Friday, November 7, 2008

Some of My Cookbook Favorites

This will not be a review of the hottest, newest cookbooks on the market. You can read any fall cooking magazine and or newspaper food section and get that scoop.

These are some picks from my library. The books I go to on a regular basis and the ones I cook from on special occasions. I've recently done a huge purge of my cookbook collection, whittled it down from 200 to closer to 100. The ones that made the cut are near and dear to me and they aren't going anywhere, at least for a while.

*Best 'Basics' cookbook for simple everyday food: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Published 10 years ago, this is still the book I recommend to my students who want to invest in one go-to book. I think it is the modern day Joy of Cooking with simple recipes and great menu ideas.

*Best Everyday cookbook: Sarah Foster's Fresh Every Day. I bought this book on a whim one day when I was wandering Barne's and Noble with a gift card. I haven't regretted it for a minute. Not only are the photographs and food styling absolutely stunning but, the recipes consistently work. Try her "Mom's Pot Roast", "Sliced NY Strip with Horseradish Mustard Sauce", and "Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Rounds" and you won't be dissapointed.

*Best Ina Garten cookbook: The Barefoot Contessa is now in a category on her own. With so many books, it is hard to pick a favorite but I think I have to go with Barefoot Contessa Parties. The book's recipe for "Shortbread Cookies" is my all time favorite and the "Filet of Beef with Gorgonzola Sauce" is pretty damn good too.

*Best Non-U.S. cookbook: I love the Jamie Oliver books. I don't have his most recent but, Cook with Jamie, which came out last year is gorgeous. It too is a great reference book for tips like how to buy the best fish, how to cook certain cuts of meat, and what to do with pasta. There is a recipe for "Creamy Butternut Squash" that will knock your socks off.

*Best Indian/Southeat Asian cookbook: Madhur Jaffrey's From Curries to Kebabs is one of those books that you read and think "I will never have time to make all the things in here that look so good!". Her "Chicken Tikka" is the best-a simple weeknight dish to change up your dinner table. The recipes are easy but unique and well worth trying.

*Best Pull-Out-All-The-Stops cookbook: I could have said the French Laundry Cookbook but seeing as I've only cooked from it once (and that was just for my cookbook club), I have to instead say Mario Batali's Babbo Cookbook. My husband has done most of the cooking from this book but, everything we've eaten has been delish. I have made the "Pumpkin Orzo" and the "Ziti with Tuscan Syle Cauliflower"-both surprisingly simple.

*Best California Restaurant cookbook: I've mentioned this book before: Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. You can open up this book blindly and what ever page you land on, the recipe will be out of this world. Try the brisket, short ribs, or even the salad with melon, figs and burrata. You'll be glad you did.

*Best Northwest cookbook: I love Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen by none other than Tom Douglas. If you buy this book for nothing else but Dahlia Lounge's famous Coconut Cream Pie recipe, it will be worth the purchase. I can not begin to tell you how amazing that recipe is!

My list goes on and on but, this is a good intro to some of the books I use on a regular basis. If you're putting your holiday gift list together, you might want to add one or two for yourself.

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