The books that inspire me to cook – part one


People are always asking me which books are my favourites so I’ve finally had chance to write them down. Below are my all-time most loved and most used cookbooks. These are a fraction of my ever-growing collection but they are the ones I turn to time and time again when I want something good to eat or when I want to kick start my imagination. Nigel and Jamie in particular have taught me more about what tastes good and what works well with what, giving me the freedom to experiment and come up with my own recipes. As I look at this list I realise this is also a list of lots of my favourite places to eat in London. All but Nigel and Nigella have places to eat so be sure to try everyone else’s places when you can.

You can now buy all these books, through the UK and US Amazon links below. Just click on the red link and you can add the item straight into your Amazon cart to buy later. If a price is shown in dollars and you are in the UK, it will take you through to the Amazon UK item in pounds once you put it in your cart.

Nigel Slater – All of his books are delicious to read. His recipes are simple and focus on great ingredients cooked simply as do mine. I’d start your collection with the classics, ‘Real Food’and ‘Real Cooking’.

Nigella Lawson – The woman I dream of having as a greedy, gorgeous and cultured older sister. Her first book ‘How to Eat’ covers all bases beautifully and is one of my most-used books. If you like to bake ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ is a great collection of recipes. I also love ‘Kitchen’. My husband cooked a couple of recipes from one of her books for the picnic when he proposed so she will always hold a special place in my heart.

Jamie Oliver – I am unashamed in my adoration of Mr Oliver. All his books are brilliant but his ‘Jamie’s Italy’ has a special place in my heart and contains some of my most-cooked recipes of his. We took our, then 5 month old, son on a four-week road trip of Italy and France a few years ago. We worked our way through ‘Jamie’s Italy’ on our little camping stove and still talk fondly about the amazing meals we had. His ‘Comfort Food’ is a perfect weekend feast inspiration.

Ottolenghi ‘Plenty’ – This book is a must for anyone wanting to expand the ways in which they eat veggies. His recipes make veggies the hero and will introduce you to all sorts of new flavors. His mini chain of cafés in London are heaven to visit too.

Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey – ‘The River Cafe cookbook’ – This is one of the first cookbooks I ever bought back when I was at University. I actually ended up working next door to the restaurant of the same name for many years in London and love recreating their take on simple Italian food from this book. The photography is gorgeous and the recipes are simple and delicious. Rose and Ruth’s kitchens have spawned so many cooks (Jamie Oliver, Theo Randall, April Bloomfield, Sam and Sam Clark, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to name but a few) and their style influences so much English cooking today.

Leon Ingredients and recipes – A great family cookbook full of healthy food. From the gorgeous café of the same name in London. Oh how I miss their meatballs and slaw.

‘Casa Moro’ Sam and Sam Clark. I love the fact that the husband and wife team behind this london restaurant (Moro) have the same name but that aside, this book is a great introduction to food from the Mediterranean and Middle East and full of amazing recipes to help you travel without leaving home.

You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.