They say not to judge a book by its cover, but some books are just too pretty to keep tucked away in a book case. I’ve read a lot of books over the years, and recently I’ve been getting into cookbooks in a big way – and while I’d love to be that person with a huge collection of tatty books that I love and swear by, the truth is, my book shelf is full of aesthetically pleasing, colourful books with gorgeous photography and thoughtfully planned pages. They just speak to me!
Recently, I’ve been pulling a lot of these books off the shelf and struggling to put them away again. There’s something lovely about having a book on a table – it’s like an invitation to share something you like with the people who visit your home, and it encourages you to pick them up more frequently and get the most out of whatever they have to offer. Since many of you don’t frequent my living room, I thought I would share my coffee table favourites with you so that you might also be drawn to their pretty pages, covers, and recipes. If there’s one thing better than a good home cooked meal, it’s definitely the ability to share it with others… whether that’s across the table or over the internet!
Grown & Gathered – Matt & Lentil Purbrick
I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of this book, just before it was released last year. Writing a review for it was such a joy – I think I had a four week deadline and read the whole thing, front to cover, in two hours! While it’s not strictly a cookbook, it does have over 100 pages of incredible recipes and food how-to-s. The recipes are healthy, relatively easy, all-natural and stunningly beautiful. Matt and Lentil’s whole approach to living is refreshing, so make sure you read the whole thing. It’s bound to change your perspective of what and how you shop, cook and eat.
Comfort Food – Jamie Oliver
There’s a number of ways you can make a book stand out as special or luxurious, but for me, a linen cover does it every time. Jamie Oliver sure does know how to create something lovely, and it’s kind of fitting that a book full of such special and luxurious food looks and feels the part. Besides the colour and texture of the book (I could go on…) the recipes inside are unsurprisingly, completely divine. We can particularly vouch for the the Chicken Tikka Masala, Proper Porridge, Chicken Satay, Ultimate Hot Chocolate, Insanity Burgers and Hummingbird Cake.
Flour Water Salt Yeast – Ken Forkish
When we got our first apartment, Peter moved in almost straight away (about two months before I did). With an empty kitchen all to himself, he started self-learning the art of artisan bread making, much to my pleasure and surprise! Since the very beginning of that venture, he’s been talking about the holy grail of all bread baking books, Flour Water Salt Yeast, and this Christmas he was gifted it by a family member. It’s such a beautiful book… I mean, who doesn’t want to stare at pictures of beautiful, crunchy, lightly floured bread? If you want to see pictures of some of Peter’s creations, you can check out his Instagram page, @butlersbuns.
The Food Lab – J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
This is another one that belongs to my creative, science-brained husband. Although it says ‘Better Home Cooking Through Science’, I’ve picked it up a number of times recently and have managed to understand it just fine as a non-science-brained type! It’s got a great clear layout, straight forward instructions, and it’s won a number of awards.
The Specialty Coffee Book (Victoria)
I could honestly stare at this book forever. Its rough brown paper cover with embossed copper title, the little hand drawn images, and the incredible array of features, recipes and how-to-s could keep me occupied for an entire weekend. This book is the Victorian version (we live in Melbourne), but there are other versions in Australia as well. We’ve loved visiting some of the cafés featured within these pages, and testing new brew methods with the instructions provided. Since getting this book we’ve experimented with syphon, aeropress, chemex and cup filter coffee (all pictured on the cover). Whether you’re from Australia, or somewhere overseas, I’d highly recommend seeing if something similar to this is available in your local area.
I might do a separate post on baking books, because they’re a whole other story – but if you need a recommendation in the mean time, make sure to check out: Retro Baking (Women’s Weekly), The Great British Bakeoff Showstoppers (BBC Books), A Lighter Way to Bake (Lorraine Pascale) and Gran’s Sweet Pantry (Natalie Oldfield).