05 Dec The Best Cookbooks to Give as Gifts
I have learned so much from cookbooks. Every time I buy a new one, I enter a brand new world of ideas and deliciousness. Good cookbooks are not just for recipes, but they also introduce me to a new culture, technique or way of life. And, although I may only use a cookbook once a year, I carry the ideas and tips embedded within it, through every meal I create and recipe I design.
Here are some of my favorite cookbooks. If you master the skills in these books, you will be set up to create healthy and delicious tips for the rest of your life. And, most importantly, the food in these books are so delicious, that it will allow you to #ChangeYourBuds in a way that appreciates freshly cook and healthy food. Give one as a gift this holiday season.
For Anyone and Everyone
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat jumped to the top of the list as soon as it arrived in my mailbox. It has enough basic information so that a novice cook can pick it up and understand it, and just the right amount of expert tips for the more experienced home and professional cooks. The drawings are spectacular and inventive; the recipes clear and delicious. You can’t go wrong here.
Best Overall Recipes and Tips
Zahav by Michael Solomonov. This book has two of my all time favorite recipes from any cookbook – the hummus recipe and the Israeli salad recipe. If you think you’ve had hummus before, but you’ve never cooked the Solomonov way, think again. The pictures make me wish I was at an open-air, Middle Eastern market buying fresh vegetables, or sitting down to a fresh Isreali meal. I still haven’t made it to Mr. Solomonov’s restaurant in Philadelphia yet, but it’s on my bucket list. The tips in this book will allow you to become an expert in creating Middle Eastern salads, a key in developing healthy long term eating habits.
For the Person Who Can’t Boil Water
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Brilliant and accessible, this book has everything dish you can imagine and every food you would want to cook. It’s perfect for young adults who just moved into their own kitchen, and for anyone who wants to add some easy recipes to their repertoire. Check out this spicy shrimp recipe I made for the website a few years back. Still one of my favorites!
For the Scientist
Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt. As a physician and a scientist at heart, this book pulled me in from the beginning. From his descriptions of food experimentation to his revolutionary “Reverse Sear” method of cooking a roast, the author describes in step-by-step, scientific detail how he arrives at the best methods for cooking different foods. The results are often fabulous. And, when the recipes or techniques don’t live up to my expectations, there is still joy in understanding why a certain cooking method works, and, then, in taking that understanding on to create other recipes.
For the Cook with Time to Spare
Plenty or Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. Whenever I go to make a recipe from either of these books, I can guarantee that I don’t have at least a quarter of the ingredients. But, because the results are often so spectacular, I am happy to shop for them when I have some extra time. It even gives me the opportunity to learn about ingredients like preserved lemons and cardamom pods. The pictures are mouth-watering. Last year, Ottolenghi released a book called Simple. I’ve heard that this book takes his skills and applies them to much simpler and streamlined recipes, with still fabulous results. I will let you know after I get it or you can let me know if you’ve tried it already.
For the Meat Eaters
All About Braising – The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking by Molly Stevens. These days, I don’t use this book anymore because I stay away from large portions of meat. But, when I did eat meat, there wasn’t anything more satisfying than braising a large cut of chicken or beef. And, I learned everything I know about braising from this book. My favorite recipe is the Italian Sunday Gravy or the Meatballs. It’s been years since I used this book but I still use her techniques every time I cook something.
For the Gluten Lovers
My Bread by Jim Lahey. To be honest with you, I have never had the patience or the talent to knead dough. So, I never made homemade bread until I found this book. It is certainly a classic. The author’s no knead technique produces bread with the fluffiest inside – enough to satisfy any italian bread lover – and the crustiest outside – enough to satisfy the person who only eats the outside of a french baguette. In the past I used the recipes in this book to create holiday gifts – a nice loaf of crusty chocolate chip or raisin bread, but in this day and age, the gift of gluten doesn’t always go over so well.
For the Precise Cook
The Zwilling J. A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques and Care. Because I can never remember how to correctly chop a pepper or tomato, I keep this book on the closest shelf in my kitchen. To become a better cook, one must learn how to master a knife. Or, at least learn what it means to master a knife. This book will guide you.