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Nov 19, 2010 03:41 PM

Best Cookbooks of 2010 - one writer's opinion...what do you think?

What makes a "best cookbook"? I found this online and was interested to read the author's perspective and, the varying results of the various folks/organizations ranking the books.

What are your thoughts? Were there any books that you consider to be "favourites" in your collection that were published this year? What are your top picks this year?

Here's the link:

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  1. I've been looking at some of the lists online too (just found a handy roundup of a whole bunch of them here:

    I think a best cookbook is always going to have a certain amount of subjectivity - after all, tastes vary so much. That said, if you look at lots of the lists, certain books seem to pop up regularly, which makes me think that they'd be good bets if you were looking to take a chance on a new book. I'm certainly interested in "Around My French Table", by Dorrie Greenspan, which made lots of people's lists this year. I have a sweet tooth also, and the "Gourmet Cookie Book" which is a sort of greatest hits from Gourmet Magazine over the last 70 years, is certainly interesting looking. Alice Medrich has one (with kind of a silly name - Ooey Gooey Cookies or something) that doesn't show up on the lists I've seen, but given her background, might be another good one for cookie-heads.

    I only bought a few cookbooks this year, but the ones I've enjoyed include David Lebovitz's "Ready for Dessert" and Fany Gerson's "My Sweet Mexico" (see a theme?). What I look for is a cookbook that teaches me something about cooking, not just a bunch of new recipes, and both of those did. Last year it was "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" and "Ad Hoc at Home".

    8 Replies
    1. re: mandelicious

      Thanks for the cookbooker list, very interesting. I see that the Eileen Yin-Fei Lo "Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking" has shown up on the Vancouver Sun's list. This book is not worthy of such an accolade. It's especially surprising to see it on the list of a newspaper of a city with one of the largest Chinese populations in North America.
      The Madhur Jaffrey shown as only available in the UK was I believe published here as At Home with Madhur Jaffrey and is very good indeed.

      1. re: buttertart

        buttertart, I'm not familiar with that book, but I'm always a bit suspicious of newspapers, especially ones that are part of a large media group like the Sun is - one person writes an article like this one and it shows up in half a dozen daily papers across the country. The author likely isn't from Vancouver.

        In the comments of that list I see the cookbooker people are putting out a list soon with picks from bookstore owners, which I think will be quite interesting - I'm sure store owners tend to tell it like they see it.

          1. re: buttertart

            Well, yes, I'd be suspicious if all the picks were $60 high-end arty books!

            1. re: mandelicious

              I see they've published the new piece at Cookbooker with the bookstore picks now. It's definitely a bit more wide ranging than the newspaper and blog lists. Lots of import titles and only one mention of Dorie Greenspan's book and one of Frankie's. And yes there are a number of high end arty cookbooks...

              1. re: mandelicious

                Very interesting. Just added Ladurée Sucré to my list...

                1. re: buttertart

                  I'm definitely going to get at least one baking book this holiday, but it's hard to decide which one. Ladurée looks beautiful, but Tartine Bread also looks promising (though I have too many bread books already), and Joanne Chang's 'Flour' is tempting. Oh, and 'Baked Explorations' too. Sigh.

                  1. re: mandelicious

                    Check this. His new book is very good as is Nick Malgieri's - but of the latter, I particularly love "A Baker's Tour" and "The Modern Baker", older books.

    2. I keep on seeing this Frankie Sputino's book on quite a few lists, and I sort of cavalierly dismissed it when I first saw some things about it. And no one has talked about it on CH at all. I'm wondering if anyone has it and what they think...

      16 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        It was written up in the summer books Times thing too. I've wondered. Majorly hip Bklyn restaurant, never went there. Haven't looked through the book.

        1. re: buttertart

          I may have still been in Egypt then and missed the write up. I happen to love the Rao's cookbook, and I wonder if it is in the same ballpark.

          1. re: roxlet

            We must talk Italian ckbks. It was one of the ones covered in the Summer Reading issue. The best of 2010 coming up this wkend, I LOVE that issue.

            1. re: buttertart

              Wait... what??? You mean the NY TImes? I think it's on line now, but they didn't have a cookbook section on line.

              1. re: roxlet

                Here's the review buttertart mentions, from June (it's covered on the third page):

        2. re: roxlet

          I was wondering too. The reviews on Amazon are all gushing, but not much else online, other than all the people putting it on their top-ten lists...

          Here's the Amazon page:

          1. re: mandelicious

            Not sure if you've all seen these reviews/test-runs for the Piglet's Tournament of Cookbooks but Frankies fared quite well there. . .


            I liked the idea that folks actually cooked from the books.

            Made me add "Good to the Grain" to my wish list too!

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              That tournament is fun; I'll have to take a bit of time to read over it.

              I started a thread on Good to the Grain last summer, and I and a few others have reported on a few things we've baked. I've had small issues with the instructions in some recipes, but everything I've made has been delicious.

              Here's the thread:

            2. re: mandelicious

              I bought the cookbook last Thursday, ate at Frankie's this weekend, not for the first time (I generally don't even try, as it's so popular. But more than any other restaurant I've been to, they've maintained their quality over the years). I was VERY happy to find that most of the recipes in the book were for dishes that appear on Frankie's menu -- and they're refreshingly non-intimidating. I haven't tried them yet (but did get in grapeseed oil and white peppercorns on their recommendation), but if they are half as good as the restaurant? I'll be one happy camper. This is the cookbook I will totally buy for all my non-cooking friends -- I think it's that good, and that friendly.

              Another thing to know about Frankie's: since they opened, they've always been committed to making us want to eat our vegetables. Their salads are, quite frankly (ouch!), without compare. Those recipes alone make this cookbook worthwhile.

              FYI: Here's the meatball recipe:

              I believe I also saw a video here on chow with the two Franks actually making those meatballs . . .ah, here it is!

            3. re: roxlet

              I looked over the book at the bookstore; did not buy because I already have too many cookbooks that I have not made even a single recipe from. I did jot down the meatball recipe that included pinenuts and raisins. Two people loved them when I made them and wanted the recipe; I liked them but decided I'd just make my regular ones in the future, cheaper to make and fewer calories.

              (This is referring to the Spuntino cookbook.)

              1. re: walker

                Raisins and pine nuts in meatballs is extremely Sicilian. My mother would make some meatballs this way for my father, who was of Sicilian parentage.

                1. re: roxlet

                  Yum! . . . and a clever way to incorporate additional flavours in that one ingredient!! bravo roxlet!!

                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Bravo? Lol! As a child I DESPISED meatballs with raisins, so my mother would make these more of an oval egg shape so I wouldn't get one by mistake! Till today, I don't care for sweet things in savory dishes.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      I understand that's a carryover from Arab days, that combo. I like it but the other half doesn't. Love your mom's shaping strategy.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        If you ever want to make some just for yourself, Doron's Meatballs (either lamb or turkey/sultanas/pine nuts) from Orangette website (or Wizenberg book) are delicious.

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          Thanks for pointing those out. I've been making the Greek ones from Saveur lately - talk about economical, the bread stretches the meat like mad.

            4. I'm looking forward to a copy of Around my French Table but can't comment till I've given it a good read and test.