Most of my cookbook purchases over the years have been 'aspirational': I'm seduced by a gorgeous-looking book, buy it, try one or two recipes and then the book retires to the bookcase, where it gathers dust. You see, mostly I'm a spur-of-the-moment cook and can't be bothered with elaborate recipes.
The one exception is Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, published by Penguin, 2007. I love this because it's a real gardener's cookbook. I cook every day, but I only get passionate about cooking with fresh produce that I've grown myself. This book is stacked with simple, rustic, delicious recipes, arranged by season.
Here's a sample, which as it happens is bubbling away in the oven right now, using capsicums, onions, tomatoes and herbs that I've just picked from the garden. (I've simplified and shortened the text a little.)
Spicy pork and chilli-pepper goulash
serves 4 to 6
2 kg pork shoulder off the bone, skin off, fat left on
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp mild paprika
2 tsp caraway seeds
bunch fresh oregano
5 medium-large capsicums (pref. a mix of types and colours)
1 kg ripe tomatoes, peeled
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
small pot sour cream
zest of one lemon
bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C. Get a deep, ovenproof casserole with a lid and heat it on the hob. Score the fat on the meat in a criss-cross pattern all the way through to the meat, then season generously with salt and pepper. Pour a good glug of olive oil into the pot and add the pork, fat side down. Cook for about 15 minutes on a medium heat, to render out the fat, then remove the pork from the pot and put it to one side.
Add the onions, chilli, paprika, caraway seeds, oregano and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Turn the heat down and gently cook the onions for 10 minutes, then add the sliced peppers and the tomatoes. Put the pork back in, give the pot a shake, then pour in enough water to cover the meat. Add the vinegar. Bring to the boil, put the lid on, then place in the oven for 3 hours.
Stir the sour cream, lemon zest and most of the parsley together in a little bowl. Serve the goulash in a dish or bowl, with basmati rice and the flavoured sour cream. Garnish with the rest of the parsley.
If you want any more recipes, you'll have to buy the book!