Novelist, cook and food bloggerhttps://www.annabelabbs.com/
My number one, of course! Acton is regarded as the inventor of the modern cook book and of the recipe, but she was also the inventor of gorgeous ‘food prose’ – as befitted her poetic past. Her Apple and Ginger Soup, Chocolate Custards and Acton Gingerbread are family favourites in my house.
This thoroughly modern book contains nothing but bread recipes – it was the first cook book to focus on a single food. I love it because Acton’s campaigning voice shines through, as she fights for the right of all people to eat bread of a decent quality.
Agnes Marshall wrote cookery books, set up cookery schools and invented the ice cream cone. She also produced the first dedicated ice cream recipe book. This beautiful book is impossible to find now, but its graphically designed cover was also (I think) a first for cook books. Good recipes too!
Simple recipes, beautifully written. I love the way David, almost single-handedly, restored our love of cooking, eating and food-fantasising, after years of War and food rationing. Her shimmering prose reminded us that good food was a cause for joy.
I often turn to this book when I can’t sleep. Gray’s foraging escapades, her erudite writing, the stories of sun, sea and wild weeds, are both exotic and soothing. And who knew what you could do with a few dandelion leaves?
Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray
When I bought River Café Blue, I cooked my way through it dish by dish. Suddenly Italian food was greater than pizza and spag bol. But it was the bruschetta that astonished me: glamorous toasties really, but they fired my imagination and for a year we lived off bruschetta.
My copy is in tatters, the cover gone and the spine disintegrating. When my children were small, I cooked Nigella’s recipes most days – her relaxed style stopped me fretting and everyone liked the food: unpretentious and tasty.
I once lived in India for a year, but when I returned I couldn’t find a cook book that enabled me to recreate the dishes I’d eaten. Until I discovered Madhur Jaffrey. Her spiced Bloody Mary is still the best I’ve ever had.
When I decided to eat less meat, this book stepped into the breach. Who needs meat when vegetarian meals can taste (and look) so exciting?
The Moro restaurant changed our view of Spanish food, much as the River Café changed our view of Italian food. The Clark’s recipes introduced me to an entirely new cuisine. Goodbye paella and gazpacho. Hello sopa de ajo and fattoush!