With so many books up for grabs, it’s easy for some gems to get lost in the noise. These are three phenomenal cookbooks from 2022 you should definitely have on your radar…
1. Big Has HOME: Recipes From North London To North Cyprus by Hasan Semay
There was always going to be a lot of anticipation around North London-based chef Hasan Semay’s debut cookbook. Known as Big Has, he’s one of Jamie Oliver protégées, who trained in the Fifteen programme. Like his mentor, Has is all about bringing delicious food to the masses. His Turkish Cypriot heritage is strongly felt in dishes like grilled octopus and lamb and potato kofte, and he also draws upon Mediterranean influences in crowd-pleasing recipes like cacio e pepe and fried courgette flowers.
1 chicken, weighing 1.8kg
A bunch of thyme
800g round shallots, peeled
1.5kg Cyprus potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthways
500g sweet pointed peppers
320g long green Turkish peppers
A good glug of vegetable oil
3–4tbsp tomato puree
Sea salt and black pepper
Good-quality olive oil
Chopped flat-leaf parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
2. Start by breaking down your chicken. Cut off the legs, then split the thighs and the legs. Take off the wings with a little breast. Cut out the backbone and cut the breasts into three equal pieces on the bone. Keep the breast on the bone – that’s our little safety blanket to stop our chicken drying out, plus the bone adds to the flavour.
3. Stick your chicken in a bowl, give it a good glug of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and a bunch of thyme. Don’t really worry about marinating, just dress it.
4. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat with a good glug of olive oil and seal your chicken. Make sure you brown your chicken on all sides to build flavour but don’t burn the thyme. Once the chicken is sealed, stick it on a plate and set aside.
5. Now, it’s pretty much just stick everything in a roasting tray. Add the shallots and potatoes first, then slice the pointed sweet peppers into three, remove the seeds and add to the mix. The green Turkish peppers can just go in whole. Add the vegetable oil and season everything heavily with salt and pepper.
6. Stir the tomato puree into 850ml boiling water, then add to the mix. Add the chicken we sealed off earlier, leaving the breast behind for later. Place the tray in the oven and cook for two hours. We want the potatoes to suck up all the flavour.
7. After two hours, add the breast meat over the top. Don’t mix it through as you want to avoid breaking up the potatoes. Turn the oven up to 210°C fan/230°C/450°F/gas mark 8 and cook for 15 minutes. The chicken breast will cook through, and your potatoes will crisp around the edges.
8. Pull it out of the oven and let everything rest for 10 minutes because otherwise it will 100% burn your entire mouth. I like to finish mine with a good glug of olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon zest. Serve with rice, yogurt and bread. Happy Sunday.
Big Has HOME: Recipes From North London To North Cyprus by Hasan Semay is published by Pavilion Books.
2. Africana: Treasured Recipes And Stories From Across The Continent by Lerato Umah-Shaylor
Cookery writer and presenter Lerato Umah-Shaylor might have graduated with a degree in economics from university, but it wasn’t long before she dove headfirst into the world of food. Africana is her debut cookbook, and it’s a colourful culinary adventure across the continent of Africa. Heralding from Nigeria, Umah-Shaylor’s family recipes run throughout the book – from a snack inspired by her aunt Justine’s twice-fried yam chips to melon seed soup from her mother.
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the plantain:
1 large plantain, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
For the shakshuka:
4tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bell peppers (red and yellow), stemmed, deseeded and cut into 1cm slices
¾tsp fine sea salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2tbsp red harissa
1tbsp tomato puree
3tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed, or 1½tsp ground cumin
½tsp ground turmeric
½tsp chilli flakes (optional)
800g vine-ripened tomatoes, or 2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes
8 medium free-range eggs, 2 beaten
1 small bunch of fresh coriander, torn
1. Heat two centimetres of oil in a shallow frying pan to 190˚C. Use a slotted spoon to lower the plantain chunks into the hot oil. Cook in batches for a few minutes, turning frequently to ensure browning on all sides. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with a pinch of fine sea salt and the paprika while the plantain is still hot, and toss to coat well.
2. To prepare the shakshuka, pour the olive oil into a 26-centimetre saute pan, for which you have a lid, and set over a medium heat. Add the onion and peppers, season with the salt and cook for five minutes until softened.
3. Add the garlic, red harissa and tomato puree and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently, then stir in the dry spices, and the chilli flakes if your harissa isn’t hot enough. Tip in the tomatoes, cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until thickened and sweetened, stirring occasionally and breaking down the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
4. Scoop half of the sauce into a bowl then spread the remaining sauce out evenly in the pan. Scatter half of the plantain chunks over the top, then pour the two beaten eggs over the top to cover the plantain and sauce. Cover and cook for two minutes.
5. Pour the reserved sauce over the layer of eggs and gently spread out evenly. Scatter over the remaining plantain. Crack the remaining eggs, one at a time, into a bowl. Use the back of the spoon to make six ‘wells’ in the sauce. Pour an egg in each one, cover the pan and cook for a final 10 minutes over a medium-low heat, or until the eggs are cooked as you like them. If you have an ovenproof pan, you can also finish the shakshuka in an oven preheated to 200˚C/180˚C fan/ gas mark 6 for five minutes.
6. Scatter over the chopped coriander and serve with red harissa and toasted slices of baguette or Medina bread.
Africana: Treasured Recipes And Stories From Across The Continent by Lerato Umah-Shaylor is published by HQ
3. The Pasta Queen: A Just Gorgeous Authentic Italian Cookbook by Nadia Caterina Munno, with Katie Parla
With 2.6m followers on TikTok and 1.8m on Instagram, it was only a matter of time before social media sensation Nadia Caterina Munno – AKA The Pasta Queen – released her own cookbook. Born in Rome, Munno is all about the traditional way of pasta-making, passed down to her from generations.
Tonnarelli cacio e pepe
300g finely ground Pecorino Romano
1tbsp coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
450 grams homemade Tonnarelli or store-bought fresh spaghetti alla chitarra
1. Fill a large pot halfway with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.
2. While the water is coming to a boil, in a medium bowl, combine the Pecorino Romano and 240 millilitres water and stir passionately, adding more water a little at a time as needed to make a luscious cream.
3. In a large frying pan, heat the ground pepper over low heat, swirling to lightly toast it and bring out its gorgeous aromas, about 30 seconds. Add a splash of water and swirl to infuse it with the pepper’s spicy and smoky aromatics. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, season lightly with salt. Drop in the tonnarelli and cook until the pasta is tender, two to two-and-a-half minutes.
5. Transfer the pasta directly to the pan with the pepper. Pour in the Pecorino Romano sauce and toss vigorously until the pasta is drenched in peppery sauce and the sauce is silky and smooth. Add the tears of the gods [the pasta water] a spoonful at a time if the sauce is clumpy and stir passionately until smooth.
6. Serve drizzled with any remaining sauce in the pan and garnish with a scrunch of pepper.
The Pasta Queen: A Just Gorgeous Authentic Italian Cookbook by Nadia Caterina Munno, with Katie Parla