10 favourite cookbooks for 2012 + some news!

[tabs slidertype=”images” auto=”yes” autospeed=”6000″]
[imagetab width=”640″ height=”426″] http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8205/8245381709_fd9cf7dc8d_z.jpg [/imagetab]
[imagetab width=”640″ height=”426″] http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8488/8246455612_f6833f74bb_z.jpg [/imagetab]
[imagetab width=”640″ height=”426″] http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8481/8245386075_78549f8934_z.jpg [/imagetab]
[imagetab width=”640″ height=”426″] http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8210/8246445124_e9cacc82ee_z.jpg [/imagetab]

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] D[/dropcap]o you think Santa reads blogs? Yeah, I’m not sure he’d have time to either…

But just in case one of the elves is trawling the blogosphere, I thought I’d share with you 10 of my favourite cookbooks from this year. And share my Christmas cookbook wishlist too…You never know who’s reading. I also have some news but more on that later…

My aim is to give you some inspiration for your own Christmas shopping and/or your own wish list. After all, if you’re anything like me, there won’t be many gifts that you’ll get excited about thank new shiny cookbooks with gorgeous photographs.

10 favourite cookbooks from 2012

1. Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
As I mentioned recently, this is the first cookbook that has ever inspired dinner 4 nights in a row. Most of the recipes fall into the 5-ingredients category, so they get a tick for simplicity. And of course there’s plenty of veg and healthy options.

2. The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater
I didn’t even know my favourite food writer had put out a new book, until I happened to see it in a bookstore at Kings Cross / St Pancras station in London. I hesitated to get it, knowing I’d have to lug it around with me but my Irishman stepped in and I’m so glad he did. Slater is someone who just keeps getting better and better. I’ve enjoyed this second installment of the kitchen diaries even more than the first, and have bookmarked to try practically every second recipe. If you’re more of a DVD person, I’ve been watching Slater’s ‘Simple Suppers’ series and really loving it.

3. Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables by Matt Wilkinson
I love everything about this book: the title, design and of course the vegetable-focused recipes. Some are a bit ‘cheffy’ as one expects from a chef-written book. But there are enough simple and creative new ideas to keep most home cooks happy and interested.

4. Cumulus Inc. by Andrew MacConnell
If I had to choose a favourite Melbourne restaurant, Cumulus Inc would win. I’ve managed to find an excuse to eat there every trip I had to Melbourne in recent years. The Cumulus recipes tend to be on the ‘cheffy’ side, so it’s the type of book I turn to when I’m looking for inspiration for a dinner party. Not for quick midweek meals.

Everything I’ve made has been excellent. My only gripe is that the desserts are super complicated. I was lucky enough to have a long boozy lunch at the house of some friends who also have the book and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in recent times.

5. Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
I love Heidi’s blog and I love her books even more. I found her latest offering even more inspirational than her first with some really creative vegetarian ideas that had me thinking ‘I wish I’d thought of that’.

6. Bourke Street Bakery by David Allam
Just as I tend to find an excuse to visit Cumulus Inc in Melbourne, I usually end up at Bourke Street Bakery when I’m in Sydney. This is my go-to book for anything indulgent and un-waistline-friendly. Or when I’m looking for a fix of gluten and sugar. I’m trying their Christmas cake recipe this year. Love that the first step is to soak dried fruit in brandy for 6 weeks.

7. Arabesque by Claudia Roden
I’ve learned so much from all of Roden’s books, starting with ‘A New Book of Middle Eastern Cookery’. But it’s Arabesque that I keep coming back to. Divided into Moroccan, Lebanese and Turkish recipes I adore her simple approach to these ‘exotic’ cuisines.

8. Seven Fires by Francis Mallman
We love cooking with fire in our house and the Argentinian grill-master has inspired more meals than I care to think about. His burnt carrot salad is still on high rotation and of course a barbeque wouldn’t be a barbeque without his fabulous chimmichurri. I’ve even started growing oregano in the garden so we’re always ready to make a batch.

9. Heston at Home by Heston Blumenthal
One of my Christmas gifts from last year. Heston is about as far as you can get from ‘simple’ cooking, so there aren’t many recipes I was keen to try. That being said, I do always learn so much from watching or reading Heston. A good one for the food nerd in your life.

10. My Grandmother’s Kitchen by Laura Clarke & Clarie Wallace
Last (by no means least) on my list is this touching book self-published by my lovely friend Laura. It’s one of those books that makes you feel better when you see it sitting on your book shelf. I love it equally for the stories of all the grandmothers included in the book and their family recipes.

My 2012 Christmas Wishlist

1. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi
I love the Ottolenghi approach to cooking and am still wishing they’d open a branch of their fabulous London restaurants here in Cooma (just putting it out there). I also love the cuisines from the Middle East so am sure that I’ll find plenty to enjoy about this book.

