The internet is currently a cacophony of gift suggestions, and I can’t help but add my own shouts to the mix. I will never tire of receiving cookbooks (though my bookshelves very well could). My collection of cookbooks outweighs me and each have their own special spot on the bookshelf, but I keep turning to a select few repeatedly. These are five of my favorites and I feel so strongly about adding to other people’s collections that I gift them myself.
Flour by Joanne Chang. I’ve written about how great this cookbook is before, and my fuzzy feelings have only grown since then. Chang’s recipes can be complicated, but the instructions are the most thorough that I’ve read in any cookbook. If you follow along, the recipes are foolproof and serious show stoppers. (and for those who already have Flour, there is Flour, too, which includes salads, soups, sandwiches, and dinners along with the amazing desserts)
How to Cook Everything: The Basics by Mark Bittman Sometimes, I don’t like looking up recipes on the internet. I just want to be able to open up a book from a trusted source and find exactly what I want (I’m needy, I know). For this exact purpose I have How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Basics. I’m recommending Basics here because it is an excellent beginner book with photos and thorough tutorials, and a far less overwhelming amount of recipes. How to Cook Everything (also in Vegetarian and Fast versions), has recipes that are just as easy, no photos (but some illustrations), and a zillion variations. It is designed for someone who is a little more comfortable in the kitchen.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. I am in love with this cookbook. If you aren’t comfortable with sensual, vegetal food porn skip this one. The recipes are creative and have gotten me to try many new ingredients and techniques, but never seem outlandish or scary. Ottolenghi’s other accomplishments include Ottolenghi, Plenty, and Plenty More, but none of them have captured me as much as Jerusalem. Please try the roasted butternut, the wheat berries with chard and pomegranate molasses, and every eggplant recipe.
The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila. If you have any interest in trying to make processed food from scratch, this is your book. Alana has a lovely blog, and the book has great stories and charming titles (‘Pancakes and Waffles or the division of labor’). The recipe I adapted to make granola comes from here, I’ve made the ricotta many times over, and the best homemade granola bars.
The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara Forte. Sara’s blog is another great one, and her book is a wonderful collection of healthful, creative recipes. Her chipotle and apple turkey burgers are my favorite ever, and come to think of it the mushroom and brown rice veggie burgers are also my favorite ever. Beyond burgers, the creamy millet with roasted portobellos and tangled carrot salad with tahini dressing are dishes that will always be in my rotation.