Admittedly, this is a highly subjective list. Someone’s gonna read this and wonder how we could have possibly left out “101 things to do with a can of pop biscuits”, and that’s ok. If that’s what you like, I’m not gonna talk you out of it (mostly because I really like pop biscuits!). However, I like a cookbook that was written to be devoured as you peruse the beautiful photos and read the notes and text. Each one of these has great recipes, tons of useful information of one kind or another, and can entertain me as easily as a good novel. I’m weird like that.
Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi: Everything looks and sounds delicious in this one, but FOR SURE try the turkey zucchini meatballs with sumac sauce. The sumac sauce will change your life.
Pies and Tarts by Kristina Petersen Migoya: Here at the blog headquarters, we have some obsessions. Brownies. Flesh of beasts. Pies. Pies. Pies. And some of our favorites come from this delicious volume. I recommend you try making them all. Then bring them to my house for a taste test.
Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich: I feel like the modern chef’s mantra is something like this: pick the best ingredients and let them shine. That’s exactly what Medrich does in this book of strikingly elegant desserts. There’s a ton of information on the best sweet ingredients and perfect recipes to highlight them. The sour cream ice cream is a revelation with caramelized pineapple poured over it.
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee: Part of what fascinates me about cooking is the alchemy–taking one thing and transforming it into something so different with fire or ice or brine or enzymes. It’s really pretty cool when you start figuring out what’s going on. McGee’s classic will help you figure it out.
The New Best Recipe by America’s Test Kitchen: America’s Test Kitchen does something similar to McGee–It breaks down the ingredients, techniques, processes and equipment that will give you the best results on some classic American Recipes. A home-cook’s must-have.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child: Julia Child was one of my first culinary idols. I watched her for decades on PBS. She was funny and delightful and truly one-of-a-kind. This book started it all.
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman: Not everyone learns to cook. This is unfortunate physically, mentally and emotionally. But I’ve got good news for you if you haven’t yet found your kitchen confidence–Mark Bittman knows
what he’s doing and he’s a good teacher! How to Cook Everything has 2000 easy, tasty recipes and lots of advice on kitchen basics. Even veterans can brush up their skills with this one.
How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher: I don’t know quite how to describe this book. But the best I can think of is this: You’ll read How to Cook a Wolf and wish desperately that you could be a guest at Fisher’s table enjoying the food and the company. And then you’ll wish your table would be such a delightful place in times of both lean and plenty.
The New Family Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen: Yep. America’s Test Kitchen warranted two top ten spots. They’re just that good.
Food and Wine Cookbooks: We have several in our collection and every recipe I’ve tried has been a repeater, which is the test of a cookbook–would you make those recipes again? In this case, the answer is an unqualified yes.