hard to source. Nowadays, it’s just a case of nipping to the local Waitrose. But showing-off aside, you can’t fault the gorgeous, gutsy and still trendy dishes.

Click here to buy 'Ottolenghi: The Cookbook'

Contender

Pitt Cue Co: The Cookbook (Mitchell Beazley, £20)
The trend for ‘dude food’ shows no sign of abating, with Deep South dishes (and Pitt Cue Co) right at its heart. The Soho diner is tiny and a bit of a pain to get into. Much better instead to treat your mates at home with some of the best barbecue cooking this side of Mississippi. This new book teaches you how to turn the right cut of meat into a sticky, calorific heap of joy. There are kick-ass cocktails too – because if you’re going to slow-marinade something, you’re going to need a drink to keep you busy.

Click here to buy 'Pitt Cue Co: The Cookbook'


Home Baking –

Classic

Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard (Fourth Estate, £25)
Okay, we’re cheating a little here, because this isn’t really ‘from the archives’ – it came out in 2011. But it’s such a timeless instructional that it ought to be in the reference section of every cake-maker’s kitchen library. The work of Aussie food writer Dan Lepard, it covers a wide range of sweet things (plus a few savouries), building on basic recipes to help guide newbies as well as challenge proficent bakers. 

Click here to buy 'Short & Sweet'

Contender

Great British Bakeoff: Everyday (BBC Books, £20)
The hit ‘reality baking’ series GBB has spawned a number of cookbooks, featuring Mary Berry’s oven prowess and Paul Hollywood’s way with bread, but sadly without the droll asides from co-presenters Mel and Sue. This latest book, (which includes contributions from contestants), focuses on everyday recipes with 100 easy-to-make bakes from lemon shortbread to peach tiramisu.

Click here to buy 'Great British Bakeoff: Everyday'


Eating Out, In –

Classic

Moro: The Cookbook (Ebury, £20)
Acclaimed Exmouth Market restaurant, Moro, takes its inspiration from Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean – it’s what owners Sam and Sam Clark (yes, his-and-hers Sams) describe as the saffron-cinnamon route. This book, which sparked a new trend for restaurant cookbooks when it was published in 2003, offers simple recipes (Lebanese spring veg soup, for example) as well as more technical ideas such as shaping a cylindrical kebab. 

Click here to buy 'Moro: The Cookbook'

Contender

Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25)
Ceviche, the citrus-cured fish dish, takes centre stage at the brilliant London restaurant of the same name. This off-shoot book is more genuinely instructive than your typical ‘restaurant cookbook’, and will have you rustling up the signature ceviches and anticuchos (marinaded meat or fish skewers) before you know it. Owner Martin Morales’ passion for his country’s cuisine practically leaps off the page – as does the incredible food photography. 

Click here to buy 'Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen'


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