How to escape through cookbooks
We can't travel at the moment, so instead take your kitchen on a culinary journey with these evocative cookbooks, spanning Europe, Asia and the States
Say Polish food, think sausage and schnitzel. But Poland also has a rich tradition of cooking with fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. Inspired by the kitchens of his mother and grandmother, Michał Korkosz’s vegetarian food is all about comfort. In his book, Fresh from Poland – New Vegetarian Cooking from the Old Country, you’ll find recipes for brown butter scrambled eggs, sauerkraut fritters, tomatoes stuffed with millet and cinnamon, sweet blueberry buns, and salted almond pierogi. It’s all beautifully photographed, and each recipe comes with a little back-story written by this young food journalist and photographer.
Coconut & Sambal, out in May, is the happy result of author Lara Lee’s journey to trace her family’s Indonesian roots. Australian-born chef Lara collated recipes from her extensive travels around the islands (and her grandmother’s kitchen) and shares more than 80 of them here. In between colourful recipes for the likes of nasi goreng, soto ayam (fragrant chicken soup), chilli prawn satay and fiery sambals, Lara peppers the pages with tales of Indonesian life and vivid food and travel photography. Expect clear recipe instructions from an enthusiastic new voice.
Picture a tiny desert town in West Texas. What you’re looking at is Marfa – not the likeliest place for a destination restaurant, but the unusual setting is one reason why The Capri has such a following. Written by the restaurant’s owners, Virginia Lebermann and chef Rocky Barnette, Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You is as much a love letter to The Capri (and to Marfa’s eclectic community) as it is a collection of culinary instructions. There’s plenty of the latter, though, with recipes including ravioli with cured egg yolks, grilled avocado guacamole and, for anyone looking to conjure up unexpectedly delicate Texan flavours, prickly pear rose sorbet and hibiscus margaritas.
Giorgio Locatelli is a man obsessed with Sicily – its lush greenery, its orange and lemon groves, its vineyards and the simplicity of its cuisine. Made in Sicily begins by exploring the island’s ingredients, history and people, and does so with such passion that it often reads like a guide book. The recipes are regional and always authentic: make insalata di rinforzo (an island salad that celebrates cauliflower), all manner of arancini, pasta with anchovies, and that most famous of Sicilian desserts, cassata. Try Truck Driver’s Pasta, a fresh and elegant dish made with basil, mint, spaghetti, pecorino and tomatoes.
Transport yourself to the balmy Mediterranean, where mezze-style food is awash with sumptuous colours. Yotam Ottolenghi is all about piled-high hearty salads, and Plenty (his vegetarian cookbook) is full of them: zucchini and hazelnut, soba noodles and mango, broccolini and sweet sesame, and farro and roasted red pepper, to name a few. Everything feels fresh, inventive and luxurious – don’t miss the burnt eggplant with tahini. You could eat it like you would popcorn. This cookbook is perfect for a bit of armchair escapism, thanks to acclaimed photographer Jonathan Lovekin and his vibrant, evocative photography.
If you want to escape to the countryside without having to leave your own living room, try River Cottage Veg Every Day!. It's peppered with beautiful, rustic shots of Hugh and his family enjoying the recipes in and around River Cottage HQ (near the village of Musbury, in East Devon), plus more than 200 vibrant veggie ideas. The salads are hearty (when it’s cold outside, go for giant couscous with herbs and walnuts), the soups are hefty and there’s a whole section on comfort food and feasts. Try curried bubble and squeak, roast jacket chips with merguez spices, or linguine with mint and almond pesto. Or upgrade your standard weekend kedgeree by replacing the fish with creamy, roasted aubergine.
Photographs: Michal Korkosz, Douglas Friedman, Louise Hagger