‘Tis that gift giving season again, and nothing warms a cooking person’s heart like a new cookbook. Here is my completely subjective list, in no particular order, but arranged by delicately nuanced categories, of favorite books to give to deserving friends.
‘Tis the gift giving season, and nothing warms a cooking person’s heart like a new cookbook. Here is my completely subjective list of favorite books to give to deserving friends. Arranged in delicately nuanced categories, and in no particular order, I give you the best 12 cookbooks to give or hoard!
*Boyz with Toyz: If the idea of messing around with sous vide, iSi canisters with N2O chargers, dehydrators and optional induction cooktops makes your heart beat faster, then “Volt Ink” is for you. The Brothers Voltaggio have created an approachable, that looks like fun, cookbook that will turn your kitchen into a laboratory of good tastes.
*Damn Girl, You’ve Got Balls: Laura Shockey’s charming, inspiring, you did what???,“Four Kitchens”. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, Laura packed up her knife kit and went a-staging in Hanoi, Tel Aviv, France and NYC. Who goes off to Hanoi with just an address she got in an email from a stranger?
*Fun to Read and Cook: Kathy Gunst’s “Notes from a Maine Kitchen: Seasonally Inspired Recipes”
Her essays are like being invited into her warm kitchen where story telling and the aroma of roasting meats blend together.
May we all pause for a moment of silence to remember Kathy’s egg laying chickens who were recently slaughtered by a nasty fox.
*Crazy Gorgeous Cookies: Julia Usher’s “Ultimate Cookies”. Move over Martha Stewart ‘cuz there’s a new girrrl in town and she knows how to create a party with her cookies. Super cool, she breaks down the fine art of cookie decorating so that even I think I can do it!
*Defies The Imagination: Matt Armendiaz’s “On A Stick” will entertain you and get your creative party going juices going. “Spaghetti and Meatballs on a Stick”, “Scotch Eggs”, “Cake Pops” or a “Frozen Elvis” will certainly get people talking.
*Pasta, Because You Can Never Have Too Many Pasta Cookbooks: Domenica Marchetti’s “The Glorious Pasta of Italy”, with my kinda hunger inducing photos by France Ruffenach. This glorious book has ‘in the time it takes to boil water’ recipes and all day “make the house smell amazing” recipes. It’s great inspiration when you just don’t know what to make for dinner.
*Light my Creative Fire: I get a daily dose of Aki and Alex’s kitchen creativity delivered to my inbox in their “Ideas in Food” blog. Now they’ve put out a nifty cookbook called “Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work”. Not only do they explain how to pack flavor into tomato stock or brown butter Hollandaise; they also explain the science behind thickening agents and other good to know stuff. My only complaint about this book is that it is missing Aki’s wonderful photos!
*Art + Food: Elaine Tin Nyo’s “Three Legged Pig”, A Gascon Pig Tale is an evocative exploration of pig raising, slaughtering and eating in the south of France.
*Big Enough to Be A Doorstop: While not as hefty as last year’s Modernist Cuisine, Molly O’Neill’s “One Big Table” is no slouch. This giant homage to home cooks, farmers, fishermen, pit-masters and chefs is a satisfying and comfy look at how America eats. Any book that has a whole chapter on “A Social History of American Stoves” has got my vote. Come on, admit it, you love looking at pictures of old stoves!
*I’m a Groupie: I love all of Paula Wolfert’s books and “The Food of Morocco” is high on my list of favorites. This woman is an amazing story teller and her easy going way must be her secret to seducing Moroccan chefs into sharing their recipes.
*Near & Dear to My Heart: Kathleen Flinn’s new book “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School”. Kat follows nine women and helps break down the fear that keeps them from becoming rock solid home cooks.
Last but not Least, Timeless Classic: The book you’ll return to time after time, Cooking Simply: The Italian Way because you know a little bit of video mixed in with great, simple recipes goes a long way when you are learning how to cook. Wouldn’t a nice focaccia be just the thing to bring to a party?
Full disclosure: some of these authors are friends, but you know, I’m speaking from my heart when I say we’ve got some fine friends who can cook and write! Happy Holidays!