This is my current cookery book inspiration. From top to bottom:
- The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens
- BBC Good Food magazine
- The Skinny French Kitchen by Harry Eastwood
- Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood
- Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
- Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
I plan all the meals I am going to cook about a week ahead, and since 2005 I've been writing down my mealplans in notebooks rather than on scraps of paper. I blogged briefly about them way back in 2007, here. The collection of notebooks is now substantial, and already I love to look back and see which recipes are still putting in regular appearances, and which appeared for a few months and then fell out of favour. Pasta pesto is still on the menu.
I love cookery books and have three big shelves on a bookcase filled with them. Each week I get a new stack of books down from the shelves and rifle through them to get some fresh ideas of what I should write down in my meal plan notebook. I also get a great many cookery books out of the library, and if I find I still want to make recipes from a library book when it is time to return it, I go and buy myself a copy.
Recent additions to my shelves via this route have been the brilliant River Cottage Bread Handbook and Harry Eastwood's Skinny French Kitchen.
The bread handbook is exactly what you'd expect - a complete manual for everything you ever wanted to know about bread making, and crammed with fantastic recipes. I now have two of the other River Cottage handbooks in this series reserved at the library. I have a feeling they will all be awesome.
The Skinny French Kitchen is already one of my most favourite cookbooks, and I've made so many recipes from it in the ten days I've had it. I really enjoyed Harry Eastwood's first book - Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache - and its quirky approach to cake baking, but the whimsical, sugary-sweet tone of the writing does get on my nerves a little after a while. This second book just shines with genuine enthusiasm for her subject (classical French cookery) and is much less twee but just as clever. The photography is outstanding, and worth the price of the book alone. I'm fascinated to see what she does next. Whatever it is, I'm sure I'll be buying a copy.
The Tessa Kiros book - Apples for Jam - is from the library, and although I've cooked a couple of great recipes from it, I don't like it enough to buy it. I find that all the childhood memoirs in the margins distract me from the recipes and clutter up the page. Its a whopping tome of a family cookbook, and I already have enough of those on my shelves.
Nigella's Kitchen and BBC Good Food are both old, faithful friends. I've been making spring rolls and tofu pancakes from this month's magazine, and the everyday brownies and the Korean keema from Kitchen.
How do you find inspiration for what to cook? Do you write out meal plans? Do cookery books languish, unread, on your bookshelves or do you regularly consult them for ideas? Do new cookery books have to work hard to earn a spot on your already crowded shelves?