Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Favourites: Your Favourite Cookbook

Friday Favourites - a chance to rave about a favourite reading/book related topic each week.

Sometimes you just want a chance to rave about some favourite aspect of reading that doesn't really come up during regular blogging posts - that's what this is about. I'm willing to bet that at least some of those will come up one week or another.

This week I'm asking what your favourite cookbook book is.

Please leave either your response in the comments or a link to your response.

My answer:
I`m finding this one to be an extremely challenging one to answer, simply because I love a lot of the cookbooks I have - spending time in the kitchen is a ton of fun. Last year I did manage to narrow the list of my favourites down to five.

I`m particularly partial to Mark Bittman, Jamie Oliver and Michael Smith's books, although I like a number of other authors as well. I wonder if it's the approach they take. None of them are particularly formal in how the recipes are done, nor the the food always super-fancy. It's as likely to be something simple and tasty - comfort food as it were.

When I was writing before, I wasn't as into watching the various cooking shows, so that wasn't shaping my perceptions as much. Now it is more, which is one of the reasons I love Jamie Oliver and Michael Smith as chefs. Well, that and also the fact that their recipes almost never fail me. Whether it's a soup, a casserole or even a drink, it is usually absolutely delicious.

Narrowing things down to one cookbook though, I'm going to have to say it's The Best of Chef At Home by Michael Smith, just based on his approach to cooking. It's inspiring to say the least. Every recipe has some explanation as to why you do something in a particular way, as well as some form of variation to change the flavour. Essentially, it seems to me as though I'm getting double the recipes for my money.

I really love the way he encourages experimentation in the kitchen and with cooking. I'll admit that I'm watching a lot of the Chef At Home T.V. show these days and every single episode I've seen has me wanting to get into the kitchen and try something. But, I get that feeling from the book(s) too. And, I've started experimenting too - using the book for inspiration. Even for something as simple as a salad dressing, or a way to jazz up some carrots.

The most recent successful recipe from this book was an incredible mushroom soup, though I just found a salad dressing I have to try - one of the variations on the salad dressings: a raspberry salad dressing.

But for me it just comes down to the approach that Michael Smith takes: relaxed and fun, family oriented cooking. There's no stress, no need to get it "right" as long as it tastes good, and for me, that works to get me into the kitchen and trying new things.

The things I like about the blue Chef At Home book are true of all his cookbooks too, and the one to the left here, may soon overtake the first one as my favourite. At the moment, it's simple familiarity that keeps it there, and I'm trying new recipes from this one too all the time. So far, my favourite has been the baked acorn squash recipe. It takes a bit of time, but is delicious and goes well with a lot of different meats too.

What's your favourite cookbook?

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