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4 cookbooks that are simply delicious to the last page

Andrea Burgener's pick of great books for cooks

19 July 2017 - 12:03 By andrea burgener
'From Venice to Istanbul' by Rick Stein (pictured) is huge value for money.
'From Venice to Istanbul' by Rick Stein (pictured) is huge value for money.
Image: Supplied

Though I did advise on a few food-related books not too long ago (read my reviews), there is such a shiny, tempting bounty out there at the moment that I can't help but gush a bit about those which are on my current wish list.

For some inane reason when I'm Googling recipes I'll take the dumbest blogger's idea on food hacks and give it a whirl; when I buy a book, the author is like a game-ranger in the bush; a pilot on a small plane with one engine. (I want to feel really secure.)

All these books are both beautiful (important if it's a present) and I can almost promise, based on the authors, that they'll will deliver in spades.

1) From Venice to Istanbul

by Rick Stein, published by BBC Books, R509

You can think of Rick Stein as a bit of an old prat or love him, but one thing is for sure, he takes the sourcing and handing over of a recipes very seriously. He honours the ''original", tells you if something is swapped out instead of adopting an annoying postmodern ''my-version-is-also-reality" position.

His nice, fat From Venice to Istanbul is huge value for money. I almost long to buy it just for Patrick Leigh Fermor's moussaka, the recipe Stein got from Fermor's housekeeper, Elpida.  

2) Falling Cloudberries

by Tessa Kiros, published by Murdoch Books, R459

So talented, so beautiful, so successful; surely all cookbook authors kinda hate Kiros? Well no, that's impossible, because she is clearly so incredibly nice, and her food is so very good.

This, her second book of ten to date, certainly isn't anything like recent, as cookbook collectors will know. I can't understand why I haven't bought it yet, because everything anyone has cooked me from it has been wonderful unfussy, gutsy stuff from the various countries she's lived in, including many from South Africa, so I reckon it's next up. 

3) On the Side

by Ed Smith, published by Bloomsbury, R519

It doesn't sound promising, but this little gem, subtitled ''A source book of Inspiring Side Dishes" is fantastically useful. And yes, inspiring. Butter-basted chicory, carrot-juiced carrots, an unlikely sounding brinjal and cream concoction.

Based on Smiths' extensive, intelligent food writing, I know he's turned sides into the heroes they should be, and that I'll want to cook them all. 

4) Tasting Rome

by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill, published by Clarkson Potter, R474

Okay, I'm stupidly loopy about Rome, but actually I rate this book because of co-author Katie Parla's wonderful blog. She's lived in the city for years, and knows every nook and cranny related to food and dining.

Pasta cacio e pepe, carbonara, suppli and other Roman greats are all here, but the important thing is that Parla is meticulous and the recipes are garnered from the very best source in the city.  

This article was originally published in The Times.