For this months cook book club I wanted to share a holiday roundup of a few great cook books I’ve found throughout this year and some favorites I think everyone should have in their collection. There is still time to order these cook books for gifts or for a special gift to yourself.
As you may know by now I love to look at, and use cook books and I’m not easily swayed by just the pretty pictures, although that doesn’t hurt. A cook book for me has to ignite some kind of adventure and curiosity, but also perform with solid recipes that actually work. I have found a few cook books out there where it says tiny in the corner “not all recipes have been tested”, watch out for those! They are usually compilation cook books.
I am going to start out with the newer titles and then go into my staples. This last year I have seen such a trend towards French cooking. So much so that I have added a little book to help out incase you find yourself emerged in the French fair.
New cook books 2014
This little book will help you guide your way through the French food scene in restaurants and markets and also help you figure out some of the recipe items found in my selection of French cook books. I love this little book because we can all figure out how to say “where is the toilet”, “excuse me” or “thank you” but do you know how to say “I’d like a can of your best foie gras”? Je voudrais use boîte de voter meilleur foie gras. Yeah I didn’t, but I do now.
So once you’ve made your way to the markets of France in real life or just in your mind, David Lebovitz invites you into his kitchen to teach you how a modern Parisian makes a meal. Pulling from the past and also being more realistic about the present, Lebovitz lets you in on Parisian culture at the table and what todays Parisians dine on today. There are some really wonderful soulful dishes tike “Poulet a la Moutarde” and those quick pick me ups like a ”Fried ham and cheese sandwich” that will having you longing for more. This is for the everyday cook or someone who wants to dive deeper into a Parisian cooking experience.
Next we take a hop out of the city and head to Medoc France to the dreamy farmhouse of Mimi Thorisson. Mimi chronicles her new life away from Paris in her new home in Merdoc with her husband and kids. The transition to the country seems to do something for her and her family which she tells through her food. A new fascination of where the food is really from and how it is prepared instead of just buying it in the Paris market. She tells a great story in the autumn sections about trying to forage for porcini mushrooms and what little things come with it (you’ll just have to read it to find out.) I picked this cook book for a few reasons, one at first glance its beautiful images. Second I could already see myself making the recipes in a rustic kitchen (and yes the recipes are solid) and third for a selfish reason of identifying with the author since we moved to Stony Ford and what it has meant to us. What an adventure they have had. Also Mimi has the blog Manger which is worth following for more of their families experiences. This cook book is for the wanderlust who enjoys the marriage of food and life. Some recipes are more advanced than others but worth the adventure.
We just reviewed this book last month and there was no way I could leave it off the holiday list. This is such and amazing exercise in technique and influence. I can go on and on how the authors teach in such a manner that everything in this book looks achievable no matter how intense it looks. At first glance it may be a bit intimidating, but they walk you through each step with precision. Click here to read the full review from Novembers cook book club. Here is a quote from the book that drew me in “In Italy, I saw how pasta was used as a delivery agent for seasonal ingredients”. This made me think what seasonal ingredients can I make with pasta other than the traditional sauces I know. This book is for the advanced cook or one looking to advance to the next level.
Sean Brock is an amazing Southern chef who brings the food and recipes back to its roots and then reinterprets them and refines them with his culinary imagination. He seems to have really taken the ideas of learning from the past to make a better future or in this case a better low country seafood boil to heart. By understanding these fundamentals he is turning the southern food scene on its head in a dramatic way. Bringing great recipes of southern cuisine to the forefront again through his knowledge and creativity. Not only is there beautiful food but the presentation is to be admired. This book is for the mid advanced or someone who not afraid of the kitchen. This is the way to wake up your southern relatives for sure.
So I found Stephanie Lee online at her blog called “I Am A Food Blog”. I had been keeping an eye on her and the recipes and watched this amazing evolution. There are a lot of food bloggers out there that come and go, but I think she’s here to stay. Stephanie also takes all of her own photographs which I admire, and they look great. You can see her passion all the way through the blog from the writing to the photographs down to the well written and executed recipes. It’s no wonder she has come out with a cook book. This book is full of her asian influenced recipes along with some other creative ideas. I recommend the simple Bone Marrow Pasta. This cook book is for all who love food and want to experiment with asian flavors and beyond.
This book crosses a few boundaries between cook book, dictionary, herbalist, crafter and gardener. Stephen Orr takes you on a journey exploring herbs that you may have never heard of and teaches you how to cultivate and use them in a variety ways. The recipes are well thought out and consider every element being used weather its for a food recipe or herbal tonic. This book has my juices flowing for when it’s time to plant the garden next year. I’m always looking for something new to broaden my horizons. Whether you live in an apartment or a house there is something for everyone to grow indoors or out. This book is for anyone interested in herbal culture for food, medicine or beauty. I can see this being the next herbal bible. And don’t forget that you can grow herbs inside in the winter.
Staples in my cook book collection
Ok, Jaques Pepin is a culinary god. Not to mention the Dean of the International Culinary Center. Seeing this man take part a chicken is like watching the sun come up for the first time. This book brings everything together in one amazingly helpful place. There is just about anything you can imagine in classic French cooking in this book. This is a book for all levels and a must have on your shelf.
I reviewed this book for our first cook book club. This book embodies rustic french cooking at it’s best. Read the full review here. This cookbook is loaded with hearty, warm winter recipes and funny informative illustrations. I’m a sucker for copper or metal roasting dishes that have years of baked on goodness and this is the cookbook that will help you get there. This book is for everyone who loves to roast things in the oven.
This book is the no fuss way to do rustic, the way it should be. These recipes are adapted from his TV show which we just fell in love with. The book is broken up into seasons so you can jump to the right spot. The pasta Alla Norma is our go to for a big crowd. One or two big batches and a few bottles of wine and the night is stress free. This book is for everyone.
We used to live in Savannah GA, so southern food has a place in our hearts and home. Well, Virginia Willis does it right. Can you say buttermilk biscuits in 15 minutes! I get Susan to make these every time we have someone stay over, so come over. 🙂 These southern classics won’t do you wrong, so enjoy Y’all!. This book is for everyone at any skill level.
12. The Silver Spoon
This is another one of those Italian bibles that you must have in your home. I have made the most amazing octopus salad from here with the best technique to cook octopus. If you’re an Italiafile like myself, don’t even think about it – just get it. You will feel like you’re in Italy in just a few turns of the page. This book ranges from easy to time consuming, but I have yet found one recipe that was just to much to tackle. I rate this for everyone who wants to cook Italian.
This cook book takes you on a journey with chef Giorgio Locatelli and the stories he finds along the way. This is is as much of a photo essay as it is a cook book and it is beautiful as both. This journey is worth taking as you will reap the rewards of the amazing recipes. This is for the photographer and foodie in your life.
I hope this list has set you up for the holiday season and given you some ideas. I never think you can have to many cook books, just make sure to edit. So join the cook book cub and lets start a conversation on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #HOBcookbookclub or lets talk on Facebook on the House of Brinson cook book club post. I would love to know which cook books you like and which you are giving this year.