Serve up a feast for the ok in your life

THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES by Nigel Slater (4th Estate £26)

THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES

by Nigel Slater (4th Estate £26) 

Nigel Slater loves winter, and his beautiful book is an evocation of all that is mysterious and beautiful about the cold months from November to February, when even the food is magical.

Alongside tips on scented candles and Christmas card etiquette (‘funny cards are rarely as amusing to the recipient as they are to the buyer’), there are reassuring recipes for turkey (‘do not panic — it’s only like cooking a big chicken’), a Christmas cake decorated with crystallised fruit (‘enchanting in candlelight’) and an amazing ricotta filo cake (‘ravishing, like a fairy in a vast taffeta ball gown’). 

COMFORT by John Whaite (Kyle £19.99)

COMFORT  

by John Whaite (Kyle £19.99) 

This book does exactly what it says on the cover. John Whaite, a former Great British Bake Off winner, intended to write a counterblast against the clean-eating trend, but wisely decided instead to concentrate on delicious recipes that will evoke happy memories — or make new ones.

Onion soup with an Epoisses cheese and caraway crust is a hug in a bowl. Spiced chicken in milk, lamb meatballs with sherry and currants, and clementine and cardamom upside-down cake are all perfect for dark evenings, while the section on jam and pickles captures the flavour of summer in a jar.

FEASTS 

FEASTS by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley £20)

by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley £20)

Growing up in Persia, feasts were a regular part of Sabrina Ghayour’s family life. Her book embraces this generous concept, but adapts it to the pace of modern life, with flavoursome dishes inspired by her travels.

She begins her chapters on Weekend Feasts, Quick-Fix Feasts, Summer Feasts and Special Occasions with menu suggestions — including showpiece dishes such as butterflied leg of lamb with pomegranate seeds and spice-roasted quail.

Burrata and burnt orange salad, charred cauliflower with preserved lemons and harissa skirt steak sandwiches are full of flavour and made in moments.

THE ART OF THE LARDER by Claire Thomson (Quadrille £20)

THE ART OF THE LARDER 
by Claire Thomson (Quadrille £20) 

Most home cooks have a fantasy of owning a well-organised larder from which they could throw together a tasty meal in minutes. This book aims to turn that fantasy into reality, with recipes based on common store cupboard ingredients.

Staples such as pasta, pulses, grains, flour and spices are transformed into quick and stylish dishes. Semolina gnocchi, sausage and fennel seed sourdough focaccia, sour cherry and pistachio pilaf and the cosmopolitan elegance of the fried cheese sandwich served at Harry’s Bar in Venice all belie the humble origins of their ingredients.

SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ebury £27)

SWEET

by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ebury £27) 

Ottolenghi’s first job in a professional kitchen was whisking egg whites — early training for his trademark giant meringues. And his latest book, co-written by colleague Helen Goh, returns to his roots as a pastry chef, with enticing recipes for cakes, biscuits and patisserie.

Alongside classics such as Victoria sponge, Anzac biscuits and saffron madeleines, there are intriguing new ideas — a lime meringue cheesecake and a parsnip and pecan cake, the recipe for which begins, rather forbiddingly: ‘Yotam has always been sceptical about cakes made from root vegetables,’ but makes a persuasive case for this twist on carrot cake.

NEW CLASSICS by Marcus Wareing (HarperCollins £20)

NEW CLASSICS
by Marcus Wareing (HarperCollins £20) 

AT college, chef Marcus Wareing learned to make such traditional dishes as sole bonne femme and lemon meringue pie. But what, he wondered, were the modern meals that would become the classics of the future?

His book presents his findings, which use ingredients from the garden, the farm, the sea and the store cupboard.

Chicken, barley and thyme soup is given depth with a dash of Marmite; bresaola, blue cheese and honey pizza is an interesting combination of salty and sweet; while brown bread ice-cream is a new take on an old favourite.

MADE AT HOME by Giorgio Locatelli (4th Estate £26)

MADE AT HOME

by Giorgio Locatelli (4th Estate £26) 

Home cooking is the theme of this book, and home for restaurateur Giorgio Locatelli means many places: the North London house where he and his wife raised their children; Corgeno in Lombardy, northern Italy, where he grew up; and his restaurant, Locanda Locatelli, where he and his staff sit down to eat together each afternoon.

Here are hearty recipes to warm your heart on winter evenings: pappardelle with hare, red wine and chocolate ragu, pork ribs and cabbage, and baci di dama (tiny chocolate biscuits) to finish.

A BAKER'S LIFE 

A BAKER'S LIFE by Paul Hollywood (Bloomsbury £26)

by Paul Hollywood (Bloomsbury £26)  

Baking is in Paul Hollywood’s blood. Growing up on the Wirral, in Merseyside, where his father owned a chain of bakeries, Paul was fascinated by everything to do with bread, cakes and biscuits.

His new book is a nostalgic account of five decades of baking, told through a series of delectable recipes.

There are traditional treats such as chocolate teacakes, jaffa cakes, custard tart and trifle; hearty savouries like haggis pasties and breakfast pie; and spectacular confections, including a matcha mirror-glaze gateau flavoured with Japanese green tea, and a festive gingerbread house with edible stained-glass windows.

THE ROAD TO MEXICO by Rick Stein (BBC £26)

THE ROAD TO MEXICO 

by Rick Stein (BBC £26) 

Rick Stein’s tireless circumnavigation of the globe to bring us the world’s best recipes takes him this year to Mexico and California, which he first visited back in 1968.

Retracing his steps almost half a century on, he begins his journey with trepidation, alarmed by stories of Mexican corruption and Californian political correctness about food.

Happily, however, the old magic is still there, ready to be recreated in kitchens at home, with easily accessible ingredients.

Recipes in this colourful book are accompanied by vivid photographs of Mexican markets and the fabulous food made from the country’s local produce.

Who could resist breakfast huevos rancheros, a freshly made, bubbling carne con chile, or colourful butterflied sea bass with green and red salsas?

JAPANEASY by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant £20)

JAPANEASY 

by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant £20) 

Making Japanese food at home might seem a daunting prospect, involving obscure ingredients and complicated techniques.

But MasterChef winner Tim Anderson is determined to dispel that intimidating myth with his introduction to some of the cuisine’s most accessible and authentic dishes.

‘If you are looking for fun, simple, relatively quick and really delicious Japanese dishes, this is your book,’ he promises.

Armed with just seven essential Japanese ingredients, you can try your hand at making homemade sushi, a convivial sukiyaki and a deliciously filling sumo hotpot.

Each recipe is given a larky difficulty rating — most are: ‘Totes not diffy’.

TUSCANY 

TUSCANY by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Hardie Grant £26)

by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (Hardie Grant £26)

Giancarlo Caldesi grew up in a Tuscan village where his mother cooked the food grown by his father on the family smallholding. The principle of cooking with love and using the freshest ingredients still lies at the heart of the cooking he and his wife, Katie, offer at their restaurants and cookery school.

From breakfast, through lunch, to dinner, their cookbook offers an authentic flavour of Tuscany — a favourite region for British tourists.

Start the day with fig and mascarpone crostini with honey. A porcini risotto provides lunchtime sustenance until it is time for a hearty dinner of kale and ricotta gnocchi, with a slice of Sienese panforte for dessert.

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