2013’s Best Cook Books

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My cook book addiction is seriously out of control but I still couldn’t resist indulging in a few new cook books this year.  There were so many beautiful ones and even if I have too many cook books to ever cook from, at least I have lots of lovely bed time reading! Of course, some are good, some are bad and then there are the best cook books of every year.

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I get sent review copies of some books, others I have bought or even borrowed from the library in a rash display of thriftiness.  Here’s my thoughts on this year’s crop.  

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1.  Porteno 

I love Sydney’s Porteno restaurant so much and chef’s Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate have really distilled the good vibes of the restaurants into this cook book.  It’s got a real sense of humour about it with recipes including watermelons filled with punch.  

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2. Levant

When I travelled in Lebanon I got some brilliant food and restaurant tips from London based chef Annisa Helou so I am delighted to see she now has a book out. I have to say I’ve never met Helou before, she was just kind enough to pass on tips over Twitter.  Anyway, she is a complete guru on Middle Eastern food and this book includes brilliant recipes like eggplant cooked in pomegranate juice. If you love Yotam Ottolenghi’s cook books you are bound to love Helou’s.

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3.  Save With Jamie

All those Jamie Oliver haters can bag Jamie as much as they want but his recipes are really well tested and always work.  I like the ethos of this book which is about not wasting food by cooking up big roasts and then using them in other dishes.  I’ve tried out the hungover noodles and the recipe for rotolo and both were hits.  Jamie has done it again.  

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4.  Maggie’s Christmas 

This beautifully photographed book is really inspiring and envy inducing.  After reading it I’m desperate to spend Christmas at Maggie Beer’s house! My only gripe is that some fairly standard Christmas recipes aren’t included – there’s no recipe for Christmas cake or for mince pies.  I think in a book that’s entirely about Christmas these traditional recipes should also be included.  

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5.  Gelato Messina

Cult gelati store Gelato Messina has a cook book out but it’s not for the faint hearted! The recipes are seriously technical and involve all sorts of difficult to obtain ingredients like maltodextrin.  You have to be a very skilled home cook to actually use this book but it has given me new found admiration for Messina’s gelati now I know what actually goes into it.  

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