Having lived in England for the past 15 years, I now feel more British than ever (despite being an American from Minnesota). Over the years, I've developed a bit of a taste for British food and drink and I've since become fond of afternoon tea and the joys of sipping a warm cuppa on a grey, drizzly day.
In my pursuit of all things foodie and fabulous, I recently came across the Flavours of England cookbooks, which feature a variety of recipes focusing on English cuisine. Two favourites inlcude Flavours of England: Afternoon Tea and Flavours of England: Suppers & Snacks, both by authors Gilli Davies and Huw Jones.
Flavours of England Suppers & Snacks and Flavours of England: Afternoon Tea by Gilli Davies and Huw Jones, published by GRAFFEG are available from Wordery.
The Forest Feast Mediterranean is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook compiled by Forest Feast blogger Erin Gleeson, who is the author, illustrator and photographer behind the book. With its beautiful cover featuring an Italian beach and artistic illustrations of fruits and flora, you know that the contents within are going to be just as alluring.
The cookbook was inspired by Erin’s family’s travels in Europe and the amazing meals they enjoyed while travelling in France, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
The stuff of bucket list dreams, their 3-month travel itinerary chalked up a selection of iconic destinations including: Barcelona, Spain; Antibes, France; Liguria, Italy; Sicily, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal; The Algarve region in Portugal and Madrid, Spain. Of these, I’ve had the fortune of visiting Barcelona, Sicily, Madrid, and The Algarve and I can vouge that the local cuisine in all of these places is superb, so I can understand why Erin felt compelled to capture every tasty morsel to bring a flavour of her adventures back home.
Combining lovely illustrations alongside stunning photos from each of the destinations they visited, it instantly transports you to the Mediterranean. Bursting with more than 100 vegetarian recipes covering everything from small plates to pasta to vegetable sides to drinks and desserts, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Although I enjoy eating meat, I do think it’s important to make an effort to reduce my meat consumption (both for my health and the environment) and this book has given me lots of inspiration on how to jazz up vegetables to create mouth-watering dishes that are both beautiful and delicious. All of the recipes within the book serve 4-6 people (unless otherwise noted), so they are perfect for meals with family or friends.
My favourite food recipes within the book (which to be honest was difficult to choose as I loved pretty much everything), included the Seared Fennel and Clementine Salad, the Winter Caprese salad and the Honey and Balsalmic Green Beans. For drinks, I loved the Grapefruit & Thyme Aperol Spritz and the Lavender Lemonade, both of which would be great on a hot summer’s day (not that we’re going to be having a heatwave anytime soon in November, but hey, we can dream).
This is a fabulous book for those who love travel and Mediterranean cuisine. With its gorgeous pictures and illustrations, it would make a lovely gift any foodie is certain to love.
The Forest Feast Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson is published by abrams & chronicle books and is available at Amazon.co.uk (£26.99).
For all of the foodies on your list, nothing beats a gorgeous cookbook. We've rounded up our favourite cookbooks that would make the perfect gift for any gourmand.
Season: Big Flavours, Beautiful Food by Nik Sharma
The Cook's Atelier: Recipes, Techniques, and Stories from Our French Cooking School by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini
Jakarta Bites: Exploring Vibrant Street Food from the Heart of Indonesia by Petty Elliott
When I was last in the Caribbean on a press trip in Antigua, one of the greatest pleasures was eating freshly caught fish every day, all of which were lovingly prepared in inventive sauces.
So, I was intrigued to read Taste of the French Caribbean by Chef Denis Rosembert, a cookbook which is packed with fish recipes and well-known Caribbean classics - jerk chicken, anyone?
Chef Denis was born in St. Lucia and started his cooking career at the age of 15 as an apprentice at Holiday Inn Hotel in St. Lucia. His head chef saw his potential and recommended that he move to London to further his career, and he was transferred to the Swiss Cottage Holiday Inn in London.
After stints at several restaurants across the UK, he opened his own restaurant Chez Denis, which is now based in Norwich and focuses on the eclectic cuisines of Africa, Europe and Eastern India, which make St Lucian food so unique.
Recipes within the cookbook include soups, fish dishes, meat dishes, vegetarian dishes, sauces and desserts. All of the recipes are fairly simple and easy-to-follow, which is great if you're not a skilled chef! Favourite recipes included:
Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup; Curry & Coconut Soup; Barracuda Cajun Style; and Monkfish Coco.
Be warned though, cooking these recipes will have you yearning to visit the Caribbean! I for one, am already planning my next escape.
Taste of the French Caribbean by Chef Denis is published by Clink Street and is available from Amazon.co.uk (£25.00 for a hardcover).
