Maria Elia

Friday Favourites: Cookbooks

Regular readers of The Amazing Blog will know that when it comes to cooking, we’re almost a perfect split. Half of us are foodies, while the rest would rather exhaust a basic recipe, than slave away in the kitchen. That said, it is universally agreed that a good cookbook can make all the difference, encouraging even the most unenthusiastic amongst us to don an apron and wooden spoon. Luckily for you, we’ve taken one for the team, correlating four new recipe books worth a try. We’re sure you’ll find one just for you!


Firstly, many of us are trying to introduce meat-free meals into our weekly diets, meaning a good cookbook can prevent the need to exist solely on a nut roast or vegetable curry. Our cookbook of choice is The Modern Vegetarian, designed to inspire even the most uninspired, encouraging delicious vegetable-based meals packed full of exotic flavours and textures.

Written by world-renowned chef, Maria Elia, this cookbook aims to prove that cutting meat out of a meal doesn’t cut out the flavour; instead, it is a gateway to try new flavour combinations and techniques. Elia’s experience is reputable; she has a Michelin recommendation and has earned 2 AA rosettes. Viewers of Sunday Brunch and Saturday Kitchen may also recognise her, having appeared as a guest chef on both. We don’t know about you, but we feel at ease knowing that recipes have been tried and tested by an expert – because whether an avid chef or not, few have the patience for a disastrous result! The book itself covers everything from ‘Sophisticated Starters’ to ‘Sofa Suppers’, but we were most pleased by the ‘Stylish Sides’ section. All too often, we’re faced with plain boiled rice or pasta to accompany dishes – something Elia has challenged and avoided. Instead, you can transport yourself to India with a Red Lentil Dhal (page 114) or try your hand at an Aubergine Houmous (page 113). Whichever recipe takes your fancy most, you’ll be sure to enjoy the conversational element of the book, with personal notes written by Elia, substantiating the authenticity of the dishes and making for an enjoyable evening read.

To explore innovative vegetable based dishes for yourself, then The Modern Vegetarian can be purchased here for £16.99.


There's no doubt that the smell of food entices you into the kitchen, but what about our other senses? This is something we hadn't contemplated, so we were intrigued by Sybil Kapoor's Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, Sound cookbook. This book recognises the combined importance of all five senses, dedicating a chapter to each, filled with delicious recipes, and reliable advice, from layering flavours, to using temperature and sound.

Kapoor has a wealth of knowledge in the realms of cooking; as the author of eight books, she is one of the most respected food writers in Britain and continues to propel her knowledge through a variety of publications. Each chapter is based around one of the five senses: Taste, Flavour (smell), Texture (touch and sound), Temperature (touch) and Appearance; however, our favourie part of the book, is the integrated feel. Each chapter is intertwined, with theory and advice allowing the reader to establish the links between senses. Kapoor aims to prove that by using a little theory and practical testing, you will be able to produce simple, yet delicious dishes. Now this all may sound a little complex to a less than enthusiastic chef, however, even ready meal lovers in the office were taken by the carefully designed recipes, especially the Stir-fried Squid with Chilli and Black Bean Sauce (page 144) and the Sticky Asian Beef Kebab with Cucumber Dip (page 92). For those with a sweet tooth, the Sticky Spiced Lemon Gin Cake (page 75) also proved to be a big hit - so whether you're interested in the links between the senses or not, you'll be sure to learn new tips and tricks to create delicious dinner party worthy meals.

To tempt your own senses, Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, Sound is available here for £24.00.

If you're looking to be transported to more exotic lands this Friday, then Baladi Palestine - A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea by Joudie Kalla is just the cookbook for you! Taking equal inspiration from her historical background and personal experience of Palestine, we were struck by how little we knew about this exotic and varying landscapes. These conditions create diverse and new flavours, all of which are included in Kalla's recipes. With twists on traditional dishes, this book has an authentic yet innovative feel to it. Better still, it is jam-packed with stunning photography, from food images to landscapes and the people of Palestine. We were sold before even trying the recipes - quite an accolade!

With over 250 pages, this visually interesting book is equally colourful in terms of culinary delights. Flicking through the pages, you're met with everything from spiced lamb, to filled speciality pastries and watermelon juice. One of our favourite elements of this book is the splitting of chapters, not merely by dish, but by the areas in which the ingredients are sourced. Varying from Markets and Village Life to The Bakery and The Farm, a quick flick through this cookbook tempts the senses, but equally gives a quick snapshot of the Palestine lifestyle. We recommend the chapter: From The River To The Sea, in particular, the Saffron Monkfish and Vegetable Skewers (page 177), delicious as the weather picks up.

To inject a little bit of culture into your cooking, you can purchase Baladi Palestine - A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea here for £26.

Last but by no means least, we discovered The RAF 100 Cookbook. Created to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force, this cookbook contains 100 recipes from 100 countries, split by chapter, into monumental moments of RAF history. We love the concept behind this cookbook, drawing inspiration from the saying that "an army marches on its stomach" and taking the research from acting and former servicemen and servicewomen to create authentic and delicious recipes from around the world. Additionally, this cookbook contains the recipes of top household chefs such as James Martin, Tom Kerridge and Cyprus Todiwala, emerging a plethora of knowledge to inspire your weekly menu.

