I am very picky about my cookbooks and will often check one out several times from the library before I commit to buying it. Here is a list of my absolute favorites.
Baking Illustrated: A Best Recipe Classic (by the editors of Cook's Illustrated)
This is a book from Cook's Illustrated (the same people who do America's Test Kitchen) and it is the first book I check when I need to bake anything. Even if I'm using a recipe from another source, I sometimes look up similar recipes here as well because they have a ton of helpful tips. I love these guys and can't sing their praises enough! (Chocolate Buttercream)
The Best 30-Minute Recipe (by the editors of Cook's Illustrated)
This is another Cook's Illustrated Book that I love. It has lots of quick recipes that are still really tasty. They give detailed tips that helps cut as much time as possible.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread (by Peter Reinhart)
Jeff uses this one quite a bit. I can attest to the quality of the recipes as can anyone else who's eaten any of Jeff's bread. But, be warned, this is a book for meticulous bakers. If you can follow the recipes (which are a bit intimidating to me), you'll end up with the best bread you've ever eaten. Promise.
The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show (by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift)
I love these ladies' approach to eating as well as their approach to writing a cookbook. It is full of anecdotes and fantastic information. My favorite section is on how to make homemade salad dressing. It's so quick and tasty and free of preservatives. This is an inspiring book.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking (by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois)
I'm sure many of you have already heard of this book. And, yes, it is as good as everyone says. Mostly, we've made the recipes for pita and naan and pizza crusts. For taste alone, the Bread Baker's Apprentice and Baking Illustrated have better recipes, but this book absolutely cannot be beat for ease of making really good tasting bread. Essentially, the idea is that you create a really loose dough that lives in your fridge (for a week or two). When you wanna make something, you pull off the required amount and toss it in the oven (or on the stove). Genius.
Vegetables Every Day: The Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Today's Produce With over 350 Recipes (by Jack Bishop)
I found this book when a reviewer on Amazon recommended it instead of Chez Panisse Vegetables. I got them both from the library and this one was the clear winner. It covers so many vegetables and so many techniques.
Mexican Everyday (by Rick Bayless)
This is my favorite book for cooking Mexican food. Once or twice, I've made a full 5 course meal from recipes in here, mainly because I couldn't make up my mind between them all. (This was pretty extreme for me, as I'm a big fan of the 1-course, everything in the same pot, meal.) I also like Mexico One Plate at a Time, but Mexican Everyday is my favorite.
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution (by Alice Waters)
I have great admiration for Alice Waters and everything she's done to help us appreciate good, healthy food. But, when I read her Chez Panisse books, I was pretty disappointed. The recipes weren't all that accessible to me, ingredient wise. This most recent book of hers is fantastic, though! Each chapter details a new technique for cooking, with several pages explaining the hows and why and then a few recipes to hone your skills. Because of this book I've actually made homemade pasta, both linguine and lasagna sheets. They were excellent and totally worth the effort. If I were to recommend one cookbook that provides the most helpful information across the board this would be the one. It doesn't just give recipes, but actually teaches you how to cook.
Now I'd love to hear from all of you. What are your most trusted recipe sources?
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