There’s a quote that says, “some people read them like cookbooks, you read them like romance novels,” and that is appropriate for us. We both have extensive cookbook collections and still get excited to find more at the library or bookstore. Cookbooks hold the promise of education and inspiration, and if you love food as much as we do, reading them is a good way to soak it all in. We know we’re at the far end of the spectrum, so for those of you who are looking for great recipes and, therefore, meals to add to your family table, here are our favorites. We defined “favorites” as our most-used (and our must mentions because we just couldn’t stop at 10).
Four cookbooks that hit both of our Ten Favorite Cookbooks lists:
- The big yellow Gourmet edited by Ruth Reichl. Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of this book. Every single recipe that we’ve tried has been outstanding.
- All of the Barefoot Contessa books. Ina Garten has seven cookbooks now, and they all contain approachable, delicious recipes in addition to menu ideas, pantry favorites, gorgeous photos, and many other good resources.
- How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. As impossible as the title seems (how can any cookbook cover everything, we wondered), Mark Bittman does an impressive job giving multitudes of variations on ingredients and dishes, as well as his incredibly creative and helpful Top 100 lists in the back.
- The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. We’ve already shared one recipe by Ellie Krieger for Pumpkin Pie Muffins. She’s a registered dietitian with a masters in nutrition and host of the Food Network show Healthy Appetite. Good-for-you recipes that are really good!
Kimberly’s other favorites:
- How to Cook without a Book by Pam Anderson
- America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
- Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey
- Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan
- World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey
- All About Braising by Molly Stevens
Sharon’s other favorites:
- The Best Make-Ahead Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
- The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker (I use the 1975 edition)
- The New Basics Cookbook by Rosso & Lukins
- Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless
- The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young and Alan Richardson
- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
In addition to our favorites that get frequent and heavy usage, we also have our “must mentions” – cookbooks that we depend on for variation or an expertise in a specialty area or cuisine.
Must Mentions: local and regional cookbooks so that we can best use local ingredients, Junior League Cookbooks (Sharon – I have several but like the Centennial Cookbook compendium); The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids One Meal at a Time by Laurie David; Patricia Wells’ Trattoria, Wofgang Puck and Mario Batali for Italian; The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper for a great education; Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One by Child, Bertholle, and Beck for inspiration; and a brand new favorite, Family Table by Michael Romano & Karen Stabiner. Specialty cookbooks: Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins; Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by our brilliant Columbus friend, Jeni Britton Bauer; Michael Pollan’s books on food policy issues; and Martha Stewart’s books and magazines for kitchen organization, menus, meal presentation, and special events.
Happy reading and eating!