13 December 2018

London Review of Cooks 2018

Posted by Gayle Lazda

The best thing that’s happened in the cookbook world this year is the rehabilitation (in the minds of the British anyway – I don’t think anyone else needed it rehabilitating) of German cuisine, thanks to the wonderfully named Anja Dunk and her equally wonderfully named Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings. As well as all the things listed in the title, the book contains recipes for breakfasts, roasts, stews, preserves and a really unparalleled number of uses for Quark. As a long-time lover of German food, I am over the moon to finally have a handsome, modern cookbook that covers all the classics, as well as innovations that reflect both the more recent waves of immigration to Germany, and the writer’s own half-German, half-Welsh identity (cf. the very delicious ‘German rarebit’ on p.168).

(On a related note: did you know there’s an itinerant German baker that visits Bloomsbury Square every Tuesday morning? If you have yet to purchase your Christmas Stollen, his comes highly recommended.)

Last year’s The Roasting Tin was one of those books that somehow managed to appear revolutionary and yet at the same time so entirely obvious that it seemed impossible no one had thought to do it before. Rukmini Iyer is back again with a veggie sequel, The Green Roasting Tin, which is if anything even better. Split into vegan and vegetarian, and quick, medium and slow, this has immediately become the go-to book for weeknights when inspiration is running low.

Not-quite-a-cookbook of the year is Thom Eagle’s wonderfully ruminative First, Catch, in which he slowly dissects every aspect of a single spring meal over the course of 200+ pages. It’s beautiful writing that makes you want to cook better, eat better, think better.

I would gladly follow Ottolenghi to the ends of the earth, or at least to the furthest corner of a little-known deli in an obscure part of London in search of ingredients I’ve never heard of, but for those of you who’ve opened his cookbooks, seen a list of ingredients as long as Bleak House and immediately closed it again, Simple is for you. It’s full of signature Ottolenghi flavours – and in some cases, signature Ottolenghi dishes – but simplified into something you’d be willing to cook on a Wednesday night.

Finally, niche cookbook of the year goes to Bread & Butter by Richard Snapes, Grant Harrington and Eve Hemingway, which is about humanity’s two greatest inventions, bread and butter. There’s a recipe in it for butter poached turbot that calls for an entire kilo of butter – can you imagine anything more divine?