Cooking up a storm!

This year The Food & Drink Trade Show is set to take place on the 2 – 3 May, which probably feels like a long way off. Featuring a tempting mix of passionate producers, hot hospitality and catering companies, as well as the freshest food service offerings, it’s a wonderful source of inspiration. However, if you just can’t wait for your next fix of foodie ideas why not snack on some of the tasty offerings from the recent crop of cookbooks?

There’s a huge range to pick from, despite the fact that Delia Smith recently declared the whole genre dead, killed off by the availability of recipes on the web. The final numbers for 2017 aren’t out yet, but according to the industry periodical, the Bookseller, 2016 was a bumper year, and more food and drink books were sold than ever before. The total was 8.7 million, amounting to £90.3m in sales! (How do you like them eggs, Delia?).

We’re obviously keen followers of the latest food trends, and we’d love to buy more cookery books (we probably have too many already!)…but it’s hard keeping up with all the latest publishing releases. What we can do is serve up some of the favourites as selected by top publications and writers. We tried to narrow it down to a top 5…but it was just too difficult, so here’s a selection of six for you!

Five Ingredients by Jamie Oliver
We’ve got to include this because it sold 716,071 copies last year, making it the best seller in any genre. As the title suggests it’s all about making good food fast, and with the minimum fuss – perfect for busy people who just don’t have the time to faff about but want hearty helpings of flavour. It contains over 130 recipes with chapters on Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Veg, Salads, Pasta, Rice & Noodles and Sweet Things, all in Jamie’s trademark cheeky style.

The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn
This is not so much a traditional recipe book, but more of a culinary road trip. Former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn chronicles her journey to heal old wounds and find comfort in the face of loss through travel, home-cooked food, and the company of friends and family. Nunn experiences the healing power of comfort food, and offers up dozens of recipes for the wonderful meals that saved her life. Turn your back on Brexit, forget all about Donald Trump, ignore the latest warnings about the economy and tuck into Great-grandmother’s mean lemon cake, Portia’s Scallops on creamed corn and Chef Bruce Sherman’s cheesy eggs on toast.

The Road to Mexico by Rick Stein
This is perhaps the most colourful and flavourful cookbook of 2017; a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Starting in San Francisco and Baja California, then working his way down to the southernmost tip of Mexico, Rick Stein cooks, eats and experiences Mexican food at its very best and most diverse. We could all do with a fresh dose of sunshine in the dark, wet and windy midwinter and Ensenada Fish Tacos with Chilli, Deep Fried Coconut Prawns and Slow Cooked Pork Tacos should provide it in abundance.

Stir Crazy by Ching-He Huang
Taiwanese TV chef and food writer Ching-He Huang makes Chinese food easy for home cooks. Even if you’ve never been hands on with a wok before, you’ll soon be whipping up spicy soy mushroom tofu, veggie dan dan mein and oyster sauce scallops like a good ‘un. In addition to recipes, there’s also lots of expert advice on the right oils, controlling the heat and the all-important art of timing.

Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi
This book is a long way from the simplicity of Jamie’s latest – but the baking and dessert recipes are well worth the work. Evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings, including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom, are combined to create indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream. If you want to surprise some special guests with your culinary creativity then this book is a must.

Eat in My Kitchen by Meike Peters
Food blogger Meike’s first foray into print won the 2017 James Beard Award for food writing. The recipes are best described as pan-European (excuse the pun) – the author is German, and has a Maltese boyfriend. Enjoy making sauteed Belgian endive wrapped in prosciutto di Parma, fennel and tomato lasagna with crunchy bacon or cod in parchment with wild leeks and red onions. Quite apart from the wonderful recipes you’ll be won over by her unpretentious tone and contagious enthusiasm for simple, beautiful, and tasty food.

Save some room for the show!
Time should fly as you work your way through that lot, and before you know it, it’ll be time to head to the Three Counties Showground in Malvern for this year’s show! Looking at the pretty pictures in cookery books is all well and good, but if you’re in the food, drink, catering or hospitality business there’s no substitute for attending a real live event and getting up close and personal with the best ingredients and products, and meeting the people behind them.

Exhibitors are booking in all the time, and many treats await you, including chocolates from Made With Love, award-winning ales from Bewdley Brewery and British charcuterie at its best from Deli Farm, to name but three. There will also be live drama and entertainment in the Demo Kitchen with expert chefs sharing their skills, tips and stories.

In the meantime…were you lucky enough to get a new recipe book or two for Christmas, or do you prefer to stick to a few tried and tested favourites? If you were going to recommend a great cookery book to us, which one would it be? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll put them on next year’s Christmas list!

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