My Favorite Cookbooks of 2009

I have a stack (actually, about four stacks) of cookbooks that arrived this year, many of them riddled with bookmarks for recipes. Some of them I managed to get to, presenting recipes on the blog or baking for friends and neighbors, and a few I didn’t get around to yet. In this year’s round up, I did sneak in a few recipes from favorite classics cookbooks in my collection, but there’s a nice representation from books that came out in 2009. Included are a few guidebooks that I found indispensable, plus I tossed in a couple of cookbooks that I’ve had my eye on, which are en route, that I’m looking forward to getting dusty with flour, and smudged with butter.

Here’s my annual round-up My Favorite Cookbooks from 2009:

Thumbnail image for 9781580089760.jpg

Rustic Fruit Desserts by Corey Schreiber and Julia Richardson

I met Corey Schreiber a decade or so ago when he launched a restaurant in San Francisco. Shortly afterward he moved up to Portland to re-connect with the outstanding ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. This best-selling book features everything from a lemon-swathed Blueberry Buckle to Caramel Apple Steamed Pudding with Ginger. But it’s the Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake that is sitting in my batter’s box (or batter box?) to try.

img14m.jpg

New Flavors of Appetizers: Classic Recipes Redefined by Amy Sherman

I’m the first to admit that when I invite people for dinner, because I live in France, it’s easy to stop at the charcuterie for a few slices of country ham or hit the Arab market for a bag of salty olives. But Amy Sherman’s book is full of do-able recipes. I’m a bit fixated on her Baked Asparagus, Leek, and Goat Cheese Bites, and as soon as spring rolls back around, I’m going to tackle that one. In the meantime, there’s plenty to get me through the winter, like Olives and Feta Marinated in Lemon and Ouzo and Smoky Eggplant Dip with Cumin-Crusted Pita Chips.

I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

I get so many inquiries about macarons that I had to compile a post of the best advice out there. (Making French Macarons.) But this little book, in English, promises a fool-proof method of making the little devils. Because of their popularity, I did a special write-up of I Love Macarons!, which offers more details about the book.

ChezPDesserts.jpg

Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere

I dislike questions about desert islands and being shipwrecked. But if I had to choose three cookbooks I couldn’t live without, this is one of them. Lindsey’s caramelized Chez Panisse Almond Tart is worth tackling in the kitchen. Because my copy is still somewhere between San Francisco and Paris (and it has been for about five six years now), I got a vintage copy (shown) when I was back in the states this year and now can refer to it often. I have a vintage edition with the Wayne Thiebaud cover and it’s almost too good to use. Almost.


hungryforparis.jpg

Hungry for Paris by Alexander Lobrano

Yes, there’s lots of information floating around, online and in print, about where to eat in Paris. But as far as I’m concerned, the buck stops with Alec Lobrano. Hungry for Paris is his tasty guide to 102 of the best restaurants in Paris, many of which he discovered while being the Paris correspondent for Gourmet for over a decade. But more than just a guidebook, Hungry for Paris tells the story behind the restaurants and bistros of Paris, not just about what’s served up on the plate. I thought I’d use this book primarily as a reference, which I do, but I first devoured it curled up on the sofa. Even if you don’t live in Paris, you can cozy up in a big chair and savor the best food and restaurants in Paris, comfortably at home.

ratio-cover.gif

Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

Getting Americans to unleash our firm grip on measuring cups and spoons isn’t easy, but this book is a convincing argument that cooking can become more improvisational if you realize that much of cooking and baking comes down to ratios. I made a batch of Michael’s Pickled Green Peppers that now have valuable real estate in my refrigerator. And I thank him every time I reach into the jar and pluck one out. Next up for me are Parisian gnocchi, since I didn’t have much luck with my own attempts.

518H7TRK3AL._SL500_AA240_.jpg

The Vineyard Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey

Maria is one of the Bay Area’s most accomplished chefs and this now-classic book features seasonal menus from simple to sophisticated. Her Apple Spice Cake was a treat that disappeared quickly around here. Due to popular demand, I brought some along on my Thanksgiving trip to Barcelona, and it was the perfect morning pastry before we began our in-flight “entertainment” (ie; the wine-tasting). The book is well-written and filled with simple, home-style dinners and desserts. Which is why this The Vineyard Kitchen continues to be a favorite of mine.

