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Christmas 2023 Gift Guide: Books for serious cooks

by Rachel Deeley

published on 30 November 2023

Find the perfect Christmas gift for the cooking enthusiast in your life with our collection of books for serious cooks. From a deep dive into Jamaican cuisine to a pastry chef’s guide to all things sweet, these are the cookbooks to widen their kitchen skill set, broaden their repertoire and inspire their next accomplished home-cooked meal.

Looking for more gifting inspiration? From the best vegetarian books to the best cookbooks for bakers, to stocking filler and secret Santa gifts, discover all of our Christmas gift guides here.

Simple

This is the perfect book for cooks who love their food to be creative but not over-complicated and, as always, Ottolenghi delivers. Fantastic flavours and clever combinations, but with quicker and easier instructions than ever before, this is a must-have for serious cooks whose standard store-cupboard staples range from preserved lemons to harissa.

Bitter

by Alexina Anatole

With her debut cookbook, writer and former Masterchef finalist Alexina Anatole celebrates on an unconventional and oft-maligned flavour profile: bitterness. With chapters covering bitter ingredients like tahini, grapefruit, walnuts, and coffee, Alexina delves into the science and history of the world’s most influential bitter flavours and shares deliciously sophisticated recipes on everything from Ancho Coffee Short Ribs to a Sex and the City -inspired cranberry cocktail.

Brutto

Brutto

by Russell Norman

“Brutto ma buono” – “ugly but good”. That’s the founding conceit of this ode to Florentine food by much-loved late author and restaurateur Russell Norman. Featuring gorgeous photography, writing, and simple yet delicious recipes, this cookbook will have its owner creating effortless Italian dishes in no time, and the beautiful cover and binding makes it a great statement addition to any kitchen shelf.

Love is a Pink Cake

by Claire Ptak

Indulge in 85 beautifully photographed recipes from Claire Ptak, founder of London’s beloved Violet Bakery and the maker of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s famed wedding cake (the recipe for which you’ll find in this book). In this love letter to the art of baking, Claire blends the flavours and techniques of Britain and her native California to create inventive delights such as Chocolate Violet Babka Buns, Tahini Halva Brownies, and Black Tea and Poppy Seed Muffins.

Ammu

by Asma Khan

Famous for her home-style Indian food, Asma Khan is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and food writer. Ammu, her latest collection of recipes, is both named after and inspired by her mother’s cooking and explores the connection between food, memory and love. Join Asma as she revisits the comfort food of her childhood and shares the occasion recipes passed down through the generations of her family. Discover complex curries, moreish snacks, delicate desserts and the recipe for Asma’s signature dish, biryani.

Ottolenghi FLAVOUR

by Ixta Belfrage, Yotam Ottolenghi

The third instalment in Ottolenghi’s bestselling, multi-award-winning Plenty series, comes Ottolenghi FLAVOUR. It is the ultimate guide to cooking veg; divided into three parts, each dedicated to a fundamental element of flavour: Process, Pairing, and Produce. This is for any serious cooks who love to experiment with big-hitter, big-flavour dishes, whether they eat meat or not.

Desi Kitchen

by Sarah Woods

Taking inspiration from her own heritage, Sarah Woods celebrates the fusion of flavours and food traditions of South Asian communities across Britain. Expect brilliantly exciting dishes like Welsh Chilli Rarebit, Gujarati Hasselback Potato Shaak, and Peshawari Bread and Butter Pudding.

The Last Bite

The Last Bite

by Anna Higham

Formerly of Lyle’s restaurant, Anna Higham now heads up the pastry section at The River Cafe and is one of the restaurant industry’s most revered pastry chefs. In The Last Bite, Anna teaches readers the building blocks of accomplished dessert making, placing significant emphasis on using fruit that’s in season to get the best results. From raspberry ice-cream sandwiches to a quince posset, Anna champions different produce as the year progresses. Drawing on many years of expertise, The Last Bite not only shares recipes for restaurant-quality desserts but also equips readers with the skills to be able to create their own from scratch.

