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Dec 5, 2012 06:23 AM

Best Cookbooks of 2012 Lists

I thought it would be fun to share and discuss Best Cookbook lists that we come across since 'tis the season for these things being published and, some of us just might have a cookbook or two on our holiday wish lists!!

I'll kick things off with 2 I saw this week:

NPR's Best Cookbooks of 2012:

The Globe & Mail (Canadian National) Newspaper Top Picks for 202:

I was interested to see the Canal House book on both these lists. I haven't seen it but I do have a couple of their smaller books that somehow I haven't been inspired to cook from. I'd be interested to hear others thoughts on this book.

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    1. re: Breadcrumbs

      That Washington Post list is *seriously* skewed toward DC chefs. Hard to take it totally seriously.

      1. re: LulusMom

        But in the paper version, not the slide show, "the list" was really 3 lists: Top 10, Local Authors, and Also Recommended. Obviously, the local authors skew the total picture towards DC.

        1. re: tcamp

          Aha, then that makes it much more reasonable.

    2. First thoughts --
      The Susan Feniger Street Food book is the most tantalizing to me, but unfortunately probably calls for hard-to-procure ingredients.
      The Canal House is gorgeous! I looked at the "inside this book" feature on Amazon.
      The Cook's Illustrated Science is probably a very good book to have, if read and retained and put into practice.
      The Smitten Kitchen author (one of a few books mentioned on more than one list here) must be pleased that her book is respected. Some from-blog books are not.
      Hiroko's American Kitchen might make Mr. blue room look forward to Japanese food?
      The Washington Post lists 30 books! Not fair or helpful ;)
      I just don't feel any need right now to buy more bread/sweet baking books.
      Not interested in modernist, or eat the whole animal books. Just not for me.

      17 Replies
      1. re: blue room

        Speaking of the Canal House books, does anyone have any favorite recipes from their books? Have they ever been a COTM?

        1. re: angelsmom

          Canal House books have been nominated for COTM but none has made it to the voting stage. The last time it came up, if I recall correctly, a number of people said they had one or more of the books, but very few people have cooked from them. Breadcrumbs wasn't the only one.

          I know I've looked at the books a number of times because the photographs are so compelling. But I've never been tempted to buy one because when I look carefully at the recipes, nothing says "Make me. Now." I think the problem is that the books are written by a food photographer and a food stylist. They make the food look great, but the recipes themselves aren't, to my mind at least, interesting or sufficiently special to warrant space on my overflowing shelves.

          1. re: JoanN

            Thanks immensely for your input. I value your input.

            1. re: JoanN

              I am one of the people who has all of the subscription books, and has never cooked anything out of them. Of course, I can say that about many of the 1,000+ cookbooks I own. I enjoyed getting and reading the Canal House books like a magazine, and they are beautifully put together, but the recipes do not call out to me. For one thing, they tend to be more "classic" than "creative" recipes, and I always feel like I have a better version somewhere else in my collection.

              I won't be buying the new book. For one thing, they kind of let the subcription books fall by the wayside, without much in the way of explanation. It did work out that I got the number of books I paid for, but people who subscribed more recently must be disappointed and left hanging. After the first year, I received both an email and a note in my last book prompting me to renew. Nothing like that after the second year, so I can only assume they are abandoning the subscription format. Oddly enough, I might have renewed a subscription, but I don't feel much of an urge to buy a full-format cookbook.

                1. re: MelMM

                  Wow--I wondered what happened. After buying them separately, I decided to subscribe, paid for a year and received one about a year ago (their last before the big one). I've never rec'd any notification, explanation, anything; I guess I half-expect they'll resume the little ones. Don't want to believe they're just ripping off folks like me, who are owed two.

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    I certainly hope, and you have a right to expect, that you won't be left hanging. Your case is exactly what I've been wondering about. I bought the first book, then subscribed (three books per year). When the first year was over I got a note reminding me to renew for another year, which I did. After two more issues, they sent out the small "Italian Summer" booklet, and promised a full book later. That eventually materialized, as vol. 7, La Dolce Vita. That last volume fulfilled their obligation as far as my subscription went. But there was no request for a renewal or mention of future volumes, so I have been wondering about people like you that were in the middle of a subscription. Keep us posted as to how that works out.

