My Top 5 Favorite Cookbooks of All Time

I’m often asked where I draw my inspiration from, and the answer is all of the restaurants we visit, cooking shows I watch (much to the annoyance of PS) and magazines I read, but most importantly the cookbooks that I own.

I don’t have a huge collection (and I think this surprises some people), but the ones that I do have are very well worn and loved. Being able to, and wanting to, use a cookbook repeatedly, really is the sign of a great cookbook. Some of the books I use for reference (how much of one ingredient should I use, or what method would be best for whatever I am cooking), and some of them I use to cook recipes from time and time again.

I have a variety of cookbooks that all approach food from different points of view. Most are Australian authors (I’m a bit biased), but there are a few international chef’s/cook’s books that I own.

Serge Dansereau’s (chef and owner of The Bather’s Pavillion, Balmoral Beach) “The Bathers Pavillion Cafe Cookbook” contains recipes that are great examples of the relaxed but still ‘restauranty’ food that we enjoy in Australia. I use this book quite often for cooking breakfast (the blueberry pancakes are fantastic) on lazy Sunday mornings. Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ however, at a whopping 1126 pages, is great for different takes on and ideas for using ingredients, and is an amazing reference book for different methods and techniques. This has got to be my favourite book of all time, and contains the best recipe for hollandaise sauce ever.

The best of the international authors is Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie at Home’. I love the way that he works his recipes around the seasons and the herbs and vegetables growing in his garden. The lamb skewer kebabs in this are great and we often make them when friends and family come for lunch on the weekend. I also own the Nigella Lawson cookbook “Nigella Bites”. This is an okay cookbook, but I do find that she has a tendency for heavy, fatty foods; sometimes though this can be exactly what you are after!

Of course, I can’t leave off the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook’s. Their quality, easy to follow, tried and tested recipes are wonderful. I don’t actually own any of these cookbooks, but I grew up learning to cook using the books in my mum’s collection (and whenever I need to, I still raid them for ideas). My favourites in the series have got to be the ‘Best Ever Recipes’, they are spot on with title, probably one of the reasons they have sold over 1,000,000 copies, and the ‘Kids’ Birthday Cakes’ books, both of which are still in print today (although I grew up with the original versions)! Margaret Fulton should also get a mention in this blog, as she helped me (through ‘The Margaret Fulton Cookbook’) cook my first ever meal for the family, pikelets, at age 6 (page 178, I remember it off by heart)!

Top 5 Favourite Cookbooks of All Time

  1. Stephanie Alexander, “The Cook’s Companion”, Lantern, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2004, hardcover, 1126 pages.
  2. Jame Oliver, “Jame At Home”, Penguin Books, 2007, hardcover, 408 pages.
  3. Serge Dansereau, “The Bathers Pavillion Cafe Cookbook”, ABC Books, 2004, hardcover, 224 pages.
  4. Maggie Beer, “Maggie’s Kitchen”, Penguin Books, 2008, hardcover, 260 pages.
  5. Margaret Fulton, “The Margaret Fulton Cookbook”, Hardie Grant Books, 2006, hardcover, 320 pages (NB, mum has the original one).