As the holidays quickly approach, there is still time to get that friend, co-worker, or relative a cookbook to inspire a hundred meals ahead. There is something celebratory about cookbooks far beyond recipes. They are the imagination of events, gatherings and possibilities yet to be. Hand someone the chance to throw a party, have a special dinner and make memories.
And if you’re far ahead of us and all set for the holidays (excuse me for blushing in embarrassment) perhaps you can find something for yourself to kick off the New Year with loads of ideas.
Our Favorite Regional Books
Our first cookbook is about two unrelated regions that come together beautifully in the kitchen. The flavors of Southern India and Southern U.S. cooking are celebrated in My Two Souths. These are simple, home recipes. Nothing fancy, but warm and flavorful coupled with loads of stories. Also, this was the winner of the Food52 Piglet cookbook bracket for 2017.
#cookforSyria became a widely used hashtag in 2017 to provide awareness and humanitarian assistance to Syrian children using our most generous language – food. We found these recipes highly creative, brimming with flavors and spice and celebrated in this collection to share more of the culture of a people through their ancient and modern foods. We love the idea behind this, and we love the recipes within it.
Vegetables Are Having a Moment
A whopping 225 recipes from a chef and farmer – and that shows in this collection of recipes that appreciates all vegetables in all their seasons and making the most of every plant with very little waste. That practice isn’t a trend, it’s a true appreciation and love for the multiple flavors available form the same plants throughout the season and differences from stem to leaf to fruit. Thoughtful, delicious, expert – definitely a new way with vegetables.
For Those Who Like Everything Spelled Out and Tested
In 2017, Christopher Kimball left America’s Test Kitchen with a bit of press, and some unhappiness from ATM. He’s landed on Milk Street, with a lot of energy to make home cooking simpler, more successful and more exciting. He talks about his goals for Milk Street Program with the New York Times. In Kimball’s true style, “Milk Street” shows not just how to cook, but why certain techniques and choices matter for better results. Some highlights: Skillet-charred Brussels sprouts, Japanese fried chicken, rum-soaked chocolate cake, Thai-style coleslaw, and Mexican chicken soup. . . Yes, I’ll have that please.
Learn to Cook with Confidence
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” is a personal favorite. Cooking is a life skill everyone should learn and it shouldn’t be difficult. This book makes it simple to cook like an expert, adjusting through anything unexpected and learning to love cooking never again shackled by exact instructions. It’s a favorite because this is how yours truly learned to cook, by tasting, adjusting, learning technique over recipes. The result is a love of experimentation and confidence in the kitchen, and that is cool.
“Give Yourself a Break” Category
While there is another Melissa Clark cookbook for Instapots, slow-cookers and other devices meant to save time, we prefer the approach of no appliances other than an oven. Got a sheet pan? Stretch it to its limits with this surprisingly inventive collection of fast, no fuss, but flavor-filled recipes that will appeal to the whole family.
Pre-Order – March 2018. So, this one is a pre-order, but we’re still excited about it. Rachel Allen is an Irish celebrity baker, restauranteur and cookery school instructor. In her latest book, she delivers recipes for both homey, traditional baked goods and surprises from around the world. She includes sweet and savory flavors that always delight and make recipes memorable and special. (We’re big fans!)
Something Sweet To End
Santa, if you’re listening, we want twenty of these to give as gifts. From Bill Yosses the White House pastry chef for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, comes The Sweet Spot, a book of indulgent, thoughtful, multi-dimensional desserts filled with flavor, herbs, and the subtle notes of a master party chef. This is all delivered with a very conscious limitation of sugar. In fact Yosses advices – use sugar like you use salt. In this dessert book, sugar is used as a spice to let all flavors play a role and are accented, not overpowered, by sweet. If you wonder if that can turn out to be any good, just imagine the thought that goes into preparing desserts for a presidential family and guests of state.
If you don’t have Dorie’s Cookies, get it! We found no-fail, simple, sometimes seemingly magic cookies here that will slip right into your favorite recipe list. These are the kinds of recipes that become Grandma XXX’s Cookies or Aunt XXX’s Christmas cookies referred to for years. They are the memories of baking waiting to become indelible. Also, if you give this as a gift, there may be a good chance you get a batch of cookies out of it!
If you haven’t heard of Ottolenghi, it may be that you don’t really care for good food. His Israeli and Middle Eastern cookbooks exploded on the cooking scene in the UK with “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” “Plenty” and “Plenty More“ and have been celebrated widely. His recipes are heavy on vegetables and hearty dishes with spice and flavor combinations that are often new to North American palates. Now, he’s turned his focus to dessert with “Sweet.” Surprising, refreshing, elegant and entirely indulgent.
PS: If you’re catching up… it’s worth it, check out Ottolenghi’s other cookbooks:
That’s what we’ve got, there are a few more on our list of cookbooks we want to review and share later, but we like these very much. Any we missed? What are your favorites and why? Leave us a comment to share and happy reading & cooking!