Comfort Cook Books

I woke up at 6 AM this Monday morning and decided to go through my 5679 cookbooks. For me reading a cookbook is like reading a novel or a short story. Recipes, ingredients, measurements and methods in cookbooks fill me with as much excitement as fiction does and really just makes me salivate and grin like Macavity the mystery cat. And because I promised myself I’d make a book list every month, here’s my list of comfort cookbooks. Each of these has a very special memory and I am certainly going to share a few with you.

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I love the contents, it reminds me of Quentin Blake illustrations.

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While I worked at Godrej, I had the good fortune of spending some time with my favourite Australian chefs. Your Place or Mine? co-authored by Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris is just plain addictive. Easy recipes, with ingredients that are available at Godrej Nature’s Basket and I love how often I’ve added my own spin to these recipes and fed myself some wonderful meals.

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Next up is another favourite, Comfort Food by Gary Mehigan this book really makes me want to turn into a full-time cook, and feed everyone who will eat. Gary’s hysterical sense of humour makes reading this just as much fun as cooking the recipes. The food photography by Dean Cambray is ridiculously delicious and Gary’s introduction turns me into a sentimental water buffalo. While cooking, using this book, I religiously pretend that I am on Masterchef Australia. I don’t see anything wrong with a spot of fantasy! Do you?

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Of course, it’s an autographed copy. The Vietnamese Chicken Coleslaw is my all time favourite. I do not treat this as a side dish but as a legitimate main course. And yes, I eat this with bread and/or crackers and Merlot.

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La Cucina The Regional Cooking Of Italy is a mammoth book, it’s a collective of recipes from the heart of Italian culture. Translated by the brave Jay Hyams, this book makes me gasp and groan. I can scarcely focus when I sit down to read this book. Since most of them are family recipes and not tested in a professional kitchen, they work beautifully for me as an amateur cook. I’ve broken the bank to buy Parmigiano and Pecorino and Gorgonzola and rustled up some memorable dinners. Oh, my best friend’s wonderfully German husband, who was a house guest, gifted me this book.

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Jamie’s 15 and 30-minute meals helped me conjure up several weeknight dinners, at least while I was a working adult. Now that I don’t have a day job, I love pouring over various other Jamie books. Jamie At Home is something Abhik At Home swears by. The only recipe that I’ve cooked over and over again is the delicious cherry tomato and sausage bake. It’s a one pan deal, it has sausages, garlic, tinned tomatoes from Crawford market. The leftovers are shoved into a pasta dish the next day or eaten with a crisp toast.

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Pomegranates and Roses by Ariana Bundy was picked up at the airport. Her intimate account of recipes from an Iranian family’s kitchen was breathtaking. Reading through this transported me to the now feared Iran. It truly is incredible how Persia has influenced so many cuisines around the world. This book is completely stacked to the brim with delicious Onami lime powders, dried rose petals, white mulberries, sunflowers and lavash.  Ariana shares pictures and anecdotes of her family, there is humour and rose gardens and memories and weddings and summers by the Caspian sea. Get yourself a copy and travel through the recipes documented by her to a land rich and diverse and spectacularly inviting.

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This is a smashing picture book. This one makes me pop-up like a toast from a toaster!

Jill Cox and Loukie Werle’s Ingredients must have had the entire editorial and production team up in arms! Can you imagine shooting in a great organisation, with order and detail – herbs, spices, seeds, spreads, flavourings, oils, fats, dairy, fungi, fruits, flours, cereals, seafood, meats, game, beverages, condiments, bush food and more?

What I can imagine is how intense the process and production must have been. It’s a book rich in information and it has pictures that complement the knowledge. Someone find me more such books, Now.

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In this picture you have!

Pineapple, plum, prune, rockmelon, raisin, sultana, almond (in shell, kernel, ground, flaked, blanched, slivered)! Brazil nut, cashew nut, chestnut, coconut.

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In this picture you have!

Pig’s lungs, pig’s heart, pig’s liver, lamb’s heart, ox’s heart, lamb’s pluck and calf’s liver.

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In this picture you have!

Saint-Marcellin, Bonde En Gatine, Roquefort, Bleu De Gex, Blue D’Auvergine,

Banon A La Feuille and Boulette D’Avesnes.

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In this picture you have!

Pike, Wild Salmon, Sardine, Smelt, Cat Fish and Sea Trout.

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Phaidon comes up with really divine books; there isn’t a sliver of doubt about this fact. This piece of brick, at 1500 pages can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. The Silver Spoon has sold over 1 million copies, that means 1 million people have access to a weapon of mass destruction and over 2000 recipes in one place. Phew! Eating is clearly a very serious matter. I love referring to this book when I can’t decide what to read. It’s a treasure trove of sauces, marinades and flavoured kinds of butter. It is also home to some exquisite and very enviable food photography.

Here take a look.

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PS: The sole in melted butter and piquant sauce are such easy meals to rustle up. I can fax you the recipe if you please!

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And finally please applaud for two more productions by Phaidon,  Recipes from an Italian Supper and And I Know How to Cook. All I really want to say about these books is: their simplicity and candour has won me over. These books are unlike any. Recipes from an Italian Supper has its contents divided into Picnics, Salads, Barbecues, Light Lunches & Suppers, Summer Entertaining, Desserts and Ice Cream And Drinks. What’s not to love. And I Know How to Cook has the fonts, the format, the graphics, the recipes and the photographs that tempt me to snuggle with this book, for a very long time.

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Reading cookbooks is dangerous and therapeutic. Dangerous because it aids in building up a wicked appetite and therapeutic because it helps conjure up visions of the good life, one which doesn’t involve cooking as much as it involves tasting food inside your brain. My venisons and mussels and my pasta and herbed butter taste so much better in my imagination. I reckon it’s so much better to live in a dream-like world where the produce is always fresh and the meat freshly butchered.

Do you have a favourite cookbook? Of course you do, please share them with me? I’m on abhikabhik@gmail.com or @abhikbee on Twitter. Yes, I’m waiting.

All pictures were shot on dads fancy pants iPhone.

© [Abhik Bhattacherji] and [Seventh Breakfast], [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Abhik Bhattacherji] and [Seventh Breakfast] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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