Up your culinary game: the best cookbooks for dining at home

Ellen Millard

1 April 2020

A well-stocked (or should that be stockpiled?) kitchen deserves to be cooked in. Swap beans on toast for something a little more adventurous courtesy of the world’s culinary whizzes

1 April 2020 | Ellen Millard

Eating in is the new eating out. If your idea of cooking is heating up a microwave meal, and you’ve exhausted all the takeaway options, look to the bookshelf for culinary inspiration. From old favourites to new classics, these are the top cookbooks serving up some seriously delicious dishes right now. 

Falastin: A Cookbook, Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

A delicious journey through the Middle East, Falastin by Ottolenghi co-founder Sami Tamimi and co-collaborator Tara Wigley offers more than 110 recipes. A mix of traditional and contemporary dishes, the tome is a veritable travel log of the chefs’ time in cities such as Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and Nazareth. Think of it as escapism for the tastebuds; no passport necessary.

£28, Ebury Press, penguin.co.uk

Table Manners, Jessie Ware and Lennie Ware

Based on their hugely successful podcast of the same name, singer Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie present Table Manners, a cookbook of simple dishes peppered with the mother-daughter duo’s signature brash sense of humour. Recipes range from wholesome courgette bakes to triple threat brownies and an indulgent pasta dish cooked with smoked salmon, vodka and caviar — finally, a way to get rid of all that sevruga we’ve got hanging around…

£22, Ebury Press, penguin.co.uk

Dishoom, Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar & Naved Nasir

Dishoom’s waiting times are almost as famous as its signature Indian dishes, but week two into lockdown and we would give anything to be queueing outside for a bacon naan. Fortunately for us, the restaurant has its own cookbook detailing the recipes for its much-loved Bombay comfort food, including its signature black dal. With more than five hours cooking time, it’s the perfect recipe for a nation with more than a little extra time on its hands.

£18, bloomsbury.com

Eat Green, Melissa Hemsley

Cutting down on food waste has never been more essential. Melissa Hemsley’s Eat Green is on hand to help — this UK-focused cookbook celebrates easy-to-buy ingredients with dishes that put flavour first, featuring tips on batch cooking, use-up teas and innovative ideas for odds and ends you would usually chuck away.

£22, Ebury Press, penguin.co.uk

The Pastry School, Julie Jones

A book for anyone who’s ever drooled over Julie Jones’ Instagram snaps (@julie_jonesuk), this beautiful tome features the chef’s highly decorative (and highly flavoursome) pies, tarts and pastry creations, which look (almost) too good to eat. This might be a more elaborate commitment to the kitchen, but there’s nothing like a lockdown to teach yourself how to become a pro baker. If not now, when?

£25, kylebooks.co.uk

Pasta Grannies, Vicky Bennison

If you’ve been lucky enough to find a pack of pasta that isn’t just lasagne sheets (a task apparently too arduous even for those in a national lockdown), Pasta Grannies by Vicky Bennison is your culinary bible. Inspired by the Youtube channel of the same name, this book collates tried-and-tested home-cooked recipes from Italy’s best cooks — a.k.a the nation’s nonnas.

£20, hardiegrant.com

James Martin’s Islands to Highlands, James Martin

Having scouted out the best dishes in the British Isles in his TV series James Martin’s Great British Adventure, the chef presents his top picks in this 80-strong recipe book that spans Cornwall to the Isle of Skye. Championing Britain’s best produce and the passionate people behind the nation’s food industry, from butchers to fishmongers to market stall-holders, this charming tome takes you on a culinary journey across the British isles.

£25, Quadrille, hardiegrant.com