After doing quite a few cookbook reviews for The Independent, I decided to do a post here about 30 Best Cookbooks 2016. This is by no means an objective list, I’m just listing some of my favourite new releases of the year. I’m posting this now, just before people start thinking about Christmas, because I know lots of people like giving cookbooks as presents, so I thought a gift guide may be useful. I hope you find this post helpful in some way!
When selecting which books to feature, I made sure to look out for ones that had good options for special diets (dairy-free, vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan etc.) because that’s what my blog specialises in. But I also looked for budget-friendly and easy-to-follow recipes as well as anything innovative, original or generally inspiring!
The cookbooks listed here are in no particular order, and I’ve decided to split this post up into two parts because it was so long! You can read Part 1 here.
Yet another amazing cookbook by Sally Butcher, owner of London-based Persian food store Persepolis. Being entirely dedicated to delicious vegetable-based dishes, this book is absolutely perfect if you’re vegetarian or vegan, but I’d also recommend it to anyone in search of a great introduction to Middle Eastern cookery. There are so many inventive recipes in this book that it’s hard to choose examples, but if you’re looking to try something different, then I’d probably suggest the aurbergine porridge or Turkish delight sundae!
This cookbook features recipes from the eponymous Channel 4 TV series, in which Jamie Oliver visits different countries around the world to investigate the diets of the healthiest people. I like this book for its budget-friendly and fuss-free, yet slightly healthier versions of classic favourites – think poached (not fried) doughnuts, lentil bolognese and a sweet potato chip butty.
18. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Cookbook: Low Carb Recipes For The Whole Family – Vickie De Beer and Kath Megaw
Paediatric dietician Kath Megaw and food writer Vickie De Beer teamed up to create this extensive cookbook with many diabetes-friendly recipes that all the family are sure to love! Look out for healthy (and gluten-free) battered fish, a delicious pizza and an indulgent chocolate cake. The book also includes a wealth of advice about diabetes and what foods to eat if you have it.
I was actually lucky enough to meet Italian restaurateur and TV chef Gennaro Contaldo to talk to him about this book. He spoke with passion, and told me about how he fell in love with cooking whilst working at his Uncle Alfonso’s local bakery as a young boy. This book revists all of these wonderful memories, showcasing a wide range of authentic Italian baked goods. This book is unusual in that it also caters for those following special diets – it includes many vegetarian pies and pizzas as well as gluten-free pizza dough and cake recipes.
This book was first published in 1969, but has been edited and republished this year. This truly extensive tome covers many different types of Latin American cuisine, and I especially like how it describes how each dish varies depending on the country. Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz is known as a ‘scholar’ cook, and is seen as the first writer to spark Western enthusiasm for Latin American and Caribbean food.
Xa Milne, co-founder of Scottish seaweed company Mara Seaweed (whose recently launched product I used for this recipe) shows us her expert knowledge of, and passion for, seaweed. If you’re trying to work more seaweed into your diet because of the health benefits but are unsure how, this book is the one for you – there’s a wide arary of inventive recipes including beetroot seaweed hummus, seaweed smoothies, and a carrot and seaweed loaf. If you’re trying to cut back on salt, seaweed is a great replacement as it adds a salty, savoury, umami-rich flavour to any dish.
What I liked most about this book by Spanish chef and restaurateur José Pizarro is that a lot of recipes happen to cater for those following “free-from” diets. Most savoury dishes are gluten and dairy-free, and although a lot of the desserts do contain dairy products, the majority of them are also gluten-free – look out for the chocolate pots and chestnut flan. I also love how this book uses amazing photographs to offer an intersting snapshot into the often overlooked but extremely rich culture and history of the Basque region of Spain, with the aid of stunning photographs.
23. Clean Cakes: Delicious pâtisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar – Henrietta Inman
With dozens of colourful photographs of her intricately prepared cakes, this impressive book by pastry chef and bakery owner Henrietta Inman is a must for any keen baker. And what’s best is that, as the title states, every single recipe in here is free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar, but they definitely won’t taste like it.
Celebrity chef Rick Stein’s latest release showcases recipes inspired by his travels around Europe. I love the great variety of dishes in this book, which really spans the whole continent – look out for everything from Icelandic smashed liquorice meringues to Santorini-style purée of split yellow peas, and Sicilian chickpea and fennel seed fritters.
25. Spice Yourself Slim: Harness the Power of Spices for Health, Wellbeing and Weight-Loss – Kalpna Woolf
This wondefully imaginative book by food writer Kalpna Woolf describes how lots of different spices are used in creative and delicious ways. This book is filled with plenty of inspiration for healthy dishes that are sure to please both for omnivores and vegans alike – there’s golden crumbed cauliflower and peas, Szechuan twice-peppered prawns, as well as a range of delightul sweet treats such as rose water and cardamom scented rhubarb and strawberries.
Sybil Kapoor’s beautiful book explores the much-overlooked beauty of vegetables. I love how even the humblest of veg are celebrated in delicious dishes that are bound to please even the pickiest of eaters – look out for papaya, mint and watercress salad, lettuce soup and sweetcorn soufflés.
Forget uninspiring bowls of iceberg lettuce dressed with squirts of salad cream, and flick through chef Peter Gordon’s hugely inventive, mouth-watering array of salad recipes. The book goes through the art of putting together a salad, from choosing the right ingredients to different seasonings. There’s a wide range of salads, from humble, few-ingredient affairs, such as beautiful grilled peppers with dill, to dishes that are sure to take pride of place at a dinner table – look out for grilled octopus with potato, bean, onion and dill salad, and a beautiful salad of chestnuts, broccoli, caramelized onions and currants.
This book will really transport you to the idyllic paradise of the Scandinavian countryside, thanks to the mouth-watering recipes and stunning photographs. Simon Bajada has also included a wide array of dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar free products – look out for elegant saffron, pistachio and coconut pines and a decadent white chocolate, blackberry and rosemary mud slice.
29. Chickpea Flour Does It All: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian Recipes for Every Taste and Season – Lindsey S. Love
A debut cookbook from the creator of popular food blog dollyandoatmeal.com. All the recipes in this book are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian, with many vegan recipes too. I love how innovative this book is, with each and every recipe making use of chickpea flour, which is a highly versatile, incredibly friendly and budget-friendly ingredient that most people (including myself) are probably quite unfamiliar with! But not to worry, Lindsey S. Love has done all the thinking for you – from ginger and pomegranate muffins to the fudgiest almond butter brownies and baked squash tempura, there’s a wide range of inspiration. And anyone who’s a fan of seasonal eating will love this book, as it’s organised into months of the year!
Middle Eastern cuisine seems to be a massive trend for this year’s cookbooks, so what better way to end this list than with this second cookbook by best-selling author Sabrina Ghayour. This stunning book is packed full of inspiration, featuring vegetarian-friendly butternut röstis and vegan spinach and walnut balls, alongside a hearty chicken and apricot stew and kofta burgers, so there really is something for everyone! The sweet treats (secretly my favourite part of every cookbook) are incredibly inventice, and include such delights as lime and basil cream with persimon and black pepper compote, and a dark chocolate, cardamom and espresso mousse cake.
Thanks for reading! You can read Part 1 here.