Macarons by Pierre Hermé

One expert that I will rely on is Pierre Hermé, the master of French pastry. His book, Macarons, covers the subject exhaustively. I made his Ketchup Macarons, which were shockingly not-too bizarre. Now in English, this book is for serious macaron-makers who will appreciate the step-by-step photos and special techniques of Chef Hermé to achieve macaron perfection.

a platter of figs by david tanis

A Platter of Figs by David Tanis

I made David Tanis’ Spinach Cake, which was a healthy-looking slab of green, a nice side-dish to a slice of rosy ham. Although the recipes tempt, it’s David’s writing and stories of his time divided between Paris and the Bay Area (where he’s chef at Chez Panisse for 6 months out of the year), that really are illuminating. Oh, and the photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer, who took the pictures in The Great Book of Chocolate, are as delicious as the recipes.

Cuisine Niçoise by Jacques Médecin

Niçoise cuisine is a little more than just drizzling olive oil on everything, or calling something a salade Niçoise that bears little (or no) resemblance to the real thing. I made a couple of trips down to Nice this year, including learning how to make Socca, and another to learn how to water ski. You probably won’t be pounding stockfish to tenderize it with a wood mallet (after keeping it under flowing cold water in your sink for eight days…plus the recipe calls for “4 ounces of stockfish guts”), but Ratatouille and Pan Bagnat, a sandwich filled with raw vegetables and lots of olive oil, are not only do-able, but require a little less fortitude. I was happy to discover this classic on Niçoise cuisine, written by the former mayor of Nice, translated into English.

The Sharper Your Knives the less you cry

The Sharper the Knives, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn

Coming to Paris to study professional cooking isn’t easy—trust me. The rules and language are bound to trip you up. But Kathleen Flinn persevered at the famed Cordon Bleu Cooking School, then rewarded us with her tale. Recipes are included and top off this tale of love…and lobster-killing, in the city of light.


clotildesedibleadventuresinparis.gif

Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier

Because I’m nosy, whenever I run into people on vacation here who are especially interested in food, I ask them which books they find helpful on their trips to Paris. Those who want to scratch just beneath the surface of the city invariably cite Clotilde’s Edible Adventure in Paris as their guide. Aside from listings of some classic bistros, some of the new up-and-coming restaurants get their moment, and visitors (and residents, like me) will also appreciate les bonnes addresses for putting together a lovely picnic, taking a cooking class, or uncovering where to get the best bánh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) in Paris.

French cheeses

French Cheeses

A week doesn’t go by when I don’t refer to this book. Picture-perfect shots of hundreds of French cheeses, this is an invaluable reference for anyone who is interested in les fromages. This is my go-to book when I have a question about French cheese. It is, as they say, le must.

The new taste of chocolate

The New Taste of Chocolate by Maricel E. Presilla

Written by one of the leading experts on chocolate, Maricel Presilla’s lovely book,
The New Taste of Chocolate, takes us beyond the wrappers and through the jungles to show us how cacao beans are cultivated and harvested. Then it’s to the factories and chocolate shops to show us how luscious chocolate is formed and molded into all sorts of confections. This revision of her now-classic book includes recipes from an international galaxy of chefs, from Dark Milk Chocolate-Coffee Crème Brûlée, to a savory Mayan Turkey Stew with Cacao and Chiles.

9780307277442.jpg

The Tenth Muse by Judith Jones

It’s easy to find online reviews annoying. For example, I read one about The Tenth Muse that accused Judith Jones’ lovely memoir of “name dropping”. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but considering most of us would know who Julia Child, Madhur Jaffrey, Marion Cunningham, Lidia Bastianich, Edna Lewis, and Marcella Hazan are (and Anne Frank), she has every right to toss their names around. If anyone has bragging rights, it’s Judith Jones. This classy memoir of a life dedicated to coaxing the best possible books out of these authors. I enjoyed her writing about life in Paris decades ago, which I couldn’t help with contrasting the modern of Paris today. A great read from a terrific editor.

Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair

As an American living abroad, surprisingly, when I look for “comfort” foods, I turn to Asian dishes. Sushi, Korean banchan, Vietnamese beef in lot leaves, and Japanese noodles all make me feel right at home. Perhaps it’s from being from San Francisco, a city with a wide, vibrant Asian community that’s pretty well-integrated. Although I was privvy to seeing the very first copy, I reluctantly had to hand it back. So I’m going to be picking up my own copy of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair on my upcoming trip, which has gotten rave reviews, and I can’t wait to join the chorus.

pure dessert

Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

Even though I never won an award, Alice Medrich has won plenty. And when I made her White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones, it’s easy to see why she’s such a champion. Studded with big chunks of gooey white chocolate and nippy dried sour cherries, they were a bit breakfast hit at my table. In Pure Dessert, Alice uses ingredients like whole wheat flour and cocoa nibs to create a whole new kaleidoscope of desserts. I’m still gorging on her Fruitcake Bars, too. Gorgeous photographs capture the simplicity of using a far-reaching arsenal of ingredients to create a singularly beautiful sweets.

A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

You likely know Molly from her lovely blog, Orangette, but there’s only so much you can tell in a blog, until the story bursts from the screen and needs to be told on the page. In A Homemade Life, you can dive in and read her story in a comfy chair, from the highs and lows of living in Paris, to finally landing in Seattle with the man of her dreams. Recipes round out the book, but the real story is in her vignettes of life, each chapter with a delicious ending as a bonus.

the foodie handbook

The Foodie Handbook by Pim Techamuanvivit

When I started blogging, there were just a handful of bloggers. Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim was one of the first out of the gate and helped define the genre of food blogging. Her book, lavishly photographed, is her first foray into helping others find their inner “foodie” with aplomb. I’m interested in trying her version of the No-Knead Bread and her now-famous version of classic Pad Thai.

bakingforalloccasions.jpg

Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of baking from one of Flo Braker’s books, as I did when I made the Pain d’épices from Baking for All Occasions, you’ll find the recipes and techniques so well-described it’s like having Flo right there in your kitchen. Since that’s next to impossible, as she can’t be everywhere, this book is a gift to all home bakers. Thick with recipes, like Banana-Coconut Upside-Down Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Crunch Cake, you’ll be singing her praises too. I have so many recipes bookmarked that the book weighs twice what it originally did.

Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

I’m mostly a sweets kinda guy, but Deborah Madison takes us on a tour of farmers markets in America in Local Flavors had me chopping onions and clipping fresh thyme to make her Herbed Ricotta Tart. Inspiring stories that tell of the resurgence of local farm fare in American, Local Flavors is packed with recipes to help you make the most of the harvest. I got a sneak previous of Deborah’s next book, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, and I liked it so much, I gave it a high praise in advance for the book jacket.

Secrets of Tuscan Kitchen

Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts Francini

This hand-written collection of Tuscan recipes from long-time resident, as Judy says, “Spend more time shopping, less time cooking!” illuminates her philosophy of starting with good ingredients then making them shine in simple presentations. Her Panna Cotta got surrounded with fresh summer berries, a I made it in just a few minutes. I riffed her Sweet and Sour Onions in The Sweet Life in Paris, which were so good, I thought them calling attention to them outside of Italy’s borders.

art and soul of baking.jpg

The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

Huge and comprehensive are the first words that came to mind when flipping through a copy of The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet. I made her Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Butter Caramel, which were even better than they sounded. (Of course, the chocolate drizzle didn’t hurt, either.) All bakers will appreciate the copious step-by-step photos, too.

Baked

Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

I didn’t think the authors would mind when I added Altoid mints to their infamously-rich Baked Brownies. Their first book, Baked, is almost as good as a trip to their Brooklyn bakery, which I haven’t been to. And now, I can’t stop thinking about making a special trans-Atlantic trip just to taste it all. I mean, Sweet and Salty Cake? Pumpkin Whoopie Pies? I’m packin’ my bags…

craftofbaking.jpg

The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox

Karen DeMasco was the pastry chef at Craft and aptly-named The Craft of Baking is her first book. I churned up her Pumpkin Ice Cream, which was such a popular treat at our Thanksgiving table, that I almost wanted to take credit for the recipe myself.

This book has been popping up on lots of Top Ten cookbook lists for the year, and with recipes like Berry Brioche Bread Pudding (with a very unusual brioche recipe from Pierre Hermé…baked in cans!) and Pear & Concord Grape Crisp with Marcona Almond Streusel, the combination of homey and sophisticated desserts will certainly make 2010 a little sweeter for bakers everywhere.

61 comments

  • I am sure bookmarking this page.
    I have been wanting to have a good book about macaroons, I am sure going to buy this one.

  • So many good choices! I find my expatriate life has made me more selective, as I do not want to lug cookbooks all the way to China. But many of these are very tempting.

