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.

Emma Gunn's Never Mind The Burdocks

Final Never Mind The Burdocks Image.jpg

Do you have a passion for flowers or plants? Or perhaps you dream of having a lovely garden one day? While most people aren’t born with a green thumb, there is an increasing interest in nature, especially amongst us at The Amazing Blog. We love having flowers and plants in every room, but jazzing up a space shouldn’t be limited to putting flowers in a vase. This is something we discovered from the wisdom of Emma Gunn’s Never Mind the Burdocks: A Year Of Foraging in the British Isles’ - three books with the aim to encourage a better understanding of nature and survival, offering advice to protect our everyday spaces. After all, the more we understand, the better equipped we are.

The trio compromises of three books for three seasons: Spring (March-May), Autumn (September-November) and Winter (December-February). Each book is split into the number of days relating to the time frame, providing a different edible item each day. These range from mushrooms, to plants and fish. What we particularly like about the books, is the layout, providing a wide range of information, from scientific names, to origins and common uses. By focussing on a different foraging item each day, you quickly gain a vast amount of knowledge, including where to find the item, the edibility (rated from 1-5) and common lookalikes.

The Spring edition focuses on the common young tender leaves and spring flowers. As with the other books, common anecdotes and recipes are provided, with a vast amount of educational photographs. The Autumn edition includes commonly found funghi, fruits and nut, whereas you’ll find the Winter edition includes many root items. All three books contain a glossary of common (and uncommon) terms, and the Autumn guide has a handy tips and tricks section with visual funghi guides. Emma Gunn has thought of it all!

We have certainly enjoyed learning more about foraging! If this is something of interest to you too, then Emma Gunn’s Never Mind the Burdocks trio is available to purchase via Amazon. You’ll find the Spring and Winter editions available for £12.99, and the slightly thicker Autumn edition for £13.99. You’ll be foraging experts in no time!

Cook Like A Man

NEW cook like a man blogMovember has officially passed its halfway point so if you were wondering why lots of men have considerably large amounts of facial hair at the moment, it’s all to raise awareness for men’s health.  In fact, I am growing my own moustache and beard this month, much to the delight of the girls in the office. As a tribute to this creative, money-raising month, The Amazing Blog has a very male orientated book to introduce you to, the Cook Like a Man recipe book published by Boxtree for £9.99.

This book is inspired by everything traditional, i.e by a time when microwaves didn’t exist. Yes, believe it or not we loved cooking our meals from scratch using real hearty ingredients, none of that preservative malarkey. Entirely natural produce, you grow it you cook it. Cook Like a Man emphasises the importance of what’s in your diet and all the meals are specifically tailored to make sure you are getting everything you need from you meal to better your health. Something that sets this book ahead from your average cookbook is the list of essential tools as you start the book. Seeing as it includes a Blow Torch and Meat Thermometer, it’s pretty telling that a group of very serious, food loving men wrote this book.

If you are looking to become more adventurous with your cooking then this book will be perfect for you, it’s also a great Christmas present if you're stuck for ideas. With recipes like Rabbit with Snails and Chocolate, or Pigeon Terrine, you have to be quite brave but if you’re up for getting stuck in then you will definitely expose your taste buds to a whole new flavour filled experience. For those of you who really want to go back to basics and cook from scratch then a slight advantage would be living in the countryside. The photography throughout the book is done brilliantly and incorporates some subtle male humour, giving it a bit of personality. Everything in this book is done well, from the layout to the serving suggestions. We are excited to try the variety of recipes, especially at Christmas when big family meals become a regular occurrence and we want to impress with beautiful cuisine.

To support Movember and get your imagination flaring in the kitchen, then you can purchase this book on Amazon.



The Beauty Detox Solution

The Beauty Detox Solution Book blog image [New] Here at The Amazing Blog we firmly disagree with faddy celeb style diets. We know that eating one type of food for two weeks while standing on one leg is never going to give us a healthy body. If anything, it has been proven that these crash diets lead to you gaining more weight in the long run despite losing a few pounds initially.

We know that a healthy lifestyle, including eating the right foods and regular exercise, is the only way to beat your body blues. So we were very pleased when we came across Kimberly Snyder’s book The Beauty Detox Solution, a diet that is not a fad, but a way of rewriting your lifestyle habits and getting you eating food that is good for you.

We really liked that the first part of this book explained how our bodies really work, and why silly diets do not do any favours for our health. Did you know that just like primates we are designed to live off a diet consisting of mainly plant based foods? Kimberly then explains that we should be eating lots of Alkaline Rich Foods, in order to maintain optimum health.

The next section is our favourite part. It explains what types of things we should eat to keep us looking beautiful. There is a great list of all the types of food that have wonderful beauty boosting properties, and I have to say we have stocked up our cupboards!

The final section is dedicated to the healthy living plan consisting of three distinct phases Blossoming Beauty, Radiant Beauty, and Pure Beauty, the first of which is designed to cleanse your body of the bad things you have eaten, and to introduce healthier alternatives that have health and beauty boosting ingredients.

The book contains a whole host of delicious recipes specifically designed for each phase of the programme so Kimberly really makes these diet changes easy for you. These changes are not a calorie restricted diet, but instead are based on the principle that if you eat the right foods, at the right times, in the right order you help out your body’s digestion and in turn you can lose weight. This is the perfect solution for anyone looking to get healthier and look after their bodies, and this plan is even being followed by celebrities such as Drew Barrymore!

If you are interested in revamping your diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then this book should really be on your bookshelf. Kimbery Snyder’s book, The Beauty Detox Solution is available on Amazon for £7.00, and you can find out more information and articles about her beauty detox on her website.

Everyday Lebanese Cooking By: Mona Hamadeh

  Lebanese Cookbook

Are you tired of making the same old thing for dinner every night? I know we here at The Amazing Blog are always trying to find something new and different to excite our taste buds. That’s why we are thrilled to share the Everyday Lebanese Cooking cookbook by Mona Hamadeh with you. This book contains a very large variety of incredible Lebanese recipes, breathing life to your regualr and tired looking ingredients.  So you can now have no excuses and can wave goodbye to your usual burnt meat and overcooked veg.

The author, Mona Hamadeh, grew up in the Shouf Mountains in Lebanon and was taught by her grandmother and her mother how to create delicious and traditional Lebanese dishes that are full of history. These recipes have been passed on from generation to generation and now, with he help of Mona, they have been passed down to us.  These recipes are full of love and infused with history.  With the help of this cookbook I was able to create an incredible Hummous and Baba Ghanouj as appetisers for a friend’s dinner party. The recipes were easy to follow and turned out unbelieveably well (much to my surprise) and easily stood out 'head and shoulders' above the rest of the dishes at the party (I was very chuffed!) So, if you're looking to be the talk of your next dinner party or simply just create a meal that won't have your family groaning ; I would recommend this book for anyone is tired of 'the same old, same old...'  and  who are looking for something a little different to spice up their meals a bit more.

You can purchase this essential guide to traditional Lebanese cooking at Amazon for £8.84 a copy. Get ready to impress your family and friends with some great food and gain some new favourite recipes that you can help pass down as well.