Everybody is making their Top 10 lists of music and entertainment now. Mostly music. Those make me feel very uncool, unhip. I listen to the same stuff I’ve been listening to for the past 10 years, with the exception of adding in Taylor Swift this year because, duh.
So here’s my round-up of the best new cookbooks I’ve found this year. They are not all baking cookbooks – and they are not all full of recipes I want to make all the time. But I think what’s important is that you find inspiration where you can. The color’s in Plenty More give me inspiration for colors I can put on a cake, or a tart. You gotta look beyond the baking books to find inspiration. Find the baking books with solid technique, and move into other books that are simply beautiful and full of life and flavors.
If you haven’t peeped these titles yet, be sure to check them out in the New Year!
1. Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking – I don’t just love this because I worked for the author and chef, Johnny Iuzzini. Overall, it’s the most complete pastry book that I’ve seen in the past several years. I might be biased, again, because I somewhat understand where Johnny is coming from with the way he approaches baking. He gives you amazing base recipes in this book, and fabulous show-stoppers that won’t break the bank, or keep you in the kitchen, scratching your head for days. It’s methodical, practical, BEAUTIFUL, and amazing. If you are looking for a reliable macaron recipe, pound cake, crepe cakes, cookies, bars, etc. – THIS is your book. A huge round of applause for Johnny on this.
2. Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts – This book is amazing for a few reasons. You really get to know Brooks Headley, the pastry chef at Del Posto in NYC. You learn that he doesn’t really like the structured, normal “beautiful” desserts – he likes the stuff to taste good and I think be kind of approachable. I love the way it is divided into chapters (something that is always interesting to me) – “Fruit,” “Vegetables,” “Flours and Grains,” “Chocolate,” “Seeds and Nuts,” and “Dairy”. Super logical and methodical. The book is peppered with actual recipes, but what you get quite a bit of is stories on his life as a traveling musician – getting by on not much. You get some super funky drawings and pictures. It broke the mold in terms of traditional pastry cookbooks.
3. Oh She Glows Cookbook - I fell in love with this instantly when it arrived. I am obsessed with Angela Liddon’s blog, Oh She Glows, so having a book on hand with her best-of recipes is amazing. The smoothie section is wonderful. I feel like this book, for me, normalized eating really well in a way that respects your body and keeps you happy and healthy. The ingredients aren’t strange or hard to find and you won’t spend a million dollars to make one of the recipes. I love that she includes information about a well-stocked pantry, as well as an appendix of common cooking techniques. My favorite recipes from the book have to be the Green Monster Smoothie and the Glow Bars. When this came out in March, I was singing its praises from the mountaintops, trying to get every living soul to buy it!
4. The Vibrant Table: Recipes From My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, and Sometimes Raw Kitchen – So, beautiful food photography can make or break it for me. I love how sensual and sexy these photos make the food look. It makes eating healthy look FABULOUS. I love the Thunderstorm Cookies. Did you ever read the book Thunder Cake as a kid? If not, I highly recommend it. And this book.
5. Baking Chez Moi: Recipes From My Paris Home To Your Home Anywhere – If you want to make beautiful desserts that look like they came straight out of a Parisian bakery, you need this book. It seems to be a little more advanced than some, but I think the author, Dorie Greenspan, tries to make it manageable. I love that she lists the measurements in both traditional American volume and European metric weights. I think that that shows she wants to appeal to a wide range of bakers. First on my list to make? Def the Hugo and Victor’s Pink Grapefruit Tart. Yikes!
6. Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of The Perfect Cocktail - by Dave Arnold
7. Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery – by Angela Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga
8. North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland – by Gunnar Karl Gislason
10. Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi – by Yotam Ottolenghi