  • Do you have any recommendations, recent or older, for a good, basic, all-around cookbook for every day meals?

    Unrelated to that…”Ratio” seems like a very interesting book. I have been thinking about the idea of cooking as ratios too, so it’s neat to see that a professional has also been thinking about it (no doubt much more than I have been). Probably most people are weak in math and division, so many people have difficulty with juggling ratios in cooking. Many people have also been brought up using cups, teaspoons, grams, or millimeters, so it’s comfortable for them. But it’s an intriguing idea.

  • Ben: I’m am big fan of The Zuni Café Cookbook. Although it’s slightly advanced, the explanations about how and why you do things make the recipes approachable. (In my opinion.) I do think The Art of Simple Food is a great basic book, with easy-to-follow, simple recipes and tips on how to find good, wholesome ingredients and use them in your cooking.

    I don’t have a copy here, by many people like Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. But if readers have any other recommendations, feel free to chime in.

    Happy Cook: The macaron book has been getting high marks. Can’t wait til my copy arrives..

    Jennifer: I know what you mean, so I try to pare my list down to essentials and books that I really think deserve the real estate. Am wondering if the new e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, will change things for cookbooks. Especially now that it’s international. Not sure if I want to cook from an electronic tablet, but on the other hand, for saving space and travel, perhaps it’s the next frontier.

  • Thanks for your suggestions, David!

    E-readers might make it easier to amass cookbooks, but I really don’t think e-readers are any good for cookbooks now.
    1) The screens are too small, and many cookbooks are large (to show off the pictures). They work well for plain text novels (and some pictures), though.
    2) No color. I think color is important for a cookbook’s pictures, huh? =)
    3) Do you really want a $300 device around your floury, greasy, wet, sticky hands?

    But 2-5 years from now, it will probably be a different story.

  • I bought Rustic Fruit Desserts in September and absolutely love it. The lemon blueberry buckle was the best thing I ate all summer, and last week I made the cranberry buckle, which was almost just as good. The apple crisp I made from the book was the best I’ve ever had too. A real winner of a book, glad to see it on your list.

  • I love Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors. Everything I’ve made from her book has been wonderful — also love her other cookbooks, The Savory Way and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Her recipes always seem to have that little something extra that makes vegetables taste fabulous.

  • I’ve been wondering what cookbooks to put on my Christmas list this year, now I have too many to choose from! Thanks for this list, I’ll have to narrow down my faves.
    Happy reading!

  • We must have been traveling the same song line over the past week, because I just posted a lengthy, (though not so meaty as yours), review of children’s gardening books. I love your recommendations, and I will be definitely be adding Rustic Desserts to my Amazon cart. I absolutely love that kind of honest baking! I see some familiar titles, Clotilde is of course now on my shelf – but I have yet to pick up Pim’s book, (maybe someone nice will get it for me this month). I do not own Molly’s book yet either. And the chocolate book? I know someone who would just DIE for that. This is a great list David, and very timely. I love giving books in celebration of the Solstice Season.
    Warm wishes from chilly Vermont -
    Michaela

  • I am so intrigued by Ratio from Ruhlman. I know I’ve sort of used the idea of ratio’s when I’ve analyzed recipes that sound good, but something about the way they are written just doesn’t seem right. (if that makes any sense) Anyway, I think it will be a powerful book for those interested in developing their own recipes and I can’t wait to get my hands on that one. It’s on my Christmas list!

  • Thank you for the organized write-up of these cookbooks, It should help the holiday wishlist. I made my fist attempt at macarons for a daring bakers challenge in October and they were not quite as intimidating as I had initially feared. It may be relative depending on the person but I would almost be afraid to read too much into the subject since that could lead to a lot of second guessing. Since I am already painfully over analytical, I think that when it comes to macarons it’s best to just jump right into the process as though you are taking a dive into icy waters. But I will always be intrigued by all the books on the subject.

    I would want to buy ‘The Sharper You Knife, the Less You Cry’ based solely on the title. :)

  • what a fantastic round-up! i’m just discovered your blog, and i’m LOVING it. xo joanna

  • Oh, those parisian gnocchi of Ruhlman’s are fabulous! I made them for my Dad for Father’s day, with bacon, corn, and peas, and then again this fall as the dumpling portion of a pot of chicken and dumplings. My only problem with his choux ratio is that he doesn’t insist on milk being half the liquid, which I do – I find the texture and color are dramatically improved by that one simple step.

