Recipes Modern British cookery books and reference books
London walksLondon pubsEating in LondonBritish curry

Amuse Bouche recipe
Amuse Bouche
of summer salad
Brill parcels recipe
Stuffed courgette flowers
Melon Soup
Melon soup
Brill parcels recipe
Brill parcels
Cod and Courgette
Cod and courgette cake
Sausage and Mash
Sausage and Mash
Steak and Puffball
Steak and Puffball
Scallops with haggis and peas
Scallops with haggis and peas

Modern British cookery books
Traditional English food
Food history
Gordon Ramsay
Paul Gayler

Where there is a price button you may order the book from the bookseller

Reference works
I make no apology for the heavy emphasis on the works of Alan Davidson.

The Oxford Companion to food - Alan Davidson
20 years in the writing. Huge improvement on the over French Larousse Gastronomique. Everyone should have one.
Opening at a random page I get.... Gallimaufrey, Game, Gammelost,Gaper, Garden Mace,Garfish,Garlic ,Garum. 865 pages. 2650 entries.
"The major scholarly work of the decade" Observer
This Is one of those books you can annoy people with, you will keep on saying things like "did you know avocado means testicle" or "how long does it take to boil a potato in La Paz?1" and "don't eat Balut in the Philippines 2" or "Balti is really a cookpan you know".

Also: Penguin paperback version

1 up to two hours due to altitude 
2 Its a fertilised egg complete with chick

Mediterranean Seafood Alan Davidson
The fish, crustaceans and molluscs, illustrated and described with European names and a selection of recipes. Essential when travelling abroad 432p 21.5cm x 14cm


North Atlantic Seafood Alan Davidson
512p 20cm x 13cm As with "mediterranean" above for the cold water fish.

Seafood A Connoisseurs Guide & Cookbook Davidson & Knox Lavishly illustrated with Charlotte Knox's field guide standard paintings of the fish and seafood described. 208 pages. With a section at the end on seafood cookery, equipment and sauces.

Leith's Techniques Bible Spaul and Bruce-Gardyne
This invaluable book details the skills taught at Leith's school of food. Part 1 deals with kitchen basics such as food safety, knife skills, equipment, healthy eating, storage, menu planning. Part 2 takes ingredients one at a time, starting with "aspic, baking, batters, bread, cakes, cake icing, canapés, caramel, cheese" and so on for 57 topics. Methods of preparation are described and sample recipes given. Usefully, there is a "what has gone wrong when..." section at the end of each topic. Part 3 gives conversion tables and a useful glossary of food terms. 779 pages.

see also:-
Cookery Bible
Seasonal Bible
Vegetarian Bible
Fish Bible (UK new 2005 edition)
617 pages of information, divided into a "basics" section, choosing, preparation, cooking methods, equipment, presentation, wine and the fishing industry. Followed by the recipes section, 488 pages of recipes for fish by type. Sections on cod family, herring, mackerel, flat fish, other cold water fish, exotics, marine game and shellfish. Preserved fish, seaweed, sushi, marinades, sauces and other accompaniments and about 30 pages of glossaries and tables. Each fish section starts with a table of best time to buy, latin and foreign names. The recipe section is about one page per recipe, alternative fish are suggested, as are wines. Each section has an introduction to the species to be cooked. The book is not heavily illustrated, the few illustrations are mainly of filleting and other preparation methods along with colour photos of representative fish and a few of the recipes.
"...coverage of every type of fish you are ever likely to buy in Britain" Rick Stein.

McGee on Food and Cooking

The science of food. An encyclopaedia, also covering the historical and cultural aspects of food.
If you want to understand what's actually happening when you cook, in the expectation of then having more control, this is a book to read. After chapters on each type of food, there are chapters on cooking methods and materials and the four basic food molecules (water, fats, carbohydrates and proteins), followed by a short chemistry primer.

"...Standard reference in the English speaking world for decades" Alan Davidson
"One of the greatest cookery books ever written" Heston Blumenthal


The Cook's Book
A general cookery guide with a difference. This book could just seem to be one of the many general guides on the market. But start to look at some of the authors:- Marcus Wareing (meat), Ken Hom (chinese), Paul Gayler (sauces, grains, pulses), Charlie Trotter (fish, vegetables), Shaun Hill (fruit and nuts, stocks) and Feran Adriá of El Bulli, considered by many the best restaurant in the world, and you realize there is something unusual here. A general cookbook, written by some of the worlds best chefs. In amongst the sections on pasta, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Middle Eastern, noodles and dumplings, pastry and cakes, we get Adriá on  foams! (espumas). something you will not easily find elsewhere. In addition to well illustrated descriptions of techniques, many of the chefs provide "signature recipes" from their restaurants including El Bulli's "Potato Foam - 21st Century Tortilla", which at first glance sits a little oddly with "shepherds pie with piccalilli". But perhaps there is nothing wrong with a book that will take you all the way from home cooked comfort food to the cutting edge?


