Thursday, January 8, 2009

A few cookbook recommendations

Did someone who loves you get you a giftcard for the holidays? Do you love cookbooks? If you're like me, and you have a weakness for cookbooks, here are a few of my favorites recently. Perhaps you'll want to use your giftcard on one of them:

The Cook And The Gardener by Amanda Hesser

This is not a new cookbook (in fact, it's ten years old this year!) but it is my favorite! Amanda Hesser is a former New York Times food columnist and this book charts a year she spent with a farmer and his wife, learning to farm and cook. The book is divided up seasonally, and each season into months. Filled with great stories of her quirky hosts as well as recipes that have never once failed me. It is a book I return to again and again, even if just to while away a morning drinking coffee and dreaming of the garden.

at Home by Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook is gorgeous. The paper quality is lovely, and the photographs, many of which are multi-page spreads, are of an almost-dreamlike quality. It also reflects Jamie's obsession with his garden and cooking with the fres
h produce from it. As always, his recipes are easy-to-follow, full of surprising taste combinations, and delicious. For a cook and a gardener, this is another must-have.

How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

This fantastic update to Mark Bittman classic cookbook is truly indispensable. I find myself using this one side-by-side with my Joy of Cooking for my general kitchen how-to. Just two days ago, I made yogurt and ricotta using this cookbook. Both turned out perfectly. Bittman has added tons of variations to his recipes that exponentially increase the value of this book. This is a perfect gift for someone just starting out into the wonderful world of home cooking. It is chockful of charts, descriptions, along with the hows, whys and whats of the kitchen.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One by Julia Child

Yes this classic cookbook seems formidable. But, really, it is anything but. Julia Child's way of walking the cook through her recipes guarantees no missed steps. The ingredients you need for each step are clearly laid out, along with the time each step takes, the equipment needed, and any variations that may work. This is more than a cookbook; it is an entire cooking class, just as Julia Child intended. Even now, forty years later, the recipes are just as current as ever, especially since Julia Child was a big fan of fresh ingredients, whole foods over processed, and taking the time to do things right. Although this cookbook may scare off a beginner, it is designed for anyone in the kitchen, and the illustrations from Julia Child's husband are so useful! Highly recommended.

So these are four of my favorite cookbooks right now. They are well-worn in my kitchen, covered lovingly in sauces and butter and crumbs. Copies of them await your kitchen!