Cookbooks 2017 Recommendations
Great Books for Cooks and Bakers from Betterbaking.com 2017
Here are some of my suggestions this holiday season for some amazing cookbooks for you or to gift someone. There are a ton of great books this year, too many to cover. Instead I have hand-selected particular books that really offer something special (to me) insofar as the recipes are unique or especially tasteful and/or the writing and photography truly stand out.
One day, great color cookbooks that we all enjoy might one day all but disappear or be priced far more than they do these days. The cost to produce cookbooks rarely makes them a sound business proposition (even for Random House et al). Consider the costs of the author’s work and time, the food styling, photography and beautiful paper and binding and it’s totally awesome you can still get any one of these amazing books for $20-$30.
Lately, I am also sleuthing out cookbooks at flea markets and online, finding old favorites as well as reconsidering books like the Taste of Home Series. We are intrigued by cookbooks for many reasons. Sometimes you like the photos or the recipe headnotes or just a handy reference of a style of cuisine (Thai, etc.) or a focus on one ingredient (hummus anyone?). I like cookbooks that have a voice in them, a friendly author/host that shares something with me, reminds me of ways and means with food or teaches me something new or even recasts something as familiar as carrot cake but in a bold, new way. It goes without saying my own cookbook library is well-stocked with bread books! Recipes online are free and plentiful but when you want to focus and relax with a friend, a cookbook still seems the way to go. It's another sort of experience that I, a cookbook author myself, still love.
And because I can't leave you without a recipe, here's one from my Jewish Holiday Baking book that appeared in today's Annapolis Capital Gazette, Florida's Sun Sun Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune - all three ran the same recipe and I am honored. I think you'll like it too! Judith's Cheese Pastries.
In no particular order but with a note or two of why I recommend these books:
BraveTart, aka iconic American desserts by Stella Parks, senior editor at Senior Eats, and voted one of American’s Best New Pastry Chefs by Food and Wine, shares fun sweets, that are also positively inspired in flavor, presentation and techniques that will up your baking game.
Lomelino’s Pies, by Linda Lomelino, if pies, tarts, galettes and anything pastry-like and filled with luscious things are your thing, this pretty book by world-renown baker Lomelino is a must. The book is gorgeous, the recipes work but the book is worth it JUST for the Cinnamon Bun Apple Pie recipe.
Bread, Toast, Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford, is a gorgeous, stylish, fresh (almost impish) recipe collection of no-knead loaves for every occasion. It’s also an imaginative nod to what to do with whole loaves, to slices, chunks and even the crumbs in recipes that showcase each stage of bread.
No Need to Knead, By Suzanne Dunaway – this book to me is a must since it is the ORIGINAL no-knead bread guru and her book. Beautifully illustrated by the author, this unassuming book came out in 1999 and garnered a James Beard Award for Excellence. If you like originals and simple baking books that are rife with good taste, this book deserves a place in your baking book collection. Luckily still available by Grub Street Books, grab one!
Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh is the long-awaited baking and dessert book by food world superstar Yotam Ottolenghi and part of the Ottolenghi franchise of cookbooks. From figs, tahini, rose petals and cardamom, a more exotic and delectable sweet collection you’ll be hard-pressed to find. This really wakes up your palate and baking game with the unique recipes, all with pastry chef polish, and gorgeous photos.
The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, of the Five Minutes a Day bread franchise bring a great revised and updated version of their no-knead bread in a healthy edition. A baking book essential for those days you want things extra grainy and rustic.
Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart, aka world-class baking with sprouted, whole grains, heirloom flours and fresh techniques from a masterful baker and teacher, Peter Reinhart. There’s no one I trust more than Reinhart and he’s outdone himself with this book which addresses an interesting approach to bread (especially in an era of gluten-free options) which is sprouted grain flours (grains are sprouted, dried and ground or you can order them pre-done!). Again, another essential for any bread baker.
Modernist Bread Crumbs by the team at Modernist Cuisine: Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya http://modernistcuisine.com/event/modernist-breadcrumbs-live-nathan-myhrvold-in-conversation-with-michael-harlan-turkell/
Ok at $485.00 Cnd. this is not exactly a bargain book but having seen an electronic review copy (loaned to me for a month) on my IPad I am in awe. It is unbelievable in all ways. The girth of information, the clear, appealing writing, the photos, the extensive history on our favorite food (bread), this is the gift for someone who loves bread and has an unlimited budget. (It’s on my Hanukkah list along with the Viking double range and Cape Cod beach house vacation).
