Vanilla: Cooking with one of the world’s finest ingredients – Janet Sawyer
Ryland Peters and Small – 2014
Photography: Steve Painter

Who doesn’t love vanilla? I’ll admit to being a bit of an addict when it comes to this gorgeous spice.

The Vanilla cookbook is full of recipes interspersed with sections all about vanilla. the history, production, ethics and farming.  The sections within the book are a little broad but combined with the index it’s not difficult to find what you’re looking for. Most of the ingredients used are store-cupboard staples or easy to pick up with your shopping.

There is a wonderful section at the start of the book all about the basics of cooking with vanilla, what it combines well with and the different types of vanilla available to home cooks. The notes that sit at the top of each recipe are interesting and informative but he font makes them quite difficult to read.

The photography throughout the book is clean and beautiful while still being homely. By circling around one main ingredient the recipes create a cohesive book and yet remain diverse with recipes from shortbread to syllabub.


With an ingredient like vanilla as the start, the balance is always going to be towards sweet dishes but the ‘Savory Surprises’ section is a lovely way of showing what a versatile spice it can be.

My favourite recipes are Manju’s Coconut and Vanilla Chicken Curry, the Cardamom and Vanilla Cookies and the Elderflower and Almond Cake.

A whole cookbook dedicated to this perennially popular spice means that there are familiar flavours mixed in with lots of new ideas, Vanilla is a fascinating and hugely tempting cookbook.


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