Food for Thought, by Alan Murchison

Author's Bio: 
Alan has worked in a number of world-class restaurants, including Inverlochy Castle, Claridges, Nobu, L’ortolan and Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons.  His restaurants La B├ęcasse in Ludlow and L'ortolan in Shinfield both have Michelin stars, and made Alan the only chef with more than one Michelin starred restaurant outside London.  He's also appeared on a number of television shows, including The Great British Menu, Hairy Bikers and Market Kitchen.  

The book is divided into the following sections:

The Start  |  The Journey  |  Starters  |  Mains  | Cheeses  |  Desserts, and Basics

The Concept: 

Without doubt this is my favourite cook book at the moment. It's been siting on my desk for a month, where others have been dumped by the side of the bookcase.  Ironically Alan had a great deal of trouble getting this book published, and ended up publishing it himself.  This makes the resulting book even more remarkable, because the dishes are fabulous and the pictures make you want to get yourself straight to his restaurants.

There are a number of quotations alongside beautiful shots of the countryside.  The photographer Mark Law, get's his own section - Julia Charles, the nutritionist gets a section - favoured suppliers get a section...  This book is a celebration of Alan's journey, and the people who have helped him along the way.

Recipes are well laid out, and Alan offers tips on the preparation of the dish.  He also notes where dishes can be pared down to produce an easier home version of a restaurant dish.

Favourites include pressed tomato terrine, tomato jelly, Picadon goat's cheese and Bloody Mary sorbet / the most beautiful Bouillabaisse I've ever seen / and wild strawberry marshmallow, iced vanilla parfait & scented strawberry puree.

The cheese section includes pairings for accompaniments, and offers wine suggestions.  It's such a refreshing change for cheese to be included in the menu structure.  Astonishingly there are 233 basic recipes, which include everything from chutneys to accompany the cheese, vinaigrette's, a liquorice sauce, espuma recipes, stock, confit, jelly, ice-cream and everything in-between.  It's an incredibly detailed selection, but more to the point, it's an act of incredible generosity on the part of Alan.

Who's going to read it? 

This book is really a book to inspire cooks - I can't recommend it enough.

You can buy Alan's book on Amazon: 

Couture Chocolate by William Curley

Author's Bio:

William has worked in many illustrious kitchens, including Gleneagles, La Tante Claire (and Pierre writes the forward for the book), in Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison, L'Esperance, and The Savoy.  At The Savoy he met his wife Suzue, and together they have gone on to win numerous awards, including the Pastry Chef of the Year, British Dessert of the Year and four Best British Chocolatier accolades.

They have two established chocolate shops, one with a chocolate making school downstairs.

The book is broken down into:

An Approach to Chocolate   |  Chocolate Essentials | Truffles  |  Couture Chocolates  | Bars & Bites |  Bouchees  |  Cakes and Biscuits  |  Patisserie  |  Ice Cream, Sauces & Drinks

The Concept:

This book aims to teach both newcomers to chocolate making, and advances amateur chocolate makers, providing inspiration, tips, unusual ingredients and refreshing combinations.  William also shares some of his most popular recipes from the shop, and from chocolate competitions, showing how to achieve the best results.
I have several chocolate books, but I think this is my current favourite.  William breaks everything down into step by step guides, showing you exactly how to achieve good results for tempering your chocolate (without a tempering machine).  William then shows you how to combine various ingredients into hand-made chocolates, moulded chocolates, bars, lollipops, even cakes, brioche, macaron and drinks.  The book is clear, and most interesting from my point of view, actually makes you consider different flavour combinations for yourself.  Perhaps I'm just at this stage of my chocolate making, but I found my mind wandering off into all manner of flavour variations.  If you're an experience chocolate maker, I can't imagine it changing your technique management much, but I think it's worth seeing his flavour combinations first hand.  William also does show layering techniques, which I don't think is covered in as much detail in some of my other chocolate books.

Overall, it would make a very good first chocolate book, and is certainly worth considering for those who already own a few books.

You can buy William's book from Amazon >

Good Things to Eat, by Lucas Hollweg

Author's Bio:

Lucas was a food editor and features journalist, and now writes a food column in the Sunday Times Style Magazine.  His articles feature easy to make dishes, which combine the freshest of ingredients in a laid back style.

The book is divided into the following sections:

Berries and Cherries  |  Birds  |  Cakes  |  Chops  | Fennel  |  Figs  |  Fish  |  Gratins  |  Ice cream and sorbet  |  Mussels, squid and other creatures  | Peaches and plums  |  Pies and tarts  |  Pudding  | Risotto  |  Roasts  |  Spaghetti  |  Stew  |  Summer salads  |  Summer Soup  |  Things on toast  |  Winter salads  |  Winter soup  |  A word about booze  | Bits and pieces

Bryn's Kitchen: 5 Brilliant Ways to Cook 20 Great Ingredients, by Bryn Williams

Authors's Bio: 
Bryn comes from Denbigh in North Wales, where he grew up shooting and fishing, and working in a local bakery. His cooking career is impressive:   In 1997 he began work under Marco Pierre White at The Criterion, went on to work under Michel Roux at Le Gavroche for three years, was senior-sous at The Orrery for four years and then moved to open Galvin at Windows with Chris Galvin, before opening Odette's for Vince Power in 2006. Bryn is now the Chef Patron of Odette's in Primrose Hill, taking over the property in the autumn of 2008.

The book is divided into the following sections:

Beetroot  |  Mushrooms  |  Potatoes  |  Crab  |  Scallops  |  Salmon  |  Sole  | Mackerel |  Chicken  |  Lamb  |  Pork  |  Game  |  Apples  |  Berries  |  Chocolate  | Cream  |  Baking  |  Bread  |  Preserves