There are a myriad of cookery books all competing for our attention. I cannot claim I’ve read all of them, but I have experienced a few which any serious cook will find very useful.
As far as general recipe books go, ones that cover a variety of foods, there are three I can whole-heartedly recommend. Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinsonis a wonderful little book that has easy recipes and tells interesting stories associated with the ingredients.
Simon Hopkinson is a great chef and an entertaining author, perfectly willing to dabble in more baroque food as presented in the second book I would recommend: The Prawn Cocktail Years This book is a real hoot, with all kinds of food that are no longer fashionable such as coq au vin, marquise au chocolat and other dishes time has passed by.
The final general recipe book I feel is worth shelling out for is How to Eat: Pleasures and Principles of Good Food by Nigella LawsonThis is a big book packed with easy to follow recipes, with sections including low-fat food and cooking for children. There is plenty of interest in this book.
There are two books I would suggest for dealing with specific ingredients. If you fancy some fishy action then Rick Stein’s Seafood is a very useful book. It has plenty of information on how to prepare different types of seafood as well as lots of good recipes.
Of course, meat is what we are all really interested in cooking, and you’ll do it justice if you follow the guidance in The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-WhittingstallThis is probably my favourite cookery book; meat is generally the way forward. Hugh has useful things like roasting time and temperature tables, and even some recipes in which meat is not the main ingredient, such as the utterly delicious Boston baked-beans. This book is the monk’s manhood.
Finally, a book I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently is the key to successful Thai cooking – Thai Food by David ThompsonYou cannot go wrong with this book. The recipes are clearly presented and quite delicious. It also gives plenty of information on the history and culture associated with the food. A real gem.
I do own other cookery books, but these six are those I would least like to do without. If you buy these you’ll always be able to cook up a storm and impress your dining companions.