People love cookbooks, and many of us buy them for the stories.
Stories about the author, the author’s adventures in discovering the culture where they learned the recipes and stories on how to find ingredients. Just think about how much the recipient will appreciate the book, instead of suggesting what you would like them to cook for you.
Many thanks to Jude Sales of Readers’ Books for the bulk of this list. Please shop locally. We need our very independent and unique bookstore to stay here.
“Cooking at home, or how I learned to stop worrying about recipes and love my microwave ” by David Chang and Priya Krishna. Momofuku chef / owner and New York Times food writer team up to teach cooking without recipes. Instead, they urge you to learn how to season and prepare food in a simple, straightforward, and thoughtful way that tastes great.
“Cooking with Dorie, Sweet, Salty, and Simple ”by Dorie Greenspan. The dean of home baking returns with a beautiful book of simple but elegant cakes, cookies and desserts. Many recipes include a “fun” section at the end to encourage you to try variations.
“The Essentials of the New York Times Cookbook, The Recipes of Record” compiled by Amanda Hesser. A review of the 2010 edition of The New York Times Favorite Recipes, geared towards the home cook, with more diverse and inclusive recipes.
“Shelf Love ”by the Ottolenghi test kitchen. A group of chefs led by famous chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad offer home cooks innovative but achievable Middle Eastern inspired recipes.
“Burnt Toast and Other Disasters” by Cal Peternell. The former Chez Panisse cook gives advice on how to move forward after a mistake in the kitchen. Burnt toast, sticky rice, overcooked vegetables have all the means to redeem themselves. Pantry staples and sauces are put to good use – a good choice for beginners and seasoned cooks.
“Black Food, Stories, Art and Recipes from the African Diaspora” by Bryant Terry. Essays by various cooks, food writers and historians introduce each section, followed by recipes. The chapters include Homeland, Spirituality, Land, Liberation, and Food Justice, to name a few.
“Gastro Obscura, the gastronomic adventurer’s guide” by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras. An Atlas Obscura book that offers something for everyone in the food world. From a list of the world’s finest fast food restaurants to where to find fermented shark in Iceland, pig’s blood cake in Taiwan or the Lunchbox museum in Georgia.
“New Native Cuisine: Celebrating Modern American Indian Recipes” by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli. Chief Freddie reigns in his Mitsitam Café at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. He and Fraioli assembled modernized recipes from the indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands. Many recipes are easy and even give hints on ingredients to buy in various stores.