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What are YOUR favorite cookbooks of the year?

  • roxlet Nov 22, 2011 06:55 AM

This is the time of year when everyone publishes "Best of" lists. What books have you bought this year that have turned out to be great finds, and cookbooks that you're glad you bought? I'm still mulling my list!

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  1. Although it's not a new book, it was new to me this year, and I have to say that the 100 Greatest American Recipes (which also happens to be December's COTM) tops my list. So far, I've made the duck and the brown sugar cookies, and both were exceptional.

    Number 2, is the New Cook's Illustrated compendium I think this book goes beyond The Best Recipe in terms of breadth of recipes. So far, every thing I've made has worked really well and been delicious.

    Nick Malgieri's BAKE! is new to me this year too, and as usual, the estimable NM, delivers the goods with clear, well-written recipes that are absolutely delicious.

    2 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I just got Bake! as well and have yet to make anything from it. One thing I find annoying is that the pastry recipe makes TWO pastry cases - when do I want to make two tarts at once?

      1. re: greedygirl

        Well, you can always freeze one (pre- or post-rolling, space permitting), making having a second tart whenever you like a breeze, as the pastry's already made.

    2. Oh no, this is going to make me want more. My favorite so far this year is the mighty spice c

      1. Unquestionably Number 1:
        "Kitchen Diaries" and "Real Fast Food" by Nigel Slater.

        But then there was:
        "The Food Matters Cookbook" by Mark Bittman
        "The Italian Country Table" by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

        I'm still cooking from:
        "Gourmet Today" by Ruth Reichl
        " ItalianTwo Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe" by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
        "Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking" by Fuchsia Dunlop
        "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden

        If it weren't such a heavy doorstop I'd still be cooking from:
        "The Essential New York Times Cookbook" by Amanda Hesser

        3 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          Gio: I'm so happy you love Nigel!

          1. re: greedygirl

            Just seeing this now GG. Yes, I really Love the Slater books and refer to them constantly. I'm trying to implement his Christmas suggestions in Kitchen Diaries and refer to Plenty for additional vegetable side dishes. I should start to post the reports before they get ahead of me.

            1. re: Gio

              I really learned to cook from Slater's "Appetite."

              best book I have, in my opinion, on how to approach food.

        2. I want to add Homesick Texan and Real Mexican Food to my favorites list!

          1 Reply
          1. re: roxlet

            Love HST, but RMF has too many ingredients that I can't source, even online.

          2. I cook mostly just for myself so I have liked Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan.

            1. Ferran Adria's "The Family Meal" is a fantastic book in a beautiful format. Anyone expecting El Bulli cuisine will be a tad disappointed as it's mostly family recipes from his staff organized into meals.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ferret

                I just added this to my Amazon wish list, it looks great.

                1. re: DiningAlone

                  Try the potato chip omelet. Better than it sounds.

                  1. re: ferret

                    Dorie Greenspan has a potato chip frittata that I really like.

                2. re: ferret

                  I was really underwhelmed by the book to be honest. Its just a little TOO basic. When a cookbook gives directions like " scoop the ice cream out of the tub you bought it in" it's a major turn off for me. Its a good cookbook for someone with zero cooking experience, but for anyone who knows their way around a kitchen there isnt much to be gained from this book,

                  1. re: ferret

                    Totally disagree. At or near the top of my "What Were They Thinking" editorial botch lists. It's like Adria was marooned in a distant under-serviced suburb with occasional Fedex'd relief packages of luxe ingredients and wrote a cookbook in OCD detail of what and how he cooked. Cute how he just can't lose the trademark cat puke foam touches. Ghastly and a lesson in how celebrity can't save a flawed concept.

                  2. 1. Modernist cuisine. Best "cookbook" in at least 20 years. Expensive, but completely and totally amazing

                    the rest of my faves

                    Volt Ink
                    Eleven Madison Park
                    Milk Bar Cookbook
                    Heston Blumenthal @ home.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: twyst

                      I ordered Eleven Madison Park for my husband, and I was lucky to find Milk Bar at Costco. I am intrigued by Volt Ink. What's it like? ANd Heston's book? That seems to have gotten some mixed reviews. What do you like about it?

