At least, my favorite cookbooks, today…
I live with many cookbooks, and my favorites change now and then. But there are a few classics I refer to time and time again. Many of these are oldies but goodies, but some are new and I think they’ll be around for a while. Of course, if you ask me tomorrow, I’ll probably have a dozen different books to suggest…..
The cookbook I value the most is my mother’s copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” because it holds splats from her coq au vin and because we used to watch The French Chef together every afternoon. If you want to save time, this is not the cookbook for you. But if you want to make something right, even if it is complicated, and even if you only make it once, this deserves the space on your cookbook shelf. Every once in a while, a dish prepared with butter and cream and wine and duck fat transports us to the best of the best! Pair this with Jacques Pepin’s “La Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Cooking,” and you’ll be speaking French like a native.
I love some of the older cookbooks such as my dog-eared copy of “The Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen, when I first dove into vegetarian cooking. The Mushroom Moussaka is still one of my favorites. Next to it on the bookshelf, one might find “The Vegetarian Epicure,” by Anna Thomas, another standard of the day, and my first experience with Spanakopita. I love the new vegetarian cookbooks written by my friend and neighbor Crescent Dragonwagon. Her “Passionate Vegetarian” is already a classic and one of my favorites! Add a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” and you are all set in the veggie world.
You can’t go wrong with any of Alice Waters’ cookbooks, a model for the best of sourcing and cooking and enjoying the food and the process of cooking it. Her books are a celebration of food and kitchens. From “Simple Foods: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution,” to her recent “My Pantry,” there is delight in every page.
For great Italian basics, Lidia Bastianich’s “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine,” deserves a place on the shelf. Nestle it in beside Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Italian Cooking” and you are ready to prepare an Italian feast!
“The Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer, in all its various editions, is a great first cookbook that you will use as a basic kitchen reference always. I probably do quick checks in this book more often than any other cookbook. What is the temperature of lamb that is medium? What is the difference between a sponge and a chiffon cake?
“The New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook” by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer is another handy reference book for everything from the sea, and being a New Englander, this is essential. If you want to know how to deal with mussels, or how to remove fish bones, this book has all the cooking basics, and quite a few wonderful recipes as well.
And to savor:
“The Book Club Cookbook” by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp offers up “recipes and food for thought from your book club’s favorite books and authors” whether Edith Warton or Joanne Harris!
“The Sacred Kitchen,” by Robin Robertson and Jon Robertson, reminds us all that every meal is to be thoughtfully planned and joyously consumed.
“Chocolate” by Donna Hay. The essential food group, especially if it is dark. Easy-to-follow recipes with a great reward. Who could ask for anything more?
One of my favorite cookbooks!