Buy your copy here:
A food obsessive and trained cook who started under the tutelage of Clarissa Dickson-Wright, Katriona MacGregor recognised how easily we forget the importance and ease of eating well day-to-day as even she, in the throngs of a full-time job, resorted to ready-made meals.
Her book Healthy Speedy Suppers: Quick, Healthy and Delicious Recipes for Busy People is a collection of recipes that are low in wheat and dairy, focusing on replacing processed carbs for wholemeal where possible. Despite being more healthy, it doesn't make the recipes any less delicious - it simply showcases good quality whole foods that are paired intelligently.
Dishes are categorised into soups and salads, poultry, meat, fish, grains pulses and vegetables, and dips sauces and dressings for easy navigation and for those restless nights where you know what sort of thing you’re hankering for but you need that bit of inspiration. It’s refreshing to flick through a cookbook where everything seems so accessible and un-daunting and it’s even more refreshing to discover that you’re not void of the endless ingredients needed to make it. She advises you stock your cupboards with the staples so that a red lentil and chicken saag, is only three fresh ingredients away.
Recipes span several cuisines and all seasons, touching on such diverse dishes as roast carrot tomato and dill soup, squid and courgette salad with chorizo, pheasant coconut and tamarind curry, one-pot chicken with bacon leeks and peas, venison sausage with kale and red wine, sea bass ceviche with chicory, stir-fried beef with peppers, smoked haddock and gruyère omelette and a broad bean and freekeh risotto.
I recently made the lamb leg with bashed peas and a tomato and mint salsa, a Sunday evening dinner for one, and it just summed the book up for me – quick and easy to cook, full of wholesome ingredients, while still feeling like a treat.
Healthy Speedy Suppers by Katriona MacGregor is published by Nourish, an imprint of Watkins Media Limited, and is available from Amazon.co.uk for £13.51 (hard cover).
Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese began its life in the summer of 2010, when Anna Clark and Tony Solomon quit their jobs, and went on the ultimate road-trip to the U.S., bringing to the U.K. the ultimate Southern-style comfort food - 'pimped-up' macaroni and cheese.
Today, Anna Mae’s is quickly becoming one of the most talked about boutique street-food vendors. For those who aren't fortunate enough to visit their mac n cheese van first-hand, you can now make your favourite mac n cheese dishes in the comfort of your home thanks to their new book Anna Mae's Mac N Cheese Love.
Filled with macaroni madness in all its guises, this is a book created with all macaroni lovers in mind.
Regarded as one of the leading authorities on Indonesian Food, Sri is an internationally renowned author, lecturer and cook. Having moved to Britain in 1964, she is now regarded as one of the 'grand dames' of the British food scene.
The first thing that struck me about Sri Owen's Indonesian Food was the striking purple and gold cover, which had an air of opulence to it. Inside this gorgeous cookbook, you'll find 120 mouth-watering Indonesian recipes.
All of the recipes within the cookbook are accompanied by Sri's vivid stories, highlighting the inspiration behind each recipe. Sri also shares the cultural rituals and significance behind the recipes, which helps to provide context with how the dishes would have been enjoyed traditionally. One such tradition Sri mentioned that I found particularly interesting was regarding Javanese chicken soup, which Indonesians often serve with other dishes at every meal, to be enjoyed as a nourishing alternative to drinking water, tea or other beverages.
Learn to master classic Indonesian recipes with ease
While many people feel that mastering Indonesian recipes can be daunting, Sri provides easy-to-follow instructions to ensure that relative cooking novices (myself included), can recreate the recipes with ease.
While Sri's family used to prepare their dishes using round-bottomed earthenware pots supported on small piles of bricks over wood fires or charcoal, today Sri makes do with a wok or casserole dish, according to what's most fit for purpose.
One thing that may be challenging for some of the recipes featured within the cookbook may be locating some of the more unique ingredients, however, Sri provides alternatives that most people should be able to locate via a combination of visiting speciality food shops and one's local supermarket.
Reignite your passion for international travel and cuisine
Being a keen traveller from a small town in America, I related to Sri, who was from a small town but despite this, feels that she is a city person at heart. Sri's favourite cities in the world are London and Venice, each of which she admires for its ability to reinvent itself as well as for its cuisine. Sri believes that as an Indonesian food lover who has chosen to live in Britain, her mission is to inspire a passion in others for Indonesian food. I think it's safe to say that she has at least one new convert.
Sri Owen's Indonesian Food is published by Pavilion Books and is available from Amazon.co.uk for £26.59 (hardcover).
Cookbooks and Drinks books
We love cooking and enjoying cocktails and there's nothing better than discovering new recipes, which is why we've rounded up our favourite cookbooks and cocktail books from around the world.