Tools for Cooks Christine McFaddon
Inputs from Raymond Blanc, Rose Gray, Madhur Jaffrey, Jamie Oliver, Ken Hom & others.
If you don't know why sugar pans are copper, what a mandolin1, salamander or chinois are for, what shape of knife to use to bone fish or cut cheese, or how to maintain that essential aid to meringue making, the copper bowl, this could be a book for you. 142 pages of illustrated kitchen essentials (no gimmicks) with explanations of how to use them and illustrative recipes. Appendices of manufacturers, retailers and web resources. Splash proof cover.
1 Mandolin - basically, an adjustable blade set in a metal plate with a guide and food holder to facilitate the thin slicing of foods. Simple versions without guide and holder are very useful for removing fingertips !

Jane Grigsons Vegetable Book
Definitive. Every vegetable described by the late Jane Grigson with cooking methods and recipes. Essential for every cook. 607 pages
and the companion volume :- 
Jane Grigsons Fruit Book ditto for fruit ! 510 pages

Food Lovers guide to Britain
Henrietta Green
1000 places to find good food in England, Scotland and Wales (currently 96/97 edition) foreword by Derek Cooper of Radio 4's "The Food Programme"


Complete Mushroom Book - the quiet hunt - Carluccio 224 pages
A book in two halves. First a field guide to all the wild and cultivated species described with illustrations of individual mushrooms and habitat. Second come methods of cooking and preserving and about one hundred pages of recipes to suit individual varieties. This book is a must if you have a source of wild or unusual mushrooms nearby.

Michael Jackson - Michelle Beazley pocket guide to Beer
Pocket sized guide to all the world's beers


Michael Jackson - Michelle Beazley pocket bar guide
Pocket sized guide to all the world's drinks including cocktails


Modern British cookery books

The Best of Modern British Cookery Sarah Freeman
A collection of recipes concentrating on the principle of using well sourced seasonal local produce. A number of the recipes are contributed by "celebrities" such as  Alastair Little's beef in Guinness and Rowley Leigh's signature scallops with pea puree and mint vinaigrette, a favourite of mine for many years. Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm and Borough Market contributes Gloucester Old Spot with a rhubarb and apple "cheese" (The author is clearly a fan of Borough Market, as it gets several mentions). 
The book starts with a section covering basic techniques used in the recipes, such as pastry making, skinning tomatoes and peppers, ingredients and equipment. This is followed by ten sections of recipes by type (soups and pates, eggs and cheese, salads, fish, poultry and game etc). There are a fair number of British classics like summer pudding, cottage pie and steak, kidney and oyster pie, but also plenty of recipes bringing in newer flavours such as coriander, five spice and salsa verse, the latter with Herdwick mutton. "Fish pie with saffron and oysters" at first sounds exotic, but all the ingredients were at one time as British as fish and chips. The book is nicely presented with small attractive ingredient photos.
The author has also published a biography of Mrs Beeton, a book on Victorian food and is a cheese specialist and UK co-ordinator of the Slow Food Ark. 

Island Harvest Nick Nairn
Glasgow restaurateur Nick Nairn creates over 100 recipes using fresh Scottish produce. From Nettle soup through Cullen Skink to Monkfish with cumin roasted carrots and Roast Salmon with lobster vinaigrette and courgette fritters. Turbot on a bed of braised peas, lettuce and bacon is a favourite of mine, although I tend to economise and do it with cheaper frozen fish (Cheapskate!).

Great British Chefs Kit Chapman
I have the book in the original two volumes, but the current version (17 chefs) cannot fail to become a most used source of recipes 272 pages. 
My favourites from my two volumes are:-
Carol Evans -ice bowls filled with sorbet and ice cream (mint leaves are frozen into the ice - I have known guests helpfully stack them up for washing up!)
Phil Vickerys - Seared salmon coated in spices with spring onion creme fraise on couscous. (as I look at the page I can see the marks and stains that testify to a recipe being actually used - I like cookbooks to show the scars of battle ! )
Rowley Leigh - Griddled Scallops with pea and lettuce puree and mint vinaigrette (a masterpiece of flavour combinations)
and Gary Rhodes - Salmon and Sea Bass Mille Feuille (flavour and elegance)

copyrightThe Star Chefs cookbook
Lives and recipes of 18 Michelin starred chefs. Obviously not for beginners. But the pen portraits would be of interest to the non cooking restaurant goer with a deep pocket ! 
Example recipes:
- Roast seabass, chorizo, confit of aubergine infused with picholine olives and sun dried tomato juice.
- Mussel soup with saffron.
- Darne de turbotin grilee avec sauce ciboulette.
Most of the complex recipes use expensive ingredients making this either a cookbook for the affluent or a famous restaurant /chef book for the parsimonious food-voyeur.

copyrightThe Ivy AA Gill
As much a souvenir of a visit to the restaurant as a cookbook, but a valuable addition to the bookshelf. Experience a day in the life of the Ivy and learn to cook its classics. 
"1.30AM....the air conditioning cuts out. All day it has been a blank white hiss, almost unnoticeable beneath the eddying noise of the restaurant. Now the silence lets in the arbitrary ambient sounds of the early morning city - the clank and howl of traffic, a drunk singing " Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer" somewhere down by a lap dancing bar, the beep beep of a reversing rubbish truck. The sounds of London filter in like drizzle rinsing away the ghosts of dinner....
...Eating is the only essential bodily function that we seek to do in the company of strangers, with its ancient lines of unwritten but communally understood rituals and manners that have to be implicitly agreed for a restaurant to function." 
Excellently illustrated with "food portraits" including the famous fishcakes illustrated (detail)  and candid shots by a team of photographers

