Ok I fess up here and now I love recipe books. Not cooking from them, but having them to look at, to pore over and to drool on. In the past my birthday and Christmas lists have included requests for books by Nigel Slater, Gok Wan (shutup)and cupcake compendiums.
My first husband worked for a publishing company so he often used to come home with beautiful cookbooks for me and I have a range of books that I've admired, but never cooked from. In recent years I've also developed a passion for collecting the recipe cards from Waitrose so the shelf of cookbooks is pretty weighed down now.
So when I was at Britmums Live and met the lovely ladies from Parragon books it may have been the tower of cupcakes that attracted me, but it was the books that kept me there. Not least as the books they were offering were these beauties.
Now I've got vegetarian cookbooks (even one signed by Paul McCartney - ooh get me !) so that isn't the appeal here. Instead it's the simplicity of the visual cues to assist with preparation and cooking. The photos show you all the ingredients you need - which is very helpful if it's something you haven't used before. I recall the first time I cooked with fennel and had to look up how to prepare it online before I could do anything. With this book you can see clearly what everything is and how to use it. There are some classic recipes here - like the caramelized onion tart for example - and some ideas you may not have tried before. I know there are people who don't feel confident to cook for vegetarians so this is a pretty good starting point.
Now we come to Mama's family cookbook. This gem is styled to look like a handwritten collection of family recipes and again some are deceptively simple, but the photography and simple instructions make it a practical guide to making family meals. I make the same pasta dishes all the time and often 'cheat' with bought sauces so I'm hoping this book will inspire me to cook from scratch a bit more often.
I have a few books from the Love Food range already and you may be familiar with the sparkly heart logo on the top right corner of the cover. It's a range that Parragon developed to inspire the aspirational cook in all of us. As well as the Step By Step range (which features a photo to guide beginners through each step of a recipe) the do the 100 Best range (the most delicious recipes in every category) and some new titles like The Burger, The Bistro Cookbook, and A Year Full of Recipes. The books I was given retail at £16 and are available in all the usual places including online retailers. They're lovely books and I'd recommend them to accomplished cooks and aspiring ones alike.
Disclosure: I was given these books to write an honest review.