I used to own a shedload of cookbooks but over the years they’ve been culled. More and more I found that I was going online to look up recipes. I didn’t use them so much in paper form. But some of my recipe books have survived and still merit a place in my rainbow bookcase, the only spot where books are stored in our home. Sure, the likes of Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver and Nigella still feature.  But I thought that I’d share a few of the more obscure titles that I still use again and again. You can guess that by the state of them! They’re all out of print but can be found in secondhand online bookstores.

First off, Sarah Maxwell’s ‘Greek Meze Cooking’‘ is a triumph. It contains a plethora of well explained recipes for delights such as crispy fried courgettes, tiropittes – wonderfully crispy cheese parcels and a blinder of a sausage and pepper stew. ‘Indian Cooking’ by Lalita Ahmed is another excellent book with clear instructions for making familiar and less well known dishes. It has really good reviews on Amazon and can be picked up there for less than a quid.  

Then we go onto my Sainsbury’s cookbooks. I used to pick one up with my shop in the ’80s and early ’90s. Most were 99p. Funnily enough one about nouvelle cuisine didn’t survive the cookbook culls. What was I thinking?

‘The Good Soup Book’ by Lindsey Bareham with its seasonally arranged recipes and ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Josceline Dimbleby are among the few that remain. Time after time the pudding cookbook has been the source of show stopping desserts.  Anyone for Coconut Ice Cream with Mango Puree,  Dark Chocolate and Lemon Tart or Chocolate Mousse Gateau? No?  Then perhaps you’d prefer the Cox’s Creamy Apple Tart,  Walnut Mousse Gateau or Nostalgia Pudding.  Secondhand copies of these two gems float around though seemingly for a pretty penny, if you can get them. When I looked up that pud book and it could be had for seventy two quid on Amazon but has now been snapped up! I’d better lock my own copy in the safe.

But probably my number one title is the New Art of Cookery created and written by the Stork Cookery Service, available at an eye watering price on Amazon. I was thinking of replacing my manky copy but won’t be doing that now.   It’s by the margarine people and fats of this ilk never grace my fridge.  In spite of this, that little marvel of a cookbook never fails me when I need a simple recipe.  Yep to  Yorkshire pudding, Victoria sponge, scones, steak and kidney pudding and any type of sauce or pastry that a normal human being would care to make themselves.  It is entirely up to you whether you go along with the suggestion to use margarine in every recipe but in my experience substituting different types of fat or oil probably improves the outcome of many of the recipes. Salad dressing made from Stork anyone?

The book also gives a flavour of how times have changed with its illustration of unusual vegetables 1970 style.  However the ratatouille recipe is spot on.  Just substitute olive oil for the margarine!

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  1. Your Stork cookbook reminds me of my Bero Flour book (more like a little pamphlet). My Mum had a sepia covered one that was pieces when I was growing up, full of simple recipes for cakes and pastries. When I left for University she sent off the coupons from the flour packets for two new ones – in colour with photos! Forty years later mine’s now a collection of dog eared, distressed pages like Mum’s original booklet.
    When my girl’s went off to Uni I carried on the tradition and got them one each too, though I doubt they used them 🙂

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