                  2. re: MelMM

                    Yes, I thought they handled the subscribers very poorly.

              1. re: blue room

                I can't say enough about the SK cookbook.

                The artichoke stuffed shells were fantastic.

                  1. re: blue room

                    Yes! It was the most delicious pasta recipe I've eaten in while.

                    I used a little less butter in sautéing the onion/ artichokes. Also, I used a combo of low fat and whole milk.

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      I wonder if adding a pack of chopped frozen spinach would be a good addition?

                      1. re: melpy

                        I was thinking to add spinach next time or sub spinach for artichokes.

                  2. re: cheesecake17

                    My MIL loves artichokes and I was thinking of making this for her, but she doesn't like heavy food. If I replaced the milk sauce with homemade marinara sauce, do you think it would still taste great?

                    1. re: eviemichael

                      I, for one, am not a big fan of tomato sauce with artichokes, although I'll basically eat most things if there are artichokes in it. I'd make it with the bechamel.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        Ok good to know. Could I use low fat milk?

                        EDIT: nevermind, I saw cheesecake17's comment above which answered my question. :)

                        1. re: eviemichael

                          A friend of mine used skim milk and she said it came out "ok"

                          I'd just serve it with a big salad... No other heavy sides

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    I bet I'm the only freak here who returned Jerusalem. I just didn't see myself making any of the recipes.

                  2. I agree with you on Canal House. I want to love them since they are right across the river from me, but I never use the one book I have, perhaps because it is on Kindle. This one, however, is tempting since all the ingredients will be available to me at the exact same time!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: angelsmom

                      I find my Kindle books difficult to love and cook from. I've vowed never to buy another Kindle cookbook. Unfortunately, I bought Smitten Kitchen on Kindle. I might have to bite the bullet and buy the hard copy, or maybe put it on my Santa list.

                      1. re: pagesinthesun

                        Good to see I'm not alone in this. I've never bought a cookbook for my Kobo as I would not find it enjoyable to cook from. My Kobo is used for travel situations so I do not have to haul around 20 lb of books in my luggage.

                        1. re: pagesinthesun

                          I know and Flour and Jacques Pepin are also on my iPad......grr. I will buy bargain cookbooks, but not a recent publication. I thought it would save space, but the price was too high for that little bit of real estate.

                          1. re: angelsmom

                            I have a ton (well, not a ton, but many) cookbooks on my iPad, and I use them a lot. I find the iPad a lot less cumbersome in the kitchen than a "real" cookbook, and buy most of my cookbooks that way now, if the iPad version is available. I do not, however, use cookbooks on my Kindle. The navigation is just not as easy, and somehow it doesn't work for me. I like the Kindle for novels, but not for reference books.

                            The Essential Pepin for iPad is a nice version. I love the embedded video. Another book that has done a really good job of making the iPad version is recent Vietnamese Home Cooking.

                          2. re: pagesinthesun

                            I bought the COTM How to Eat for my iPad, and I, too, do not like it on the iPad. Even though you look through a book page by page, there is something kind of piecemeal about the book on the iPad. I want to flip through it and to check one recipe against anther, and it is very cumbersome to do that. This will be the first and the last for me.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              I totally agree and unfortunately I have 2 favorites on there.

                              1. re: roxlet

                                I frequently borrow the cookbooks for the Kindle (using my iPad or Kindle Fire) from my library and then if I like the content I'll buy it in paper format.

                                I've starting to collect the digital books though and liking it because I can easily highlight and bookmark pages as well as making notes. It's easy to search for content as well which I like. If I click on a link within a page I can easily just hit back to go back where I was. I think it takes getting used to but the books can be really well done.

                            2. re: angelsmom

                              Here's another vote for "cookbooks don't work for me on Kindle". I think they are exceedingly difficult to use in that format. A friend with a full-size iPad gets all his cookbooks that way and loves it.

                            3. I've got to say that, for all the cookbooks I buy, I haven't bought many listed on those NPR lists from the past 4 years.