Now You’re Cookin’

Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen or a total amateur, our librarians have you covered with these cookbook recommendations!

My go-to cookbooks are The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (otherwise known as “the big red binder one”), The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (and blog) by Deb Perelman, and Flour by Joanne Chang. I’m also a fan of Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce and Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I love the scientific approach of the ATK books; they’ll tell you exactly what they were looking for in a recipe and how they got it, so in addition to having a recipe that really works, you know where you can tweak it and take shortcuts (and where you can’t). Smitten Kitchen’s results are always delicious, but usually take a long time to prepare. Flour has my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, among others. Good to the Grain is a good introduction to different types of flours, and I love the peach ginger muffin recipe, though it’s more work than I’d usually put into making muffins. Martha Stewart’s Cookies has the best table of contents I’ve ever seen: organized by type of cookie (light and delicate, soft and chewy, etc.) with photos of each cookie right there.

I forget where I learned these, but my two best kitchen tips are: (1) if a piece of eggshell gets into your mix by accident, the best way to get it out is with another piece of eggshell, and (2) chill your cookie dough, unless the recipe specifically says it should go right into the oven. It really does make a difference!

Baking is science for hungry people!

Mary Berry’s Baking Bible (Available to request through the Commonwealth Catalog!) – Have an indulgent time with the kinder side of the former dynamic-duo of the Great British Bake Off! Mary Berry is more than sweet in this full-color look at her favorite bakes! As someone without an extreme baking background and little cooking experience, I can tell you that Mary’s Bible is foolproof. The blend of classic British bakes is brilliant! This includes flapjacks, fairy cakes, and hot puddings! Don’t worry, she also tackles more established favorites, including cheesecakes, classic cakes, scones, and even baking for children! This baking bible is classic just like Mary Berry. Long-live the queen of British baking!

PS. My favorite recipe in the bible is the Coffee and Walnut Cake! The flavor is fantastic, and the icing is so easy to make! 🙂

 My all time favorite is All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens. It’s my go-to during the cooler months for delicious roasted meats and vegetable sides. Not only are the recipes outstanding, her review of the science (and art!) of how meat cooks is informative and has made me a more confident cook. Stevens provides pan sauce recipes and carving technique tips to ensure the finished product is excellent.  There is a chapter on roasted vegetable sides to round out the meal. I’ve used my copy so much the binding has broken, the pages are splattered, and it opens up right to my favorite recipes. The 150 recipes cover everything from classic simple roasted chicken and meats to more fanciful meals. I can’t wait for cooler weather to start using it again!

I am not a baker. I enjoy cooking more, as it seems more forgiving. The preciseness of baking scared me off for many years. Until I found Baking Illustrated : A Best Recipe Classic from America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve borrowed this from Robbins so many times I should just buy a copy.  America’s Test Kitchen is a great resource for any baker or chef, no matter the experience level. However, for newbies in the baking department reading about why things work and the science behind baking helped me understand my ingredients and the various techniques. In fact, I need a blueberry muffin recipe, so off to grab it! 

Although I’m not paleo, I’ve been enjoying Nom Nom Paleo, which shows recipes in cartoon form, plus they are delish!

I love eating, but I don’t like cooking, so most of my cookbooks are for simple and straightforward everyday fare. My two go-to cookbooks are Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (which includes a lentil soup recipe I make several times each winter) and How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman (a favorite is the Hot and Sour Braised Tempeh.) I’ve gotten a ton of use out of my copy of the less comprehensive but super delicious Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I love the Mashed Potatoes with Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy, and the Beet, Barley, and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons is another winter favorite. The only specialty cookbook I have is Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas, which was totally worth the price just for the Kale Salad with Dried Fruits & Nuts and the Spinach and Mango Smoothie, both of which I eat regularly. Before investing in any cookbook, I always grab a copy from the library and try out a couple of recipes to make sure it’s worth paying for and taking up space on my kitchen shelf!

My pick is “Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook” ‘written’ by one of the characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  Nanny Ogg is one of the witches of Lancre, and she has a very robust personality.  The book is written as if she sent her recipes in to be published, with notes from the editors discussing the submissions.  She has such recipes as “Bananana soup surprise” which involves half a banana placed upright in the bowl with the soup poured in around it, and “Celery astonishment” which is a stuffed whole celery stalk served with suggestively placed potatoes ;).

There are also many recipes that have been mentioned throughout the Discworld books, and a section on Discworld etiquette (mostly fun ways to deal with all the different groups and species).

All in all, a very fun read, with a bunch of tasty recipes mixed in.

Do you have a go-to cookbook?  Let us know in the comments!

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1 Response to Now You’re Cookin’

  1. Pingback: November readalike: Smitten Kitchen Every Day | Robbins Library Blog

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