Four of the best cookbooks to gift this Christmas

18 December 2020 - 00:00
By Hilary Biller
'Ottolenghi Flavour' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage.
Image: Supplied 'Ottolenghi Flavour' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage.


By Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, R580

This is a must-have cookbook for many reasons, but mainly because it's written by the marvellous Yotam Ottolenghi.

It's for those who want to adjust their lifestyle to include more veg, and cooks in search of fresh inspiration — something the soft-talking chef never fails to provide.

I was very taken by Ottolenghi's idea for little-known vegetable, celeriac, a large, brown, knobbly round root that, he says, by simply washing then rubbing in olive oil, seasoning and baking, tastes like a million dollars. Clearly it's become Ottolenghi's favourite vegetable, judging by the number of recipes in the book for it.

Look out for the three-ingredient onion, butter and miso recipe — it's so easy and delicious.

'40 Years of Iconic Food' by Dorah Sitole.
Image: Supplied '40 Years of Iconic Food' by Dorah Sitole.


By Dorah Sitole, NB Publishers, R380

Way more than a cookbook with gorgeous recipes, this is the story of Dorah Sitole — SA's first black food writer's — culinary journey. Broken down into four decades that illustrate how food, like fashion, changes over time, it features a delicious mix of traditional and other dishes.

Sitole was the first food editor at True Love magazine, which she also then edited; she has hosted many TV cooking shows, represented SA in the culinary arena around the globe, and is the author of the best-selling Cape to Cairo cookbook, which has been translated into German.

To spice up a braai, try her mealie bread cooked in a can or the delicious sticky pork ribs, made with her Aunt Mamisi's coleslaw that has a cheddar cheese twist. Yum.

'Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes & Stories' by Nigella Lawson.
Image: Supplied 'Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes & Stories' by Nigella Lawson.


By Nigella Lawson, Penguin Random House, R590

The finger-licking Domestic Goddess has been cooking up a storm from Cook, Eat, Repeat on her new TV show of the same name, which is now airing in the UK.

She's a chef who never fails to get her social media followers talking and the recipes she's been presenting on screen have been doing just that — from her very unusual banana skin curry (I kid you not) to her double-buttering technique for toast.

But don't despair, there's lots more in the book from the lady who likes flirting on the sweet side. I fancy the idea of her rhubarb and custard trifle and making her rice pudding cake is on my to-do list.

Bang on trend, the book contains some vegan options including a burnt onion and aubergine dip that I'm making for my festive spread. SA's favourite squash, butternut, has also been given the Nigella treatment and is made with chilli, ginger and beetroot yoghurt sauce.

Look beyond the cover, not her best, but ho, ho, the contents are fabulous.

'Oink! The Perfect Pork Cookbook' by Billy Forssman.
Image: Supplied 'Oink! The Perfect Pork Cookbook' by Billy Forssman.


By Billy Forssman, Quivertree, R450

Coming out of a stable well known for its  excellent cookbooks, The Perfect Pork Cookbook is another one to add to the list.

Beautiful images and recipes highlight the versatility of a budget-friendly protein that's equally good enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or supper; great for the potjie and — what many don't know — is delicious, if prepared correctly, on the braai.

The aim of this cookbook is to inspire us to use more pork, apart from the usual chop or ribs — and it does. With contributions from food celebs such as Mogau Seshoene aka the Lazy Makoti, chef Reuben Riffel and charcuterie maestro Richard Bosman, it's a meaty feast.

A great gift for the man who likes to believe he is (or is) the king of the braai.