My 5 Favorite Cookbooks – A Holiday Gift Guide
Need cookbook recommendations? Here are my 5 favorite cookbooks that you can buy your family and friends for Christmas.
In addition to my coffee addiction, I have an insane addiction to cookbooks. It’s been around since I could remember, even before I started drinking coffee religiously. Coffee and cookbooks. It could be worse, no? Believe it or not, I’ve gotten a better handle on buying books the past few years. Especially now that my library can get almost any book, I can check them out before buying. People often ask me what my favorite cookbooks are. Considering I have five shelves full of potential candidates, this wasn’t an easy question. I looked at which books I used the most, which ones I couldn’t live without, and which ones others would enjoy just as much. That’s how I came up with My 5 Favorite Cookbooks, which also doubles as a holiday gift guide. If you have any friends or family in your life that love to be in the kitchen, these are the 5 books they need to own.
Update – From November 27-30, save 30% off books bought via Amazon! Use coupon code HOLIDAY30 when checking out. Read Amazon’s page for more details.
1. Baking: From My Home To Yours
Baking: From My Home to Yours – Hands down, Dorie Greenspan is my favorite cookbook author. I own six of her cookbooks (and anxiously anticipating owning her newest book, Baking Chez Moi). This book (BFMHTY for short) is the reason I fell in love with Dorie’s recipes. Way back when, I joined an online baking group called Tuesdays With Dorie where our goal was to bake every single recipe from BFMHTY. Because I joined during college, I soon fell off the wagon, but I would say I made 1/4 of her recipes (which considering the book is over 500 pages, that’s a good bit). Whenever I find myself wanting to bake but either don’t know what to make or have specific ingredients to use up, BFMHTY is the first book I grab.
Who is this book for? Anybody who loves to bake from scratch or is willing to learn to bake from scratch. Dorie takes no shortcuts. Most of the recipes are easy to throw together – muffins, scones, cookies, quick breads. A few other recipes do take some time (but are totally, totally worth it) – cakes, pies, tarts. My favorite recipes are her Linzer Sables, Coconut Tea Cake, and World Peace Cookies.
Bountiful – This cookbook is written by the couple behind White On Rice Couple, one of my favorite blogs. Not only does their photography captivate and inspire me, their recipes really do taste as good as they look. One of my goals for 2014 was to eat more vegetables, and this book certainly helped with that. Packed full of recipes inspired by the authors’ garden, Bountiful is split into categories based on ingredients – tomatoes, herbs and leafy greens, roots and bulbs, sweet berries, stone fruit, and much more. I wrote a cookbook review last year, so please read that for more information.
Who is this book for? Anybody who loves to cook with fresh produce, whether it’s from a personal garden or farmer’s markets. Most of the recipes are fairly easy and quick, so no need to spend all day making dinner. My favorite recipes are Summer Squash Stuffed with Teriyaki Pork, Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Parmesan, and Roasted Broccoli and Grilled Cheese Melt.
Jerusalem – I am so smitten over this cookbook, it’s kinda ridiculous. I may be a bit biased because Middle Eastern cuisine is my absolute favorite, more so than Indian cuisine (which used to be my favorite). Ingredients such as za’atar, sumac, hummus, and pita bread really bring out the excitement in me. I think the best part about cooking is learning about the culture behind any cuisine. This book focuses on recipes from Jerusalem (hence the title), which is where both authors were born and raised. It’s also one of those cookbooks that you can curl up with on the couch and read, as Jerusalem helps explain the culture with stories and brief history lessons.
Who is this book for? Open minded, adventurous eaters who love to learn about other cultures through food. Unfortunately, it’s not for everyone (I’m the only one in my family who actually eats this cuisine). Although having a love affair with za’atar, hummus, and pita bread helps, you don’t need to have prior knowledge of Jerusalem to enjoy it. A good bit of the recipes do take some time, so I reserve making them on my days off when I have more time to enjoy cooking. My favorite recipes are Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile (pasta with a pea yogurt sauce) and Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion and Cumin.
4. The Perfect Scoop
The Perfect Scoop – If you only have room on your shelf for one cookbook dedicated to ice cream, this is it. I own about five ice cream books, but The Perfect Scoop is the one I turn to first. David Lebovitz is another one of my favorite cookbook authors as I own three of his books (and hoping to own My Paris Kitchen soon). The Perfect Scoop has ice cream recipes ranging from basic chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter to a little more experimental with Lemon Speculoos, Green Tea, and Goat Cheese. David even has a guide online on making ice cream without an ice cream maker (believe it or not, I still do not own a machine).
Who is this book for? Anybody who loves ice cream and wants to start making it at home (you may need to also buy them a bigger freezer). All of the recipes are easy to prepare; waiting to freeze is the hard part! My favorite recipes are Toasted Coconut, Lemon Speculoos, and Peanut Butter.
5. Eat Your Vegetables
Eat Your Vegetables – I actually met Joe Yonan at a blogging potluck where I won this personalized, autographed copy from him. That’s not why this made my top 5 list (although it does make the book special). Eat Your Vegetables features bold vegetable-centric recipes for the single cook. Even though the recipes are all meatless, Joe talks in his intro about how he wants you to consider this a vegetable book rather than a vegetarian one as it’s about what’s on your plate rather than what’s missing. Since I’ve been wanting to eat more vegetables, I often refer to this book when menu planning.
Who is this book for? Anybody who loves vegetables (not necessarily a vegetarian as I’m not) and doesn’t shy away from bold flavors. This book may seem a little “gourmet” as it uses ingredients such as kimchi, Israeli couscous, and miso, so it’s not for everyone. Eat Your Vegetables is also written with single cooks in mind (me!), but you can easily double the recipes to feed two people. My favorite recipes are Baby Eggplant Parm, Chicken-Fried Cauliflower with Miso-Onion Gravy, and Green Gumbo.
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