I’ve been meaning to put a list together for a while, one that tells everyone what my favourite cookbooks are. Now, I am a cookbook addict, it’s hard for me to pass one up, and I’ll read them cover to cover like a novel before I ever actually try out a recipe. I’m not going to list every cookbook I’ve ever purchased. For now, I’m starting off with the ones that I either use all the time, or that I used when I first started cooking and found them to be really helpful.
If you’ve got anyone that loves to cook, or wants to love cooking, this is a great list to grab them a gift from.
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook was the first cookbook I had where I felt successful. It is full of simple, classic dishes that everyone likes. I still use it all the time, and make some of our favorites (like the teriyaki chicken, SO good!). I’ve bought this one as gifts for a few people.
There are a bunch of other America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks that I use and love too. I’ll throw out the links below. Their magazines are great as well, and subscribing to them gave me lots of ideas early on. Their explanations (in the magazines and cookbooks) about why things happen while cooking (how temperature affects things, the way ingredients are added, etc) is what gave me a great base, and after time, enough confidence to just run on my own without a recipe. Cooking without a recipe was the scariest thing in the world to me 8 years ago, and now some of my best meals come from scratch.
Next up, some other cookbooks that are full of basic, simple recipes. How to cook everything really does have a recipe for just about everything you could think of (but doesn’t have pictures), the Fannie Farmer one is an American Classic, the recipes are generations old and they still stand up. Martha’s Cooking School is a great resource full of helpful tricks (like how to properly break apart a chicken), and the Williams Sonoma Cookbook just has tons of fantastic recipes in it, a slight step above your average meal (but still very easy to prepare, just wider range of ingredients and techniques used).
Once I’d gotten comfortable with those cookbooks, I started getting a little more adventurous. If you like Italian food, these two are musts:
French food your thing? Grab these:
Here are my favourite cookbooks for grilling (I love spring through fall, and I cook on the grill at least 2 or 3 times a week):
If you love to bake, these are a few of my favorites:
Within the last year or so, I started baking bread. It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, and man, there is no better way to end the day than a fresh slice of bread still warm from the oven. I make 90% of my bread right now from recipes in The Bread Bakers Apprentice. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is great though because it is so easy. If I have a busy week coming up, I just make up the big batch they recommend, and then I have the dough in the fridge for the whole week, just cut of a piece and bake it.
Now, here’s what I’m currently loving in the kitchen. I’m pretty comfortable now at the stove, and I don’t need a whole bunch of explanation any more. I’m happiest when there’s a new ingredient or technique, and I’m liking a bit of a challenge most times. If you’re looking for something that can give you a restaurant quality meal at home, look here:
I hope this helped someone out there. These are the ones that I use the most, and have stood the test of time with me. I can honestly say that any of them would be a welcome gift to someone who likes to spend time in the kitchen.