Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Books for Cooks 2012

You know the drill, if you want your gift to arrive by December 24th, today is the last day to order with free Super Saver Shipping on Amazon. Of course, you could just go to a bookstore instead! 

Every year there is a whole new batch of cookie books. Dozens I dare say. Here are a few worth your while. The Daily Cookie is written by a blogger I consider a friend, Anna Ginsburg. She is a baking whiz! Her blog is Cookie Madness and she is a past winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Anna's recipes are very well-tested and never terribly complicated. Bar cookies, drop cookies, sandwich cookies and brownies are all included. Most recipes have photos and for each cookie and each day of the year there is a holiday or special event you can learn about. 

Simply Sensational Cookies is another major cookie compendium. What I like about this book is that each recipe is rated--from easy to complicated so you know what to expect. The lovely photos are from White on Rice Couple bloggers, Diane Cru and Todd Porter. 

Tate's Bake Shop: Baking for Friends is a more general baking book, but I include it because I think many will be familiar with the cookies from Tate's Bake Shop. The recipes in this book are very clear and easy to follow. 

Cookies for Grown-Ups is a truly unique book, with lots of savory cookies, sophisticated flavors (like pink grapefruit and poppyseed or green apple, horseradish and ginger) and boozy ones like lime and tequila or Cookie Mary with all the flavors of a bloody mary! Ok, it's a little wacky, but fun. 

For those who choose savory over sweet, a nice option is Salty Snacks, which features recipes for chips, crackers, pretzels, dips, crostini, and all kind of goodies that go with drinks. It's a great book for those who like to throw cocktail parties. 

Another cool book inspired by a farmer's market is In Season, by food editors from New York magazine. This is not a regional book and should be useful for just about anyone in the country (ok maybe not Alaska or Hawaii!) The recipes come from different restaurant chefs and I like that recipes are from all corners of the globe, some traditional and many are modern. I have bookmarked Michael Anthony's Green Garlic Sauce, Cauliflower Tabbouleh and Sake-Poached Cherries. I just wish the book wasn't organized by season since in many places seasons overlap. 

Most regional and farmer's market books disappoint me. But two really impressed me this year. My favorite was Pike Place Market Recipes. Seattle local Jess Thomson has gathered and developed recipes using the abundance of that legendary market. But you don't have to live in Seattle to make recipes like Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Stumptown Barbecue Sauce, Carrot Soup with Cumin and Honey, Hot Sweet Mango Pickles or Marche's Mussels with Pernod Cream. I particularly like the 10 Ways tips that feature suggestions for how to use apples or bread or charcuterie. The photos of locals vendors and dishes add to the pleasure of this smaller format volume. 

A lot of pretty books this year didn't have much substance when I digger deep into them, and a few failed when I tried some recipes. But Southern Comfort really impressed me. Recipes like Oyster Swiss Chard Grain with Country Bacon, Grilled Calamari stuffed with Cornbread and Collards and Potato Gnocchi with Mustard Green Pesto all feel new and exciting yet familiar. I think this book went largely under the radar for most people but it's a good one. 

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.