Is there someone in your life who is difficult to buy for?

Are you always on the lookout for a new recipe book, something a little bit different from the usual?

Have you been thinking about reducing the amount of meat you eat, maybe even stepping into the world of vegetarians but you’re not quite sure how to start?

I have three cook books to show you that can tick all of those boxes, not only will they amplify your recipe base but also will make the most wonderful gifts. We are talking about the Soulful Baker by Julie Jones, The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt and Cook Yourself Happy by Caroline Fleming.

Soulful Baker

cook books

Probably one of the most beautiful books you will see on the shelf this autumn. The Soulful Baker is a delight to look through searching for that special sweet recipe. This book truly was a labour of love as Julie Jones put it together when her mother, who taught her to cook, was diagnosed with dementia. They would spend time baking together and Julie started an Instagram feed which then led to this book.

The astonishing beauty of her creations will take your breath away and the method is written in such an easy format that your creations cannot fail.

I have been flicking through trying to decide which recipe to try first but there are so many good ones to choose from, I can’t wait to get started.

For me, baking has always been associated with emotion. Those precious hours set aside to unwind and spend quality time preparing something with love and care. I was first introduced to baking when I was very small, stood upon a stool working alongside my Mother, her oversized apron folded in half and tied around my waist. I often think of her encouraging instructions and advice with affection, ‘beat really fast – otherwise the batter will curdle’. No fancy or expensive equipment was used then, just a big ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon. Such happy days. Days I recreate with my own children now. — Julie Jones

The Flexible Vegetarian

cook books the flexible vegetarian

The more I look around me, the more vegetarians I see and when I weigh up how much meat we consume I want to start reducing the quantity but not losing out on wholesome tasty meals. I have a few of Jo Pratt’s books, like In the Mood for Entertaining and Healthy Eating. I even met and cooked with Jo last year at a work event which was a wonderful experience plus I got to see first-hand just how clever her recipes are. Clever but simple, tasty and healthy.

cook books The Flexible Vegetarian

The Flexible Vegetarian is filled with delicious and practical recipes for every lifestyle and if you do have a stubborn meat eater to cook for the recipes offer a neat solution – just add meat or fish as they can be served either way.

There is a huge variety of ingredients that I have never cooked with before but aren’t difficult to find, so I am looking forward to trying my hand at some and venturing into a whole new culinary world.

Cook Yourself Happy

cook books

Have you heard of Hygge? I have a whole Pinterest board on it. It’s not so easy to translate as it refers to a state of mind, a sense of being rather than an object. Hygge is all about cosy, wholesome lifestyle and I think Cook Yourself Happy The Danish Way falls into this sense of being.

Caroline Fleming draws on old family recipes that boost your wellbeing both inside and out. Warm smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, fried pork belly and baked apples with marzipan are amongst some of the favourites but as she says herself, “Cooking and the results are (for me) ‘love’ that you can taste, smell and touch – all a big part, I think, of making us the happiest people.” See more of Caroline on her Instagram @carolineflemingofficial

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of each book for the purpose of this review.

ASK Italian cook bookI love a good cook book and ASK Italian has sent me their latest to review for them. If you have some food lovers in your family and you’re looking a gift then this book could be the answer.

ASK Italian restaurants have collected their favourite recipes in a new cookbook and not only that for each book sold a donation will be made to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The book has over 100 true Italian recipes, one more delicious than the next, you’ll struggle to decide what to cook. The book has been edited by Carla Capalbo and includes recipes from TV chef and Italian cooking expert Theo Randall.

I flicked through and found how to make your own ravioli, I’ve always wanted to give that a go.

ASK Italian cook book

Then this caught my eye, one of my favourite risottos with pancetta, yum!

ASK Italian cook book

and I’d love to try a Quattro Stagione pizza

ASK Italian cook book

or what about stuffed squid? Dee-licious.

ASK Italian cook book

It wouldn’t be Italian if they didn’t include Saltimbocca, one of the first recipes my late mother-in-law taught me ;)

ASK Italian cook book

And what’s a good meal without a dessert to finish it off? Tiramisu and Affogato al caffe, coffee addcits will adore these two recipes

ASK Italian cook book

The book also includes anecdotes about Italian food from celebrity friends of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity including Dame Helen Mirren, Claudia Winkleman, Ronni Ancona, Flavia Cacace and Gino D’Campo.

The ASK Italian Cookbook can be purchased from ASK Italian restaurants for £10. £4 from each sale will go to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and help fund the dining rooms, play areas and kitchen within the hospital’s new Surgery Centre, due to open in 2016. The book will be available from 20 November 2012.

The book can also be purchased from bookshops and other third party retailers with a minimum of £1 going towards the charity.