The Sicily Cookbook

A great book for Italophiles or anyone who loves travelling via their kitchens. This beautiful cookbook brings alive the food of Sicily – distinct from the Italian mainland with its heavier use of spices, as well as cheese, seafood and citrus fruits, ripe tomatoes and aubergines. Weaving together the three major strands of Sicilian cooking, from Cucina Povera (peasant food) to Cibo di Strada (street food) to Cucina dei Monsù(sophisticated food), Cettina takes the reader around the island with more than 70 authentic recipes, producer stories and gorgeous photography.

Table Manners

by Jessie Ware, Lennie Ware

From the hit podcast of the same name, TTable Manners: The Cookbook is like having Jessie and Lennie at the table with you. This time, rather than listen to them cook and chat with famous celebs, it’s now possible to tune into your favourite episodes and cook along at home. Chapters span Effortless to A Bit More Effort to Jewish Food, with recipes for Aubergine & Puy Lentil Bolognese, Beef Tagliata, Drunken Crouton and Kale Salad and Blackberry and Custard Tarts.

West Winds

by Riaz Phillips

Award-winning food writer Riaz Phillips takes us on a mouth-watering journey through Jamaican cooking in this celebration of the island’s rich culture and history. From hearty soups and bakes to thirst-quenching drinks, the one hundred recipes are rooted in centuries of Jamaican traditions, folktales and anecdotes.

The Rangoon Sisters

A new cookbook from the sisters behind East London’s popular supperclub of the same name, this book is perfect for adventurous cooks who love to travel via their kitchens. Amy and Emily Chung draw from their family’s recipes and travels across Myanmar, to create delicious, authentic and simple recipes that can be recreated at home with no specialist equipment or expensive ingredients needed.

Notes From A Small Kitchen Island

by Debora Robertson

Notes from a Small Kitchen Island is perfect for home cooks looking for alluring seasonal everyday meals or laid-back dinner party ideas. Expect heart-warming soups, boozy cocktails and perfect roasts alongside delightful essays on subjects every cook can relate to (run don’t walk to the chapter on how to survive having guests to stay). With 70 flavour-packed recipes, Notes from a Small Kitchen Island is perfect for cooks who derive comfort from unfussy, hearty food.

Venice

by Russell Norman

From the man behind London and Brighton’s award-winning Polpo restaurants, Venice honours the cuisine that inspired a restaurant empire. Russell Norman explores the simplicity of Venetian home cooking across the seasons, including recipes from grilled spring vegetable pizzas to a wintry slow-roasted veal shin, and shows how distinct Venetian cuisine can be compared to the food we often associate with Italy.

Berber & Q

by Josh Katz

It doesn’t need to be summer to be barbecue season as Josh Katz shows so well in this new cookbook. Berber & Q is a celebration of flavour, with 120 mouth-watering barbecue recipes, invaluable advice on choosing a barbecue, how to prepare and cook meat as well as meze, vegetables and desserts. This is barbecue food as you’ve never eaten it before.

Mezcla

by Ixta Belfrage

Mezcla is the debut solo cookbook from former Ottolenghi Test Kitchen team member, Ixta Belfrage. One of the food scene’s hottest newcomers, in just a few short years Ixta has amassed a loyal following of cooks who swear by her unique and vibrant food. Inspired by the countries she has a personal connection to, Ixta’s recipes fuse flavours from Brazil, Mexico and the Mediterranean to create boundary-breaking combinations and inspired reimaginings of classic dishes.

Taverna

by Georgina Hayden

Taverna is a journey back to Georgina’s Greek-Cypriot roots with exciting, vibrant, sun-soaked recipes that will make you rethink what Mediterranean food is all about. From simple mains and celebration desserts to meze plates to serve a crowd, this is a cookbook to brighten up the winter. 

