Hardie Grant, £25
Deliciously Ella by blogger Ella Woodward.
One of Birkett's first writing jobs was on The Caterer. Michelin-starred chef Chris Galvin, who wrote the book's foreword, recalls having met her back then on a gastronomic press trip to France and says: "She bowled us over with her thirst for knowledge and genuine love of food."
In A Lot on Her Plate - incidentally, the same name as her blog - Birkett has collected 80 of her favourite dishes in chapters covering small plates and sides, breakfast and brunch, bigger plates, feasts for friends, salads and vegetables, and desserts and cocktails. She also provides handy sections on making preserves and condiments.
Her obsession with food spills out in warm anecdotes revealing how each recipe fits into her life, particularly from her travels. So we learn that she adds hot salsa to her Mexican egg dish of migitas for breakfast. And that she discovered one of her favourite main courses in Vancouver - maple-braised pigs' cheeks with apple, roasted hazelnuts and Parmesan polenta.
She also adapts recipes learned from friends and family, including the professionals. Check out Modern Pantry chef Anna Hansen's octopus, avocado and butter bean salad with a chilli garlic dressing, or James Lowe of Lyle's cod cheeks with green sauce and potatoes.
It's true that feasting dishes such as melting Mexican pork tacos with pink pickled onions will appeal more to the home cook, but chefs will get a lot out of this book too.
It has certainly been taken seriously by some big names. "In a culinary world full of froths, foams and smears, this is a book for those who love real food," says Michel Roux Jnr in the introduction.
From an amateur cook's perspective, the photos seduce and the easy, creative recipes make you want to ring up your friends and invite them around for dinner.
By Rosalind Mullen
If you like this, you may enjoy these
- A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
- What Katie Ate At The Weekend by Katie Quinn Davies
- A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield