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Good Food's top 10 cookbooks of 2012


This year has seen another wave of great cookbooks, with entries by industry newcomers sitting alongside family favourites in our top 10 pick of the best of 2012.

Despite being a recipe website, we're not averse to using cooking guides of a more traditional format. This year has produced another batch of brilliant cookbooks, with entries from industry old-timers and young guns new to the food scene alike. Our team and fans on Facebook put forward their favourite cookbooks of 2012.


Every grain of rice

10. Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop (RRP 25.00, Bloomsbury)

"Fuchsia's passion for Chinese cookery led her to be the first Westerner to study at the Sichuan Culinary Institute, and she shares her knowledge here. Traditional Chinese food is healthy with lots of vegetables and small amounts of meat. In many of these recipes the chopping takes longer than the cooking, but dishes like Smashed cucumber in garlicky sauce are ready in under 10 minutes."

Sally Hughes and the BBC Good Food magazine team

Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop

The Lebanese Kitchen

9. The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage (RRP £29.95, Phaidon)

"The colourful cuisine of Lebanon is set to really take off in the UK this year, and this comprehensive tome is a great introduction. It's written by a home cook, so many of the recipes are hearty stews, one-pots and bakes, cooked fairly simply with just a few key ingredients per dish. What makes the book stand out is the interesting flavour combinations- sumac and watermelon, for example- and Hage's suggestions for mezze are inspirational."

Lily Barclay, writer,

The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage

Curry Nation

8. Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation by Madhur Jaffrey (RRP £20.00, Ebury Press)

The best curry book this year. Sourcing recipes from restaurants, takeaways and home kitchens around the country, Madhur has produced a richly-illustrated Indian feast. Meat, veg, fish, rice, dhals and the all-important chutneys and breads are represented among the 100 recipes. This is authentic Indian cooking as enjoyed in Britain, with specialties like the Rogan josh shepherd's pie."

Sally Hughes and the BBC Good Food magazine team

Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation

Mrs Beeton Fish & Seafood

7. The Mrs Beeton Series reworked by Gerard Baker (RRP £9.99 each, Orion Books)

"Isabella Beeton was a forerunner in the world of cookery being among the first to create recipes as we see them today with a list of ingredients, method, servings and time taken. Gerard Baker has reworked her recipes for the modern audience and the result is a series of six gorgeously bound books including Fish & Seafood, Classic Meat Dishes and Puddings. Not only are the recipes beguiling, they're full of useful tips which really help you to get to grips with the subject."

Caroline Hire, food editor,

Mrs Beeton cookbook series by Isabella Beeton and Gerard Baker

Baking bible

6. Baking Bible by Annie Bell (RRP £25.00, Kyle Books)

"Everyone loves a good baking book, and this is one of the best. Massively comprehensive with cakes, biscuits, bars and traybakes, it includes everything from traditional English rock cakes to sophisticated Parisian canelés. The photographs are stunning and the recipes simple to follow, with helpful tips on the best ingredient choices, canny shortcuts and how to pull things back from the brink of disaster. A must for keen bakers.

Sally Hughes and the BBC Good Food magazine team

Baking Bible by Annie Bell

Hairy bikers

5. The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight by The Hairy Bikers (RRP £14.99, W&N)

This slimming-focused manual was a resounding hit with our fans on Facebook, with followers like Lindsey McKillop using it every day, while Mike Lynch says recipes like Spanish chicken and beef & ale casserole are tasty and low-fat. Si and Dave managed to shift six stone worth of timber as a result of making simple swaps to their favourite meals - using sheets of leek instead of pasta in lasagne, for instance - so this could be one for January 2013.

The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight by The Hairy Bikers


4. A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield (RRP £25.00, Canongate)

"This was the standout first cookbook of 2012. April, a Brummie chef, now runs three popular restaurants in New York. So it comes as no surprise that she does great things with meat and is not afraid of the offally bits. Yet her style - British food with an Italian accent - provides some delicious vegetable dishes too. The recipes are uncomplicated and ingredient-focused, with bold flavours like Braised lamb shoulder with tomato, citrus and anchovy."

Sally Hughes and the BBC Good Food magazine team

A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield

Fresh & easy

3. What to Cook & How to Eat It: Fresh & Easy by Jane Hornby (RRP £29.95, Phaidon)

"This handy manual is very much an everyday reference book, but with plenty of new ideas and interesting global cuisine. The recipes are all easy to follow and the photography is great - the format of raw ingredients laid out next to the finished dish makes for a really aesthetically inspiring book. The picnic and barbecue sections will be great for summer, and recipes like Creamy zucchini, lemon and pea pasta have become an instant favourite in our household."

Lily Barclay, writer,

Fresh & Easy by Jane Hornby


2. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (RRP £27.00, Ebury Press)

"I love Ottolenghi's style of cooking - all rainbow vegetables and inventive flavour combinations. He's the best thing to emerge from the recent surge of 'foodie' fever and there's not a foam or deconstructed fritter anywhere to be found in this brilliant book. I recommend anyone read through this homage to the vibrant cuisine of Jerusalem, written with partner Tamimi. The city's Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities influence the inspirational recipes like spicy frikkeh soup with meatballs."

Natalie Hardwick, web assistant,

Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolengi


1. Fish by J Sheekey, (RRP £25.00, Preface Publishing)

"It's not often a big, beautiful and expensive book turns my head enough to want to spend money on it, but this book is just too tempting. The recipes are attainable - with easy-to-follow methods and sensible flavour combinations â€- Deep-fried whitebait with caper mayonnaise, Cornish fish stew and Risotto nero with sauteed squid. Plus they're supplemented with guidance on preparation so you can fillet a fish, shuck an oyster and clean a squid with the best of them."

Caroline Hire, food editor,

Fish by J Sheekey


What was your favourite cookbook of 2012? Let us know below.

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