5 perfect cookbooks for Christmas

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

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The festive season is upon us. Lucky for me, my work involves making books, so I feel like a self-fulfilling Father Christmas. I have a cookbook recommendation for every kind of cook – though not, perhaps, for my father, who finds boiling an egg in a saucepan too tricky, resulting in his purchase of an electric egg-boiling spaceship which he employs with unfettered pride when he ‘hosts’ breakfast for the family. For everyone else, here are my top recommendations for cookbooks:

1. Just a French Guy Cooking

I hesitate to call this a man’s book, but I do think the author’s geeky approach to cooking particularly resonates with men. The eponymous Frenchman, Alex, has a YouTube channel with a staggering million followers, who watch him experimenting with food and deconstructing otherwise baffling cooking techniques to demystify them. His French accent, modern ‘mad professor’ vibe and dedication to food make for compulsive viewing. His cookbook has the same aim: to make cooking as simple as it should be, and fun. It’s for anyone who’s ever found it too daunting to get in a kitchen and for whom trawling the internet for recipes is too overwhelming. His kitchen hacks and ramen upgrades alone are worth the cover price.

Stand-out recipe: A convenient onion soup

2. Cocoa

‘Chocoholic’ means something quite different now versus a decade ago. Now we’re talking about single origins, flavour profiles, anti-slavery commitments and craft chocolate, when before it meant an overly enthusiastic consumption of Dairy Milk. Sue Quinn has done what we all wished someone would ask us to do: research chocolate from every angle and write a book that examines the cultural, historical, political, culinary and mystical lives of cocoa through the centuries, accompanied by recipes that even cocoa connoisseurs will be surprised by (and not in a ‘what are these Maltesers doing on my salmon fillet’ way). I have the book displayed face-out on my bookshelf at home, such is its beauty and inspiration.

Stand-out recipe: Caponata

3. Pies and Tarts

Grab your apron, tune into a play on the radio and shut yourself in the kitchen to make the most therapeutic dish of the long, dark winter months: pie. I can vouch for all the recipes in this deeply satisfying book, having dutifully tasted every one on the photo shoot. It’s hard to say which one wins the award for most moreish, but I would argue that anything that involves puff pastry hiding a whole oozing cheese infused with garlic, onions and thyme and begs to be mopped up with a slice of crusty bread – because what pastry needs is a bread accompaniment – gets my vote. Gift this book and prepare to be seduced when the recipient bakes from it; it’s a stunner.

Stand-out recipe: Salted ta-honey pie

4. Scandinavian Comfort Food

From the region that brought us the impossibly aspirational concept of hygge – candles, woolly jumpers, tea in a real teacup, long coffees with friends – comes the ultimate in comforting cookbooks. The simplicity of the recipes and the atmospheric charm of the photography make this a beautiful present for that friend or relative who often cooks for a crowd and champions flavour and conviviality over bee pollen and selfies. What’s more, it’s aspirational in a way that you can actually imagine achieving – whether or not you live in Copenhagen.

Stand-out recipe: Roast chicken with rhubarb and tarragon

5. Baking with Kim-Joy

I defy anyone to open this book and not feel instantly cheered. Never before has a baking book contained woodland creatures, pig doughnuts eating garibaldi biscuits and llamas wearing headphones. Kim-Joy was a Great British Bake Off contestant last year and won legions of fans with her sunny personality – and that of her cake creations. That she can make a choux bun look like an elegant lady out for a stroll might seem incredible, but any keen bakers will be able to try for themselves with this book. And if your space-turtle buns turn out a little less adorable than Kim-Joy’s, don’t worry; in fact, post your picture on Instagram, tag Kim-Joy herself and she will find something encouraging and heart-warming to say about it. This is pure Christmas cheer in an adorable package.

Stand-out recipe: Pigfiteroles in mud

Merry Christmas!

Céline Hughes is Senior Commissioning Editor at Quadrille (part of Hardie Grant Publishing), where she commissions (predominantly) cookbooks. You can find out more about Céline by visiting her Twitter page, where you will see plenty more beautiful cookbooks!

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.