  • Do you have any recommendations for good bread cookbooks? Also no-knead bread cookbooks?

  • Some of these are already batter-splattered favorites (Local Flavors, Craft of Baking, Homemade Life, Pure Dessert), but I’m kicking myself wondering how I missed Braker’s new book? I just baked her drei augens last night from Sweet Miniatures, one of those lost treasures no one ever mentions. She’s a gem. Please excuse me while I bop over to Amazon…

  • I love learning how to make new appetizers. I host a lot of parties and that little appetizer book looks fabulous. Not to mention, the French Cheese book — looks a little bit like heaven. Does anyone know of a great cheese book I could find?

  • Thanks for the suggestions and reviews.

    Per your upside down chocolate pear recipe, I believe it’s “on deck” not in the batter’s box. I believe that’s the baseball expression your looking for. However, I guess there’s no batter pun available then.

  • Hooray hooray hooray! I heart cookbooks. Now to start saving, and working that Christmas angle. Thanks for the great list!

  • David – thank you for so many great book suggestions! My holiday wish list is growing. This past year was one for food books – my favorites were yours and the ones by Molly Wizenberg and Kathleen Flinn. I’m going to need more room in the kitchen soon.

  • first time commenting on your blog…which is educational, helpful, fun & pretty terrific!
    i love your book suggestions & yes…baked (the bakery) is as fabulous as their cookbook & certainly worth the trans atlantic trip.

  • Molly: Like all her books, Flo’s newest book is amazing. Hope you enjoy it!

    Jenny: A lot of people like Jim Lahey’s new book, My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, although I’m not a fan of no-knead breads, in general.

    Peter Reinhart’s books are excellent and people are having a lot of success with the last book by Zoe Francis, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, although living in France, there’s so many bakeries, I rarely make bread.

    Ben: yes, I feel the same way. But it’ll be interesting to see what happens in publishing over the next 2-3 year, I think.

    Camille: Thanks for the tip on that recipe. I can’t wait to give it a try myself! (Maybe with the contents of my next CSA box!)

  • thanks for your bread book recommendations — I am looking for a good whole wheat
    bread recipe (very hard to find!) so I’m going to try Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads cookbook….

  • I recommend Ratio, got it when it was released and refer to to constantly. Just a few days ago, I had failed mayonnaise, went immediately to Ruhlman’s book and in under 3 minutes had perfect mayo–without starting over. It’s less about recipes and more about thinking. Excellent.

  • ooooo when i can justify buying presents for myself, after all this holiday shenanigans, I can’t wait to fill up my amazon cart with your recommendations!

  • I have so many of these! Now I guess I’ll just have to ask the Hanukkah elf for the others.

  • hmm…

    do to list for next week :

    [ ] Robbery inside the closest bank’ safe.
    [ ] Find expandable bookshelves.
    [ ] Buy figs. tons of it. damn bookcover.

  • Love! I don’t know if I’m “happy” or “embarrassed” to admit that I own most of these … couldn’t agree with you more about Flo Braker’s book!

  • I want them all, A Platter of Figs particularly.

    A must try, the REBAR cookbook from the Rebar Restaurant in Victoria BC, one of the best, my pages are tattered and worn-their chocolate cake is pretty amazing….

  • Thanks for the list, David! Steamy Kitchen, Rustic Fruit Desserts, and the macaron book have all been added to my Amazon wishlist. And I love the Baked cookbook — their whipped chocolate caramel ganache icing that goes with the Sweet and Salty cake is absolutely AMAZING. One of those “make your guests’ eyes roll back into their heads” kind of recipes.

  • Thank you for the list and all the wonderful recipes on your blog. I only discovered your blog this year and it was like being a kid discovering Halloween. Ran out to get The Sweet Life in Paris and read it like food porn (without the pics). Sorry, gushing fan girl moment.

    Are there any plans to reprint Room for Dessert? I live in Montreal, Canada and Amazon only has listings of used copies. They go for $131 to $273 (Yikes!)!

  • Thanks for the recommendations. I just got Hungry for Paris out of the library, and I love it.

  • Thank you for this list! A few of these already are in my personal stack and are becoming fast favorites, and the half of this list that I don’t have are going on my wish list.

