Dinner Party

Friday Favourites: Cookbooks

Cooking is something we're divided on at The Amazing Blog. Half of us are avid chefs, and the rest, well they would prefer never to turn an oven on again. What we do agree on though, is that a good cookbook can ease the battle of turning everyday ingredients into delicious meals, helping even the most unenthusiastic of cooks to rustle up a tasty dish. We have discovered the following cookbooks, each one guaranteed to contain a vast amount of recipes that will make your cooking restaurant worthy in no time!

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Firstly, we came across Eating Well Everyday, the brainchild of chef Peter Gordon. Originally from New Zealand, Gordon's extensive knowledge of cooking has stemmed from numerous culinary travels, through which he has gained inspiration to use Asian, Indonesian and Indian flavours. His passions have also led him to receive an ONZM (the equivalent of an OBE), notably awarded as a result of having organised a "Who's Cooking Dinner" event, which raised over £6.3 million for leukaemia research. We are therefore safe in the knowledge that this cookbook has been written by someone who truly knows how to cook (and has a passion for it).

Written for "home cooks everywhere", this book contains 170 recipes, covering everything from breakfast to dinner party meals. Self-proclaimed to contain “tasty and daring, yet simple and straightforward" dishes, this is something we can vouch for. Even the most inexperienced of chefs amongst us were able to follow these recipes with ease (and perhaps even enjoyment). Our favourite dishes? The Chicken and Peanut Coconut Curry (page 166) and Pumpkin, Ginger, Chickpea and Cheese Soup (page 50) - both guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter's evening. We also love the Peanut, Pecan and Chocolate Cookie recipe for a sweet after-dinner treat. To purchase Eating Well Everyday for £22, then click here.

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Secondly, we came across The Lazy Weekend Cookbook, a firm favourite amongst the less enthusiastic cooks of the office. Written by chef Matt Williamson, this book contains over 150 pages of delicious recipes for weekend cooking. Williamson explains that the goal of the book is to provide recipes that can be cooked leisurely, as opposed to the usual mid-week rush to get anything on the table. His advice is to choose a particular few meals to focus on, meaning you can rustle up some exceptional dishes, without spending all weekend in the kitchen.

The book is structured into mealtimes and moments, ranging from breakfasts and brunches, to easy dinner party meals, and bakes. Each meal is designed for 4 people; however, we found it easy to scale this up or down, dependant on the situation. There are too many favourites to share, but the Quick Sesame Flatbreads with Honey Butter (page 29) and Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie (page 54) are two stand out recipes that we couldn't not mention. We also like the weight and temperature conversions at the back of the book, meaning we have less chance of cremating our newfound recipes! To ramp up your weekend cooking, then you can purchase a copy of Williamson's The Lazy Weekend Cookbook here for £20.

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Finally, we discovered MOB Kitchen by Ben Lebus. Known for his online presence, Lebus' YouTube channel has grown a strong following, with an empire of over 250,000 social media followers in just 18 months. His niche? Providing meals for four people that are under £10. More recently, Lebus has extended this knowledge into a cookbook, aiming to encourage people to cook delicious and nutritious meals, that are still affordable. This concept is particularly popular among students and young professionals, proving that delicious meals don't need to cost a small fortune. By creating a cookbook, Lebus' new mission is to educate all ages, whether that be people who choose not to use social media, or those of us who simply like to have a physical copy at hand.

The cookbook is segmented by time and goal, ranging from Brunch MOB to Speedy MOB and Flashy MOB. These contain over ten different recipes, amounting to 140 pages of recipes and visual guidelines. Each page has key symbols, with Spotify Codes on each recipe page, allowing readers to listen to the corresponding playlist/song. This is something we found interesting, tapping into the active social media tie Lebus has. We particularly enjoyed making the Chocolate Chilli Con Carne (page 94), and the Crunchy Vegan Aubergine Katsu (page 122) both of which stopped us from shelling out on unnecessary and expensive takeaways. To purchase your own copy of MOB Kitchen, click here, where you can find ideas to get the mob fed for £14.99.

