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Top 10 Cookbooks for 2011

Posted Jun 10 2011 11:00am

Cookbooks are always the perfect Christmas and birthday gifts for those who love to spend time in the kitchen. In whatever kind of food they would want to prepare, a new cookbook will always bring the best out of any cook.


From new cooking ideas and presentations to great photos, cookbooks can both serve as great coffee table books and reference for the foodie.

Here is the list of the top ten cookbooks for this year.

1. The Cookbook Collector: A Novel Literary Books ) by Allegra Goodman

This is a smart and witty modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility with a wide range of characters, from an IT specialist to a free-spirited younger sister. This book talks about love and loss amidst tasty recipes.

Sometimes the good thing about partaking in a reading challenge is that it makes you push your boundaries and read a book you normally wouldn’t – I read the Cookbook Collector for just that reason. I’d seen it previously in stores, but it just never gained by attention enough that I read it. However, I’m glad that I did. It’s a marvelous story about learning who you are and finding your place in teh world, about living each day as it comes and not putting off today what can be done tomorrow. I highly recommend it.

–Delicious Dee Challenge Addict

2. Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi

Lots of time and a northern place

Stunning photographs and well-written recipes make a great coffee table book. Yes, the kitchen equipment to reproduce the recipes faithfully is not likely to be found in most home kitchens — Thermomix, Pacojet, super bags, a pantry full of Willpowder and Le Sanctuaire containers, …the usual list — and the ingredients for many dishes will be a challenging find unless you have access to markets in the Nordic region. However, many of the recipes can be reproduced with more modest equipment and a little ingenuity, and many of the ingredients can be found seasonally here in Seattle. When the first new-growth spruce tips appear next spring, I will definitely be trying “Blueberries in their natural environment.” This dish is eye-poppingly beautiful and requires nothing more exotic than the spruce tips to reproduce. Ten stars for the photography.

–Demented dementad (Seattle, WA United States)

3. Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why Cooking, Food & Wine Books ) by Darina Allen

A beautiful book. Well written and illustrated with wonderful recipes.


4. Time for Dinner: Strategies, Inspiration, and Recipes for Family Meals Every Night of the Week Cooking, Food & Wine Books )by Pilar Guzmán, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang

Editors of Cookie Magazine put taste and style into family meals

I was a subscriber to Cookie Magazine, and found myself greatly missing it when it was taken out of circulation. One of the sections I missed most was the recipes that showed one ingredient (for instance, ground turkey), and then plotted a graph showing 3 different ways to cook that item, with photos, tips and final pictures of the meal. All on one page! Well, this cookbook brings that back, along with fantastic images of a stocked fridge, pantry and cabinets. This is a cookbook with usable recipes, helpful tips and great ideas to encourage family dining. First on my list to try is the ice-cube-tray sushi and the sesame noodles with extras. And one more thing – it is a feast for the eyes, with killer photographs and detailed ingredient lists.


5. Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg

An informative book by Paul Greeenberg on how to sustain the four species of fish many of us have come to love: cod, tuna, salmon and bass.

6. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender

Great Concept – Poor Execution

--Nicole A. (New York, NY)

7. The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual Cooking, Food & Wine Books )by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan

The Perfect Kitchen Companion

Great book – most cookbooks, you look up a recipe, go to the page, and maybe read any relevant content for a page or two before just going off the recipe. This book is actually readable, from cover to cover. A quick background on the guys, tips on gear/gadgets and how best to stock your kitchen, then on to the food. One of my big complaints with cookbooks is being told “this is how it’s done” or “you only do it this way”, without being told why. I’m left wondering “if I don’t do it this way, will it suck, will it just be more watery, will it be a total disaster?” Here, they tell you what they do, and why they do it. Good stuff

8. Thai Street Food History of Southeast Asia Books )by David Thompson

9. Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France Kosher Diet Cooking Books ) by Joan Nathan

10. Tartine Bread Bread Baking Books )by Chad Robertson

For intermediate or advanced bakers

There really are only a few bread recipes in this book. The author goes into lengthy detail about his breads, his philosophy, and how to make them. For those of you who are familiar with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking’s treatise on how to make an omelet (it’s about 20 pages long), that is what you will find here, just a lot fewer recipes. Why? Because Tartine specializes in making a few breads and pastries, and this book is about their bakery.

If you are looking for a comprehensive baking book of artisan breads, try Jeffrey Hamelman’s “Bread.” If you want easy, tasty recipes for most home bakers, take a look at the King Arthur Flour baking books, or Beth Hensperger’s excellent “Bread Bible.”

So, if you are not into creating and nursing sourdough starters, or you have no interest in reading through

20 pages of instructions to teach you how to make an artisan loaf of Tartine bread, this is not the book for you. There are plenty of other wonderful books on the market for that.

I would recommend this book for intermediate or advanced home bakers, or for professionals who are really looking to expand their bread baking repertoire.

The book does have some of the most detailed photos on folding and shaping loaves that I’ve seen, but the “artsy” quality of those photos is really irritating – I don’t want to see special shadowing, I just want a clear picture of a technique.

So grab your copy now!

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