Recipe. It’s a word that can strike fear into even the hungriest hearts. What’s the point, after all, of slaving over the pages of an incomprehensible cookbook when Deliveroo is just one tap of an app away?
The answer, of course, is that meals taste better when you cook them yourself. They really do. And, although you may end up cursing your insufficient knowledge of spices or waste an hour trying to work out what ‘Julienning’ is, that’s what cookbooks are for. Buy at least one of the below, master at least one of the recipes within its pages — and you’ll be a better, fuller man for it.
New York Cult Recipes by Marc Grossman
What type of cuisine: Authentic New York classics including cheesecake, cheeseburgers, pancakes and pork buns.
What sets it apart: The sheer research that’s gone into it. First published in 2013, New York native Grossman takes you from the food carts of Central Park to the Greek diners and Jewish delis of Manhattan — via the staples of old-school Chinatown, Katz’s Deli and the trendy cafes of Brooklyn.
The best recipe: It’s got to be the New York Cheesecake above. With a recipe borrowed from Junior’s in Brooklyn, the is the real deal; made with cream cheese and not cooked in a bain-marie.
New York Cult Recipes
Dishoom by Kavi Thakrar, Naved Nasir and Shamil Thakrar
What type of cuisine: Good old warming, spicy Indian food.
What sets it apart: The stories. Only half-cookbook, ‘From Bombay With Love’ doubles up as a tour guide — taking you through Mumbai’s culinary scene, introducing you to some big personalities and telling origin tales of signature dishes. Plus, it looks pretty decent on a shelf.
The best recipe: The Bacon Naan — Dishoom’s spicier answer to the Great British bacon sarnie. The secret ingredient? Rice vinegar in the tomato-chilli jam.
Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter by Nigel Slater
What type of cuisine: Vegetarian comfort food; an antidote to even the wettest, windiest winter night.
What sets it apart: That Nigel Slater touch. The man’s a household name for a reason. The way he describes dishes may be simple, but they stir up desire and get your mouth watering like no-one else can. And they’re all vegetarian. So no mean feat — considering how much we like a steak here at Gentleman’s Journal…
The best recipe: The ‘Potatoes, tomato, horseradish’ pictured above. Perfectly crispy, perfectly spicy — and meaty without the meat.
Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter
Hawksmoor: Restaurants & Recipes by Huw Gott and Will Beckett
What type of cuisine: Big carnivorous sharing feasts (and other stuff. But we’re all about the big carnivorous sharing feasts.)
What sets it apart: There’s an interesting thread running through this second book from Hawksmoor. As well as some bloody good recipes, you’ll find a gripping insight into the rocky world of running a restaurant empire. Enjoy the brand’s famed Mac ’n’ Cheese? Learn how it was refined, tweaked and perfected into the dish you know today.
The best recipe: The Tamworth Pork Belly Ribs. On the restaurant’s menu since day one, there’s a tender, spicy, roasted reason for their lip-smacking longevity.
Hawksmoor: Restaurants & Recipes
The Cook Book: Fortnum & Mason by Tom Parker Bowles
What type of cuisine: The best British cuisine — delicious, contemporary Modern British dishes.
What sets it apart: The educational aspect. You’ll learn about ingredients you’ve never even heard of before — let alone stashed in your kitchen cupboards. And it’s not as drab as you might expect from a centuries-old British institution — with bright illustrations and accessible recipes to keep you engaged.
The best recipe: The Welsh Rarebit. What else? With good cheese, thick bread, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and beer, could you get any more British?
The Fortnum's Cook Book
The Ginger Pig Meat Book by Fran Warde and Tim Wilson
What type of cuisine: Meat. Meat, meat, meat.
What sets it apart: The expertise. The Ginger Pig maintains eight butcher shops — and its proficiency and confidence shows. Inside this handsome volume, the book reveals the best breeds, cuts and cooking techniques for every type of meat. There’s also a handy ‘cheat sheet’ for how to speak to your butcher.
The best recipe: The slow-roasted, herb-crusted leg of mutton — the ideal centrepiece to any Sunday lunch.
The Ginger Pig Meat Book
Pizza: A book by Pizza Pilgrims, by Thom and James Elliot
What type of cuisine: The crispiest, cheesiest, tomato-iest pizzas you’ve ever seen sliced.
What sets it apart: Pizza Pilgrims’ inaugural book is subtitled ‘History, recipes, stories, people, places, love’. And that’s exactly what it’s full of. A pinch of heritage pizza tales, a sprinkling of characters who’ve shaped and influenced this iconic dish — and a good dollop of great ideas and recipes to get your creative juices flowing (and your mouth watering).
The best recipe: We’d go for the ‘Burrata Diavola’, simply because it’s Italian indulgence at its best. That means pepperoni, parmesan and a creamy burrata — all topped with piquant ‘nduja sausage and spicy honey.
Pizza: A book by Pizza Pilgrims
Adriatico by Paola Bacchia
What type of cuisine: Mediterranean pasta, rice, polenta, meat and seafood dishes.
What sets it apart: The innovative way it’s been put together. Split into seven chapters, each explores a single region of Italy’s Adriatic coast — from the heel of the boot-shaped peninsula at the Ionian Sea to the northern waters of the Gulf of Trieste — and the signature dishes and local delicacies that can be found in each place.
The best recipe: The Gnocchi De Pan. Hailing from Trieste, it may not be the typically sunny seafood dish you’d expect from such a cookbook, but it’s well worth your tastebuds’ time.
Trullo: The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan
What type of cuisine: Creative antipasti, knockout feasts and bold pasta dishes.
What sets it apart: The simple, laid-back approach. Pasta should always look effortless, but Tim Siadatan proves it can be just as easy to cook. The best recipes are pinched from Trullo’s sister restaurant, Padella.
The best recipe: The Ragú di Stinco con Pappardelle pictured above. Good pasta and beef shin — need you any more convincing?
Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman
What type of cuisine: Unfussy, innovative and exuberantly delicious Venetian specialities.
What sets it apart: The scale. Venice’s culinary scene condenses all of Italy — and this book condenses all of Venice. Almost 150 recipes see this book brim with caprese stacks, zucchini shoestring fries, rabbit cacciatore, scallops with lemon and peppermint, walnut and honey semifreddo and glasses of bright orange spritz.
The best recipe: The stracchino, fennel, salami and fig bruschetta. One of many bruschetta recipes in the book; undoubtedly the best.
Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)
Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook by Justin Gellatly, Louise Gellatly, and Matthew Jones
What type of cuisine: Bread — and lots of it. But also doughnuts, pastries, pizzas and croissants.
What sets it apart: The multi-cultural approach to baking. Divided by country, sections include English, French, Italian and Nordic baking — and recipes for baked goods from No Knead Sourdough to New York Pretzels.
The best recipe: Bread Ahead’s signature ‘Pillows of Joy’ — the caramel custard and salted honeycomb doughnuts.
Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook