April 19, 2010

My Favorite Cookbooks

It has been a long time since my last post. I'm sad to say I haven't had much time in the past week to bake. Work took over my free time this past week (deadline this morning) and thankfully I'm done. I need baking therapy.

As I was reading some cookbooks Sunday night, I decided it would be fun to share with you some of my favorites. I know we all have cookbooks that we go to over and over again; I probably have more than your average home cook. Maybe you will be inspired to buy one of these highly prized possessions. If you are inspired, and you feel compelled to buy it, you should use the links I have published below (I'm trying out a new blog feature called Amazon Associates).

Baking Cookbooks

Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers 
Kathryn Kleinman
Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers

This is one of my favorite cookbooks for Cake. I have made quite a few recipes and quite a few have made their way into my repeat collection. The book offers a variety of cakes and techniques, all from celebrated pastry chefs around the world. If I could only find those perfect french candles pictured above I'd be a truly happy baker. I know Sur La Table has them, but they only sell them for now in mixed colors, I need separates. It could ruin a whole cake if there were not matching candles. (I am a designer, and sometimes matching candles are necessary ok.)

The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Celebrated Desserts
Sherrl Yardd
The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts
This book was a gift from my lovely, M. He did a lot of research and bought me two gigantic cookbooks for my birthday last year. This book is a great tool because the desserts are categorized and begin with a base recipe. Once you have mastered the base recipe, there are multiple variations to try. There are also masterful combinations linking cakes with ganaches and ice creams that I intend to try as well. Of the few things I have made since my birthday, all have been fantastic. The recipes are a little more advanced, but the instructions are simple. 

Rose's Heavenly Cakes
Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose's Heavenly Cakes
Yum! I was sold by that amazing cover photo. If I could make my ganache as beautiful as that photo, I could charge a few more dollars per cake. haha (the secret to shiny gloss is steaming the ganache after it is set - have not tried it but might have to soon). This was also a gift. I guess I exude an air of "please buy me great cookbooks so I can try new desserts". What an incredible talent I have. I got this for Christmas and have made a couple of cakes so far.... I have bookmarked a lot more to try. I just need more reasons to make desserts (so if you need one let me know). 

Baking From My Home to Yours
Dorie Greenspan
Baking: From My Home to Yours
I first bought this book because I wanted to join the online baking club, Tuesdays with Dorie. Once I acquired the book, I realized there was a wait list for the club and joined another instead, Daring Bakers. They are no longer accepting new member, and since I am a part of two other clubs, DB and my own, The Easy Bake cOven. I don't mind though, the book is a great recipe source no matter the reason for baking. I have picked my way through the "breakfast" section more than the rest... what can I say, I enjoy a good quick-bread. The desserts are great too. One of her recipes is featured this month on the cOven blog.  

Not quite Pastry, Not Quite Cooking

Beard On Bread
James Beard
Beard On Bread
This man has his own Foundation; I want my own foundation someday. James Beard knows bread. This cookbook has a recipe for almost every bread imaginable. It includes delectable donuts and quick breads, and a few of my favorite loaves. There are tons left to try and some that seem intense (yes even for me). If you are a beginner, there are great instructions for perfection yeast breads, and if you are a seasoned pro, there are always interesting recipes to test your skill. 

Food Books

From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's WIne Country Cuisine
John Ash
From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine
This book is an excellent source when you need to know what food pairs best with what wine. It also contains some of the most rich and delicious foods I have ever made. M and I don't cook from it often enough. In the past we have selected a recipe to make once a week and had a cooking date. A fantastic dinner date we should do again. We have become too good at making food with what is on hand, rather than making food that is methodical and prepared for (Unlike my baking which I definitely plan in advance for). As soon as M gets back from work travel, I'm going to insist we start this again - at least once per week. We have about two dozen nice bottles of wine in need of drinking, and pairing them with great food is the best way. 

The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Impeccable Produce Plus Seasonal Recipes
Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer, Alice Waters
The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Impeccable Produce Plus Seasonal Recipes
This book comes in handy when we get something unfamiliar in our CSA box. It may be slightly more attuned to foods we grow here in Northern California but covers almost every fruit or vegetable imaginable. Categorized by season, it's perfect for vegetable sides because the recipes are very simple. When I had no idea what do with all of the kale we kept getting last winter, the chefs noted in the cookbook came to my rescue. (my favorite was spicy sauteed kale with cannellini beans). Food at its best. Food cooked to perfection. Simple. Tasty. 

Mexican Fiesta
Favorite Brand Name Mexican Fiesta!
This cookbook looks a little crazy right? I agree. I've had it since college. It was a gift from my mom, and it is my favorite Mexican cookbook ever. It contains tons of recipes centered around brand name ingredients, but if you put all of that aside, the book provides great inspiration for tasty Mexican meals. This book provided the groundwork for my famous Guacamole. Ok, it hasn't received a blue ribbon in a guacamole contest, but M loves it, and my friends like it and that is all that matters. That and a stack of corn tortillas baked in the oven, sandwiching layers of beans and cheese and fresh veggies. I think I know what is for dinner tomorrow night. You can't go wrong with the perfect margarita also (another gift from my mom... the love for margaritas). 

The SIlver Spoon
Phaidon Press
The Silver Spoon
The Bible of Italian food. It has a recipe for everything you can dream up, 2000+ recipes to be exact. Even the yucky stuff like pate and weird game animal meats. It has its quarks - some of the translations are a little funky, but for the most part easy enough to decipher. the most recent item I cooked was boiled artichokes. They were really good, and the technique yielded soft flavorful leaves. I have bookmarked a few desserts to try, but the heft of the 2000 recipes lies in rustic italian cooking and homemade sauces. A great addition to any cookbook library. Is it weird I know where all of these cookbooks came from? I mean all of them... I have a mental register of who bought them for me or M, or where or when I bought them for myself. I must be a little weird, eh? 

Favorite Online Resources

All Recipes - be careful to read the reviews, I like to search and sort by rating

The Food Network - I have a tendency to search for anything Alton Brown first and steer clear of Emeril Lagasse (too many ingredients). Good menu guides and lists of food by holiday. 

The Pioneer Woman - Ree Drummond cooks up gorgeous homestyle food fit for the farm. She has a unique charm that leaves you satisfied after reading her food blog posts, they are filled with humor and love. She also posts step by step preparation images for those of you terrified to cook new things. Beware of the high calorie recipes though... this food can only be consumed daily on a working farm (or if you exercise daily - and you might need a lot of exercise for these recipes). 

Those are my top three searches, sometimes I find myself searching through the blogs I follow - you can see them on the right side of the page. 

I hope you find these cookbooks inspiring. If you have a favorite you couldn't cook without, please share it with me! I'm not sure how many more I can pile onto the shelf, but I'm willing to try. 

1 comment:

  1. i really like patty pinner's dessert cookbooks, SWEETS and SWEETY PIES. Each recipe comes with a heart-warming header and the books contain lots of nice retro photos. Pinner's cookbooks are actually my two favorite cookbooks.


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