Don’t you love to give wonderful books for gifts?
Let me help you with a list of my favorite cookbooks and food reads that are my go-tos, the ones I look at for inspiration, that I think are the really good ones to have in your library or to curl up with by the fire.
How do I select the very best?
When I look at a cookbook, culinary memoir, or essay collection, I look at a couple of things. Are the pictures inspiring? Are the stories engaging? Do they wrap me up in a new world of food? Are the recipes or food writing crafted beautifully?
Like Andrew Weil’s Fast Food, Good Food and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, Plenty and Plenty More -- full of astounding, inspiring photographs and in the case of Jerusalem, wonderful stories. Or like The Flavor Bible, a comprehensive culinary tool I go to it all the time, like going to the dictionary, it’s so well and thoughtfully laid out.
I am a stickler for a well-written recipe (not all are). Like all of Diane Morgan’s books, Becky Selengut’s Good Fish and all of Laura Russell’s books, including Brassicas. You could land on any page and find a beautifully constructed recipe that would be fool-proof in your kitchen. The art of writing a recipe that works is a real skill set, and these women have it dialed in.
Alice Waters in My Pantry, Monica Bhide in A Life of Spice and Tamar Adler in An Everlasting Meal are all great writers at the top of their form (not just food writers.) And I cherish beautiful fiction like Nicole Mone’s The Last Chinese Chef, exploring the magic of food, food as alchemy, making you take a step back, almost like a breath! Food as the platform of an unfolding life.
New this year
Fabulous! From Food52.com’s “Genius Recipes” section, a collection of breakthrough recipes for everyday cooking. This is a practical and inspiring choice for the contemporary healthy kitchen.
The best of the best
An utterly gorgeous pair of mouthwateringly delicious veggie cookbooks from master London chef Yotam Ottolenghi. More enchanting and vibrant vegetable recipes are not be be found. Also consider his blockbuster, Jerusalem: A Cookbook, full of sublime food, culture, and storytelling.
From brilliant British food writer Diana Henry, a beautifully written new guide about opening up to new food possibilities, lightening our palates, less meat and heavy foods, and more vegetables and fish, inspired by cuisines from around the world.
You gotta include brassicas for their sterling health qualities -- but they are kind of tough to figure out how to cook with! This is my go-to for great ideas, from superb recipe-writer Laura Russell.
Another single category book by an outstanding recipe writer, than I go to again and again. Roots have a wealth of possibilities, explored here to extraordinarily delicious ends by author Diane Morgan.
Fish person? This is the one. Chef and seafood advocate Becky Selengut takes the mystery out of what to buy, how to select and how to prepare. A comprehensive primer for today’s healthy cook.
This petite collection of essays and recipes by Alice Waters is like a little watercolor; an impression -- brushstrokes of her go-tos, that serve as an inspiration. Small, not overwhelming. A bright light.
Culinary journalist and food writer Claudia Roden’s exquisite explorations of these intriguing cuisines, weaving storytelling, culture, history and tantalizing recipes, both classic and new.
From Karen Page, the most used book in my kitchen, a definitive culinary reference I go to all the time. If you really want to up your game, a marvelous choice. And new this year: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.
Books to curl up by the fire with
From Tamar Adler, an elegant meditation on cooking & eating, weaving practical skills, humble ingredients and a playful attitude into a fulfilling kitchen life.
A small treasure from Monica Bhide, celebrating her romance with food. My copy is dogeared! She is one of my all-time favorite food writers, and truly one of the great food writers of our time.
And, of course, I would be thrilled if you selected mine! From my most recent, The Healthy Mind Cookbook, to The Longevity Kitchen, to my two written for cancer survivors and their caregivers, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time. Each brings the latest science straight to the plate, with colorful, irresistible recipes, blended with wisdom and love.
I’ll be happy to sign a book plate for any of my books to your gift recipient! Just email me here, with the subject line “book plate.”
There you go! Your culinary book list for gift giving (to you, too!) and to inform your reading and cooking all year long.