11 of My Favorite Cookbooks (my favorite is #5)
June 2016 Update: I want to re-write this post and discover some new favorite cookbooks to fall in love with all over again. So, here’s to you… which books do YOU think should be in my kitchen? Tell me all about YOUR favorite cookbooks!
I had an awesome chat with Gabe from The Dinner Special podcast yesterday and can't to share the episode with you. One…
11 of My Favorite Cookbooks
I love books. I love reading them, owning them and collecting them. Even though I own a kindle, I can’t fall in love with a story the same way as I can when I’m holding one of my favorite cookbooks. Although there are new foodie-focused books, cookbooks and travel memoirs being published all the time, these books remain my favorites.
Scroll down to the bottom and let me know. These are my favorite cookbooks. What are yours?
These are the food-related titles that have inspired me to become a better cook and a better writer.
1. Heart of the Artichoke
I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything from this book and that is a tragedy. I’ve read this work of art from cover-to-cover dozens of times, and planned menus dinner parties that I haven’t held exclusively from this book. Author, David Tanis doesn’t just honor the food he presents in this book, he celebrates the seasons. The recipes are laid out is a format that makes it easy to create a seasonal meal.
2. Tartine Bread
I have often found myself flipping through this book alongside Heart of the Artichoke as this is another book that I have never cooked from. This makes more sense as I have an explainable inability to bake anything successfully. Let’s just say that if I could embrace baking the way I embrace cooking, I’d make something from this book every single day.
3. Kitchen Confidential
Not a cook book, but a frank and refreshing insight into the world of culinary arts and becoming a successful restaurateur. You may be familiar with Anthony Bourdain from his TV appearances on The Travel Channel. His passion for food and drive for success really comes alive in this book and when people ask me if I’d ever consider a career as a professional chef, this book reminds me of the reasons the answer is no!
4. The Five Spice Bengali Chronicles
I first fell in love with this book when I reviewed it in January 2013 and I don’t think it has left my kitchen since. From the very first page, author (and now a foodie-friend of mine) Rinku Bhattacharya paints the culinary scenes and smells of life in Kolkuta. Her recipes are broken up into sections covering a variety of seeds and spices, and every single recipe tells a tale. The Five Spice Bengali Chronicles captures not only the Cuisine of Eastern India, but the essence that makes this culture so rich. If I recall correctly, this book was dedicated to the life of her father, who didn’t live to see its publication. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to a loved one than this culture-rich and inspired publication.
5. Culinary Artistry
When I met The Epicurean Pig for the first time we bonded over a love of food. At the end of the weekend our families spent together, he gave me his copy of Culinary Artistry. Our friendship was cemented. This book should not be mistaken for a traditional cookbook because it is so much more. This is the “teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” of cookbooks, outlining how to become well versed in creating and using flavor profiles. If you buy one book today, buy this one.
Over the years since I have owned it, this has remained on one of my favorite cookbooks.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have managed to share a lesser known view of Jerusalem in their most recent book. Unlike many Israeli cookbooks, this publication paints a culture-rich picture inspired by both Jewish and Arabic heritage in Israel. The recipes are approachable and picturesque, which would explain why this book has been translated into four languages and sold more than 750,000 copies in its first year alone. Since buying this book, homemade Preserved Lemons are always in my fridge.
7. As Always, Julia
Most people don’t believe me way I say I’d never heard of Julia Child before seeing the 2009 movie, Julie & Julia. After seeing that movie, I dived into My Life in France, and shortly thereafter As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. Both of these books paint a picture of Julia’s unconditional love of food but As Always, Julia shows a mildly edited insight into the life Julia as living, and the life she really wanted. In celebration of Julia Child’s 101th birthday, I shared my version of Julia’s infamous boeuf bourguignon.
8. Super Natural Every Day
In this book, Heidi Swanson covers a little bit of everything. If you know how to cook, there’s plenty of room to be inspired by a recipe and springboard into an entirely different direction. If you’re new to home-cooking, this is easy to follow and will put protein-rich and deliciously and healthy recipes well within your reach. My go-to recipe from this book is the baked oatmeal, but for the life of me, I can’t find a photo of my version of this dish. It’s a good thing that Lottie + Doof and Orangette both have this covered.
9. If It Makes You Healthy
Performer Cheryl Crow partnered with Chef Chuck on this book when she was battling breast cancer. For Crow, this was a wake-up call to change the way she ate and fuel her body with only the best. One of my favorite recipes from this book is the hummus soup, just one example of combining great flavors for an outstanding result. I was surprised to see that some Amazon reviewers found this book to be too complex or “involved” for their liking. Well, each to their own. I love it.
10. Aromas of Aleppo
Poopa Dweck brings Syrian Food alive in this vibrant and photographically brilliant book. In a way, I connect to this book for the same reasons that I enjoy Rinku Bhattacharya’s book. The two share a love of their unique heritages and have embraced the ingredients from their corners of the world. This book is an exotic journey back in time that honors characteristic of the Indo-Mediterranean cuisine. If you’re not into cooking, but you are into food photography, then this book is ideal for you too.
11. The Vegan Slow Cooker
Kathy Hester’s published three books to date and has a fourth on the way. To date, my favorite is her first (reviewed here alongside a recipe for Chickpea Quinoa Curry). After reading The Vegan Slow Cooker for the first time, I changed the way I thought about my crock-pot. No longer is it reserved just for a handful of soups and stews. If I’m cooking for a crowd, I’m grateful for the variety of slow cooker recipes offered in this book, and so pleased that I now own three (or perhaps four) slow cookers!
Then I asked for your favorites…
I discovered some great titles that I’ve added to my wish-list.
What is one cookbook that everyone should own?
Some of the books you shared were Joy of Cooking; The Moosewood Cookbook which I really must look at again; the classic, although in my opinion, dated and somewhat boring, Spice and Spirit; The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York which is now at the top of my wish-list; and Blue Eye Dragon which would be a great way for me to learn more about an area of cuisine that I know little about.
Keep telling me which titles are on your list of favorite cookbooks. Leave a comment below or join the conversation on this on this Facebook thread.