    Ratio has proven itself indispensible.The one book that took me by surprise was Hisako Ogita’s book “I Love Macarons”. I heard somewhere that Pierre Hermes book was being translated and did a search that brought this book to my attention. I have struggled with macs and refused to give up. This book definitely helped me to find my feet.

  • Kindle-schmindle, call me old-fashioned but there’s nothing like having that book near you in the midst of all that’s brewing. . . .part of the reason, I am guessing, David, that you treasure that Chez Panisse book.

    By the way, you are a winner in our books so keep going :)

  • Thanks for the great list, I definitely want to buy at least a couple of these.

    I have David Tanis’s book and have cooked a few individual recipes, but I think it’s the menus that make it such a great book. I’ve cooked two of his menus (a summer one with deconstructed salade nicoise and an autumn one with duck breast) and both turned out really well. His food is interesting but not too fussy, perfect ingredients served on big platters, and the simplicity of the menus protects me from my usual tendency of overdoing it when I’m throwing a dinner party.

  • Thank you. I really enjoy your blog, and for the last two days have been stuck in bed with a sore throat, no voice, reading cookbooks and craving more to fill my head as filling my belly is currently too difficult. I’ll be checking a few of these out; though it is December, I have “The Perfect Scoop” in my bedside pile.

    Cool ice cream sliding down my throat right now – I may need to find the energy to make some.

  • The recipe for the Upside-down Pear Chocolate Cake from Rustic Fruit Desserts was published in the November 24 Oregonian (Oregon newspaper). I hope the provided link works. YUMMY!

    By the way, I LOVE your blog! I discovered it just before our first trip to Paris this past March. Thanks for all the great, helpful advice, and the recipes.

  • Do you have any weight with DK Publishing to get them to reissue the French Cheese Book?

  • Vanessa: The cheese book was updated in 2005-6, so since the cheeses don’t change all that much (in the new edition, they changed the font and added more cheeses), am not sure a reissue is merited.

    What other information are you interested in that isn’t in this edition? I don’t know many people at DK, but can pass it along.

    Margie: Glad you’re enjoying the site and had a good trip to Paris..

    Bernadette: I love Lindsey’s book, especially the first edition. Since mine got “lost” by either the US Postal Service or La Poste (nobody is fessing up…) I was happy to get another copy. Which I won’t let out of my sight.

  • You got some nice cookbooks here! Thanks for sharing! And most of all I am glad that you shared those to us through your blog.

  • My husband will not thank you. I have gone from one cookbook on my Christmas wish-list to 4,5,6, and on it goes….

  • Yes, David, when will Room for Dessert be reprinted, we all want it!

  • Hi Helen & Brian: The publisher of that book pared down their cookbook division and after a decade in print, the book is out-of-print. (Although folks did have 10 years to buy a copy!)

    It may show up in a different form in the future, which I’ll announce on the site when it does.

  • Hi David,
    I heard you have a new book coming out next year — can you tell us about it? Can’t wait to see it!

  • What a beautiful list, I’m going to send it to my friends and family as sort of a pre-Christmas “hint hint”! I always load up on English language cookbooks when I’m back in the States for the holidays, they cost so much less there!

  • I kept reading through this list looking for something that didn’t look interesting so that I could narrow my choices. But damn you, that didn’t happen. I think my new strategy will be to buy books for my husband, mother, father, sister, and brother-in-law, and then borrow them. Maybe I’ll give them to the kids, too. Too transparent?

  • What a fabulous selection! I own a few that you’ve listed, but would love to have each and every one of these stacked up in my kitchen. I’m working through A Platter of Figs right now and it’s wonderful. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this wonderful list! Helpful for Christmas shopping!

  • These are great books! Thank you for this post!! Did you ever think about adding Lorna Sass’ 20th anniversary edition of Cooking Under Pressure (www.pressurecookingwithlornasass.wordpress.com)? With the trend for going green – pressure cooking is becoming so popular- a great way to save time and energy! It’s a really great book- I was gifted the original several years ago- and absolutely love it.

    I am going to pick up I Love Macarons today- that cover alone is so tempting!

    -Jess

  • So fun to see my book cover up there! Thank you for including me, David.

    xo

  • Great book list. “The Sharper the Knife….” is a fantastic read. I picked it up early last year right as they were unloading out of the box. My dream to attend cooking school in Paris has passed, but I lived the moment vicariously in this book. I loved it so much, I read the whole thing in a weekend.

