Welcome to the next installment of The Fives. I introduced this series of little posts I’ve had in mind for you with 5 Instant Ways to Be a Better Cook, and today I’m sharing 5 Favorite Cookbooks.
With holiday shopping already hitting full swing (help! I’m behind), I thought this list might be helpful to those of you looking for a gift for the home cook in your life. Or, if like me you hoard cookbooks as if the world’s survival depended upon it, here are a five more, in no particular order, to add to your collection.
1. How to Cook Everything (+Vegetarian) by Mark Bittman. What I love about How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (I own the vegetarian version but have borrowed the “regular” one from the library) is that Mark begins by teaching a basic technique with a basic recipe—pesto, for example—then follows it with five or six different versions of the recipe to suit your tastes and the ingredients you may have on hand. I’ve been cooking my way solidly through this book and have yet to be disappointed. The recipes strike a perfect balance between giving clear guidance and leaving room for creativity.
2. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Deb’s blog was one of the first I ever followed, and her decidedly unfussy, yet fearless approach to cooking continually inspires me. Her recipes elevate old-fashioned comfort foods to new heights (red velvet cake becomes red wine velvet cake) and celebrate seasonal ingredients. Each recipe is a clear product of love, and Deb accompanies all of her dishes with her clever, relatable humor. Reading this book is like talking to a friend whose house I want to invite myself over to for dinner every single night of the week.
3. The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovtiz. I could more appropriately call this, “The Ice Cream Bible,” and it is a must-have for anyone who owns an ice cream maker. David’s recipes are flawless, and the book includes everything from classics like chocolate and peppermint to more creative twists, such as pineapple champagne sorbet and avocado (both are wonderful). He even has chapters dedicated to “mix-ins,” such as mocha ripple and peanut butter sauce, and “vehicles” such as chocolate meringue nests and cookie sandwiches. The only hard part about this book is choosing which flavor to make first!
4. Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It feels scandalous to say this, but if I could only have one baking-focused cookbook for the rest of my life, it would be this one. Dorie offers a wonderful breadth of recipes from homey bakery muffins to decadent chocolate torts, and I feel as if she is in the kitchen cooking beside me as I make each one.
5. Simply In Season. This cookbook is a collection of recipes from all over the country and is organized by season. From spring to winter, the cookbook highlights which fruits and vegetables are in their prime, then offers an array of recipes that make those ingredients the star. I find the dishes from this cookbook to be some of the most creative, approachable, and budget friendly of any I own, and I love that it makes it so simple to eat seasonally.
These are a few of the cookbooks I treasure most. What are your favorites?
Looking for more gift ideas for the foodie in your life? Check out my top cookware and bakeware picks right here.