Favorite Cookbooks

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With a library of over 300 cookbooks it's very hard for me to choose a few favorites. There are those, however, which have stood the test of time. They are the books I reach for time and time again whether for research, recipes or to simply read over a cup of tea. The list can never be complete as new books are published almost daily, so please check back as I shall be updating the list frequently.

1. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

Credit for my love of cooking is often thought to go to my Grandmother. Another strong influence was the famous Mrs.Beeton. My mother had a first edition from 1861 of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. It was my storybook. I read chapters on poultry and game. I learnt to fold napkins, prepare banquets and manage servants. Calves' heads on silver platters and gruesome recipes for pigs face were my horror stories. She is still considered a major British food writer; the directness and simplicity of her writing defies time and fashion. Sadly she died young in childbirth aged only 28 buther mid-19th century book on managing a British household is still the classic book of all time.

2. Elizabeth David

No list of British cookbooks could be complete without that other great food writer, Elizabeth David. Her influence on food and cooking in the twentieth century was extensive.Her writing introduced to an austere, postwar Britain a wealth of ingredients and style of cooking that we now consider mainstream. Though many of her famous works are based on Mediterranean food, her book of Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen and the monumental English Bread and Yeast Cookery are considered two major British classics and bursting with a wealth of recipes and ingredients.

3. Floyd on Britain and Ireland

He may be out of fashion now but Keith Floyd will forever remain as one of the best TV cooks for me. He was informative, inspiring and above all, incredibly funny. I wholeheartedly agree with his drinking wine while cooking. His groundbreaking TV series and many books are considered classics today. But his book, Floyd on Britain and Ireland, is one of the books I regularly take from the shelf. It is an excellent reference book on British and Irish cooking and the recipes, tempting and lively.

4. Sue Lawrence Book of Baking

Of the many, many new books I have read recently, the one that stands out most is from Scottish writer Sue Lawrence and her Book of Baking. The sticky, batter splattered cover and well-thumbed pages bear testament to its popularity in this house especially page 107. Warm date cake with fudge topping is one of the easiest cakes ever to make and scores a hit every time. Delicious, as are all the recipes in the book.

5. Mary Berry's Christmas Collection

No British cookbook collection is complete without at least on Mary Berry Book. The "Queen of Baking" her Christmas collection is a must-have for festive cooking.
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