The Foodie 13 – Cookbooks

As promised earlier this week, we’re unveiling a new feature at Foodie and the Everyman today; book reviews and recommendations!

This also dovetails nicely with another addition to Foodie and the Everyman that I’ve started called The Foodie 13The Foodie 13 will be an ongoing series of lists about 13 really neat things in specific categories, that I intend to publish several times a month.  For our first Foodie 13, I thought I’d pick a subject that is near and dear to my heart; cookbooks!

So, without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are the 13 cookbooks I can’t live without:

1- Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn – There’s much that can be said about this great book, but primarily it’s the one I credit with sparking my carnivorous love affair.  After less than 10 minutes of paging through the book I was already plotting exactly where in my shoebox apartment I could fit a Bradley smoker.   Each new recipe I try from the book spurs me on to try even more.  A real winner.

2- Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz - A fantastic book laced with great recipes for enjoying the simple pleasure of homemade frozen desserts.  Since purchasing this book I’ve sampled approximately 20 of the recipes, and not one of them was bad.  The pear sorbet is definitely a recipe of note, as are the spicy, crinkled speculaas cookies, that are meant to be folded in to recipes but are amazing in their own right.

3- Local Breads by Daniel Leader - This is the most recent purchase on my list, so I can’t vouch for a very large percentage of the recipes yet.  From what I’ve already sampled and pored over pictures of though, it’s clear to me that this is a book worth having, as it conjures up an intense hunger every time I read it.  The pictures peppered throughout the book are colorful, rustic, and absolutely delicious.  And the Parisian daily bread is to die for, and as I’ve said before is worth the cost of the book alone.

4- Chocolate Lover’s Cookies and Brownies by RH Value Publishing - My first real cookbook; that’s something a girl never forgets ;)   In reality I purchased this book as a Christmas present for my dad at a book fair some 20 years ago, somehow all these years later I ended up with a copy of my own.  The book helped us bond while preparing one of the best recipes in it, the peanut butter jumbo.  I also became quite notorious at a former workplace after bringing a pan of pecan toffee bars in for a potluck and having them proclaimed to be “sex in a pan”.  That alone makes it a keeper in my book.

5- A New Way To Cook by Sally Schneider – At the time this was published it seemed like such a revolutionary concept to me.  It was also the most minimalist and chic-looking cookbook I had ever seen, thus I had to have it.  As it turns out, the book is also full of flavorful little tidbits about how to make food better for you without sacrificing flavor.  And it’s got a bitchin’ recipe for slow oven roasted crispy duck, too!

6- The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer - No matter what the task at hand, 9 times out of 10 any questions or qualms can be solved by a quick flip through the Joy.  Its iconic red dot on a white cover is a beacon that signals us to come home to the dinner table more often.  A masterful collection of concise instructions with numerous possible variations.

7- Cookies Galore by Jacqueline Bellafontaine – Over the years this had become my go to book when it comes to baking.  With its multitude of recipes and styles it’s easy to find a cookie that is just right for any occasion.  The lavender shortbread is a must-try, as are the classic oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

8- The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes To Use Year Round by Ellie Topp - In our modern lives of fewer family members and longer work hours, sometimes you just need to have the option to do things in little.   This book makes it easy to enjoy the best that the season has to offer in more manageable 2000-era family-sized portions.  The pickled jalapenos are muy piquante!

9- Home Cheesemaking: Recipes For 75 Delicious Cheeses by Ricki Carroll - For everything you ever wanted to know about cheese and dairy in general.  I may not have mastered the art of bufala mozzarella yet, but by owning and using this book, I feel like I’m getting that much closer.  Plus, it teaches you how to make your own butter at home; who would have thought it could be so easy?

10- The Food of Italy by Claudia Roden - A book that delves deeper into the regions of Italy than most, and the one I consistently use whenever a yearning for gnocchi happens to strike.  It may be short on pictures, but it is certainly long on taste.

11- How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman - Because it’s as far-reaching as it sounds.  Mark builds up the knowledge slowly, coddling the reader like a poached egg in a water bath.  Simple and straightforward, it’s another book that is a must have in the kitchen, right next to the Joy.  Now put mine down and get your own copy!  Makes a great gift for first time cooks!

12- The Food You Want To Eat by Ted Allen - The majority of the photos may be evocative of a creepy pervert, but Ted’s quest for comfort food perfection is nothing short of admirable.  He’s witty and entertaining, and really does make food you’d want to eat.  If you don’t know how to make a great roasted chicken,this is a good place to start.

13- The Good Cook Series by Time Life Publishers - While technically cheating (the series has 28 volumes), this is the definitive kitchen encyclopedia for me.  The recipes may be old, fat-laden and no longer de rigueur, but there is no better reference point for old school techniques than these books.  Difficult to find but worth their weight in gold, there’s no doubt that these books will make you a better cook.

And that concludes our maiden voyage of The Foodie 13.  Stay tuned for another installment in the coming weeks.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Until next time…

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