The autumn cookbook reading list

I’m obsessed with cookbooks. It’s hereditary. My mother has a wall-to-wall library that is mostly filled with cookbooks. Like her, I buy them, gush over the pictures and then exile them to my own recipe library where they are never to be seen or heard from again. And while admitting you have a problem might be the first step to getting over a lot of things, it makes no difference when it comes to me and cookbooks. I know I have a problem. I promise I will do better and use my cookbooks more, but I end up buying another 20 and sending them off to join their comrades in Siberia (aka my guest bedroom).

With autumn well and truly here, my cookbook obsession is ramping up as I brave the coming cold snuggled up on the couch. Since Giulio will be glued to his computer screen as usual, I’ve chosen a few gorgeous cookbooks to keep me company! You can pick them all up from the paradise that is Book Depository!

As you can see, my tastes are all over the place, but I’m a pretty eclectic cook. Living in country Tuscany means we can’t just go out for Chinese or Indian or French or Sicilian or even a burger! All the restaurants within a 60km radius cook country Tuscan food. Great if you want spaghetti, not great if you feel like some naan. Cookbooks are my salvation. It’s not just about travelling the world from your dining room table. It’s also a welcome break for all that pasta!


1. BREAKING BREAD by Uri Scheft

I hate making bread. I hate making anything with yeast. It’s what’s stopping me from going on the Great British Bakeoff. That and not physically living in the UK. Still, I was sucked into giving this Israeli baking cooking a whirl after returning from Jerusalem last month. I was sold the moment I saw it had a babka (chocolately cinnamon roll goodness) recipe. I haven’t tried it yet. I’m working up my courage.

2. TOKYO CULT RECIPES by Maori Murota

Like all my cookbook purchases, this is inspired by my travels. Japanese cooking is the hardest to recreate at home, which is why I love this. All the favourites are there and they’re all simple, delicious and doable in Italy, which is important when your local supermarket doesn’t sell soy sauce, let alone daikon radish.

3. MEXICO by Margarita Carrillo Arronte

I’ve been trying to convince friends for years that Mexican food isn’t just tequila and tacos. Now this cookbook does it for me. The photographs are gorgeous and the food is a whole lot more flavourful and sophisticated than what you find at Taco Bell. My only problem? Every time I try to grow coriander, it dies and my Mexican cooking dies with it!

4. SPICE TEMPLE by Neil Perry

Australia represent! I love Neil Perry, who has been cooking Australian Chinese fusion since before I was born. I love this cookbook because they dishes are easy, quick and packed with a modern Chinese punch. Perfect for when you want something in a hurry and perfect for introducing the Italian neighbours to Asia’s culinary delights.

5. HESTON BLUMENTHAL AT HOME by Heston Blumenthal

Five is the opposite of four. Confession, this was a gift from mum and I only pull it out when I have an entire weekend to spend in the kitchen. Heston at home is more complicated than most chefs in their own restaurants. Still he has some great tips and tricks to elevating your dinner staples like steak and mash.

6. TASTE OF PERSIA by Naomi Duguid

I just bought this and I’m in love. I want to jump into the pages and emerge in Iran right now. The pictures are beyond beautiful and the recipe for pilaf – one of my favourite dishes – is reason enough to frame this book and hang it in your kitchen.

7. JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi

Yotam Ottolenghi is the poster child for Israeli food and this cookbook has the best falafel and hummus recipes I’ve ever tried… and that includes those I tasted in Jerusalem. Plus every other recipe is something stuffed and drowned in pomegranate molasses, which is my idea of heaven.

8. LIFE IN BALANCE by Donna Hay

I own all of Donna Hay’s cookbooks. She does modern Australian so well and her cookbooks are works of art. This one I like a little less because it’s about eating healthy, but I whip it out at least five times a week for some tips on how to make veggies interesting.

9. HYGGE by Marie Tourell Soderberg

If I was a cookbook, this would be me… and I’d be Danish. For someone obsessed with Northern European design, this cookbook is beautiful overloaded. It has great recipes, but even better design and DIY tips for bringing a little bit of Scandinavia into your home sweet home.

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