One of the most common reasons for ordering takeout or not cooking meals at home is feeling tired from regular meal rotations. This is why having plenty of good cookbooks is an absolute must. Sure, food blogs and online recipe creators are great, but there’s no such thing as having a cup of coffee (or wine) and opening a beautiful cookbook. I like to keep a pad of paper on hand for taking notes and marking recipes I intend to make. In fact, most of my cookbooks have half the pages marked for revisit.
Few experiences can top a great meal, and cookbooks play a leading role in making that happen. Whether you follow them word for word, take them as suggestions, or just read them for inspiration, everyone has a favorite (or ten). Here are our top five picks for all the good meals and drinks:
- Better overall: Julia Child anything. I have several of her cookbooks, and as she is one of the OG of American cookbooks writers, she should top my list. Mastering the art of French cooking He is very creative, there is a movie based on his creation. Nothing sharpens one’s patience like trying beef bourguignon (I’ve still already seared all the cuts of beef and set them aside before continuing, as the recipe dictates) and no book teaches quantities and technique either. Her recipes are complex and simple at the same time, a difficult balance for the cookbook author.
- Best for food sensitivities and healthy versions of convenience foods: Daniel Walker Eat what you love. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, gluten intolerance, or food sensitivity of any kind, this book is absolutely essential for your kitchen. Her key lime pie recipe is a favorite in my house and is loved by family members who don’t subscribe to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle.
- Best for drinks: French drink by David Leibovitz. Whether you’re looking for good cocktail recipes or something non-alcoholic to serve up, this book has options. From traditional French chocolate and coffee recipes, to delicious lemonade, to cocktail classics like the French 75, there is something for everyone. My favorite recipe in the book (so far) is Giny Germain. This gin-based cocktail contains lime, cucumber, elderberry, and egg whites to give it a foamy texture when shaken.
- Best Restaurant Cookbook: Baltazar cookbook Written by Keith McNally, Reed Nasr, and Lee Hanson. This book, featuring recipes from the famous French restaurant in New York City, is not intended for a casual fast food. This book will walk you through exactly how to prepare restaurant-quality meals, and it won’t pull any stress on ingredients. Want to make a steak? You must have the best meat. Shepherd’s pie? You just need some molar duck legs. This book will take you on a few trips to Central Market before you get it right, but it’s worth every minute (and dollar). I love the recipe for steak frites (made with the recipe for french fries in the book) for a fancy meal at home. You will learn the true value of butter while making this dish.
- Best read for fun food and recipes: The New York Times Essential Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New CenturyWritten by Amanda Lesser. This book is a large, curated collection of the New York Times recipe archives dating back 150 years. If you’re looking for a recipe for just about any type of food, you’ll likely find one in this book. You’ve got James Beard’s Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and other chef-led highlights, but it also includes reader-provided recipes like “Eccles cake (1877)”, presented by “Polly.” The author uses history and impulse to dive into the drastic changes the American culinary scene has undergone through the generations who have lived here. Timelines for various milestones such as the introduction of boxed cake mix add context and variety. Oh, and the recipes are wonderful. One of the recipes in this book made my regular rotation during the week – simple paella. It’s an easy, filling, delicious, one-pan meal that’s genius in its simplicity while packing such complex flavors.
What are your favorite cookbooks? Tag us on Instagram at ModernHippieKitchen and FWBusinessPress!
About the cook
Once, shortly after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Sarah McClellan Brandt paid her rent by working as a reporter for Fort Worth Business Press. Today she is a social media specialist for the North Texas Hospital System, and in her spare time she shares recipes and cooking tips with loyal followers of the blog Modern Hippie Kitchen.