Just figured out that cooking is fun?
Written by Reilly Hodson
The lockdown period has created a lot of change in people’s day-to-day lives, and none more so than all the cooking. Turns out, when restaurants, cafes and takeaway joints are all closed, you have to cook every single day.
For some, this has become a massive hassle, filled with frustration. To those people I say, look at our list of good local takeaways and support the places you relied on before lockdown to get your sustenance. For some, though, it’s been the start of a great new hobby. Suddenly people are making their own bread, or pasta, or whipped coffees. Some of us have realised that, especially when you have the time to dedicate to it, cooking at home can be fun, actually.
While the internet is a great resource for finding great new recipes to try out, it’s hard to beat an old-fashioned cook book, and there are plenty of good ones stacked with recipes to add to your personal rotation if you’re sick of making the same focaccia you found on someone’s Instagram that one time. Here are my picks for cookbooks to take on when you want to elevate your cooking basics. Plus, they all look great on your shelf. Buy them from local bookstores.
Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman
Alison Roman has been described by many as the queen of lockdown cooking. She’s a columnist for The New York Times Cooking and she specialises in really good, hearty meals that you can add to your weeknight rotation very easily. She’s been on different IG Lives pretty much every night, and her story is packed with great at-home meals. Nothing Fancy is meant to be mostly for cooking and having people over, which feels more like a dream than a reality at this point, but there are a tonne of great recipes in here that you can cook big portions of and put in the fridge for leftover sandwiches. The photos are great and she writes about cooking in a really approachable way. Her food isn’t fussy, but it is delicious, and it’s easy to replicate at home.
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
You might have caught Samin Nosrat’s Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat when it came out (if you haven’t you should watch, it’s some of the best food TV out there), and if you did but didn’t know that there is also a book of the same name, now you do. Salt Fat Acid Heat focuses on cooking fundamentals that Nosrat learned from cooking in fancy professional kitchens, with a couple of basic recipes sprinkled in, so it’s a real “sit down and learn how to cook” type of book rather than the more classic list of recipes vibe. Excellent if you’ve decided that being extremely good at cooking is now your “thing” and you’ve already started your food-focused Instagram over lockdown.
Downtime by Nadine Levy Redzepi
Nadine Levy Redzepi is married to one of the most famous chefs in the world, but this book has nothing to do with Noma’s fancy foams and ferments. Instead, it’s just the recipes she cooks for her kids at home, and it is packed with excellent, simple meals that taste really yum. Need a great recipe for roast chicken that never fails, and the soup you should make with the leftover carcass? How about some dumplings that you make at home with store-bought wrappers and pork sausages? This is the book you need.
(We couldn’t find this one in stock locally, but call up your local bookstore and ask them to order it in for you)
Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is the proprietor of a number of very well regarded restaurants in London, and his cookbooks have a worldwide following, too. Simple is his latest and it’s more or less what it says on the tin. Very good, simple recipes to make your meals that little bit more interesting. For home cooking, a little bit of extra effort can go a long way to making a meal way better, and this book is chock full of examples of that. I’m a particular fan of the salads, because a good salad is really easy and very satisfying.
Carter’s Cookbook by Carter Were
Carter and Harriet Were left a fancy-toast shaped hole in the Auckland food scene when they closed Were Bros a few years back and Carter moved to Australia. Luckily, though, you can get a taste of that magic with Carter’s Cookbook, described simply as “a simple book of food that Carter makes.” Hard to argue with that. The first print run sold out, but they’re taking orders for the second run now and ship worldwide, so get in quick. You can also chuck a hand-knitted cloth onto your order, and honestly, why wouldn’t you?