The five cookbooks every man should own

What do men want from a cookbook? Simple really – to impress without too much palaver. Men get patronised with ‘Cooking for Blokes’ or ‘Great BBQS I have known’ type books, when all they need is classic, solid, delicious inspiration.

HOW TO EAT: THE PLEASURES AND PRINCIPLES OF GOOD FOOD BY NIGELLA LAWSON

Unashamedly greedy – ‘My qualification is as an eater. I cook what I want to eat.’ So flirty the Los Angeles Times called her ‘The Queen of Come-On Cooking.’ But How to Eat is still a classic. It covers all stages of a life, from freedom to happy domestic enslavery – even children’s parties, for any man wanting to earn serious brownie points. It’s not about what’s fashionable, but more a philosophy of food and enjoyment. There’s no snobbery – tins and dried herbs are OK by her.
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KITCHEN DIARIES BY NIGEL SLATER

Flavour and invention is what Slater is all about. His description of pizza (he’s not sniffy about fast food) delivered to his house as being ‘charred in big fat yeasty blisters’ is sensuality to the max. He is not namby-pamby about frying things and sprinkling salt – it’s all about the taste, the hunger, the pleasure. 300 recipes. Pork and lemon meatballs. Perfect. He helps with desperate larder-lunging or has double ginger cake the ultimate ‘date’ dish. Jamie Oliver calls him a ‘genius.’

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THE RIVER COTTAGE MEAT BOOK BY HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL

Whether you want to slam in the lamb or beef up some beef, Hugh’s carnivore guide will teach you a huge amount about all things fleshy. Real men can eat sweetbread, liver and brains – right? It may be a cliché that men want to be muscle-bound carnivores but this book educates – without being patronising – about animal welfare. It’s a huge heavy tome. But it deals with everything, even preserving meats. A caveman cookbook for the 21st century. Just make sure you reinforce your shelf.

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ITALIAN EASY: RECIPES FROM THE LONDON RIVER CAFÉ BY ROSE GRAY AND RUTH ROGERS

Stripped-down cooking that scoops out the complexity. Some desserts are particularly impressive and have that magician’s touch – the taste is sensational but ingredients and preparation are minimal. Not for beginners but instructions are clear. Chicken stuffed with mascarpone and rosemary is hearty but good enough to dazzle. The photographs are down to earth – you get a real sense of the finished results. Also, who doesn’t want to say that they are serving Tartufo di cioccolato, hiding the fact that it only takes two or three ingredients?

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MADHUR JAFFREY – CURRY EASY

Curry is the perfect dish for sharing, socialising and keeping taste buds happy. Men may be intimidated by the spices, the time involved. No wonder takeaway seems so appealing. Jaffrey takes the fear out of conjuring up curry. She knows her stuff – collecting recipes from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Friends will want to share your South Indian Potato Curry. Curry Easy has a lurid cover and straightforward style. It also has quick dishes like an Anglo-Indian Cheese Toast, with coriander and chillies.

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No excuse for men slipping off to the pub now. Time to cook!

Joel