2. Movida Cocina by Frank Camorra
A few weeks ago I cooked dinner for some friends inspired by the first Movida book. It was such a success that I can’t wait to dig into some new Spanish-inspired recipes. If you’re ever in Melbourne, and now Sydney, it’s worth making time for a meal at one of the Movida restaurants but the next best thing is pouring over the books.

3. What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies
Easily my favourite blog in the whole world when it comes to food photography. Although to be honest, I haven’t ever cooked any recipes. This is a book that is all about marveling (and drooling) over the pictures of the food. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with that.

4. Charcuterie by Jane Grisgon
After taking a class at the Agrarian Kitchen in Tasmania, last year, my Irishman and I were lucky to meet some like-minded charcuterie fans who live not far from us. This year we formed a ‘secret sausage society’ and have been experimenting with making our our salami, proscuitto and chorizo. Loads of fun and I’m always on the lookout for new ideas.

5. Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer by Maynard Davies
Our most recent batch of bacon from the ‘secret sausage society’ ended up being way too salty. I’m hoping this book will help us reach homemade bacon ‘nirvana’.

NOTE: All the links above are affiliate links so if you do end up making a purchase you’ll be supporting Stonesoup. Thanks!

And the news!

I’m super excited to announce that 2013 is going to be a big year for Stonesoup! Penguin Books are publishing my new proper, physical print book…
5 Ingredients 10 Minutes‘.

Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing more details in the new year!

5-spice chicken salad-2

5-Spice Chicken Salad

Takes about 10 minutes.

Adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in The Kitchen Diaries II.

This is the type of thing I love to have for mid-week meals. It’s quick and warming enough to feel like a real dinner but not heavy at all. Chinese 5-spice isn’t something I cook with very often, but whenever I do I really love it. In Australia it’s available in supermarkets. In other parts of the world you might need to track down a specialist spice merchant or an Asian grocery store. It keeps for ages so it’s worth any hassle.

enough for 2:
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice
1-2 small red chillies, chopped
450g (1lb) chicken thighs fillets or breasts, sliced into thumb sized pieces
1-2 limes
4 handfuls washed salad leaves

1. Pop a frying pan or wok on a medium-high heat.

2. Combine 5-spice, chilli with 2 tablespoons of oil (I used macadamia but any neutral flavoured oil is good) and a little salt. Toss chicken to coat in the oil.

3. Cook chicken for about 2 minutes on the first side.

4. Turn and cook, covered for another 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Remove from the heat and squeeze over some lime juice.

6. Divide salad between 2 plates. Top with hot chicken and serve with lime on the side.

vegetarian – replace chicken with slices of halloumi.

vegan – try Chinese 5 spice tofu.

different meat – pork fillets or firm white fish will also be great. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

can’t find Chinese 5-spice? – make your own. Combine 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground star anise, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, 1.5 teaspoons ground fennel seeds, and 0.5 teaspoons ground black pepper. Keep leftovers in a glass jar or ziplock bag.

different greens
– play around with the salad leaves, St Nigel used snow pea sprouts as well as the salad leaves. Steamed bok choy would also be lovely.

more saucey – make a lime ‘aioli’ by stirring the zest of a lime and a crushed clove of garlic into some good quality mayo.

Video version of the recipe.

Made With Love Info Sheets

Merry Christmas!

Since this is the last Stonesoup post for the year, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to you for reading Stonesoup this year. It really means a lot to me.

I wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and all the best for the new year ahead.

Stonesoup will be back on the 8th January,

With love,
Jules x

ps. Do you have any favourite cookbook discoveries? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


  • I just was thinking last night, I wonder when Jules will get a book deal? Congratulations! I will be giving out hard copies of it next year for Christmas! Have a Merry Christmas and joyous New Year!

  • Hi Jules,
    Jerusalem is also on my wish list, but I may add the Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer as I’ve been making my own bacon for a while now. Are there a lot of bacon (cure) recipes in it?
    When my bacon has been too salty, it’s because I didn’t really scrub the cure off throughly before I smoked it.
    Happy Holidays!

  • I am so pleased there will be a ‘physical’ book in 2013. I love your recipes but not fond of eBooks, I like to sit down to read, touch, smell, drool over and plan recipes, so can’t wait for your book to be published. Merry Christmas!

  • Hi Jules – I was fortunate enough to do an “in conversation” session with two of the women behind my new favourite cookbook, The Monday Morning Cooking Club. A group of Jewish women got together in and around the Bondi Junction area a couple of years ago to talk about, try out and finally, to preserve and share traditional recipes from mothers, grandmothers and so on. These older women were from various parts of Europe and the resulting book is both delightful and useful. It’s beautifully photographed, there are wonderful stories and the recipes really work. Check it out at http://mondaymorningcookingclub.com.au/

  • Wow! I would be overcome with joy if Santa brought me any one of the books you mention here. Every single one would be even better. Note to self: If $$ are received as Christmas gifts, seek out these amazing books. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • I preferred Nigel Slater’s Real Food to kitchen diaries – it’s hearty recipes were the perfect foil to bleak London winter evenings. Now I’m back in Australia I find myself turning to the lighter, simpler recipes found in Donna Hay’s early cookbooks for Marie Claire, and Oz Harvest’s new cookbook is on my xmas wishlist!

