Favorite Cookbooks & Recipes of 2008

Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite cookbooks and recipes that I presented on the site in 2008. A few are books that I’ve been devouring, and others are those I’ve been bookmarking recipes in, to make on the site in the upcoming months. All in all, the best of the year…

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When they start cloning humans, they’d better start with Flo Braker. One of my all-time favorite bakers, Flo wowed us with her previous books, including the all-encompassing The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. Her all-new book, Baking for All Occasions just arrived on my doorstep and I’ve been drooling over the recipes, like her Butterscotch Spiral Coffee Cake (wouldn’t that be nice to wake up to?) and Chocolate-Lovers Angel Food cake, which features the best of both worlds. I’ll be featuring a recipe or two on the site in the upcoming months. I can’t wait.

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When I was making my colorful quince tarte Tatin and writing up the post about it, I remembered my handy copy of The Flavor Bible. Even though I know everything in the world (or at least I think I do…), I leafed through it, looking for what goes with quince. And lo and behold, there’s a whole world of flavors out there, outside of my head! This culinary heavyweight, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, takes every flavor imaginable and searches for each and every possible flavor pairing. It’s a terrific reference and I’m happy it’s on my shelf, within easy reach.

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Baker Cindy Mushet knocks it out of the ballpark. Her Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel even won over my notoriously peanut butter-adverse French friends. The Art & Soul of Baking is an encyclopedic reference, reflecting her twenty years of teaching and baking experience.

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The boys at Baked are after my own heart. With those killer Baked Brownies, that I augmented with icy-cold mints, this book quickly became my most leafed-through baking books. I’ll stop gushing, since I’m making a fool of myself, and let Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, speak for itself from now on.

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If you’ve been wondering what to do with all those specialty and natural-style sweeteners, Mani Niall’s Sweet! is the guidebook to how to use them all. Wondering what the difference between demerara and turbinado is? What can you bake with agave nectar? I’ve already bookmarked his Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Vietnamese Caramel Chicken recipes. Find out how sweet life can be, naturally, with Mani’s nifty book of recipes and tips.

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If you remember, I tackled the unforgettable Chez Panisse Almond Tart, the classic dessert from the restaurant that I called “home” for almost thirteen years. It’s a recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere, which is still a reliable baking classic after a decade and a half. I wasn’t surprised at the reaction that so many you had to this caramelized tart, attesting to it’s status as one of the best-loved desserts of all time. The rest of the book is full of the classics that put Chez Panisse on the map.

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If you had a hard time getting those Chocolate Dipped Florentines from the Ottolenghi cookbook out of your mind, you’re not alone. I was mad for them, from the moment the picture jumped out of the book at me. I’m still turning the pages, lusting over everything in this book, which really terrific. Other treats include Toffee Brownies, Plum, Marzipan and Cinnamon Muffins, and Orange Polenta Cake with a pinwheel of caramelized orange slices embedded in the to

14 comments

  • Don´t have any of these….nice to get some good pointers of what´s good out there. So when is your next book comming out??

  • I have a few of these and it looks like I’ll need to get a few more, in addition to just pre-ordering your new book. May’s a long time away but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait. Congratulations on your new book David!

  • Congratulations on the new book!! I just ordered it from Amazon.

  • David,

    Thank you for this!! What a great line-up!

    I’m bound for trouble, now. I’m so glad you hefted these bad boys home to share with us. The Flavor Bible is a definite must for my next Amazon drive-by.

    Speaking of amazon drive-bys…
    Damn!!! Your new book looks stunning, David! I mean, really. I can’t wait until its release!!

    Congratulations and BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    XOXOXOX,

    ~ Paula
    (of Ambrosia Quest)

    .

  • That’s the second post I read this weekend which includes The Flavor Bible – I think I’m gonna have to get that book…

  • But what does the Flavor Bible say about foie gras and chocolate?

  • Hey! What about my book? But seriously, our lists overlap a lot. Especially in the baking department.

  • Oh your new book cover is just perfectly drool-worthy! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • David,
    I absolutely adore Flo Braker – both as a baker and a person. She is the consummate teacher. Her books, and this is her third. are written with a generosity of spirit that is sometimes missing in cookbooks. When she shares her knowledge, you know she’s in the kitchen alongside, rooting for you. And her recipes, full of heart and great taste.
    Sandy

  • Selena: Good question! Since the book is a dictionary of flavors, they consulted experts (chefs, wine folks, etc…) in their research, and under ‘Foie Gras’, the suggested pairings span from allspice to vinegar (balsamic and cider.)

    Chocolate is included, but was not in bold meaning that one expert they consulted said it was a good pairing (no word on if he’s American, or French.) But I would interject and say that ‘cocoa’ rather than ‘chocolate’ is a better pairing. I think the bitterness would play off better with the rich foie, personally.

    btw: There is a story in the book of a chef in New Orleans who makes a Twinkie stuffed with foie gras and served with strawberries and black pepper. I’ll keep my trap shut about that one, but anyone out there who’s tried it is welcome to pipe in…

  • I have the book Baked and I am totally in love with it.
    Maybe in time I might buy Baking for All Occasions, too.
    Thank you for the book reviews.

  • My goodness, you must bake a LOT. (Sitting in a class you gave once I asked myself “how many eggs do you supposed he’s cracked?”) I’ll sign up for your new book, too. But in the blurb on Amazon reference is made, once again, to Paris as being the “city of lights.” I could swear that it is supposed to be the city of LIGHT. There’s a big difference (Vegas might be a city of lights).

  • I’m not one to comment on other people’s typos, but you made the best one I’ve ever seen: “I’ll stop gushing, since I’m making a food of myself.” Amazing. :)

  • gwen: Ha! I was going to say that wasn’t a typo, ’cause it wouldn’t be far from the truth. But yes…busted! (and fixed…)

    Grr. I don’t think I was meant to write online, since I don’t know why I have so much trouble catching errors on a computer screen. On the page, I’m a whiz!

    Steve: Actually, the book design, and title, are getting a makeover. So for those who are brilliant enough to buy a first-edition (and everyone else), the book will look different. I had a make over!