Here are some useful things from my bookshelf.

Nigel Slater – Real Fast Food and Real Fast Puddings
A wealth of simple ideas that keep my kitchen functioning and stomachs filled and tastebuds tickled, day in and day out.
Nigel Slater – Appetite
This is the best of all his books: try every single recipe in the chapter Some Really Useful Stuff. Full review here.
Loyd Grossman – The 125 Best Recipes Ever
Despite the slightly clunky title, and Mr Grossman’s smug grin on the cover, this is a really good anthology. Each recipe comes with a few notes explaining where it and its author sit in the culinary canon, and his own notes on how you can do this in a normal kitchen with normal equipment.
Julian Barnes – The Pedant in the Kitchen
This is very funny. I can sympathise with the author as he wrangles his way through the pitfalls of the kitchen, dinner parties, and cookbooks. Like Grossman, it provides, almost as a side effect, a useful tour of cookery writers.
Carla Bardi – The Encyclopaedia of Italian Food
As someone who found The Silver Spoon pretty useless, I can heartily recommend this for its straightforward no-nonsense approach. I look forward to the day when I dare to cook the sartĂą recipe.
Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book
For anyone who’s ever walked through a market and seen some luscious looking but completely unfamiliar veg, or who receives a pot luck organic box on their doorstep, this is a godsend. Every vegetable known to European cooking, listed alphetically, complete with recipes and history.
Delia Smith – How to Cook
I’m of two minds about Delia. There is much to be derided: her authoritarian style, her labour intensive recipes, her willingness to dirty every pot and pan in the kitchen, not to mention the perplexing How-to-Cheat book. However, in between that, she writes a lot of common sense, and this three volume back-to-basics epic is her most useful. The nugget of information that eggs don’t benefit from being kept in the fridge, and behave better in cooking when they’re at room temperature is worth the price of admission alone.
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook (1948 edition)
Actually, this is on my mother’s bookshelf, and her eyes harden whenever I cast my covetous glance over it. There is much about it that is cringeworthy (its authoritarian tone and especially the recipes for ‘foreign dishes’) but it does not shirk going right down to the very basics. In particular it is the only book that actually describes making a roux in enough detail for a spotty 19 year old to get it right the first time.
Edouard de Pomiane – Cooking with Pomiane
A deeply reassuring book. Separate review here.

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