It's that time of year again when I have increasing amounts of home grown produce just waiting to be eaten raw, cooked or preserved and as I like to be inspired by new recipes I am constantly looking at my treasured collection of cookbooks. I particularly enjoy a seasonal cookbook, mainly because I eat seasonally and I get inspired by what is abundant right now. Here are the books I turn to again and again.
I think this is the book I would recommend above all others in this list. It is full of recipes I use literally every week. The sourdough recipe is the one that finally worked for me and I always have some of the fermented cabbage in the fridge. It is a stunningly beautiful book full of gorgeous photos including ones of the kitchens of his friends and family which are fascinating. This is food that is nourishing with plenty of soul.
Favourite recipes: Roast Cauliflower with buckwheat, thyme and truffle oil, Onion soup with grilled cheddar toasts and fried apples, Squash stuffed with lentils, pheasant and black pudding.
Fern Verrow: A year of recipes from a farm and it's kitchen by Jane Scotter and Harry Astley
Another beautifully presented book. I really like how the seasons are paired with elements: Earth = Winter, Water = Spring, Air = Summer and Fire = Autumn. Not only is it full of great recipes but it also contains information about their farm and growing methods, including growing with the moon. It has a great section on herbs for teas and edible flowers and it's just full of accessible, straightforward and deceptively simple recipes that are just delicious. This book celebrates the earth, the elements and what happens when you combine them with love.
Favourite recipe: Lemon and courgette flower risotto
European Peasant Cookery by Elisabeth Luard
I am a bit obsessed with this book. It's full of stories told with real affection about simple, seasonal food, cooked by rural people living their lives fully in rhythm with what the earth provides. It's not strictly a seasonal cookbook but no-one eats more seasonally than peasants. This book is so inspiring and so evocative, it transports me to rustic kitchen tables all over Europe.
Favourite recipe: Far too many to list but some highlights are the Boeuf en daube I made for my parents (visiting from France), a delicious potato gratin made with home made stock and countless soups and stews.
A Modern Cook's Year by Anna Jones
I love Anna Jones' recipes. I do adapt them quite a lot as she does include a few ingredients I don't usually have in the cupboards or need to buy specifically but this book is a lot more accessible and it is arranged seasonally. She always includes "how to" tables where you build meals by choosing ingredients and flavours from lists which I really like, like the "Roasting tray dinners" or "Homemade curry pastes".
Favourite recipe: Celebration celeriac and sweet garlic pie, made many times as a vegetarian Christmas dinner when cooking for friends.
The Natural Cook: Eating the seasons from root to fruit by Tom Hunt
If you love food and the planet and you aren't aware of Tom Hunt then you are in for a treat. He creates delicious, seasonal recipes that focus on using every bit of the vegetable for minimal waste. The book is organised seasonally and by vegetable so if I have an abundance of something I always turn to these recipes for a range of ideas. In each section he includes a recipe for one base dish and then has spin off dishes so you can cook one large batch and then incorporate it into other meals. We first came across him at the River Cottage Spring Fair in 2018 where he was doing a demonstration and his passion and enthusiasm for waste free cooking was infectious. He has another really brilliant book called Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet.
Favourite recipes: All the pumpkin ones, Roast beetroot, pak choi, labneh and cumin and sweetcorn fritters.
The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingtall
This book is so nostalgic to me as I must have watched those first series of River Cottage dozens of times. It was when Hugh first quit living in London to live at River Cottage full time and was getting his livestock, starting to grow things, entering village shows with pots of chutney and jam and learning as he went. It's all so charming and he is so quirky and honest, I just find those early episodes hilarious. This is the second book Hugh wrote and the focus is on eating seasonally all year long. It's one of my favourite cook books and also signed by the great man himself, it's a treasured possession.
Favourite recipes: There are some real gems in here. I make the mushy peas all the time, lavender shortbread and I have even made the mincemeat using actual mince which I thought was amazing and it tasted incredible, the trouble was my family were so squeamish about it they didn't get eaten. There are only so many mince pies one person (two including, Eric) can eat, but we gave it a good go.
Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook
I this this is a great book if you grow your own fruit and vegetables. So useful when you have gluts and full of useful tips and hints for growing.
Favourite recipe: The Greek courgette pie is adaptable, great hot or cold, uses loads of courgettes and just screams summer.
Another lovely and inspiring book is A Year at Otter Farm by Mark Diacano which is full of great looking recipes and growing advice.
Thanks for reading!
Check out another blog post I've written The books I use for preserving the seasons
The beautiful jug in the photo is from Uffington Potter