Autumn is the time for new cookbooks, with a glut making their way onto our shelves and Amazon wish lists. There's something about a chill in the air and crisp, colourful leaves underfoot that make you dream of days baking and braising, only to hunker down with your feast and a cosy pair of slippers. I've become somewhat of a cookbook addict in the last few years; my purpose-built shelf is now overflowing with piles of books and magazines, which have spilt over onto window shelves and into various piles around the house. They're just so tempting, promising untold delights and mouth-gasms you can only imagine.
I'm trying to rein back my spending on cookbooks, in favour of actually, you know, cooking from them. Earlier in the year, I began to cook my way through the Joy the Baker cookbook, making all the recipes I've never got round to trying before. The process revealed so many recipes that I had glossed over the first few times of flicking through. There's a lesson for life in there, somewhere. I've started to do the same with all my cookbooks, marking all the recipes I want to take a crack at with post-its and then slowly working my way through.
This new method has revealed a little more about my collection. Cookbooks have so many different functions, and not all of the books I have are really for cooking with. Some are purely for aesthetics. Some are to educate. Some are to inspire. But my favourites are the ones where I can't wait to make every single thing in there. These are the cookbooks that you need, right now. You simply can't live without them, I promise.
Homemade Memories by Kate Doran
This is the baking book that I've been waiting for my whole life. Kate's whole philosophy around baking is not just about how it tastes, but how it makes you feel. The baked treats of our childhoods bring back a special kind of nostalgia, of being covered in flour, helping out in the kitchen, waiting for special occasions. Some of the recipes are re-imaginings of the desserts and puds that you no doubt 'helped' your parents and grandparents whip up; others are home-made versions of favourite shop-bought treats, including bourbon biscuits, jaffa cakes and even a caterpillar cake! This book is an absolute joy to bake from, and I want to make everything enclosed in its pages - and have been working on doing just that. As an added bonus, the photos are beautiful. Just buy this book, okay?
Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver
Look, even I am a little tired of the Jamie Oliver machine. So many restaurants, products, campaigns. But, you can't deny that the man writes a good cookbook. I like Jamie's style of cooking - it's fast, fresh and full of colour. It feels really accessible, so it's a great way to get into cooking if you're new to the game. I'm usually sceptical of 'healthy eating' manifestos, which seem all the rage this day. Ain't nobody gonna convince me that courgette is a substitute for spaghetti. It's just not. I steer clear of chia seeds and kale crisps, for the most part, but I know I could do with eating a little healthier - especially after a decadent fortnight in the US of A. More vegetables. More whole foods. A few little substitutions here and there to get some more vitamins into my diet. As always, Jamie's recipes are packed full of flavour and they make eating healthy seem a bit more fun than I've seen before. So far we've eaten a whole week's worth of meals from this book and pretty much everything has been a winner.
Related: Nigella has come out with her own version of this, Simply Nigella, which I'm also excited to get my hands on.
The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily & Melissa Elsen
I was SO inspired when I went to the Four & Twenty Blackbirds shop in Brooklyn. It's the cutest little place. Please go there if you get a chance. I mean, who doesn't like pie? No one, that's who. This book is an absolute dream, covering everything from sourcing ingredients and equipment to make the perfect pie, to seasonal recipes which will make your mouth water. Who knew that you could do so much with pie? The instructions are easy to follow, which is exactly what you need when you're new to pie-making - pastry can be a tricky mistress. My success rate is a lot higher with this bad boy than with any other pie recipe that has come before, that's for sure. Autumn and winter is a time for pies. Apple pies. Custard pies. Pumpkin pies. Every kind of pie. Once you start, you won't be able to stop...
Which cookbooks can't you live without right now?