This page presents some of our favorite cookbooks and kitchen tools. Most serious or semi-serious home cooks welcome a cookbook as a gift. When I get one for Christmas, I’m slow to get around to opening anything else, preferring to thumb through the pages and plan what I’ll cook. As a service to foodies and friends of foodies, I am sharing some of my favorite cookbooks. Speaking of foodies, you might also like this Foodie Gift Ideas article.
Mind you, these aren’t new–you can get lists elsewhere for that. Rather, these are the books I find myself turning to again and again over time.
Collards & Kale Cookbook: I’ve got to lead off with my very own cookbook! After months of experimenting with all kinds of healthy greens recipes, I am happy to share Collards & Kale: 20 Recipes That Will Have You Loving Your Greens. In keeping with the Cooking Chat style, each tasty recipe comes with a wine pairing suggestion.
Stir: Mixing It Up In The Italian Tradition by Barbara Lynch, Chef-Owner of No. 9 Park and a number of other Boston area restaurants. If I had to pick a favorite, this would be it. Wonderful photos and very clear instructions. I’ve picked up several new techniques from the book–if you like salmon it’s worth the price of the book simply for her Seared Salmon White Beans and Spinach, topped with Olive-Lemon Relish. And my friend John has mastered making gnocchi thanks to Barbara’s tips. The book has a nice mix of fairly easy preparations and fancier stuff.
Vegetarian Planet: 350 Big-Flavor Recipes for Out-Of-This-World Food Every Day by Didi Emmons. Stir might be my favorite, but Vegetarian Planet is my most worn-out book. I have the paperback edition and it’s falling apart from so much use. Great pastas, soups and Mexican dishes tend to be my focus. I’ve modified one of my favorites from the book, Pasta with Baby Red Lentils and Ginger, which you can check out for a taste of what she can help you cook.
Soup From Williams-Sonoma gets a lot of use once the weather turns cold. It’s a slim book, allowing me to have tested almost every recipe in it! Lots of good ones I keep going back to. A hand-held immersion blender is a nice companion gift to this book.
quick from scratch italian cookbook This is a great collection from Food and Wine. I actually just got it myself as a birthday gift and am eager to cook my way through many of the recipes. Of course there is a pasta section, but much more than that.
Roasting Another solid resource from Williams-Sonoma. Added to the list as I was getting ready to use it to roast a leg of lamb!
Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis. You can see I gravitate toward the everyday theme here. I guess when I think in terms of a valuable cookbook, something with practical suggestions for quick but interesting meals I can make on a weeknight are real winners (alas there are more weeknights than weekends!). That said, there are some good recipes in here fit for company, such as Taglietelle with Short Rib Ragu (the chocolate shavings on top are a great conversation starter!).
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. I’m borrowing this from a friend, and will probably have to get my won copy eventually. Have enjoyed perusing the interesting recipes here, and we really liked the Middle Eastern Chicken with Orzo I made from it.
The Nordic Cookbook Chef and author Magnus Nilsson travelled all over Nordic countries interviewing home cooks to get their recipes for the book. We have some Swedish blood in our family but I haven’t cooked many recipes from this area.
The Flavor Matrix Adding this to my wish list after reading about it in Food & Wine. Delves into science to create some creative food and wine pairings.
Kitchen tools to use
Immersion Blender I’m in the midst of writing up a butternut squash soup recipe as I add this item. I love to puree vegetable soups to give them a nice thickness, often without adding any cream. An immersion blender makes this much easier than trying to transfer the soup over to a food processor. I have one from Williams Sonoma that I like, but there are plenty of good options–you can see many of them via this Amazon link.
Cast Iron Skillet So many of my recipes, especially when it’s cold and the grill is covered for the season, entail searing some meat on the stove top, then roasting in the oven. You can also then make a great sauce in the same skillet while the meat rests. You gotta have a cast iron skillet to do this. Need one? The Lodge brand I use can be had via this Amazon link.
Lodge Dutch Oven serves a similar purpose to the skillet, letting you brown meats on the stovetop, then slow cooking them in the oven. Great tool for tasty dishes like Bordeaux Braised Beef. You can your Dutch oven via this Amazon link.
Full disclosure: I’m enrolled in the Amazon Associates and Pinch of Yum affiliate program, so if you love the sound of one of these cookbooks and kitchen tools, click on the link and buy the book, I get a percentage of the sale. Reasonable, yes?