Best cook books of 2012

The first step is admitting it right? Then perhaps I should come clean, I am addicted to cook books.  My book shelf groans with them and I have been known to have a quick flick through a cook book before falling asleep in bed at night.  As MTV man (correctly) points out it would be impossible for me to cook every recipe from every cook book I own and some of them I may actually never have cooked from.  I justify my habit on the basis of reference material, entertainment and inspiration.  Still, I do take his point so I’ve pulled together my list of my favourite cook books published this year and I’ve narrowed it down to those books I actually use rather than merely admire.

1. South American Grill: Feasts from Brazil to Patagonia by Rachel Lane
This book is great because it’s written in Melbourne and it is the perfect summer book as it is all about cooking on your BBQ.  It’s the simple sort of food that I love to eat in summer but given a bit of a twist thanks to the South American focus of the book.  It certainly made me think beyond steak and sausages on the BBQ.

2.  Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
My Ottolenghi obsession has been well documented on Gourmet Chick, I’m such a fan girl I even did an Ottolenghi cooking course when I lived in London.  Now it seems the rest of the world is catching on with the release of Jerusalem which draws on Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s shared past living in this iconic city along with their Jewish and Palestinian backgrounds.  It’s got everything you love from previous Ottolenghi books – interesting ingredients, complex flavours and lashings of yoghurt, lemon and pomegranate on every second dish.

3.  Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
This book is for all those people who complained that you couldn’t do Jamie’s 30 minute meals in the allotted 30 minutes.  Okay so you may squeak outside the 15 minutes but because this book doesn’t try and make you cook a starter, main and dessert it is much more realistic for speedy weeknight cooking.  I look forward to Jamie’s 7 minute meals next year!

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4.  Have You Eaten?: My Favourite Recipes from Penang to Paris By Billy Law
As a big fan of Billy’s blog A Table For Two I was always going to love this book.  It’s got some really interesting recipes like black pudding scotch quail egg sliders and vegemite cheesecake, great photos and stunning typography.  But I was particularly interested to check it out because I helped with some recipe testing for the book.  Also I helped test recipes for this book so I know  from the small role I played that Billy was meticulous in making sure each recipe in the book is easy to understand and to follow while producing perfect results.

5.  PS Desserts by Philippa Sibley
There is a reason Philippa Sibley is the dessert queen and PS Desserts is the ultimate baking and desserts book.  The photography will have you licking the page and after experiencing Philippa’s dessert magic at Albert Street Food and Wine I’m happy to concede that all of the recipes are just as tasty as they look.

Note: Some of these books I was given as review copies, others I bought myself as yes, I really am an addict.  If you are looking for cook books as part of your Christmas present buying you might also be interested in my Christmas Gift Guide and my Top Ten Food Books.    


  1. Jerusalem is a fantastic book – there’s so much knowledge and travel in there too. Haven’t heard of some of the others – will check them out!

  2. I have been loving Jamie’s 15 minute meals and that is one cookbook I would love to add to my collection. The time frame also seems much more realistic, and I figure that even if I blow over, I should definitely manage it in the original 30 minutes!

  3. Great round up. I was slightly dubious about Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals but after picking it up in a shop the other day there are some really lovely recipes. As for Jerusalem – WANT. Top of my Christmas list 🙂

  4. I had not heard of the Have you Eaten? one, need to check that one out!

  5. Andi – Yes it is

    Katy – I know I love just reading and flicking through it

    Kari – I agree 15 mins is more realistic than half an hour

    The Little Loaf – Yes I am always a bit sceptical as well but the recipes are really good

    Andi – It’s a great Aussie book

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