Home chefs: The 5 best home recipe books of 2016

No sous-vide cooking baths needed here!

5. Lean in 15 – Joe Wicks

Lean in 15
Lean in 15 – Joe Wicks

Although this is not just a cooking book, it’s more of a lifestyle guide with exercises, and plans to help you shift weight, this deserves to be in the top 5. You can’t ignore the success this book and Joe Wicks has had this year. The former personal trainer turned lifestyle coach is a global success, starting by publishing 15 second recipe videos on his Instagram account he has know amassed an army of cult followers. At the time of writing his Instagram feed @thebodycoach has 1.5m followers.

The great thing about this book is the recipes are broken into 2 sections. Low-carb and carbs. Based around your exercise regime you fuel up your body with the right amount of carbs for exercise, or minimize carbs when you’re not. Just one look at his Instagram feed and the before and after photos sent in by his army of followers and you can see what all the fuss is about. Diets don’t work, lifestyle changes do. This particular lifestyle change really works!

The recipes are easy, taste great and even if you don’t plan to follow the regime to the hilt, incorporating some of the ideas from this book into your lifestyle will have a positive benefit on your waistline.


4. The nordic kitchen – Claus Meyer

The nordic kitchen
The nordic kitchen

New Nordic cuisine is a hot area in recent times.  With a focus on local, fresh and seasonal ingredients this style of cooking at the high end is refined, but as with all cuisines still has a more simplistic home style.

The popularity could also be in relation to the ongoing upward trend of health conscious meals too. Something the Scandinavians have in abundance.   Leading the charge of New Nordic food is Noma in Copenhagen, voted the worlds best restaurant in 2014.  Co-founder and chef Claus Meyer has had huge success with the highly refined dishes created there, but in this book he is sharing recipes he uses everyday at home with his family.

In keeping with the principles of New Nordic cuisine the book has a heavy focus on seasonal ingredients, splitting into 4 chapters for each season and giving advice on harvesting your own wild produce.  This inspired me to go out and collect wild garlic for the first time this year, which was incredible, and I will continue to find other wild ingredients as my knowledge and confidence to do so grows.

The recipes are for the most part easy to make, although some less confident home chefs may struggle with one or two.  I also found that some of the ingredients I had to replace with similar options available to us in the UK, but I don’t feel it negatively affected the dishes.


3. Marcus at home – Marcus Wareing

Marcus at home
Marcus at home

Marcus Wareing became one of the youngest ever recipients of a Michelin star at the grand old age of 26. Since then he has gone on to have outstanding success at his three restaurants in London, Marcus at The Berkeley, The Gilbert Scott and Tredwell’s. He is also known as the main judge on Masterchef: The Professional’ since 2014 and as a regular judge on The Great British Menu.

In Marcus at home, he shows you how to cook some of his favourite dishes made away from the professional kitchens.

The book is split into helpful chapters such as “Midweek”, “Weekend”, “Entertaining” or “Baking” and combines interesting new recipes such as Eggs and Avocado with Chorizo Jam or Buttermilk Pannacotta with Thyme Crumble, to Marcus’ takes on classics such as Roast Dinner and Chocolate Cake.

I found the instructions in the recipes easy to follow and the Smoked Paprika butter will be one I keep making again and again!


2. Samarkand: Recipes and stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus – Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford

This is a book to delight food lovers, travel hounds and history buffs alike. – The Telegraph

Samarkand: Recipes and stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus
Samarkand: Recipes and stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus

Samarkand is part travel book part recipe book.  The majority are recipes however with over 100 inspired by the authors travels.  What I found enjoyable about the book was getting lost in the travel stories and discovering the food ideas the authors found there.  It’s an enjoyable read and a classic coffee table book that friends will love to flick through.

The reason I have put this book so high is because the book covers cuisines in regions that aren’t regularly covered, and there are a lot of new ideas in this book to me.

Cuisines from regions including Russia, Korean, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan are introduced and adapted to be used by a home cook. Highlights include…

  • Apricot and lentil soup
  • Chapli kebabs with tomato relish
  • Kefir pancakes with blackberry syrup
  • …and my personal favourite  Chicken shashlik with onions and pomegranate.


SIMPLE; effortless food, big flavour
SIMPLE; effortless food, big flavour

1.  SIMPLE: effortless food, big flavour – Diana Henry

‘This is everything I want from a cookbook: inspiration, intelligent company, great good-mood food, and beautiful writing.’
Nigella Lawson

Of all the books this year this is my favourite.  If you’ve never owned a Diana Henry cookbook then you really are missing out.  I didn’t realise this myself until discovering SIMPLE; effortless food, big flavour. Highlights include…

  • Cider rarebit
  • Toast with crab and coriander-chilli mayo
  • Melon, blueberry and feta salad with ginger and mint
  • Huevos rotos (Spanish smoked eggs)
  • Salmon tartar and avocado on rye bread and many more…

The ideas in this book are inspirational, Diana’s passion really shines through and most of the ingredients are readily available in your kitchen cupboard and at the local supermarket.  Real food, for everyday life made special.


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