Gordon Ramsay

copyrightPassion for Seafood
Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay has been awarded three Michelin stars for his eponymously named Chelsea restaurant "Gordon Ramsay".  Here he concentrates on fish cookery from buying, equipment, preparation through cooking techniques to the recipes. Examples of the latter are Fennel soup with pan roasted cod,crab ravioli with sauce vierge, stir fried monkfish with peppers and pak choi, cod with a butter herb crust, dorade royale with spicy couscous and (illustrated) brill wrapped in crispy potatoes with a fondue of leek (this is impressive once you master it, you will need a mandolin)

Gordon Ramsay *** chef
Gordon Ramsay

*** usually refers to GRs vocabulary but in this case its his three Michelin stars. This rather sumptuous large format book in its hard silver jacket* immediately makes one think of the El Bulli books. Inside that is reinforced by the excellent food photography (Quentin Bacon)  being in a separate section from the recipes and printed on different paper appropriate to the function. The photographic section is headed "the 3 star experience" and is interspersed with comments and photos of GR at work in the kitchen and other images from the restaurant, rather in the style of "The Ivy" book. The recipes are often opulent, "oven roasted bresse pigeon wrapped in parma ham with foie gras, creamed mushrooms and a date sauce" or "tartare of beef fillet with osietra caviar and marinated red and yellow peppers". I think my first attempt will be the venison with red cabbage and parsnip cooked two ways. The recipes are adaptations from the menu at Hospital Road (one of my favourite restaurants), simplified for the domestic chef but still requiring skill, precision and quality ingredients as the books notes tell us.
*my copy from Amazon does not have the cover shown here and at Amazon, it is in plain white, lettered in silver with a hard silver dustcover.


copyrightA chef for all seasons
Gordon Ramsay
The genius of Ramsay matched to fresh ingredients in season. Ricotta gnocchi with peas and broad beans (illustrated) is a favourite of mine. The book is devided into four sections by season with an introduction on the produce that can be bought fresh at that time of year. Its a pleasant surprise to choose from the appropriate section and find all the ingredients available fresh in the markets.

Gordon Ramsay makes it easy 
Gordon Ramsay
As you would guess from the title, simplified recipes that help you to eat well without spending hours in the kitchen. Recipes grouped by occasion: breakfast/brunch, fast food, family and friends, dinner for two, barbies, kids, bellinis and blinis (parties), posh. Comes with DVD of Gordon cooking at home.


copyrightA passion for vegetables 
Paul Gayler
There are numerous books of vegetarian cooking, this is a book of vegetable cooking for the general cook. If I ever feel at a loss for an interesting vegetable  accompaniment I turn to this book.  There are also numerous things here that will stand alone, a favourite is "Jerusalem artichoke rosti with  brie, bacon and cumin" (illustrated), just as good with potato instead of artichoke.  "Braised thumb aubergines, Persian style" with pomegranate juice, tomato and harissa is good. "Mediterranean style carrot and beetroot" will partner any red meat (this has become a late  summer standard of mine once our carrots and beetroot are ready for pulling). "Parsnip gnocchi with wild mushrooms" is excellent as described or the gnocchi alone make a good accompaniment to a beef stew. 
Guild of Food Writers "Cookery book of the year" 

More Paul Gayler books

Food History
Food in History - Reay Tannahill
A panoramic history of the vast subject of food from prehistory to the present day, mapping the spread of foods such as the chilli and the tomato as they conquer the world, although there is some overlap in these two books I feel Tannerhill is stronger on tracing each individual foodstuff. I like to use it as a reference rather than read it as a narrative. 
"The book that makes your cookbooks make sense..." Nigella Lawson.

Food - A history  - Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
The author of "Civilizations", Fernandez-Armesto is  a member of the faculty of Modern History at Oxford.
A counterpoint to Tannerhill that may teach you to love cannibals and hate your microwave. Food fads get short shrift in this social history of food and cooking, seen as both the first chemistry and one of the great sensual pleasures.
I was surprised to learn how much lactose intolerance is the norm in the world and join Fernandez-Arnesto in celebrating cheese as mankinds attempt to overcome it.
Chapters cover:- The invention of cooking; food as rite and magic; domestication of crops and animals; food and rank-the rise of haute cuisines, table manners; cultural food interchanges; ecology and challenging evolution; the industrialisation of food production.


The Story of the Potato Wilson
The potato varieties and their uses along with a history of the potato
Potato recipe book

A biography of the fish that changed the world. Kurlansky
The Basques may well have discovered America before Columbus but kept quiet as they wanted the Grand Banks cod fishery to themselves.
Modern British cookery books
Traditional English food
Food history
Gordon Ramsay
Paul Gayler
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