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Five of the best... food books of the year so far

It's easy to be swept out to shore by the relentless tidal waves that are new cookbook releases, and more difficult to ascertain which ones are actually worth buying.

In theory, a good cookbook shelf should contain just the right mix of inspiring imagery, practical tips and recipes for every occasion - plus, a trust-worthy (and not to mention current) guide to eating out in Scotland.

With that in mind, here are five of our favourite foodie books of the year so far - some to advise, some with recipes to aspire to, and a couple that help us choose produce inkeeping with locale and with the seasons.

What's more, we're giving one reader the chance to win them all - simply answer the easy question at the end of the article.

1. The A-Z of Eating Out, Joseph Connolly (Thames & Hudson)

Apparently, it is not good enough any more to just leave the house in pursuit of a hot meal. Nowadays, we need to be well-versed in the art of inedibilia and know in which dining situations sharing is considered appropriate (note to author: all of them). Yes, there are high-end musings contained between the covers on charity dinners and Cordon Bleu, but there's also information to guide us expertly around the Glasgow salad, otherwise known as a poke of chips. The A-Z of Eating Out is a bit like Jennifer Lawrence in book form: fun, good-looking and you get the impression that it doesn't take itself too seriously. 

 

 

 

2. Cooking for Kids, Alain Ducasse (Rizzoli)

Gone are the days where children would be contented with a plate of turkey twizzlers and a tin of apple Tango. No, kids today want to try zucchinis and whip up a mackerel pate and learn how to smoke their own hummus (probably). It makes sense then, that super-chef Alain Ducasse's latest title has some really sophisticated recipes for nippers - some, shall we say, towards the more complex end of the scale (veal in a herb crust with Beaufort, anyone?) and some simpler ideas for starting the day right (porridge with nectarine and apricot). There's also a handy month-by-month guide to what baby can eat up to three years old and some sweet illustrations.

 

 

 

3. The Foodies' Guide to Glasgow and the West, Fraser Wilson (FNW Media)

It's a happy thing Wilson released The Foodies' Guide earlier this year, because it's a bag-friendly sized, bang-up-to-date way to navigate the city during the Commonwealth Games. A brief summary, then, for the uninitiated: 124 pages, enough recipes from Glasgow's well-kent chefs to feed everyone at the athletes village four times over, a bit of chat from prominent food bloggers and some lush photography. Plus, 50p from the sale of every book is donated to food charity Mary's Meals, which is a nice thought to be enjoyed over a digestif.

 

 

 

4. The Big Dish, Barton G. Weiss (Rizzoli)

Once upon a time in little old Miami, there was a food entrepreneur (foodtrepeneur?) named Barton G. Weiss who liked to serve up some crazy ass dishes to his customers. There's a picture of him inside looking all cool and American (read as: perfect teeth) but don't let such a insouciant appearance fool you: this is a man with a seriously steely determination to raise expectations of the catering business. Forget beige buffets and an uninspired bowl of fruit punch, Weiss' approximations of party food are big, bold and packed full of flavour. Think lobster truffle mac 'n' cheese, savory (his spelling, not ours) garden pots, and tartare puzzle. Death by mind-bogglingly delicious, weirdly-titled finger food? Quite possibly.

 

 

5. Kitchen Garden Cookbook, Carina Contini (Frances Lincoln)

Carina Contini is the kind of chef we need about ten more of. Now that there are 3D printers that might not be too far off, but for the meantime let's rejoice that the one of her we do have has produced the Kitchen Garden Cookbook - a resource for budding gardeners looking to cook with the seasons. A year is chronicled with recipes inspired and facilitated by the garden she and husband Victor built from scratch and which also serves the couple's Edinburgh restaurant Contini Ristorante. Expect a dash of engrossing family history, a liberal shaking of charm, one tablespoon of seasonal growing notes, and some pretty special results.

 

 

 

Question: What is the 'Glasgow salad' otherwise known as?

Email your answer along with your name and full postal address to hs@heraldandtimes.co.uk

Closing date is Sunday July 20.

Contextual targeting label: 
Food and drink

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