There are several key, strategic places to keep books about the home. In the bedroom, you are likely to have a paperback by the bed, your companion for rocking you gently off to sleep at the end of the day. In the living room, coffee table books are purpose-built to lounge supine in the middle of the room, heavy books that you would not necessarily want to drop on your foot but are, instead, full of beautiful art and, in my case, images of interior design from the finest nightclubs on the planet.
But of course there is a third place where print media flourishes in the home. And that is the kitchen. Kitchen design incorporates the effortless blending of form and function – the places where we keep food cool, and then prepare and cook it up, all in the context of elegant design and quality material. A granite worktop is the ultimate signature finish to any kitchen, but of course it can look even better when set against quality cookware… and quality literature. A few key cookbooks are not only incredibly useful, then, but also provide the perfect finishing touch to any new kitchen. If you’ve been looking for some fab cook books that not only look good, but taste great (the recipes, that is, rather than the books themselves!), at Cheshire Granite Line we have scoured the shelves for the best, essential cookbooks that every Cheshire kitchen should have… and some with that ever important local twist.
Simon Rogan – Rogan: The Cookbook
A little north of us here in Cheshire is the Cumbrian village of Cartmel and for each of the past four years Rogan has celebrated winning The Good Food Guide’s Best Restaurant for his two-Michelin-star restaurant in the village, L’Enclume.
Rogan has also got his fingers into restaurants a little closer to home. In 2013, the Midland brought Simon in to try and win back a Michelin star for the French restaurant – which is actually the last Manchester restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star all the way back in 1974.
So what we have here is a Masterchef Mentor and 2018’s GQ Chef of the Year – a chef with a reputation for innovation, artistry and excellence. But if you can’t get to Cumbria… or Manchester … why not bring a little of that Rogan flavour into your own home with his self-titled cookbook? Just like the restaurants and their menus, Rogan has invested all of the same vision and ethos into the book, celebrating gorgeous – but more importantly, available – local and seasonal ingredients, beautifully presented with fabulous pictures of the final dishes.
So, a little of that Roganomic philosophy and gastronomy, perfectly placed within easy reach, on the granite worktop of your new kitchen.
Aiden Byrne – Made In Great Britain
If you want to spice up your kitchen life a little… and bring a little excitement to your cooking, look no further than Aiden Byrne. Again, as with Rogan, this is a contemporary take on British cuisine and an attempt to modernise the way we look at cooking in this country which, let’s be honest, sometimes (perhaps unfairly) takes something of a bashing from our continental cousins. However, things have changed drastically in recent times as gastronauts rediscover the confidence to explore the outer reaches of the British culinary galaxy. We expect better when we eat out these days and we are also becoming braver in our own kitchens and that’s what Byrne celebrates, foregrounding the importance of different ingredients and how they might be combined to make fantastic, exciting dishes for entertaining.
Born in Merseyside, Aiden Byrne has a deep affinity for Cheshire. After becoming the youngest chef to win a Michelin star at the age of 22, Byrne left his position at The Dorchester to set up his own gastropub in Lymm. Along with Simon Rogan, he has been a key person in the fight to bring a Michelin star back to Manchester, ping-ponging between rival restaurants Manchester House, 20 Stories and now Restaurant MCR in Spinningfields.
Aiden Byrne’s Made in Great Britain comprises over 150 recipes covering every eventuality, from vegetables to shellfish, meat to desserts. The book also includes beautiful black and white images of both Aiden and his recipes, so if you’re not in the mood for cooking, you can simply open up the book and fall into a world of gastronomic ecstasy.
Simon Hopkinson – Roast Chicken and Other Stories
OK, a little closer to home we have this wonderful book from the famed Manchester food writer. The title is a little misleading, as the book covers a wide range of culinary ‘other stories’, arranged alphabetically so that it is easy to navigate, should you find you have an abandoned aubergine and want some advice as to what to do with it (the answer, it seems, is to grill it with pesto).
If Byrne’s book has a healthy 150 recipes, this Hopkinson book has 160, most of them easy to prepare at home by those with even the basic of cooking skills. This is hearty, home fare, comfort food to orientate us through the year, sumptuous food designed to satisfy, rather than flummox. And don’t simply take our word for it, no less a luminary than Nigella Lawson commented ‘there’s not a recipe here I don’t want to eat immediately,’ to which we respond: Nigella, there’s not one I wouldn’t be happy to prepare for you, right here in my Cheshire kitchen.
This book will see you all the way through starters to homemade ice cream and is incredibly unpretentious and easy to use, which can be a real boon in the cookbook world. It also includes very useful advice about ingredients, quality of food and the basic principles of cooking, from the more standard fare up the rarefied realms of the truffle.
Kate Eddison – The Cheshire Cook Book: A Celebration of the Amazing Food & Drink on Our Doorstep
Even closer to home, we come to our Kate and The Cheshire Cook Book. As we know, this is a fabulous part of the country, with endless options for dining, from fantastic gastro pubs up to Michelin-starred restaurants. This county has more food and drink festivals than any other in the country and we are we also currently witnessing the success of farmers markets and produce food halls, in town like Macclesfield and Altrincham.
And it’s that rich foody heritage that Eddison celebrates in this book, from locations such as the Harthill Cookery School to produce brands including Cheshire’s very own Mrs Darlington Preserves, enjoyed on tables across the country. Elsewhere in the book you can revel in tasty tales of luxury liqueurs, through to family butchers and out the other side… to the history of the producers of our legendary Cheshire cheese.
Recipes are sourced from important Cheshire food locations, everywhere from The Clink, a restaurant run from Styal women’s prison, to the higher end restaurants in Chester itself (such as The Grosvenor, Joseph Benjamin and Chef’s Table) to the gorgeous food prepared at The Garden in Hale.
Cheshire is the heart of the country and the kitchen is the heart of the home. No one ever cuddled up in bed with a good ‘screen’, so invest in some of these beautiful books and open up a whole new world of gastronomic possibility…