The Cook You Want To Be

by Andy Baraghani

You might know Andy Baraghani as the chef behind many of Bon Appetit’s viral recipes. Drawing on his Iranian heritage and professional training, Andy’s dishes are punchy, fuss-free and perfect for fans of Middle Eastern flavours. His first cookbook, The Cook You Want To Be, empowers readers to improvise in the kitchen and transform their cooking by mastering a few basic kitchen skills they can rely on for the book’s recipes and beyond. Expect bold flavours, laid-back instructions and perfect ingredient pairings.

The Book of St John: Still a Kind of British Cooking

The Book of St John

by Fergus Henderson, Trevor Gulliver

This is the perfect cookbook for keen cooks who like to push their boundaries in the kitchen. Not for the faint-hearted, this cookbook from the men behind the legendary St John in London, includes recipes for Ox Tongue, Braised Rabbit and Duck Fat Toast, showing innovative ways to cook under-loved parts of the animal and to use up otherwise under-used or wasted ingredients.  

Ayla

by Santosh Shah

If you know someone who loves to travel the world from their kitchen, this is the book for them. On a mission to put Nepalese cuisine on the map and celebrate the vibrant flavours of his homeland, MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Santosh Shah shares 60 stunning recipes in his debut cookbook Ayla. Featuring street food favourites, snacks, drinks and main dishes, these recipes are easy-to-follow and will expand the reader’s understanding of this varied and exciting cuisine.

The Pepperpot Diaries

by Andi Oliver

With her debut cookbook, chef and broadcaster Andi Oliver delves deeper into her Caribbean heritage. Personal journal entries from her travels to Antigua accompany mouth-watering recipes celebrating the region, from curries and barbecue dishes to a zesty Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.

The Farm Table

by Julius Roberts

Bring your cooking closer to nature with the help of Julius Roberts. The chef turned “first-generation farmer” shares hearty recipes that celebrate the best of local produce, cooking with the seasons, and living off the land in a more sustainable and mindful way.

EAST

Meera Sodha takes you on a journey from India to Indonesia, Singapore to Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam, travelling across the East to give you vegan and vegetarian dishes that are bursting with flavour. Flavourful, vibrant and meat-free, these are accessible recipes for cooks who want to introduce more vegetables into their daily cooking.

A Love of Eating

From the pair behind boutique caterers, Tart London, this is a cookbook that reflects the vibrant, fresh, wholesome flavours these ladies love to cook. For those who like to spend a weekend afternoon experimenting with new flavours and cooking up a feast for friends and family, this might be just the ticket. Think recipes such as Chocolate and Salted Dulce de Leche Tart and Crispy Chicken with Tomatoes, Roast Garlic Mash and Smashed Herb Oil. Bold, bright and delicious.

La Grotta Ices

Kitty Travers’ debut cookbook shows that ice cream can be so much more than tasteless vanilla and synthetic strawberry. Using whole fruits, quality dairy and incredibly innovative flavour combinations, from cucumber and sour cream to raspberry and fig leaf, Kitty gives the world of ice cream a much needed facelift. Beautifully written, this is a book for every keen cook.

Kung Food

by Jon Kung

Detroit-based chef and TikTok sensation Jon Kung draws from his heritage and experiences as a ‘third culture kid’ to highlight the rich food culture of diaspora communities and redefine what Chinese food can be. Expect to find fusion classics with a twist such as Sesame Prawn Toast, Buffalo Chicken Rangoons, Mushroom and Tempeh Fried Rice, Ginger Spring Onion Noodles, and Dan Dan Lasagna.

Sabor

by Nieves Barragán Mohacho

From Nieves Barragán Mohacho, the acclaimed chef formerly of Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant, Barrafina, comes the ultimate guide to the wonders of Spanish cooking. Teaching you how to master the classics, with recipes for everything from tortilla to churros, this is the perfect gift for lovers of Spanish food.

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