Recipes from Viva Magazine - Volume Two. Photo / Babiche Martens

All The Cookbooks We Actually Use

Our trusted kitchen companions are reliably good and offer a culinary tour of some of our favourite dishes

Coffee table books and aspirational tomes are lovely to have around the house and use for special occasions, but what guides do we actually turn to week after week? These are the books that are splattered in oil, full of dog ears, and never leave our kitchens.

Pen by Yasuji and Fumi Hisai
“My favourite cookbook is Pen from Yasuji and Fumi Hisai of Coffee Pen. It's the perfect size and comes with Fumi's charming illustrations breaking down each recipe's ingredients and method. Supported by stunning photography from James Lowe and designed by Nicole Miller-Wong, it's a really soothing recipe book, which helps when you're feeling slightly flustered in the kitchen. My favourite recipe to make from this cookbook is the Smoked Fish Kedgeree — refreshing and nourishing at the same time. But of course, you can't look past their famous sweet treats — the Rhubarb Choc tart is supremely delicious.” — Dan Ahwa, fashion and creative director

Parwana: Recipes and Stories from An Afghan Kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi and recipes by Farida Ayubi
“This beautiful — and pertinent — book is filled with post-it notes stuck to pages with delicious recipes (try the Bolani — hand-rolled flatbreads stuffed with various fillings), but also to the many examples of incredible photography, styling, colour and texture, to lock away as inspiration. Published in 2020, the book shares the story of the migrant Afghan family behind the Adelaide restaurant Parwana, which opened in 2009 in the hopes of preserving the customs, flavours and essence of Afghan cuisine. In between traditional recipes passed down through generations, including rice dishes, curries, meats, pickles, soups, drinks and desserts, is the story of a region afflicted by war, and this family’s experience of leaving, returning, and reconnecting to Afghanistan through food. Durkhanai explains in the prelude: “Food was… an ever-evolving way to stay anchored to our history while filling our sails with hope for tomorrow. For us, food had become a means to tell a bigger story. The book contains not only recipes, but also the history and energies that lie behind them.” — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
“This is a classic cookbook in most American houses (much like Edmonds is in New Zealand) that my mother picked up whilst living in Washington DC in the 1980s. Its recipes are a mix of Spanish, Mediterranean and Asian flavours. The pages of our version may be incredibly weathered but the recipes have stood the test of time and remain to be some of our family favourites. My personal favourite is the classic Chicken Marbella, it’s a one-pot wonder that is easy to make, full of flavour and has always been a crowd-pleaser.” — Clare Timmins, commercial projects manager

Vegful by Nadia Lim
“My absolute go-to is the Vegful recipe book by Nadia Lim. Let's just say that cooking is not my forte, but this book makes a world of difference. Easy to follow, flavour-packed recipes for both the vegans and carnivores out there, as the majority of the recipes can be adjusted to suit your needs. A favourite recipe is the spinach, caramalised onion and feta filo parcels, perfect for a delicious and easy lunch or light dinner option.” — Annabel Dickson, fashion assistant

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
“This is the most helpful cookbook I have ever read, and I return to it again and again. Samin Nosrat explains, in the most accessible yet expert way, how to make food taste good — everything from using fat to carry flavour, to minimising food waste. She is the reason I have doubled my olive oil consumption and now have three kinds of salt in the cupboard. This book will help you be a more intuitive, adaptive cook, and by being more strategic about your cooking and preparation, you can actually save time.” — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

READ: The Cookbooks Everyone Should Own, According To 21 Top Chefs

Homemade Happiness by Chelsea Winter
“Last lockdown I worked my way through the recipes in Chelsea Winter’s Homemade Happiness. My husband was lamenting the fact he couldn’t order KFC so I made Chelsea Fried Chicken, whereby you soak the bird in milk, onion, garlic and lemon juice before dredging it in flour and deep-frying it, and serving it with mayo. This lockdown, I’m reaching for Peter Gordon’s Salads. No explanation required.” — Rebecca Barry Hill, writer

Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi
“We're working our way through the Ottolenghi Simple cookbook, and the recipes are just that, simple! The orzo with prawns, tomato and marinated feta was delicious and filled the house with the most warming smells. On the flip side, I've turned to the trusty Edmonds cookbooks for easy, no-fail recipes to bake with my toddler with busy hands and an enthusiasm for saying YUMM MEEEE!” — Alice Jones, commercial integration manager

Love You by Lorna Jane Clarkson
"Love You is the fitness maven's fifth book, which serves as a lifestyle guide of sorts. It's peppered with tips on how to unlock your full potential in a personal and professional sense, along with ways to keep healthy despite leading a busy lifestyle. This isn't your typical cookbook, but inside I stumbled on what's since become my go-to dinner recipe when I'm feeling lazy but want something healthy. This Warming Miso Curry can be made with chicken or tofu (tofu is my preference) and takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. The shiro paste gives it a salty, umami quality, and you can tailor the spice factor depending on how much red curry paste and chilli you add in." — Ashleigh Cometti, beauty editor

The Modern Cook's Year by Anna Jones
“My go-to cookbook is Anna Jones’ The Modern Cook's Year. There are seasonal vegetable-based recipes that hero the beauty of eating fresh and off the land — from the depth of winter, to the warmer days of spring and the height of summer, this book will have you sorted! It is not only full of inspirational, healthy and flavour-filled recipes, the imagery is a delight also — giving the cook a full immersive experience, diving in the colourful pages and leaving them dog-eared. My favourite recipe (which I now know off by heart) is the one-pan pea, lemon and asparagus pasta, and to finish, the strawberry and anise galette.” — Lucy Janisch-Fitzgerald, commercial integration manager

READ: The Best Cookbooks Of 2020

Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life by Jamie Oliver
“I grew up cooking Jamie’s recipes. Mum had some of his earliest cookbooks, including his 1999 debut The Naked Chef, which is well and truly worn now, and we still cook his first Italian-inspired recipes to this day. At the time, his relaxed attitude towards cooking was revolutionary — he made it seem effortless and fun, and recipes could be adapted or altered depending on what you had to hand, not followed to a tee. Today, a TV show, failed restaurant empire and what feels like 100 cookbooks later, he's a polarising personality. But still, Jamie at Home has some recipes I have made countless times, and yes, a lot of them feature a tray bake. I recommend the Crispy & Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed new Potatoes & Tomatoes; the Courgette Cabonara; Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake; his pizza dough recipe and the spiced carrot salad.” — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour
“Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life was in Iran, and Sabrina Ghayour's debut cookbook is full of many of the dishes we enjoyed there — all outlined in surprisingly easy recipes (especially given the complex flavours and impressive meals found in Persian cuisine). I use this book weekly. It also has the best focaccia recipe I have ever made or eaten.” — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones
"This is the book I'm diving into most at the moment. There are over 200 recipes — and an incredibly diverse selection of ingredients  but these dishes will have you globe-trotting around the world without leaving home. From the Syrian-inspired preserved lemon and herb-baked orzo to the punchy and fresh Laos lemongrass and tofu larb, or the Sicilian green pepper and pistachio risotto and the Greek halloumi, lemon and caramelised onion pie — this book will make you love vegetables in a whole new way. There are also lots of mouth-watering desserts in there as well. And the best thing, less pots for whoever is on dishes!" — Amanda Linnell, editor

Street Food Asia by Luke Nguyen
“If I was to use a cookbook it would be Street Food Asia by Luke Nguyen and any of Chrissy Teigen's cookbooks.” — Andrea O’Hagan, commercial integration editor

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