All posts by Team Booko

Entertaining this festive season with a little help from the top chefs

The big day is less than three weeks away and if you are hosting the main meal or boxing day lunch this year and want to offer something a little different to your guests, then this blog post is for you. 

We have scoured the internet and found the best hosting and cooking books that have been released this festive season for you to pick and choose your Christmas menu and tabletop inspiration from. They aren’t necessarily tricky or expensive ideas, but rather ones that capture the feeling of love between friends and family. 

First off, hands down, the hottest cookbook out this festive season is Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi which we have covered it on the blog previously… in case you missed it you can read our review here. 

Special Guest by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe 

If you are someone who prepares for guests by sweeping bills, laundry and newspapers behind sofa cushions, take heart! It’s possible to be an imperfect host, but happily so. The essential ingredient is not, paradoxically, the food, nor the perfect house to host in, but the sentiment you convey when you open the door. Do your eyes say: ‘I like you and I enjoy your company,’ or does a weepy cloud of visceral horror descend as pine nuts burn quietly in the kitchen? Special Guest is a gentle guide to turning easy basic fare into something of a celebration. For when you want to say to your friends with their spouses and ten small children, ‘Why don’t you stay for lunch?’ without hating yourself afterwards. Learn the lesson of ‘one splendid thing done well’ without regard to the hundred other things, and call the day a success. Pick up some pointers for the modern conundrum that is cooking for people with seemingly incompatible dietary requirements. Hosting your friends is not about showing off; it is about delighting others. Your dining table might be decorated with a pile of unmatched socks and kids’ homework, but that’s no reason not to invite friends in for a chat, a sit-down and something delicious to eat. Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s best-loved TV and media personalities and a joyfully imperfect host. Wendy Sharpe is Annabel’s oldest friend, a recipe consultant on Kitchen Cabinet and co-conspirator in mad-capped cookery projects.

 

Together by The Hubb Community Kitchen

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbours. Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normality, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen. Together is a storybook of this West London community, showcasing over 50 delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex. The women invite you to make their favourite simple dishes – many handed down over generations – from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones. Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes. Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Aubergine Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelised Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.

 

From Crook to Cook by Snoop Dogg

You can see Snoop work his culinary magic on the Emmy-nominated Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, and now, Dogg’s up in your kitchen…with his first ever cookbook. Delivering 50 recipes straight from his own collection, Snoop’s cookbook features staples like Baked Mac & Cheese and Fried Bologna Sandwiches with Chips, and new takes on classic weeknight faves like Soft Flour Tacos and Easy Orange Chicken. And it doesn’t stop there… Snoop’s giving a taste of the high life with remixes on upper echelon fare such as Lobster Thermidor and Filet Mignon. But we gotta keep it G with those favorite munchies too, ya know? From chewy Starbursts to those glorious Frito BBQ Twists, you should have an arsenal of snacks that’ll satisfy. And of course, no party is complete without that Gin and Juice and other platinum ways to entertain. The Dogg Father’s got you covered – complete with epic stories and behind-the-scenes photos that brings this masterpiece to life. Now this would make for an interesting Christmas lunch!

 

Berber and Q by Josh Katz

Ditch burnt, joyless burgers for bold, flavoursome and wonderfully surprising barbecue food. Inside there are over 120 of the very best, lip-smackingly good barbecue recipes from ex-Ottolenghi chef, Josh Katz. Perfect for sharing and pairing in different combinations, all of the recipes are a celebration of flavour. A book that is not just for meat-lovers, equal status is given to vegetables so that they are never treated like a sideshow. Instead each and every component of the meal is big, bold and completely unforgettable. Meats, fish and vegetables are left to marinate and are then smoked, grilled, slow cooked or burnt (on purpose); while essential extras such as punchy pickles, fiery sauces, creamy dips and fresh salads are prepared ahead and ready to be heaped onto the plate. Taking inspiration from East to West, from the modern to the traditional, these barbecue recipes are like nothing you have ever encountered before – mashing tastes and techniques from New York, the Middle East, London, North Africa and beyond. With recipes including Cauliflower shawarma with pomegranate, pine nuts and rose; Harissa hot wings; Blackened hispi cabbage with lemon crème fraiche; Honeyed pork belly with pineapple salsa; Monster prawns with a pil pil sauce and Saffron buttermilk-fried chicken with tahini gravy, you will be inspired to grab a bag of charcoal and a lighter, and create your very own barbecue feast.

 

Gunpowder by Harneet Baweja, Nirmal Save, Devina Seth

The famous gunpowder spice mix is a heady blend of pulses and spices, including chilli, curry leaves and asafoetida. It is a fitting title for this exciting collection of recipes from the founders of the hugely respected restaurant of the same name. In this beautiful book, complete with stunning photography, Harneet, Devina and Nirmal have managed to capture the bustle and flavours of their childhoods in Kolkata, and the intricacy of true homestyle dishes from across India. From Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops (which have garnered outstanding reviews from many restaurant critics) to Wild Rabbit Pulao, these exceptional recipes are impressively authentic, yet given a modern twist. Throughout the book, the authors share personal anecdotes about their recipes and give handy cheats to make things easier for the home cook, including time-saving tips and alternative ingredients. With chapters covering Small Plates, Big Plates, Sweet Plates & Drinks and Sides & Spice, Gunpowder is the perfect opportunity to create some of these widely admired dishes in your own home.

 

Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley

This is carefree, quick cooking with a sense of fun, and just happens to be good for you. This beautiful new book is packed with dreamy recipes. Comfort and indulgence are at the heart of Melissa Hemsley’s flavoursome, healthy food, with plenty of ideas for everyday meals, batch cooking, cutting down on kitchen waste, and meals that can be enjoyed for supper and leftovers for a packed lunch. Bestselling co-author of The Art of Eating Well and Good + Simple and home cook, Melissa Hemsley presents quick and easy dishes featuring supermarket ingredients and designed to see you through the whole week – tempting breakfasts to family dinners and lunches, as well as party food, snacks, baking, desserts, drinks, and simple, healthier versions of takeaway favourites.

Enjoy!