Friday, November 11, 2011

My Favorite Cookbooks

I have probably looked through or used hundreds of cookbooks at this point in my cooking career.  It’s so hard to find a good cookbook with recipes that you actually will use often.  Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite cookbooks, the staples in my kitchen.  Hopefully this will be helpful to those who are trying to learn how to cook better.  With the holiday season coming up, they also make great gifts.

One of my favorite cookbooks is called Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson.  I use recipes from this book weekly.  It’s also printed in paperback, which means it’s very affordable.  Part of the book is the author describing her journey learning how she and her husband could eat organic on $5 dollars per day.   It shows how to make eating organic affordable.  I learned a ton about how to prepare vegetables in a way that reduces the pesticides, how to shop and cook in season, etc.  This book really helped change the way I prepare food.  The rest of the book is filled with recipes she collected or developed that are wholesome and balanced.  All the recipes are made from scratch.  Her recipes in general are very “clean” cooking and I’ve loved everything I’ve made from her book.  The recipes are very practical.  She had foods in there I would have never thought of cooking like hamburger buns made from scratch and chocolate pudding.  I love the lentil soup recipe and have made her version of chocolate pudding Many times.  I use one of the pinto bean recipes almost weekly.  There are tons of other recipes in this book like blueberry pancakes, yogurt, black bean burgers, pesto, pizza dough, lasagna, bread, strawberry shortcake, and many yummy healthy desserts.  This book didn’t have any meat recipes, but is still an amazing book to have on your shelf.  It definitely shows people how to eat less red meat by providing recipes that taste Really good.  I think this book is a very helpful reference for anyone who is in favor of organic cooking. 

The second book that is a kitchen staple is Skinny Italian by Teresa Giudice with Heather Maclean.  Giudice is one of the women on a popular Bravo TV show that people love to hate.  She is very annoying on the show, but this woman knows how to cook.  Her cookbook is Amazing.  I also use recipes from this cookbook each week.  When I used to think of Italian, I would think of greasy breadsticks, creamy fettuccini, and fattening lasagna.  This cookbook really changed that.  Skinny Italian is filled with family friendly Italian recipes.  It shows how to make healthy Italian recipes with more of an emphasis on vegetables than regular Italian food.  All Giudice’s recipes are easy to follow and most of them are made from scratch.  They don’t take long to prepare and are perfect for making meals for a family or dinner party.  I love her one-pan oven-roasted chicken feast, pizza dough, marinara sauce, steak pizzaiola, and her farfalle con piselli.  I was really happy to see Giudice recently came out with a second cookbook called Fabulicious!: Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook.  This book has even more family-friendly recipes like chicken parmigiana, pasta dough, meatballs, cheesy cavatelli, ravioli, salads, cannoli cupcakes, and tiramisu.  If you want to cook delicious and satisfying food for your family, these are the cookbooks to have.  I don’t think one of her cookbooks is better than the other.  Both books have amazing recipes and are both worth having. 

Another good cookbook was Cooking with My Indian Mother-in-Law by Simon Daley and Roshan Hirani.  I use recipes from this cookbook maybe once every few weeks.  It is filled with Indian recipes for someone with an intermediate cooking skill level.  I have looked through tons of Indian cookbooks and tried recipes from others, but this is the only one I really liked.  The authors really break down how to make Indian food.  When I first got this book, I had to search around to different stores to find some of the Indian spices used in this book.  There was also a learning curve to preparing some of these recipes.  Once you get the spices and master the learning curve, you can make some pretty amazing curries.  My favorites were a chickpea curry, cauliflower, potatoe, and pea curry, and also basic dal.  The recipes in this book are really healthy.  If you’re interested in branching out and attempting to cook some Indian food, this is the cookbook to get.