Nicole Pilcher unpacks her latest literary haul and reveals what she’ll be delving into this month…

Domestic gods and goddesses all over the country have been eagerly awaiting the New Year wave of cookbooks, no doubt. Though if you’re anything like me, attempting new recipes without a trusty guide will result in carnage (flour far and wide, a glass or six of wine, a few muttered profanities and a good measure of huffing and puffing). Here are my favourite mealtime manuals, to help you master the most exciting dishes of 2013 without breaking a sweat…

Roots – Diane Morgan

This ‘definitive compendium’ explores the numerous ways in which our most under-appreciated vegetables can be utilised to create tasty, healthy and wholesome meals in double-quick time. The root vegetable reigns when it comes to warding off the wet-weather blues, and Roots is a must-have guide to getting through these long, chilly winter months. It offers some great ways to revamp the root, demonstrated in sophisticated dishes such as celery root with pear or bacon, and it really champions local grocers and farmers’ market veggies.

Vietnamese Home Cooking – Charles Phan

Following food consultantancy Baum and Whiteman’s predictions for 2013, Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking couldn’t have come at a better time. Apparently Asian food is set to become a more central part of western diets in the very near future, something that is reflected in Phan’s book, which demystifies Vietnamese cuisine with simple, wholesome recipes to stimulate the palate. Tips on everything from making your own rice noodles to seasoning fish, as well as stories from Vietnam, all combine to make for a vibrant read and are sure to result in a brand new host of family favourites.

The Kitchen Revolution– Rosie Sykes, Polly Russell and Zoe Heron

Simple in concept, this book is genius, to my mind. Written by a Guardian food columnist, a documentary maker and a self-confessed ‘kitchen-phobe’, the book’s recipes allow for those of all culinary capabilities. For each week of the year, there’s a seven-meal plan, based on seasonal ingredients and your usual staples. It also comes complete with a weekly shopping list of fresh ingredients and essentials. If this isn’t enough, the book’s dedicated website should swing it. Each week there’s a seasonal meal made from scratch, a meal based on leftovers and one based on those annoying stragglers in the larder. A great choice for those who, like me, tend to get a little lost in the kitchen and like a little hand-holding.

Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America – Maricel E. Presilla

Presilla’s homage to Latin America covers a vast culinary culture, from Mexico to Argentina and all the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean. Containing 500 recipes, it certainly offers something for everyone – from those who are far too familiar with their microwaves, to the more adventurous budding chefs. I love the chapter dedicated to cooking the many varieties of hot pepper; a novel way to warm your cockles this winter.

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making – Alana Chernila

Alana Chernila is a true believer in DIY food, making everything from cream cheese to hot sauce and toaster pastries entirely from scratch – and so it follows that her book is better for those with a little more time on their hands. Eager to champion home-cooking for her own two young children, Chernila has crusaded against the packaged foods of our generation – and her spirit is so infectious she’ll soon have you merrily brandishing your rolling pin. This book encourages fledgling cooks to opt for quality over quantity, and to relish the sense of accomplishment that comes with being self-sufficient in the kitchen.

Nicole Pilcher

Nicole is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker who has now been released into the wild.

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3 Responses to Kitchen Companions

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