Cookbooks from Santa

How was everyone’s Christmas? Was Santa good to you?

I was lucky enough to receive not one, not two, but three new cookbooks for Christmas! Ok, one of them isn’t a recipe book as such – The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit is an excellent reference for matching ingredients which also included a short description of the 99 pairings in the book. I’m really looking forward to using it as a spark for new ideas in 2011.

Also bulging out of Santa’s sack was the River Cottage Fish book. A large cookbook in a scholarly vein with chapters devoted to sustainability of fish, handling and preparing different types of fish and a reference to the common types available in the UK. Plus, of course the many delicious looking recipes bulking out the rest of the book. I love fish, it’s also great for my gallstones bedevilled girlfriend, but I always find myself pan frying the same old fillets, which are probably exactly the ones we’re not supposed to buy. Hopefully this will point me in new directions for my seafood fix.

Finally, eclipsing even the Fish book in size, was the much heralded Noma book. This book is a megalith amongst cookbooks and would even give my copy of Leith’s Cookery Bible a run for its money in the weight stakes. Fortunately there is function to its massive size, giving more space to show the glorious pictures to their full potential. The first half of the book has these beautiful images of the restaurant’s dishes and ingredients, with pages references at the bottom pointing you towards the relevent recipe in the second half of the book.

Unfortunately as the book from the world’s best restaurant 2010, and a restaurant in particular that excels at locality and seasonality, many of the ingredients are hard to come by. I feel that to track down those ingredients that aren’t local to Scotland to try to recreate the dishes in the book might be missing the point a bit. There’s also the problem that many of the dishes use techniques and equipment that aren’t available to me as a keen, very amateur, home cook. However I have spotted a few amazing looking dishes that I think are within my reach and hopefully the rest of the book can at least give me a few tips and ideas to try even if I can’t attempt the dishes in their entirety.

Now to treat myself with some presents of my own to help me try out these books. I think a new knife, pans and chopping board is in order!

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