I’ve been a little slow in assembling my Christmas Gift Guide this year, so I’ll share it in installments. Here’s the first; for lovers of books.
Noodle! by MiMi Aye
I’ll preface this recommendation with the statement that the author, MiMi Aye, is a friend of mine so, of course, I wish her book to do well. Especially as it may result in a second book deal that allows her to share all her fabulous Burmese recipes, which would be a real treat for all of us. But I’m recommending her book because it’s a corker – it’s absolutely full of very delicious noodle recipes, all of them clearly written and easy to follow. Everyone who’s cooked from it agrees, including BigSpud who’s worked his way through 30 of them already!
I reviewed the book for my regular Worth Its Salt column in Good Things magazine and asked MiMi for a few recommendations. To impress guests she suggested Tonkotsu Ramen (“looks amazing and tastes wonderful”); she recommended Spicy Lemongrass Beef Noodles for those feeling poorly; for a quick supper Ham, Pea and Pea Shoot Noodles is ready in minutes; for comfort food she chose Coconut Chicken Noodles (“a hug in a bowl!”); and if you’re stuck in the house she noted that her Persian Noodle Soup can be made with store cupboard ingredients.
The book should appeal to both novice and advanced cooks alike. For the former, Teriyaki Salmon Noodles and Pork Patties with Noodles & Herbs are both simple and straightforward. For those ready to take on more, recipes like Cheung Fun and Vegetable Soup with Hand-pulled Noodles involve making noodles from scratch.
You can buy a personalised, signed copy of Noodle! directly from MiMi here or purchase from Amazon, here.
Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara
This book was published back in 2009 but I didn’t get a copy until last year (though it was on my Christmas wishlist back in 2012!) Harumi Kurihara is one of Japan’s foremost culinary authors and has created a hugely successful business in Japan selling not only cookery books but also magazines, TV shows, a line of kitchenware and she even has a chain of shops, restaurants and cafés.
Everyday Harumi is the third of Kurihara’s books to be published in English but it’s the first book she has researched and written in England; she wanted to understand the British way of shopping, eating and cooking to ensure that her recipes were realistic and accessible for non-Japanese cooks.
Harumi starts by introducing the store cupboard essentials, the ingredients she feels are at the heart of Japanese home cooking. Most of them appears in multiple recipes; indeed one of the things I love about the book is realising how much variety can be achieved by combining the essential ingredients in different ways. Next are instructions to cook rice, make dashi stock and some recipes for sauces and pastes referenced later in the book. And then come the recipes… Steak in a Miso Marinade, Tsukune with Teriyaki Sauce, Scallops with Nori Seaweed, Udon Noodles with a Minced Meat Miso Sauce, Tofu Salad with a Sesame Dressing, Egg Drop Soup, Lightly Cooked Spinach with Soy Sauce, Japanese Coleslaw Salad and Aubergine in Spicy Sauce.
One of the big pluses of the book for me is that most of the dishes are really well suited to tasty mid-week evening meals, when speed and simplicity are a priority.
You can buy Everyday Harumi from Amazon, here
Plenty & Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
I’m late to the party when it comes to Ottolenghi. Of course, I’ve been aware of his cooking for some time, and Plenty has been on my wishlist since it was first published. Recently, I got my hands on both Plenty and follow-up title Plenty More and can’t wait to start cooking from both. I’ve been poring through both books in the last few weeks and bookmarking a frankly ridiculous number of recipes to try as soon as I’ve some free time in the kitchen.
I’ll be sharing a proper review in the months to come, but in the meantime, here are Amazon links to buy Plenty and Plenty More.
Do-Head Christmas by James Ramsden
We’re having a lazy Christmas this year, just us and one of Pete’s sisters and we’ve agreed to enjoy a simple but tasty roast dinner, lots of shop-bought snacks, and sitting around under blankets on the sofa watching telly or reading. So I might save James’ Do-Ahead Christmas for next year, when I need clever ways to prepare some of the Christmas feasting in advance.
Having attended James’ popular supperclub, I know he’s had plenty of practice working out all the best tricks when catering to a large group in a domestic setting.
Buy Do-Ahead Christmas from Amazon, here.
Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji
This book has been on my personal wishlist for a few years, since the publication of the 25th anniversary edition in 2012. I finally bought it this year and am so pleased I did; it’s a fabulous reference book – the definitive reference book, I’d say. If you have an interest in traditional Japanese cooking, this book should be on your bookshelf. Full review to come, next year.
Buy Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art from Amazon, here
Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne
One that’s currently on my own wishlist (hint, hint!) is the recently published second edition of this book about the history and varieties of tea.
It’s available on Amazon, here.
Slow Cooked by Miss South
Another book by a friend and another genuine recommendation. We love our slow cooker but I’m the first to acknowledge that we aren’t very adventurous when it comes to what we cook in it. Beyond curries, stews, jacket potatoes and overnight chicken stock, we need a bit of inspiration to make better use of it. In this book, Miss South, author of successful blog North South Food, shares over 200 slow cooker recipes for all kinds of dishes.
Read my review, here. Buy the book on Amazon, here.
You can also find some great gift ideas in my previous guides, though of course, some items may no longer be available:
- Last Year’s Epic Gift Guide
- Tasty Alcoholic Tipples for the Sweet-Toothed
- Christmas 2012 Gift Guide
- Fantastic Teas 2012 Gift Guide
- Christmas 2011 Gift Guide
- Christmas 2010 Gift Guide
- Christmas 2010 Cookery Book Gift Guide
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Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!14 Comments to "Kavey’s Christmas Gift Guide: Books"
Having invested in a slow cooker for the first time in my life, and loving it, I’m really interested in that slow cooker book. Do ahead Christmas is a fantastic book – cooking my way through and ‘doing ahead Christmas’ as we speak.
The slow cooker book is a revelation in the range of things that can be made in a slow cooker!
Do Ahead Christmas is one I’m going to look at next year, I’m sure I can pick up tips that will apply throughout the year, not just at Christmas!
I love the sound of the Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Kevin Gascoyne, interesting and different. I will look out for it. Rosana x
Am hoping someone will buy it for me from my Christmas wishlist but if not, I’ll probably buy it for myself next year!
I must put plenty more on my list. I use the plenty one all the time for inspiration
I’m really inspired looking through them both.
What a great book collection Kavey!
I love you choices of book here. I would be delighted to receive any of them but the Japanese cooking appeals the most. I need to read up more on Japanese cooking and am always envious of your Japanese restaurant visits!
I love the food so much, but I really want to cook more at home!
All of those Japanese books have got my attention, as has MiMi’s noodle book (and recipe recommendations for specific food needs). I really should compile a list for myself and start hinting strongly to my family! I can’t believe I don’t have the Plenty More book. What is wrong with me?
Do you have an Amazon wishlist? I have one public one that people can buy me presents from if they wish, and a few private ones to record items I’m considering buying… good way to remember the books you see that grab your attention.
You know, I’ve never done an Amazon wish list like that, just as a reminder that I want something. But of course that will be what it is for!
I have multiple lists so one if for presents other people could buy me and several others are for my own reminders.