A recipe for nourishment

· Four of my favourite recipe books ·

Cook books, lifestyle blogger, cotton flowers, dried flowers, ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver
Recipe books, lifestyle blogger, cotton flowers, dried flowers, Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver

Sometimes we all need a bit of nourishment.

Some recipe books are coffee table masterpieces where I could spend hours pouring over the brightly coloured pictures, exotic spices I’ve never seen at the grocery store and and table scapes that I could only dream about.  They transport me to another continent and let me peer through a window into other people’s lives, their stories and they way they share the very human necessity for sustenance. Others are more functional, like my dad’s little A5 recipe book from his school life skills class. It was very plain, no pictures just recipes printed in small font, falling apart from use and splattered with flecks of oil and smears from the hands of little sous-chefs who had helped him. I remember it was dad’s bible on how to make pancakes and boy, could he make pancakes well.

Whether it’s the former or the latter, recipe books, and the recipes contained therein, are more than mere instruction manuals for nourishment. They become seeped in a tradition, a ritual for a family to gather around each night; from Donna Hay’s sticky date pudding that your family begs for each winter to the Tuna Pasta weeknight staple, dubbed “Lydia’s Tuna” after the family friend who gave us the recipe and the simple goodness of Grandpa’s freshly baked bread slathered liberally with butter and honey.

Our current recipe book tally stands at seventeen. Some are taken off the shelf for special occasions and others, I’ll admit, I keep more out of vanity than utility because I love their words and images. However, below, are four of Rob and my favourites – recipe books that do the heavy lifting, the ones that we use regularly and are the first to come off the shelf when we need inspiration.

Jamie Oliver, Fifteen Minute Meals

When in doubt, Jamie Oliver’s recipes are generally fail safe and one of our first ports of call (both 15 Minute Meals but also the large volume of recipes from his website). His recipes are healthy and tasty but not overly complicated which make them perfect for weeknight dinners. Rob was given 15 Minutes Meals by his parents when he first moved out of home and it’s a recipe book that we fall back on a lot. While we haven’t quite managed to whip one up in 15 minutes (30-40 minutes from prep to table is more realistic for us mere mortals) we live in hope and they are still quick and easy enough to make on a week night after work. The Beef Stroganoff, Greek Chicken, Green Tea Salmon and Killer Kedgree are some of our favourites.

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami tamimi, Jerusalem

I first tried a meal from this cook book when a family friend brought a plate of roasted eggplant stuffed with lamb and fragrant spices for a pot luck dinner. Upon going back for a third helpings I realised I should probably just ask for the recipe and she introduced me to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s stunning recipe book, Jerusalem. Not only are the recipes delicious, but it is a beautiful tome filled with beautiful photographs telling a story of Jerusalem through cuisine. The braised eggs with lamb, tahini and sumac became a fast favourite as did the Barley Risotto with marinated fetta. 

Women’s Weekly, Cakes, Biscuits and Slices

This was my first recipe book, and it was given to me by my aunt one Christmas. From it, I learned to bake and it is now worn and slightly battered (both with cake batter and use, to be specific). The recipes are simple and easy to follow with all the basics like lime and poppy seed syrup cake, family chocolate cake and good old chocolate chip cookies. But it also has so many other beautiful and more unusual cakes such as my family’s favourite – almond honey spice cake.

Samin Nosrat, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the elements of good cooking

This book is not really a recipe book per se, rather, it is about the fundamentals of good cooking and how to manipulate the elements of salt, fat, acid and heat to create delicious and flavour balanced meals. Having said that, it also includes recipes as examples of how to apply the principles discussed in the book. It is the newest addition to our culinary collection which I bought for my husband for our one year wedding anniversary. I thought he would enjoy it because he was experimenting with the basics of cooking and I had heard good things about the recipe book from a friend. However, it has been proclaimed one of the best presents I’ve given him (high praise) and he has already read half the book tried multiple recipes. So, although I haven’t (yet) read it myself, I thought I would include it as Rob’s recommendation because I can already see it becoming a regular staple in our kitchen and because I have thoroughly enjoyed the various recipes that he has made so far including, today’s lunch menu, Pasta alla Pomarola.

What are your favourite recipe books? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below. 

Cook books, lifestyle blogger, cotton flowers, dried flowers, ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver


  1. Reply


    October 18, 2020

    Have you seen the ‘Salt, Acid, Fat Heat’ Netflix show? Definitely worth a gander if you like the book! Jamie Oliver’s ’15 Minute Meals’ is the first book I ever cooked something out of – Mum had my siblings and I each pick a few meals and we had a night each week where she would help one of us to make it. I also have Jerusalem and my Ottolenghi collection is growing quicker than I can make the recipes!

    • Reply


      October 18, 2020

      I haven’t seen the Netflix show yet, but I am really keen to! What a lovely story. 15 Minute Meals would be a great cook book to learn from. Mine too – Ottolenghi just has such beautiful recipe books and recipes. Enjoy cooking from your lovely collection!

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