  • Yum! I’d also reccomend checking out The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book. I don’t even have food allergies and the chocolate chip cookie recipe made the best I’ve ever had!

  • Sorry, but I have to share this. I baked “macarons” from I Heart Macarons yesterday with a friend. TOTAL fail. All were flat, no rise, no feet, and hollow. Kind of tasted like Captain Crunch cereal, and equally as crisp. I think the big problem was the technique. She has you “macaronage” 10 to 20 times. I never heard this term before, but she claims it is essential. After you have already folded in the almond mixture to the egg whites, she instructs to spread the mixture along the walls of the bowl, and then flip over the mixture remaining in the bottom. Scrape down the sides and repeat. 10. to. 20. times. All this accomplished in my mind was completely deflating the mixture, thus leading to the flat, crispy, footless cookies. Sadface. There are good tips in her book on the flavoring (like adding powdered dried fruits for the fruit flavored cookies) but the basic recipe and technique were incredibly disappointing. I’m no macaron expert, but that “macaronage” step just seemed way way off.

    Followed that up with another batch, using a different recipe and it was a complete success. A gentle folding of the almond mixture into the eggs was all it took.

  • Hi Alyson: Thanks for the information. I’m still waiting for my copy (overseas mail!) but the book got good press. Although oddly, they took me to task for mentioning this book, which I based partly on their recommendation!

    You might want to try my French chocolate macarons recipe, and I did find Pierre Hermé’s macaron technique to work well, too. Although ketchup macarons might not be to everyone’s taste!

    Molly: Your book was really a great read. I wasn’t planning on sitting down to read it all at once, but that’s what I ended up doing. Thanks for writing such a lovely book.

    Jessica: I don’t have a pressure cooker, but know they’re popular here in Europe because they save time & energy. I’m space-challenged so don’t have room for one (I’d have to get rid of something, and as much as I love dried beans, there’s no way I’m getting rid of my stand mixer or espresso machine…), but thanks for the tip off.

    Margaret: Yes, I have a book coming out in April, called Ready for Dessert, which is a collection of my all-time favorite recipes. I will likely feature some recipes from it on the site as it gets closer to the publication date.

  • all the books are on your list are wonderful. my favourite is Hungry for Paris; as someone who has been going to Paris every summer since childhood, I still have a lot to learn about the food. my next purchase shall be Kathleen Flinn’s book.

  • Ahhhh ~ Just when I said I wouldn’t buy anymore cookbooks, I come across this! Fantastic review on all the cookbooks. The only problem now is I want them ALL! :D

    I am definitely saving this page or maybe just printing it out for a Christmas list ;)

  • I had to chime in with another tale of disappointment from “I Love Macarons.” Alyson, my experience was exactly like yours. This was my attempt at making macarons at home. I followed the recipe precisely but my result was flat, hollow, and tasteless. Using the remaining batter, I fooled around and eventually managed half-decent ones with feet and a great gloss (albeit flat, probably from the ‘macaronnage’). The additional steps included giving the pan a sharp rap on the counter after the batter was piped onto a Silpat, baking at 200F for 7 minutes, removing the pan while upping the oven temp to 325, then baking for another 7-10 minutes with a rotation halfway through. They weren’t worth the effort of whipping up the buttercream from the book, so I sandwiched the salvageable ones with some Nutella and called it a day. As Alyson said, the book does have good ideas for flavorings and recipe combinations. Yet the overall technique didn’t work at all for me. I’m looking forward to trying again with the French Macaron post from this site as my guide. David, will you post and let us know how your experience with that book turns out?

  • Julie: If the book ever arrives, yes, I hopefully will be able to try a recipe and if I do, I’ll do a post on it.I don’t usually write about a book I don’t have, but thought that since so many people were interested in trying to make macarons, this seemed like an interesting book. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Hi David, I got Pure Desserts and made the lemon tuiles and the lemon bars today. They worked out beautifully. I also have looked through the Rustic Dessert book from the library. I was very impressed.
    Thanks for the recommendations

    Cindy

  • You have done a heck of a job.I will bought some of these.

  • David I wondered if you ever got the I Love Macarons book?

  • Cindy: Yes, I just got a copy a few days ago. It’s a slender book, but has a lot of charm and variations on a basic recipe. The publisher ran out of copies, but now that I have one, I hope to do a recipe and write-up for the site in the future.