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Recipes for Success

Leah Huws gives a run down of some of the best cookbooks for budding chefs to start collecting

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Image: Duncan C
Image: Duncan C
A few weeks ago, the news that the BBC would remove the recipe section from their website caused a scandal and an outrage amongst the public. Whether this outcry was over inflated or not is a hotly debated topic, but in the meantime, you may want to turn back to your shelves and dust off some old-fashioned recipe books. Here are some suggestions of my personal favourites, ranging from enduring classics to some vegetarian twists - they're all easy to follow and cater for a wide range of cooking expertise.

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

Oliver is, of course, an institution in the recipe book world, but this is a particularly handy collection. Although fifteen minutes is a bit ambitious (the man must move at superhuman speed), and Oliver seems to inexplicably believe that everyone has tamarind paste (no idea) and capers knocking about in the cupboards, the recipes are truly easy. Cutting corners in terms of preparation time does not retract from the always tasty and often impressive meals featured. For a tasty summer meal, try the lemon and parsley beef with ratatouille- you'll be forgiven for missing out the saffron.

Vegetarian Nosh for Students by Joy May

Whether you're a committed vegetarian or merely getting around to your New Year's resolutions a few months late, this is the book for you. This is a handbook of easy-to-follow, simply-illustrated recipes that have their difficulty graded in stars. Ranging from tip on how to spruce up your staple beans on toast to fancier attempts at larger, more substantial meals and puddings, this is a book to turn to when you're in the mood for some fast food solutions that are somewhat good for you and will make you forget why you ever ate meat in the first place.

The Little Book of Hangovers by Quentin Parker

Ideal for those mornings when your brain can hardly make sense of the world, this book is guaranteed to offer some uncomplicated yet special suggestions. Providing inspiration when you need it most, there are some hearty and healthy brunch ideas that will soon eliminate the memory of last night's tequila shots. The simplified step by step instructions would make it difficult for even the most hungover to mess up, and will provide a welcome relief for any victims of Kuda.

Plenty by Yottam Ottolenghi

photo 6 If you're happy to splash out a bit more on a cookery book, then Plenty is the culinary bible that you've been looking for. Divided into sections such as pastas and soups, Yottam Ottolenghi's book is packed full of the promise of a good, vegetarian meal with suggestions here and there of how you might best add meat and fish to the mix. Whether you have a store cupboard full of spices or simply a desire to experiment with your salads, this is a good guide to follow when you've got a bit more time to spare cooking in the kitchen, and time to enjoy the unusual flavours that Ottolenghi throws together.

So, even if the holy grail of recipe collections does not disappear into the abyss, do consider investing in some books anyway. Recipe books are extremely personal, and will often stay with you for years, providing a welcome foundation for cooking experimentation. And who knows, someday, against all odds, you might actually have some saffron knocking around your cupboard.

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