The Cookbook Challenge 2011

The Cookbook Challenge is back again this year! Last year we did 52 themes over 52 weeks, which was A LOT of work, and I only just managed to scrap my way to the finish. This year, we’ve revamped it so there’s a new theme every fortnight and all blog links will be posted on a forum that Penny is hosting.

Do you own a lot of cookbooks but never use them? Join us! I enjoyed myself last year and it definitely made me use my cookbooks a lot more. I won’t deny that it took a fair amount of thought and effort, but it should be easier this year since it’s only fortnightly!

There are 26 themes, one each fortnight. Every fortnight, you’ll need to interpret the theme and cook a dish (or several if you’re really enthusiastic!) from your cookbooks. An entry should be posted on your blog before the end of the fortnight, and you’ll need to post a link on the forum. You’ll have to sign up for an account first, but when you’ve registered and joined the Cookbook Challenge group, this will be easy!

Here are the themes:

Fortnight 1 Saturday 1/01/2011 Stonefruit
Fortnight 2 Saturday 15/01/2011 Citrus
Fortnight 3 Saturday 29/01/2011 Rice/noodles
Fortnight 4 Saturday 12/02/2011 Love
Fortnight 5 Saturday 26/02/2011 Outdoors
Fortnight 6 Saturday 12/03/2011 American
Fortnight 7 Saturday 26/03/2011 Celebration
Fortnight 8 Saturday 9/04/2011 Eggs
Fortnight 9 Saturday 23/04/2011 Crunchy
Fortnight 10 Saturday 7/05/2011 Blue
Fortnight 11 Saturday 21/05/2011 Cup
Fortnight 12 Saturday 4/06/2011 Spice
Fortnight 13 Saturday 18/06/2011 Dessert
Fortnight 14 Saturday 2/07/2011 Hearty
Fortnight 15 Saturday 16/07/2011 European
Fortnight 16 Saturday 30/07/2011 Soups
Fortnight 17 Saturday 13/08/2011 Baked
Fortnight 18 Saturday 27/08/2011 Roast
Fortnight 19 Saturday 10/09/2011 Green
Fortnight 20 Saturday 24/09/2011 Asian
Fortnight 21 Saturday 8/10/2011 Childhood
Fortnight 22 Saturday 22/10/2011 Breakfast
Fortnight 23 Saturday 5/11/2011 Red
Fortnight 24 Saturday 19/11/2011 Seafood
Fortnight 25 Saturday 3/12/2011 Cool
Fortnight 26 Saturday 17/12/2011 Christmas

Check out April’s blog for a better explanation of how it works.

The challenge has started this week, with the first theme being “stonefruits”, which is to be cooked and posted by Saturday 15 January.

On cookbook buying, I did *really* well last year and only purchased a few. I also received a few for my birthday and Christmas. My latest additions are:

Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater. Regular readers will know that I love Nigel Slater, and I love this book, so you’ll definitely see bits of it this year!

The Fat Duck cookbook by Heston Blumenthal – this was a pressie from Alastair. Insert fangirl squeal here. 🙂 This book is so interesting. There’s basically three parts to the book – the first part being the fascinating story behind Heston and the Fat Duck. The second part contains recipes for several dishes served at the Fat Duck, as well some background into how the recipes were developed. Recipes that are incredibly complex and that mostly can’t be cooked at home might seem like a boring read, but with the background, I’ve found them very interesting. However, due to the complexity, I don’t think I’ll be cooking from this book! Well, maybe I will… let’s see how brave I am! The third part is food and science essays, which I haven’t managed to read yet, but I can’t wait. I love food sciencey stuff.

Quay by Peter Gilmore. This was a birthday present from Maria, and it is a huge book with beautiful photography. But the recipes are oh, so complex. I don’t think I’ll be cooking from this one either!

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. This was a pressie from Pat. I’ve only had a quick flick through so far, but it looks interesting. Expect to see some recipes from it over the next year!

Indonesian Food by Sri Owen (purchased at a bargain price of $17 from Readings!).

Arabesque by Claudia Roden – another pressie from Pat. I can’t wait to use this one, the recipes all look and sound delicious.

I also have my eye on a couple more books to add to my collection – Tender II, the first Ottolenghi, India: The Cookbook, plus a couple that aren’t cookbooks but are interesting food books: Keys to Good Cooking and The Flavour Thesaurus.

Did you receive any good cookbooks for Christmas? Are there any that you have your eye on or that you would recommend? And are you joining us for the 2011 Cookbook Challenge? Don’t forget to sign up at the forum!

PS: none of the links above are affiliate links – just links to the books on If you don’t use Booko, you should! It’s fantastic.