Friday, October 12, 2012

3 4 Friday: Tempting treats, gorgeous grub, celebrity chefs!

Celebrity chefs certainly stir the passions at Mostly Books. Some people cannot stand the whole celebrity chef thing, and there's nothing like a new cookbook from one of the giants - Nigella, Gordon, Jamie or Hugh - to start people muttering furiously. At the same time, I know just how many people are huge fans of these chefs, and clutch their latest collection of recipes fondly to their chests as they exit the shop.

This isn't surprising. For anyone who cooks, favourite cookbooks and cookery writers are like old friends and trusted guides in the kitchen. The style of a particular cookery writer - informal v. prescriptive, everyday basics v. 'requires a vacuum oven' - can inspire or jar, and this is what drives people to revile one author and madly recommend another.

So, for today's '3 4 Friday' #FridayReads we've tried to look past the obvious bestsellers, and instead picked three of our favourite cookbooks to have come into the shop in the last few months.

Some writers you can take to bed with you (not literally, you understand) and read at night as if it were fiction. If there is one cookery writer who we consistently love to sell in the shop, it has to be Nigel Slater. His writing and recipes match his moods, and he can take you from a wildly ambitious Summer dish made up of the freshest of ingredients, to a mid-winter 'bung it in the pan, I can't be bothered' 15 minute wonder. It's been five years since his original 'Kitchen Diaries' were published, an oasis of calm and a source of inspiration in the kitchen. If anything this second volume is even better, and 'Kitchen Diaries II' contains many of the recipes from his BBC2 series...a delight (and we have it at £5 off in the shop...)
Not many cookbooks have such a physical 'wow'- factor as the 'Vintage Tea Party Year': whichever bookshop you frequent, do take the opportunity to get your hands on it, because Mitchell Beazley have done a fantastic job. The beautiful cut out cover, with its individual, festive feel is just the start of this fantastic, unique book.

We say book because it is actually a lot more than a cookbook. It's full of retro recipes, styling tips and advice for round-the-year vintage tea-parties. Beautifully photographed and illustrated, this is a sumptuous book brimming with ideas, exciting recipes and projects for you to try that you can dip in and out of, or perhaps sit down with a notebook and be inspired for you own stylish evening party, using their tips on how to set the scene and dressing up, perhaps taking elements from each party and developing your own.

There's something for every occasion, from New Year's Eve and Christmas to a Gentleman's Tea Party (complete with invitations, recipes for asparagus cigars and even how to tie a bow-tie) or a coming-of-age party. There's everything you need to plan your own exciting gathering, even for Guy Fawkes night. A really beautiful book that's perfect for any stylish and creative person, or those who love their bit of vintage - no matter how old or young, there will be something in this book for them and it makes just the most fantastic gift.

Finally, 'The Little Paris Kitchen' is a book published earlier this year, but has become a word-of-mouth hit. A really gorgeous cookbook of classic French dishes from all over the country that Rachel Khoo has given her own modern twists. From casseroles and the classic Boeuf bourguignon to soufflés and crème brulees, Rachel shows how simple these dishes really are. The recipes range from vegetarian to meat-centric, from easy, everyday dishes like omelettes to special occasions like meals with friends and delicious desserts including classics like the Tarte tatin.

It's a book that celebrates the very best of French home-cooking in a modern and accessible way. Topped with some lovely pictures to get your mouth watering, the recipes are easy to do and truly inspiring so you can add your own little French culinary touch to your everyday life, wherever you are and however big your kitchen is. This is simple, rustic, authentic French cuisine that anyone can copy easily. A fabulous book.

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