For me, cookbooks provide information, instruction, inspiration and of course recipes. I end up buying quite a few cookbooks and added more than 20 to my collection in 2015 – and still have several others I would like to purchase. The books range from classics that I find on Ebay or in used book stores to more recent books to brand spanking new-just released books. I will say that since I have been working on writing my first book, I have a new found appreciation for the effort it takes to produce a quality cookbook. If you are looking for books to buy for gifts under the Christmas tree – here are my suggestions.
This year, I found some real classics including the 1961 version of the New York Times cookbook (Compiled by Craig Claiborne) to several books from one of the grand writers I know – Anne Willan. I found a print copy of La Varenne Practique on Ebay (Ebook version in 4 parts was released in 2103) and another volume of the Grand Diplome Cooking Course. I found a few other older books as well, but these were the most notable.
One of the aspects I enjoy of attending the IACP Annual Conference is catching up with friends about the projects and new books they have coming out. I bought some of them at the conference, but others weren’t available until later in the year, so I’ve bought more along the way. These authors include Judith Fertig, Anne Willan, Nancie McDermott, Lew Bryson, Lisa Howard and Sandra Gutierrez. At the conference, I had the opportunity to participate in a Georgetown tour and met Ruth Gresser of Pizza Paradiso (For more info see the blog posts on the tour – Part 1 Here – Part 2 Here) and bought her book at the restaurant – Kitchen Workshop: Pizza Hands On Cooking Lessons. The emcee for the IACP Awards at the conference was Curtis Stone, so we did purchase his book Good Food, Good Life and had it signed for our daughter who is a big fan of his.
This year, I’ve also had the opportunity to pick up some books published in previous years. Sometimes I’ve found them online and some in the used bookstores. These include Salt Block Cooking by Mark Bitterman, School of Fish by Ben Pollinger and 30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen among others.
So, if you are looking for a cookbook as a Christmas gift, let’s focus on the crop of books published during 2015. So, here are my suggestions for your consideration.
2015 Cookbook Christmas Gift Suggestions
Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen: 50 Essential Recipes Every Cook Needs to Know by Anne Willan. By now you’ve figured out that Anne is just one of my favorite writers around. Not only that, she is a fabulous person and I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve had the opportunity to visit with her. This little book came from the basic handout notebook that students were given when they arrived at the La Varenne cooking school in Paris. This book would be an excellent addition to any library.
Jacques Pepin: Heart and Soul in the Kitchen. Jacques is another of the luminaries in the cooking world and I don’t really have to say that when he publishes something, it’s worth putting in your library. This book is a bit different in that he has written up recipes that he cooks at home and it has a wide range of influences in it.
BBQ Bistro: Simple, Sophisticated French Recipes for Your Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. These two (AKA The BBQ Queens) are just so much fun. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with them as well as participate in a master class a few years back. Judith also released her first novel this year – The Cake Therapist. The BBQ Queens have taken grilling in a bit of a different direction with BBQ Bistro by combining French cooking with the grill.
Cookie Love by Mindy Segal. This is a book I actually won in a raffle contest from my good friends at Eat Your Books. I wasn’t sure about it, so I had to try the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from the book. (Anytime you want to see how a cookie book is going to go, try the basic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.) Well, it was fantastic (See this blog post about it.) We’ve tried some other recipes in here that were all just as good. If you like great cookies, then this is a book for you.
Southern Soups and Stews by Nancie McDermott. Nancie an another of those authors that I’ve gotten to know over the years and this is another stellar book from her- her 12th. (Her other recent release is Real Vegetarian Thai.) This book is a collection of some fabulous Southern recipes similar to her previous book on Southern Pies. If you like a good bowl of soup in the winter, this is a great book to pick up.
Food 52: Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore. This book takes about 100 recipes that demonstrate some tip, trick or technique that is out of the ordinary way we’ve done things that creates stellar results. I had a food scientist friend I greatly respect tell me she was fascinated by the book, I went and bought it.
The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Being the recovering engineer, I always want to know “why” things work. I’ve been a great fan of his posts in The Food Lab on Serious Eats for quite a while. This is on the list of books for me to purchase – it is HUGE coming in at around 1000 pages, but for food geeks like me – that sounds great. I will be getting this book in 2016.
Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine by Lidia Bastianch and Tanya Manuali. This is a large book that covers a myriad of recipes from all over Italy. It is a wonderful reference book. If you like Italian food, this is a great resource.
Empanadas: The Hand Held Pies of Latin America by Sandra Gutierrez. Sandra is another one of those authors who I have gotten to know through IACP. I bought her first book at a previous conference (See this blog post about one of the recipes from that book.) This book is a work of love for her and is a wonderful book about the subject. If you are interested in Latin food, you will want to pick up her book.
I think this is enough for now – I have more suggestions. If you want any other suggestions, please email me and I’ll be happy to answer any questions!
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