Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cook from your Cookbooks!

Recipe books are funny old things. We buy them fully intending to use them, to cook from them, to replicate these wonderful recipes we've seen on the TV. We want to invite people round, and wow them with our culinary skills.

What usually happens, though, is we get the book home, flick through it a bit while ooohing and aaaahing over the pretty pictures, earmark one or two recipes to try, before putting the book on a shelf and then never picking it up again. All the while, we are cooking the same repertoire of ten or so different meals, which somehow we never seem to get bored of.

Luckily, the lovely Natalie over at Misadventures in Craft has come up with a brilliant idea. Why don't we actually use our cookbooks! They're full of interesting, tasty food which we could be eating!

She, like me, has got a bit stuck in a routine of having the same quick, easy meals every week. She's suggested that perhaps it isn't totally inconceivable to branch out and try a new recipe from one of the many cookbooks in her house each week. And that we might like to join in as well!

I mentioned it to Jamie, and he was keen to give it a go. We do like to cook; we have a fair old collection of recipe books, and while one is quite heavily used, the rest are pretty much in pristine condition.

They don't quite fit on the shelf neatly, so I took them down to take the pic
You can tell from the state of the dust cover that James Martin's Collection is the most used of them all. It's an excellent recipe book, filled with classic British meals all cooked in a very sensible Yorkshire fashion (albeit with lots of fattening butter and cream). I swear by his Yorkshire pudding recipe, both for my Yorkshire puddings (as a half-Yorkshirewoman, it would be embarrassing for me to fail at making them) and my very popular (with Jamie) toad-in-the-hole. The cauliflower cheese is pretty good too.

Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home is responsible for my favourite recipe to date, the Steak, Ale and Cheese Pie. 30 Minute Meals has caused something of a controversy since publication, since most of them take longer than 30 minutes when you include all the kitchen and ingredient prep. But, it does say so at the start of the book, and quite frankly, even if it takes 45 minutes instead of 30, it's worth it because the food is amazing.

The rest of them, well, I don't really have enough of a basis on which to form an opinion, as I've only made one or two other recipes out of the lot of them combined. I don't think I've even looked inside the Rick Stein Mediterranean Escapes book and I've had it for years!

So, Jamie and I will start to use these recipe books. I also have two more on the way: Recipe of the Week: Burgers and The Takeaway Secret. We've recently become quite fond of making our own burgers, so we're looking forward to branching out from our usual cheese-filled beef recipe (no link, as Jamie pretty much experimented until we got it right).

At least to begin with, I suspect our day of experimenting will be Sundays, as we'll have just been food shopping for the week and will have the time to spend in the kitchen. We may not manage every week, some weeks we might do more than one. I doubt I will end up posting about it on the same day each time, or on the same day as everyone else who is getting involved. Hopefully we will all inspire each other to try out new recipes and broaden our culinary horizons!


  1. Mmmmmmm, lots of yummy sounding 10.30am I am really hungry now!

    Must make myself a nice lunch now :)

  2. I have that Rick Stein book, and I don't think I've ever looked at mine either. I cooked from a James Martin book last night (and yep, lots of cream was involved!) I've heard that the Takeaway Secret is really good, so I'll be interested to see what you cook from that one. 

  3. hat an awesome yummy idea!! Have fun.

  4. I love challenges and this is an excellent one.  I, too, collect cook books and memoirs by chefs/cooks and am really inspired by them.  That is, when I remember to read them!  So, thanks for this post.  Yes, I, too, will dust off my beloved collection and start digging in again.

  5. Your so right, I have so many cookbooks & only really use one & it's a Caribbean cookbook at that! Being from the Caribbean I'm not supposed to use these, as the recipes are supposed to have passed down from mother to daughter - didn't quite work for me, not for lack of my mother trying. It's only since I got married & had kids that I suddenly became interested. Should've listened to my mum & saved myself some money. Best wishes on your endeavours look forward to salivating over your dishes.


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