On the shelf: the latest food books reviewed

Published 31 March 2020

The new books this season go beyond rustling up main dishes and show plenty of inspiration for everything from ketchup to kombucha, with a healthy amount of personality too. Photograph by Harriet Clare


Showing us that Irish food is about more than just the humble spud, chef Jp Mc- Mahon delves deep into the food culture and history of the island: from the arrival of Neolithic communities to the English invasion, no stone goes unturned. Mc- Mahon showcases recipes for Irish classics like lamb baked in hay, griddle scones and seafood and seaweed chowder, but – rest assured, potato fans – you won’t be disappointed: potato breads and potato scones are given their fair share of the lime- light, too.
£35, Phaidon

2. ARAN by Flora Shedden

Aran, or ‘bread’, is a beautiful little book from Flora Shedden and includes recipes and stories from her eponymous bakery in the heart of Scotland. With stunning photography and conversational style essays about the people that inspire Shedden’s creations, delve into these sweet and savoury recipes and allow yourself to be transported to Scotland, enjoying break- fast, elevenses, high tea and after dinner treats along the way.
£22, Hardie Grant Books


‘For the love of God, don’t use strawberries in December.’ We like the tone of pastry chef and industry mover and shaker Ravneet Gill. Her book, subtitled ‘the secret to successful baking every time’, is written in a calm and helpful manner too, although novices might find the lack of photography a bit angst-making. There are glossy centrefolds of sexy patisserie, but the rest of the technique info is backed up with the occasional illustration. However it promises great results for everything from ice creams to steamed puddings.
£18.99, Pavilion


If you need a recipe for a herb and ora jelly mat or you’re looking to add powders, pearls and purees to your repertoire, this up-dated version of the City of London Cookbook might spark your interest. But even if catering for high society isn’t on the to-do list, this compendium of recipes and recollections is an insight into the lavish state banquets of the Square Mile. Alongside recipes for 3am quail eggs benedict there are intriguing anecdotes about the Archbishop and Queen Mother and details on the Prime Minister’s signature dinner-party dish.
£25, GMC Books


Tom is one of hospitality’s most enthusiastic characters and has been a real proponent of sustainable eating for years, before many others. His latest book is partly a detailed backdrop on all things to do with growing, cooking and eating mindfully, and part a collection of enticing recipes. If you want to cut down on food waste without sacri cing versatility – and entertain on a regular basis – you’ll nd plenty to inspire you.
£26, Kyle

7. THE PRAWN COCKTAIL YEARS by Simon Hopkinson & Lindsey Bareham

Very few people would object to the claim that Simon Hopkinson paved the way for a large swathe of chefs’ cookbook deals. Roast Chicken and Other Stories was nothing short of seminal and will have instructed and guided whole- some honest cooking in kitchens far and wide since its publication. Published in 1997, The Prawn Cocktail Years is deserving of similar praise. Classic dishes from chicken chasseur to mulligatawny are, of course, a nostalgic highlight, but it’s the insights into the building blocks of our industry as we know it today that make yet another of Hoppy’s books a must for any “gourmand”. The Trattera chapter makes for fascinating read- ing in light of the capital’s current thirst for pasta and all things Italian.
£20, Macmillan

8. CONDIMENTS by Caroline Dafgard Widnersson

You might live by the motto ‘Heinz or nothing’, but perhaps it’s time to consider whether making your own condiments is a more rewarding, sustainable and healthier option. This book is a fool-proof guide to making your own hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo and more from scratch – and Widnersson promises it will help take your weeknight dinner to the next level. Alongside kitchen staples such as traditional mayonnaise, more bold options such as mushroom soy sauce and Sichuan chilli oil are also included, alongside recipes for suggested dishes to pair the condiments with.
£12,99. Murdoch Books

9. KOMBUCHA & CO by Felicity Evans

A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that Kombucha would feature on the drink’s menu at restaurants and bars across the country, but its popularity has soared. With people keener than ever to give their gut health the boost it needs, Evan’s book is a bible of all things fermented. As the name suggests, there is more than just kombucha– expect recipes for kefir milkshakes, jams with an extra kick and ginger beer. And don’t worry, the book is definitely beginner-friendly, with tips about the how and why of fermentation.
£12.99, Murdoch Books

This article was first published in Issue 22 of the CODE Quarterly magazine. To read the digital version, please click here

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