Some recipe collections are a slow burn - and then suddenly, they're defining almost everything you cook...

2018 has undoubtedly been a big-hitter year for cookbooks. We've had Jamie Oliver's epic Jamie Cooks Italy, which saw him and mentor Gennaro Contaldo travel across Italy for two years, collecting the precious, home-kitchen recipes of Italian matriarchs.

Yotam Ottolenghi - the man who regularly has us scouring supermarkets for sumac and pomegranate seeds, the man known for his many, many ingredient recipes - pared his food back considerably with Simple (sumac still required).

Nigella Lawson re-released her seminal Nineties cookbook, How To Eat; the Duchess of Sussex supported Together: Our Community Cookbook, a selection of recipes from women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire; Tom Kerridge had us all losing weight for good; while YouTube duo BOSH! made veganism actually quite decadent.

But what of the cookbooks that didn't quite have an accompanying telly series or a royal seal of approval, that nevertheless have been slowly and subtly affecting our palates?

Let these under-the-radar recipe collections pique your interest and taste buds now, and into the new culinary year...

Our top 3 not to be missed...

1. Black Sea by Caroline Eden (Quadrille)

This is less a cookbook, more a selection of lyrically named, seductive essays ('A Synogogue Of Lemon Sellers', 'Jam On A Roman Road', 'Jazz And Russian Lace'), interspersed with food that comforts and soothes (onion soup, sea bass stew, black sesame challah).

It charts Edinburgh-based journalist Caroline Eden's journeys along the outline of the Black Sea, focusing in particular on the cities of Istanbul, Odessa and Trabzon, and what the people there eat. She captures historical changes and their culinary impact, explores how traditional cuisines have morphed or stuck, and inserts snippets of menus (from Tsar Nicholas II's Constanta imperial gala for instance), poetry, stories and musings.

It is designed to be read in one long breath, like a novel; one intent on making you both wanderlust and hungry for a kaleidoscope of eating habits that have been largely ignored until now.

2. Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury)

Zaitoun is former human rights campaigner Yasmin Khan's second book. Her first, The Saffron Tales, investigated the goings on in Persian kitchens, while in Zaitoun she noses gently into the culinary spaces of Palestinians, at all times infusing her writing and recipes with political awareness and sensitivity.

Fresh herbs abound - whether in bulgur wheat salads or deep-fried aubergine and feta kefte - there are zingy pickles and roasted, spiced meats, alongside Khan's discoveries and experiences of a region both fraught, and filled with fragrant cooking.

3. Asma's Indian Kitchen by Asma Khan (Pavilion)

Asma Khan swapped Calcutta for Cambridge, and after finding herself in tears over the distance between herself and ghee-fried parathas, started a supper club, which has since become a restaurant, Darjeeling Express. Khan serves the kind of ordinary food eaten in homes in India, which is quite separate from the heavy, creamy - if still delicious - dishes you'd generally order from the takeout. Asma's Indian Kitchen is built around recipes that are straightforward and uncluttered, where every ingredient has its place.

There are muted-yellow potatoes with cashew nuts; pureed aubergines smoky with chilli and zhuzhed up by ginger; bright pink beetroot raita, green beans dancing with cumin seeds, and golden masala omelettes. It is calming, thoughtful, and reassuringly filling food.

But don't forget these ones either...

Strudel, Noodles And Dumplings: The New Taste Of German Cooking by Anja Dunk (4th Estate)

Anja Dunk's trove of German recipes appears to be saying, 'Step away from the Bratwurst and chips with mayo - there's more to it than that'. And so there is, from jellies and 'slaws to soups and yeasted buns.

A Long And Messy Business by Rowley Leigh (Unbound)

Thoughts and essays weave in amongst recipes (largely from chef Rowley Leigh's years writing about food for the Financial Times) in this ode to food. Don't expect any quick suppers or dinner-party shortcuts, though.

Taste: A New Way To Cook by Sybil Kapoor (Pavilion)

This is as much a book about food as it is about food theory. Kapoor takes us on a sojourn into how our senses affect what we eat and how it tastes - and how we can use them to enhance our food.

The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli (Seven Dials)

Written by Trivelli, co-head chef of the River Cafe restaurant in London, this collection features simple Italian fare, with punch. Try the pork with peppers.