cookbookskristina gillrecipes

cookbook reviews: well rounded books + chutney recipe

by Grace Bonney

Living in Italy, I feel quite deprived of world cuisine and therefore have noticed that my collection of books dedicated to helping me satisfy those cravings has grown. Joel’s recipe for porcini tapioca cakes also happened to remind me of “world cuisine” coming all the way from Australia. So I thought I’d do a round up of a few ‘well-rounded’ cookbooks that offer a wide range of cuisine type, just in case you get bored easily. If you’re looking for more mushroom recipes, try A Cook’s Book of Mushrooms by Jack Czarnecki (Artisan). If, instead of mushrooms, you want to try out an easy chutney recipe, see the end of this post! Have you got a favorite cookbook with a wide variety of cuisines under one binding? –Kristina

CLICK HERE for the reviews and chili-pepper chutney recipe after the jump!

L.A.’s Original Farmer’s Market Cookbook by JoAnn Cianciulli (Chronicle Books) is a great little walk through an American Farmer’s Market. In other words, the best of all worlds. I like this book because I like cookbooks which also tell a story and put the food into the context of where it is made or of who makes it. This book not only tells the history of the market, it tells the history of the stalls whose recipes are featured. The history of the market is presented with historical photographs in the introduction to the book, before getting to the food. It is divided into four sections: Breakfast, Sandwiches and Light Bites, Main Meals, and Sweet Things. The book starts out with a doughnut recipe and ends with…recipes for dog biscuits!! I tested the book in the middle– with crepes from the French Crepe Company, and they were wonderful. But if you want something less ‘predictable’ there is Korean, Mexican, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian (American), and American. The photography is not sophisticated, however, it is enough to induce hunger and make you wish you could take a walk at the market. For me, preparing it at home is the next best option, and I look forward to trying more recipes in the book.

World Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay (Quadrille Books). OK, don’t kill me– Gordon Ramsay two weeks in a row. What can I say? If he’s good, he’s good! These are recipes from Gordon Ramsay’s television series “The F Word”. Divided into eight world cuisines (French, Italian, Greek, Spanish, British, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Thai, Indian, American), Ramsay’s book features a group of mainstream recipes for each cuisine type– Brandade on garlic toasts, spinach and ricotta ravioli, moussaka, tortilla, fish pie, baba ghanoush, pork and prawn dumplings, dhal, crab cakes. You get the point– nothing surprising, nothing new for anyone minimally familiar with these different cuisines. So it is a good book for someone who needs a collection of solid recipes from around the world, and who may appreciate step-by-step photography for some of the more involved techniques, like making ravioli, or folding dumplings. If you own a bazillion cookbooks, you may find little value in this collection of recipes. However, all together, I like this book because it’s like a quick-reference for world cuisine, so I don’t have to sift through my mono thematic books to find a popular ‘world cuisine’ recipe and the photography is great (The photography in the book is by Chris Terry, one of the fantastic photographers mentioned in last week’s post on great food photography.

Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion). WHAT on EARTH does Jamie Oliver have to do with world cuisine?? Absolutely nothing. But Jamie At Home is a great collection of recipes, heavy on the Italian-inspired, which (literally) illustrate all the food he grows in his own garden, and how he uses it. So rather than being a wide range of world cuisines, it offers a wide range of ideas for using everything and anything in your garden. I flip through this book every so often to know about the seasonality of certain foods, and to think about what I might plant in a garden if I weren’t too lazy to go dig one in my yard. I love the illustrations and use of color in this book, and the ‘raw’ approach of the photography, in Jamie’s attempt to “keep it real”. By this, I mean, he has included images of caterpillars, and dead game fresh from the hunt– something I find a bit disturbing for a “feel good” cookbook. The photography by David Loftus is so good though, that there are plenty of beautiful food images to focus on. The chapter on mushrooms is short but fantastic, another place to look for good recipes if Joel’s recipe has sparked your desire for mushrooms. Truth be told, I bought the book after reading this one recipe (below) for a spicy red pepper and red onion chutney. This book reaffirmed my opinion of Jamie as one of the best cookbook authors and food personalities out there. (A conclusion I reached only kicking and screaming, but like I said before– if you’re good you’re good, and Jamie’s a lot better than good!)

Just a tip for the recipe below– make a triple batch, the first one will disappear in minutes!

