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For us Millennials, most people would have you believe that we survive solely on a diet of avocado toast, Pret sandwiches and gin. Much as we may want that to be true, we all know the reality is far less glamorous!
I first started cooking for myself when I got a flat of my own after finishing uni. I can clearly remember the first dish I made there being a Nigella recipe for cheddar cheese risotto. At the time, risotto felt like something fancy that required cheffy skills. In fact, it couldn’t have been easier to make, but I still felt fancy AF after I’d made it.
I learned tonnes about cooking from these books, so even if you’re not the most domesticated, check out my 8 cookbooks every Millennial should own and you might just change your mind.
Nigella tops my list with Nigella Express which is one of the first cookbooks I ever owned. I’ve long wanted to live like Nigella, sashaying around the kitchen in my dressing gown and getting paid for it, but when you have a job to go to and precious little time in the evening, this is the book to turn to.
From the aforementioned cheddar cheese risotto, which is pure indulgence on a weekday evening, to garlicky white bean mash ready in minutes, to mustard pork chops with roasted gnocchi, Nigella Express is a book I come back to again and again.
Gizzi Erskine is one of my idols. Not only is she a badass chef, she’s stylish, beautiful and one of the loveliest people I’ve met. I first saw her on Cook Yourself Thin and was instantly enamoured. Now I stalk her Instagram on the regular and own all but one of her cookbooks. Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts is my favourite though.
It’s 2 books in 1, the first half is a collection of nutritious, healthy recipes for your working week, the second is for the weekend blowout, with recipes for brunch, Sunday lunch and sweet treats. There’s also loads of good advice about how to stay on the wagon by making smart choices with what you eat.
Whether you’re vegan or not, Thug Kitchen is a must have. Not only is the writing brilliant (and colourful), their philosophy – that cooking and eating good food is an essential, not an option – is something I really admire.
Plus, this is vegan food with balls that even meat eaters like me can get behind. Their vegan lasagne is delicious. This is a book that will challenge your preconceptions and teach you some great lessons, as well as some blinding dishes.
OK, so this is a baking book rather than a cook book, but it definitely deserves a place on this list. Mary Berry is, of course, the undisputed Queen of British Baking and the classic recipes in this book are pretty much foolproof.
Baking with this book feels a bit like baking with your nana – it’s comforting, informative and you end up with cake and a cuppa at the end of it all. Twentysomething Grandma goals.
Here in the UK, when we say barbecue we usually mean burning some sausages in the garden, possibly while its raining. In the US on the other hand, barbecue is a way of life. I first met DJ BBQ (aka Christian) when we worked together at a radio station in Birmingham. Since then he’s worked with Jamie Oliver at Food Tube, developed the DJ BBQ brand, released his bestselling The BBQ Book and is currently working on his second book Fire Food, which you can pre-order now.
This is my barbecue bible, teaching essential techniques like where to put your coals for different types of cooking, to dry rubs and homemade barbecue sauce. If you have any interest in barbecue or cooking with fire, you need this book, Also, the jalapeno party poppers are the bomb.
This beautiful book by Karen Mordechai is like looking through Instagram. Sunday Suppers is full of dreamy images and full menus based on different activities, like picnics, camping trips and breakfast in bed.
Some of the recipes are satifyingly simple, others are more laborious, but ultimately relaxing when you’re spending Sunday in the kitchen pottering around. This book will inspire you to cook, plan your next day trip and probably book flights to New York.
Back on home soil, The Birmingham Cook Book is one that I love, because it gets me into the kitchens of some of my favourite places to eat in the city. This book is a collaboration between some of the best chefs in Birmingham, who all share one of their signature recipes.
From Michelin starred Purnells there’s a beetroot mousse recipe, Original Patty Men – the burger joint with a cult following – show how to make a burger with chorizo jam and garlic mayo, local spice producers Sanjay and Shashi of Spice Kitchen share a chickpea, squash and sweet potato tagine recipe, while The Lord Clifden pub contribute their Guinness roast ham hock. There’s even a section on matching wines from Connolly’s Fine Wine and Spirit Merchants. What you get is an eclectic and exciting book that lets you create your fave eating out dishes at home. There’s a book for loads of major cities across the UK, check out Meze Publishing to find yours.
Last but certainly not least is The Tree House Diaries by Nick Weston. More of a memoir that contains recipes like nettle beer and acorn tea, this book documents how Nick gave up life in London to live wild in the woods. After this experience, he set up Hunter:Gather:Cook, a foraging and wild cookery school in Sussex where he runs courses that teach foraging, wild butchery, cooking over fire and even cocktail making. If you’re interested in ethical, sustainable food, and let’s face it – food you can forage and eat for free – definitely check it out.
I first met Nick when I went on a foraging experience day with Forest Holidays in the Forest of Dean. I had never foraged before in my life, nor had I ever butchered a whole bird in the feather, but with his guidance, I did it all, plus a cookery competition in the afternoon where my dish of partridge breast stuffed with sweet chestnuts and wild garlic, wrapped in bacon was the winner of the day.
Since then I’ve been on one of Nick’s seasonal day courses and had the most amazing time. The skills that Nick and his team have, and their ability to create stunning food that wouldn’t look out of place in a swanky restaurant, literally in the middle of the woods over a fire, is quite astonishing. The Hunter Gather Cook book is currently in the making, and I’d suggest you look out for that when it hits shelves too.
Still think you can’t cook? Pick up one of my 8 cookbooks every Millennial should own and give it a go, you might be surprised what you can do.