We often find that cookbooks are very niche in their flavour combinations, and while this is certainly no bad thing, we like the variety of this cookbook. Each of the 100 countries are covered in a sensitive and informative manner, with a detailed explanation of the RAF's involvement alongside each recipe. It is clear just how much time and effort has gone into this book, spreading as far as to include eye-catching photographs of the dishes, alongside black and white images of the RAF in past years. The way in which the chapters are segregated stays true to the inspiration behind the book, from The Early Years to The Modern Age, conflicts are addressed through the medium of cultural dishes. Additionally, a percentage of each sale is donated to one of five RAF charities, directly supporting the inspiration of the cookbook. It is very difficult to pinpoint certain dishes here; however, the likes of the Ascension Island's Saint Helenian Fishcakes (page 300) and Maldivian Fish Curry (page 288) stand out for their exotic nature. The point here though, is that this is a cookbook for all occasions - whether you're looking for a local dish or one from further afield, you need only flick through to the country of your choice for an authentic and delicious recipe.

To inject 100 new recipes into your repertoire, you can purchase The RAF 100 Cookbook here for £25.

Friday Favourites - Yummy Cookbooks

With SO many cookbooks out there, it sometimes becomes hard to choose which one to use when craving something delicious to eat. We happen to be quite indecisive here at The Amazing Blog when we’re looking for a recipe to whip up, however, a few cookbooks tend to always stand out from the crowd. These books include everything from Mediterranean to whole foods recipes, and have been supplying us with much needed inspiration in our kitchens!

one blog.jpg

‘One’ by Florence Knight is an exciting and unique book. Florence made her name as the head chef at London’s Polpetto, and has now brought out her first book. She turns her attention to the kitchen cupboard to create imaginative, honest food from her favourite ingredients. Each of the 10 chapters in ‘One’ focuses on recipes built around one particular ingredient, such as olive oil, flour, mustard, vinegar, salt, ketchup, nuts, eggs, honey, and chocolate. The result is a host of modern European dishes that have appeal, longevity and a touch of elegance. Florence proves just how much can be achieved with just a bottle of ketchup and some imagination. These simple yet delicious recipes are easily achievable and embody her motto of ‘less is more’. So if at the end of the month you are left with only a few choice staples, pick this book up and see what you can create! ‘One’ can be purchased here for £22.88.


Eleanor Ozich’s ‘My Petite Kitchen Cookbook’ is a complete menu of more than 100 simple, nourishing, wholefood recipes that Eleanor designed herself. Each recipe is written and photographed by Eleanor, and she has annotated each one indicating whether it is gluten free, dairy free, suitable for vegetarians and vegans or a combination of these. When a recipe is not gluten or dairy free, Eleanor has suggested an alternative ingredient to make it that way. Each recipe has thoughtful tips, and the ingredients have conveniently been listed in cups, grams, and ounces. Almost all of the recipes in the book are new, however, she has included a handful of her old favourites. The book includes everything from breakfasts and light meals to warming drinks and a fantastic basics section with a handful of simple recipes. ‘My Petite Kitchen Cookbook’ comes in handy when we need to cook for our friends with different eating habits and likes, or dare we say it - picky eaters. ‘My Petite Kitchen Cookbook’ can be purchased here for £45.00.


Nina Parker has a passion for food. Her cookbook, ‘Nina St. Tropez,’ includes recipes from the south of France, as Nina is dedicated to bringing a taste of her childhood to the heart of London and beyond. She explores the real St. Tropez, and the surrounding area through its secret, scenic walks, markets, vineyards and communities of artists and fishermen. The book is filled with classic French recipes for gourmet breakfasts, picnics, lunchtime snacks and dinner parties to impress. This book represents family cooking from across the south of France and is perfect for unique meals, like our favourite ‘Le Mistral Stuffed Vegetables.’ Le Mistral can be served as a starter or side, and the recipe is so versatile that you can use all types of vegetables. Purchase ‘Nina St. Tropez’ here for £13.44.

smashing blog.jpg

After our trip to France with Nina we are whisked away to Greece with Maria Elia. Greek cuisine has a long long history of delicious recpies, and now you too can enjoy these thanks to Maria Elia bringing the traditional flavours and ingredients of Greece into the 21st century with her thoroughly modern take on classic dishes. Smashing Plates, as the name suggests is an adventurous book, in which Elia explores exciting new flavour combinations and showcases what Greek cuisine has to offer. The 120 recipes are a product of a summer spent cooking and experimenting at her father's tavern in the picturesque Troodos mountains of Cyprus. We loved the Marinated Lamb here at the office, but the collection also contains delicious vegetarian dishes such as Carrot Keftedes and Tomato and Runner Bean Baklava for our meat-free friends! With something for everyone, Maria's inventive recipes will open your eyes to a whole new world of Greek cooking! Transport yourself to Greece with Smashing Plates by Maria Elia available here for £13.59 

Last but not least we come to our yummy dessert book. ‘Ice Cream Sandwiches’ excited us very much because just like us, everyone loves ice cream; anyone who says differently is lying to you. Donna Egan shows us how to make gorgeous ice cream delights in the form of Ice cream sandwiches, which are the scrumptious new hit with foodie lovers everywhere. Inside this prettily packaged book are 50 easy-to-make recipes for ice cream fillings and simple cookies in a variety of tempting flavours with instructions for preparing and assembling them into delicious, unique sandwiches. When we gave it a go, we loved the Peanut Butter Dreams and fresh 'n' fruity Rose Meringues. They were so easy to whip up and were a hit with everyone here in the office. Fully illustrated with colour photography throughout, this cutesy book keeps you on task so your treats come out correctly and looking amazing. Not only for summer, this is the perfect gift to scoop up and use even in the winter months. For desserts or special creations, it’s the ultimate icy indulgence, for all year round.

Ice Cream Sandwiches by Donna Egan can be bought here for £ 16.99