Cheeky Chilli-Pepper Chutney

snacks and sides | serves makes about 500g

This is a great chutney. The sweetness created in the cooking of the peppers calms the heat of the chillies down, giving the chutney a lovely warmth. It’s fantastic with crumbly cheese, smeared on toast with melted cheese or with Welsh rarebit (see page 322). Also lovely stirred into gravy with sausages, or with cold leftover meats. Crack on and have a go.

PS You might want to wear a pair of Marigolds when peeling and chopping the chillies or you’ll know about it if you rub your eyes afterwards!


• 8-10 fresh red chillies

• 8 ripe red peppers

• olive oil

• 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped

a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

• 2 fresh bay leaves

• a 5cm piece of cinnamon stick

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 100g brown sugar

150ml balsamic vinegar

If you want your chutney to last for a while, make sure you have some small sterilized jars ready to go (see page 324). Place your chillies and peppers over a hot barbecue, in a griddle pan or on a tray under a hot grill, turning them now and then until blackened and blistered all over. Carefully lift the hot peppers and chillies into a bowl (the smaller chillies won’t take as long as the peppers so remove them first) and cover tightly with clingfilm. As they cool down, they’ll cook gently in their own steam. By the time they’re cool enough to handle, you’ll be able to peel the skin off easily.

When you’ve got rid of most of the skin, trimmed off the stalks and scooped out the seeds, you’ll be left with a pile of nice tasty peppers and chillies. Finely chop by hand or put in a food processor and whiz up. Then put to one side.

Heat a saucepan and pour in a splash of olive oil. Add the onions, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook very slowly for about 20 minutes or so, until the onions become rich, golden and sticky.

Add the chopped peppers and chillies, the sugar and the vinegar to the onions and keep cooking. When the liquid reduces and you’re left with a lovely thick sticky chutney, season well to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves. Either spoon into the sterilized jars and put them in a cool dark place, or keep in the fridge and use right away. In sterilized jars, the chutney should keep for a couple of months.

(From Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver. Photographs by David Loftus. Copyright (c) 2007 Jamie Oliver. Photographs Copright (c) David Loftus, 2007. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved. )

Suggested For You


  • La Dolce Vegan! is a great vegan cookbook with all sorts of great vegan recipes. There’s everything from Thai dishes to vegan potato salad. It’s one of my favs.

  • I love cookbooks! I devour them like novels. Jamie’s “At Home” is one of my all time favorites. I’ll be checking out Gordon Ramsay’s “World Kitchen”. Sounds fabulous.

    Happy weekend,

  • I drooled over Jamie at Home since the day it came out and finally indulged and bought it just recently. Money well spent! The pages are gorgeous, the recipes delicious, and could Jamie be any cuter!? The television series that accompanies this book is dreamy too, I think it can be found on DVD.

  • I *love* Jamie at Home. Well, really, Jamie Oliver in general. I work part time in a cookbook store, and I have to hold myself back from saying… “People, all you really need in your life is Jamie Oliver.”

  • I love Sophie dahls cookbook. Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous delights. The pear and ginger muffins are delicious and the design of the book is great.

  • I got jamie’s ministry of food and love it. now i might just have to add jamie at home to my christmas wishlist (my husband will happily buy it to me, i reckon). hm, and maybe i need world kitchen, too…

    (stop showing these things to me!)


  • @kerry – I love Sophie Dahl’s book too. http://bit.ly/RsPQD I have it on the top of my stack and come back to it often. I agree with everything you said!

    @Michaela- I think Jamie’s Ministry of Food was jsut released in the US last week under the title Jamie’s Food Revolution (by Hyperion). If you like it, you’ll like Jamie at Home even more!

  • I love the Jamie at Home book also, although most of it is way out of my culinary reach. The only disturbing thing, for me, is at the beginning of the section on lamb, what the cuts are and how to prepare, etc, there is a picture of a cute, fuzzy, cuddly looking lamb right there!!! With a number spray-painted on its wool. A little disturbing for me.

  • Can someone translate 100 g and 150 ml into ounces/cups for me please? Chutney sounds devine.

  • Fav cookbook with wide variety: I have 2 huge Marie Claire cookbooks, ultimate kitchen & all seasons I think they’re called in English. They go from Australian (I think the writer is an Aussie) over Asian to British and Italian.