Cookbooks are one of my favorite things on the planet. I have them in every room of our apartment. I cook from them, read them in bed, give them as gifts, and even use them occasionally as furniture (there’s a stack in our living room that doubles as an end table).
I was told recently by the folks at Eat Your Books (an awesome service that allows you to enter all your cookbooks and the blogs you follow in order to be able to organize and search them) that nearly 3,000 cookbooks come out every year. I only see a small fraction of those, but I still manage to wade through a whole heck of a lot. These are some of the best that have crossed my path since about this time last year.
Poptails is a fun book for all cocktail lovers. Author Erin Nichols (she writes the blog Erin Cooks) has concocted 60 boozy popsicles for cooling down on hot days. Part of what makes this book genius is that she’s found a way to treat the alcohol so that you can get it to freeze well.
I wrote about Marmalade recently, but to recap, it’s a charming little book that features a number of recipes for marmalades (both sweet and savory). Everyone who’s interested in taking their preserves in a decidedly citrus-y direction should have this on their shelf.
Yogurt covered raisins? Homemade saltines? Corn nuts without the package? You’ll find recipes for them all in Lara Ferroni’s new book, Real Snacks. Many of the recipes have gluten-free options and they all take a more wholesome approach than the classic snacks on which they’re modeled.
Speaking of gluten-free, there’s no better primer for gluten-free baking for this time of year than Jeanne Sauvage’s book Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays. My sister had to stop eating gluten earlier this year, so we’ll be baking a lot from this book in just a few days.
I was so inspired by Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal when I first read it last spring and I continue to return to it when I need a little help being creative with the bits and scraps that so often fill my fridge and pantry. It’s a great gift for people who do better with a trace of an idea than a strictly structured recipe.
I am devoted to vanilla. I am in the habit of buying my vanilla beans by the pound and try to tuck those fragrant seeds into nearly everything I jam or bake. Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever celebrates all things vanilla and everytime I pick it up, I find something new in it that I want to make (today I’m anxious to try the Nutty Vanilla Spread on page 132).
I realize it’s probably in bad taste to put one’s own cookbook in their gift guide. But I can’t help but think it might just make a really nice present for someone who’s been itching to start canning.
Cheryl Sternman Rule and Paulette Phlipot’s Ripe gorgeous book that is great for lovers of fruits, vegetables, reliable recipes, and vivid photography. It’s lovely enough to leave on your coffee table, but should really be taken to the kitchen and used. Buy it for anyone who needs a culinary lift.
Whole Grains for a New Generation by Liana Krisoff (she also wrote Canning for a New Generation) is my current cookbook obsession. I’ve made four dishes from it in the last week and have at least 20 more earmarked for the coming months. It makes whole grains incredibly accessible and has me using things like rye flour and wild rice, which are two ingredients that have rarely entered my kitchen before. And now I adore them both.
I did a whole lot of raving about Kim O’Donnel’s new book, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations over on Table Matters last month, but I can’t help but recommend it again here. It really is such a good book for those of us who want to cut back on meat without giving up anything in flavor.
The Kimchi Cookbook by Lauryn Chun and Olga Massov is such an awesome book for fans of Korean fermented pickles. It’s got a ton of useful information and the recipes are varied. I’ve long been intimidated by kimchi, but this book helped me get over my fears and dive in.
If you believe in home cooked dinners, eating with family, around a dining table, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach should be on your shelf. It’s filled with sturdy, appealing recipes and stories from the dinnertime trenches.
Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Pantry continues to be one of my favorites for basics. Its heft and photography, coupled with Alana’s words and recipes, make for such a pleasing cookbook experience. I still get a kick out of the fact that the recipes are arranged by the aisle on which they’d be found in the grocery store.
I collect old community cookbooks and have often felt a pang that they might be going the way of console TVs and cassette tapes. However, the Food52 community and cookbooks give me hope. Much like those old books, they gather the best from friends and neighbors (no matter how far-flung) and bring them together. The recently released The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 does a beautiful job of this type of community collation.
In recent years, many of us have made the switch from grocery store beef of unknown providence, to local, grass-fed beef, raised by farmers we know. However, with this kind of meat buying comes foreign cuts and untold cooking challenges. Lynne Curry’s new book, Pure Beef is sturdy, informative, and seriously useful if you’ve bought in on a cow and don’t know what the heck to do with the package labeled shoulder tender.
Kale is hot and you can count me among its many fans. In my search for more ways to incorporate this dark, leafy green into my diet, I stumbled across The Book of Kale by Sharon Hanna. It includes more than 80 ways to prepare kale. Never again can your family complain that they’re tired of kale, since you’ll be cooking it a new way every week!