I am a big cook book collector. My favorites are what I would call “Vintage”. Think Julia Child. Those old, dusty, found in a second hand shop cook books. Theres something about the smell of those pages that remind me of my Nana (grandma) cooking when I was a child. When all meals were cooked at home from scratch. The good’ol days, we need to return to those.
But of course I am also in favor of shiny new ones with big colorful pictures. I think these are really helpful for people adventuring out into the cooking world. Everything is explained step by step and a beautiful picture is not only enticing so that you will want to cook the dish but also a good guideline on how it should look.
Here are my top choices for cook books, you can pretty much find everything online now. Try Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
1. The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cook Book by Nicola Grimes. This was actually my very first cook book. It is full of recipes with tons of beautiful colorful photos. Very easy to read and quite diverse with dishes from around the globe. Its big and heavy, but definitely worth it.
2. Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons. This is a great book for all of the insider tips and tricks that professional cooks love. Not only recipes but ingredients, tools, cooking techniques, etc. If you love cooking and want to learn more, I suggest this book. It also discusses many different cultures and their own cooking secrets.
3. The Ethnic Vegetarian: Traditional and Modern Recipes from Africa, America and the Caribbean by Angela Shelf Meaderis. The title pretty much sums this one up. Amazingly creative and surprising recipes. Ever thought of using peanut butter in a vegetable stew? I didn’t. Absolutely delicious!! This book is stocked full of healthy recipes too.
4. Eggs by Michael Roux. Can you guess?? Thats right, Eggs. Sometimes I open the fridge and there isnt too much else going on in there then a carton of eggs. This is a great book when thats all you have in your fridge as well. Far beyond omelet’s and scrambled, this book is full of inventive ideas on egg based recipes. It talks about the different types of eggs available (white, brown, large, small, chicken, duck, goose etc) as well as a multitude of cooking techniques. I found it quite informative on the egg itself.
5. Potato: The Definitive Guide to Potatoes and Potato Cooking by Sally Mansfield and Alex Barker. That title pretty much explains whats inside. Potatoes are a staple vegetable in cooking. They are found in all cultures and the varieties of potatoes are endless. Most people are familiar with red and white potatoes, yet there are 100’s more! All special and delicious in their own way. This book explains everything there is to know about potatoes and how to prepare them. Really handy to have in your cook book collection.
6. The French Chef CookBook by Julia Child. An oldy but a goody. One of my favorites for old school, classic French cooking. Sadly there are no pictures in this one, but you’ll find many traditional French recipes that you’ll just have to brave up and try out. Its definitely worth it!
7. Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten. Shall I dare to go as far to call Ina Garten a modern day Julia Child?? Well, I’m not so sure. But if you love French cuisine and shiny colorful pictures, this is a great, easy, beautiful recipe book. Yes the recipes are not always health conscious but the ideas are traditional and quite simple to make, so as I do, you can always tweak them to meet your needs (i.e.. no that sauce does not need a pound of butter).
8. Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagne. Basically the cooks Bible. Every cooking technique and ingredient, the history of food, eating and restaurants, biographies of important culinary figures and recommendations for cooking nearly everything. Warning! This book weighs a ton! Well the history of food and cooking are in there 🙂
9. Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver. He is a celebrity chef (so many annoyingly bad ones on tv these days…), however he’s young and vibrant and just knows where its at when it comes to cooking British food. I grew up eating British food and well….hated it (sorry mum!). Everything was bland and soggy. Jamie may possibly have eaten some similar dishes over the years and yet instinctively knew there had to be a better way to bring out the truly delicious flavors of this nations cuisine. Well he’s done a “bang up job” (as he would say) in this book. The recipes are exciting and creative, giving a modern, youthful edge to old school dishes.
10. Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford. Not exactly a recipe book, but something more important. Food isnt just for taste, its for healing as well. What we put into our bodies aids in determining how healthy we are and ultimately how we feel physically and mentally. This book is for healing the body and mind naturally, through whole foods. For example there are chapters on the importance of water, vitamins, oils and fats, salt, sweeteners vs natural sugars, super foods (seaweeds, wheat grass, spiralina, etc), foods for children, fasting and dieting and how to cure and treat diseases through food, just to name a few. This is a great way to educate yourself on the foods you are eating and how to get the most benefits from what you cook and consume, for ultimate health.