Modern Jewish Baker by Shannon Sarana. To be frank, I haven’t seen this book yet but it seems fascinating and I would recommend it. What is more appealing than a babka respun with sprinkles? Can’t wait to see this book! (On order)
Jewish Soul Food from Minsk to Marrakesh, More than 100 Unforgettable Dishes by Janna Gur is a totally appetizing collection of recipes, tastes and spices that cross quite a few borders and countries. It’s as if someone set out on a journey armed with a notion of Jewish food and kept walking, cooking and mixing it all up in a sumptuous mash-up of tastes that still retain a certain Jewish heritage. It’s a lovely cross section of East Europe to Middle Eastern tastes that is also written in a really do-able way. Nothing intimidating here and lots of gusto.
Baking Powder Wars by Linda Vivitello is a fascinating read about one of my favorite ingredients. You don’t think of such books as page turners but this one definitely is. It will also have you newly loyal to this great product and never take it for granted again.
The Italian Baker by Carol Field – is not new but newly published. It’s now in color and still is a great book to refer to when it comes to bigas and breads and anything floury and Italian.
The Pho Cookbook by Andrea Nguyen is so inviting, simple and recipes work that you might reconsider going out for pho and instead, making it at home. What actually happens when you pick up this book is that you learn a ton about a different cuisine, make your own authentic pho AND also go out to pho restaurants just because the book unleashes an insatiable appetite for pho. Great book for a cold winter.
The Hygge Life by Gislason and Eddy is all about the Nordic art of coziness in décor and entertaining ideas and recipes of course. It’s a simple and short book but it’s well, cozy and picking up on one of the trends of the day: nesting.
Farm to Chef, by Lynn Crawford is an outstanding book by Canada’s famous chef and TV personality, it is billed as cooking through the seasons and it takes farm fresh or supermarket accessible basic stuff and whips it into restaurant fare in no time flat. The food is hearty as well as inspired.
The Part-Time Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes gets my nod because I am indeed, a part-time vegetarian myself. As the sub-title states, this is a book that offers some amazingly flexible, meat-free and almost meat free mains and sides that are unique in their flavor palate and accessibility.
Outlander Kitchen, by Theresa Carle-Sanders is one of those companion cookbooks that go with a TV series. If you love Outlander and want to cook like back-in-the-day Outlander Scotland, this romantic and rustic bunch of recipes, tethered to the books by Diana Gabaldon and the TV series is a great way to extend the pleasure of the Outlander experience.
Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman, a really warm and inviting everyday cookbook of family favorites with a light touch by New York Times best-selling author.
Lidia’s Celebrate like an Italian, 220 foolproof recipes that make every meal a party is right! This is a new book by legendary Lidia Bastianich who does things the Italian way but with a nod towards health and fresh food trends. One of the most beautifully laid-out books of the season.
The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2018! Wow, 2018 is not even here yet and America’s Test Kitchen has you covered. I loved ATK books –there’s an amazing amount of information, wonderfully articulated and laid out, and some recipes that will become repertoire makers. It includes every recipe form the ATK TV show and some behind the scenes looks as well. If you want the perfect or definitive way to make a classic or a trend, this is a great starting point. A wonderful holiday gift book.
Cook’s Illustrated 2017, the book. Had I known Cook’s Illustrated publishes a year’s worth of their magazine I would have just waited. This is a totally nifty idea of a year’s worth of magazines reconfigured in a hard-covered volume of recipes – as if the magazines were just put together and bound up. It makes everything so organized and there’s a master table of contents that’s really helpful in looking things up. A great gift if you also add a year’s subscription to Cook’s with it.
A Thirst for Empire by Erika Rappaport is a fascinating read about how England colonized and created a thirst for tea. This is a super gift for any tea lover. It’s well-written and will have you totally besotted buying new teas to try every few days. To learn about tea is to learn about the British Empire, Indian and Chinese tea industry and how the taste for tea spread to England and to the new world. The scholarship and passion in this book is hard to beat.
Hello, My Name is Ice Cream by Dana Cree is a gorgeous book that covers the basics and the exotic in a book that showcases why Cree is a two-time James Beard Pastry Chef finalist. Books like this don’t come along every day so if ice-cream is your thing, snag it now.
Lunch in Paris& Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard – these two-book memoir of an American writer/foodie who marries a French man and moves to Paris and then an historical cottage in Provence is a delight. It’s funny and foodie (recipes included) and appeals to those of us with mother issues, food addictions and a love of engaging writing.