    Merry Christmas and congratulations on the news about your book; effortless meals are where I’m at!

  • Congratulations on your book deal! I love that book and lent it to friends who couldn’t seem to work out other books – even if they only came away with 1 or 2 new recipes, at least it got them away from packaged hamburger patties (which I am forever thankfull for given this person’s health issues).

    Your wishlist is a good one – I have the Jerusalem book and have made several of the vegetarian recipes from here for dinner – so far no fails, no bombs and just many more recipies that I look forward to cooking. The same goes for movinda Cucina – lovely photos, great flavours!!!!!!

    Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks Alex!
      You know you were only one of about 5 people who got the physical version first time around since it was so expensive! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The new version has evolved and about 50% of the recipes are new.
      Merry Christmas!

  • Chicken looks delicious!! Great photo, Jul. I’m licking my lips wishing I was having that for dinner tonight!! Luv u xoxo

  • Hi Clance, Congratulations re: your Penguin publication news – Fantastic news! Have a fantastic holiday and Christmas break – all the best for 2013. Lots of love Jane

  • Hi Jules… some exciting and mouthwatering reading – especially the news about your deal with Penguin. Many congrats. I’ll be on the lookout for that.
    Meanwhile, OMG, you’re in Cooma? Just down the road from me? and here I was thinking you were a sophisticated Sydney-sider… Best wishes for a great Christmas…

  • Wow-weee that’s one great thing to top of the year. Can’t wait to read it and I’ve ordered Hugh’s Book – can’t wait for it to arrive.

  • Merry christmas to you

    my favorit (cook)book 2012 has been An everlasting meal, not for the recepies, but for it’s beauty abought food. Beauty is a strange word, but it is what I feel.

  • Merry Christmas Jules. I like the look of the new Smitten Kitchen, Dinner A Love Story and the one from Cannelle and Vanille! Best of all there is a fab salad one out that looks divine – Salad for Dinner. Yum, I’ll have to add Cuisine du Coeur otherwise I’ll be in big trouble! (Have spent the year working on a huge cookbook for one of the school’s in Sydney. It’s out in Feb and will be divine). Good luck with your cookbook – very exciting news – can we pre-order now?!!!!!

    • Thanks for the suggestions Jos!
      And great question on the pre-ordering… will have to find out and report back :)

  • Congratulations on the book deal! That is fabulous, but hardly surprising! Your recipes and photography are just brilliant, it was only ever a matter of time.

    Hope you have a lovely break. Merry Christmas!

  • Merry Christmas Jules, I was lucky enough to get Hugh’s new book for a gift and i love it. Made the chicken salad last night and it was prefect , nice and quick for busy farmers.

  • The burnt carrot salad you mentioned sounds amazing.
    I know you can get a Schwarz Perfect Shake in Chinese 5-spice in UK supermarkets but I’m a bit wary of it – I think it’s fairly salty and possibly has MSG in?
    The chicken salad makes me wonder if I could recreate Yo Sushi’s ginger chicken salad at home. I always go for that when I’m there even though it’s not sushi.

  • Congratulations on the book deal, I shall look forward to reading it. I use so many of your recipes to help a young mother I mentor to learn to cook. I feel sure that your book will be a great gift for her next Christmas.

  • “Real Fresh Food” by Roger and Anna Wilde click here http://www.wildhealthfood.com/
    I love their blog and being in New Zealand it’s really good to get recipes for here. I took the book out of the library but think I may buy it: each recipe I’ve tried has been easy and delicious, a few new favourites already!

    Well done for the book deal, I look forward to it. Happy New Year!

  • Loving Craig Winter’s “Sunrise Over Fraser” here at the moment. It’s an Australian regional collection but uses ingredients that everyone has access to :)

  • Hi Jules,
    Noticed you list Hugh’s cookbook. I was just watching an episode of River Cottage where they made a vegan chocolate mousse with avocados! Thought you might be interested as its slow carb. Have you ever tried it? I might give it a go. Looked interesting!

    Hope you’re having a nice Christmas/ New Years!

  • Wishing you a Happy New Year!! Thank you for sharing Nigel’s recipe and your cook book list. I also really enjoy Nigel’s cooking. Love how he always takes pleasure in his ingredients “getting to know eachtother”.

  • Thank you Jules for including My Grandmother’s Kitchen in your top ten cook books for 2012. We feel honoured to be part of your favourite books and part of such an accomplished list of celebrity chefs and authors! Laura and I are so happy to hear about your publishing deal for 5 Ingredients 10 Minutes, can’t wait to hear more. Congratulations! xo

Comments are closed.