                      1. re: roxlet

                        Volt ink is a pretty advanced cookbook, Id compare the level of difficulty to that of the french laundry cookbook. I cant see people cooking out of it very often, but the dishes are all very cutting edge and there are some very interesting combinations etc. If you plan to cook from this book you pretty much must be set up for sous vide and have a pressure cooker.

                        Eleven Madison Park has the most beautiful photos Ive ever seen in a cookbook, but the degree of difficulty is higher than any other cookbook Ive ever seen. Its a FANTASTIC coffee table book though, it is stunningly gorgeous.

                        Heston at home would be my second favorite book this year, and would have been my favorite most other years, but Modernist Cuisine was a gamechanger so it obviously got the nod. There are a handfull of sous vide preparations, but the rest of the book can be reproduced in any kitchen. Im very interested in the science of cooking, and Heston not only goes into great detail explaining the steps, he lets you know why you are doing them. I cant recommend this book enough, it should be on everyone's must buy list IMO

                        1. re: twyst

                          I toyed with the idea of getting my husband, who is a very advanced cook, a sous vide for Christmas, but I'm just not sure about it. I got him a pressure cooker for his birthday, and so far, he is loving it. I'm looking forward to seeing the EMP book, and maybe I will find a place to take a look at Volt Ink before buying. I saw some of the HB book on line, and it looks very intriguing.

                    2. That's a tough one, but I'll give it a shot--
                      I'm not sure these have all come out in the last year, but I've bought them in the last year:
                      I love the big New York Times Cookbook. Really love it.
                      I also love 150 Best American Recipes (but I've adored that series all along--almost every recipe I've tried has been a winner).
                      Ottolenghi's Plenty has so many exciting recipes w/unusual (to me) but tasty combinations.
                      I have yet to try a recipe from it, but am glad I listened to other Hounds and bought Fried Chicken & Champagne.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        with the exception of Fried Chicken and Champagne, I'm with you on all those books! I bought Plenty a while back, and it is great.

                      2. My favorite is The Brazilian Kitchen by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz.

                        I was not familiar with cooking Brazilian style, but these recipes were easy to follow and the results so far have been excellent. Highly recommend.

                        1. This is the year I realized I don't use cookbooks 99% of the time. I like *reading* them, but I'm so old I guess, I already know how to make enough things I like to eat without relying on books.

                          As for the remaining 1% of the time, the *only* cookbook that had me making things I enjoyed this year was Rozanne Gold's RADICALLY SIMPLE.

                          The least enjoyable was THE SPLENDID TABLE, because of its gross, gristly Bolognese recipe with fatback. I gave that book away to someone who enjoyed the sauce.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jay F

                            I'm really liking Radically Simple so far, too.

                          2. I have really enjoyed reading "The Italian Country Table" by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Haven't made anything from it yet but hope to do so once we finish the Thanksgiving leftovers [sigh]

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Bethcooks

                              Both Ottolenghi books, "Ottolenghi" and "Plenty" - interesting combinations, grains that I hadn't used before, a real asset with the summer CSA abundance. Several of the recipes have become standards at our house. I just got "Momofuku Milk Bar', which is a really interesting read - thus far I've only made some fabulous cookies and not attempted any of the lengthy, multi part recipes.

                              1. re: janeh

                                The Ottolenghi books are my favorite additions to my cookbook library from the past couple of years (I got Ottolenghi: The Cookbook in 2009 and Plenty in 2010).

                            2. I went slightly crazy with cookbook purchases this year, for whatever reason. I've been enjoying Wolfert's "Clay Pot Cooking," Nigel Slater's "Real Fast Food," "At Elizabeth David's Table," Selengut's "Good Fish," and "Essential Pépin." My hands-down favorite has been "The New Spanish Table" by Anya von Bremzen; it's just incredible.

                              1. Just got "Food I Love" by neal Perry. I got it for the recipes, but am amazed by the production values.

                                I also really like Frakie's Spuntino cookbook.

                                "Bear and Fish" Chinese cookbook is excellent. Much better than i was guessing it would be. Has some keepers in terms of weeknight recipes. I am skipping the more complex ones. Not a good basic Chinese cookbopok, but great to have.