These cookbooks have certainly helped us to eat better this November, with warming and comforting dishes that are easy to make, and reasonable to rustle up. Try them for yourself or we think these cookbooks would make a great Christmas gift for someone in need of spicing up their mealtimes. Happy cooking!

The Ethicurean Cookbook

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Here at The Amazing Blog, we share a love for cooking, and we are always impressed when we stumble on a truly wonderful cookbook. We have recently been reading The Ethicurean Cookbook, which is a truly remarkable and creative book full of recipes. The book was born out of the Ethicurean Kitchen Garden restaurant, which is located in Mendip Hills. Ethicurean means ‘the pursuit of fine-tasting food while being mindful of the effect of one’s food production and consumption on the environment’.

The four friends were brought together by their love of cooking, and combined the knowledge of food and business into the Ethicurean Restaurant. They aim to live sustainably and are working with local English farmers and fisherman to source their meat, and they supply their own fruits and vegetables from their garden. Recipes you will find in the book range from some ‘quintessential’ English with a twist to the truly creative and daring. Foods are listed by season, starting with Winter, and each season houses a collection of starter foods, salads, mains, desserts and drinks. I found it truly captivating, and the photography is phenomenal. You will find that the recipes in the cookbook are probably things that you have never tried before, and some are admittedly a bit unusual. If you are experimental in the kitchen, you will absolutely love this, but never fear if you aren’t; there is plenty of delicious options available for you as well. Beyond the recipes themselves, there are pages devoted to the proper way of cooking specific things, such as live crabs, which is great form improving your cooking skills.

The Ethicurean Cookbook is sure to give you a font of inspiration for your next cooking adventures. This will also be perfect for dinner party planning, as there is everything from cocktails to dessert. A wonderful gift for anyone who cooks, or for your own bookshelf, you can purchase The Ethicurean Cookbook, Ebury Press for £25 from (look up buying option and ask ebury how book needs to be credited).

FOODHQ

Well, November has arrived and with it just eight Monday mornings remain until Christmas. Festive jingles sing loudly on the radio, shop shelves are awash with stocking fillers and supermarket isles are stocked high with tantalising treats, all promising to ensure that this very Christmas will be the best one yet. While a pleasant thought that may be, it also means that the social season is fast approaching, and with it is the age-old dilemma of hosting a fabulous festive feast.

And while cocktail sausages and sticks of cheddar and pineapple were all the rage many decades ago, the pressure is on these days to serve up a spread fit for a King. Thankfully, the gang at The Amazing Blog have been on the hunt for discerning foodies who want to add a bit of decadence to their do.

Recently launched, FOODHQ is a new online retailer specialising in restaurant-quality ingredients sourced from select artisan producers in Italy, France, Greece and Spain. The first of its kind, FOODHQ is on-hand to offer food-lovers nationwide gourmet products previously only available to restaurants and the high-end catering trade.

With a portfolio of over 300 specialist products including some of the World’s finest extra-virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, olives, risotto rice, pasta and other premium Mediterranean ingredients. The company are the sole importers for a number of exclusive boutique products, with over 30 being awarded ‘Great Taste’ award winning medals.

The products span a spectrum of different flavours and textures from the richly flavoured J Leblanc walnut, pistachio and pine nut oils to the punchy peppery, thick unfiltered Barbera olive oils to the bright zingy red pepper and mango vinegars from Belberry in Belgium and the ultra-premium (and stunningly packaged!) Il Borgo balsamic vinegars from the Emilia region in Italy... there’s a whole host of culinary delights that will get passionate foodies itching to stock up their larders and start drizzling, infusing, marinating and finishing dishes with these beautiful artisan products.

So, whether you want to add a touch of je ne sais quoi to a festive dinner party, or are searching for a special something to give the foodie in your life, be sure to check out the fabulous FOODHQ!