I have a lot of cookbooks. I mean A LOT. I love them all for different reasons – some are just inspirational, some have great writing, some I don’t really cook from any more but am a bit sentimental about and can’t seem to get rid of them (hello Moosewood!) and there are some that I look at almost everyday – whether it’s to plan meals, or for that last minute panic about what we’ll have for dinner. Today, I want to talk about three of my favourites from that last category:
Heidi Swanson – super natural everyday and super natural cooking. I got to know Heidi Swanson’s cooking through her wonderful blog 101 Cookbooks (someone who loves cookbooks as much as I do!). The recipes are whole foods based, nutritious and vegetarian; and also delicious, indulgent and deeply satisfying. Contrary to what some people think, these things are not mutually exclusive! I know a number of these recipes by heart, and one will make an appearance on our table at least once a week. We love the Weeknight Curry, the Cauliflower Soup and the Sprouted Garbanzo (aka Chickpea) Burgers, but looking through the books again to write this post, I see that I’ve only scratched the surface and there are so many more recipes I want to try. The photography is beautiful, and there is a photo for every recipe. You may find similar recipes on the blog, but it’s definitely worth buying the cookbooks.
Deb Perelman – the smitten kitchen cookbook. I also got to know Deb’s cooking through her great blog Smitten Kitchen but her cookbook is a fairly recent acquisition. This is a cookbook that not only has wonderful recipes and photography, but each recipe has an introduction filled with irresistable descriptions of the food in Deb’s funny and warm prose. Many of the recipes I love from the blog are included in the book – Shaved Asparagus Pizza, Mushroom Bourguinon and Brocoli Slaw, to name a few – but there are so many more I want to try. I’ve got a box of large gluten-free pasta shells just waiting to be turned into the (Artichoke) Heart Stuffed Sheels with Lemon Ricotta Bechamel. We are vegetarian around here, and although this book is not exclusively vegetarian, there is a whole chapter devoted to vegetarian mains as well as one for salads, and many of the pastas and breakfast dishes are also meat-free.
Yotam Ottolenghi – Plenty. Yotam Ottolenghi is the co-owner/chef of London’s Ottolenghi Restaurant. Well, looking at their website for the first time in ages, I’ve actually realized that it’s not just a restaurant, but an empire of four restaurants, books and many online shopping opportunities. He also wrote the (sadly now defunct) New Vegetarian column for The Guardian. Plenty is a book that I might not use every single day, but the middle eastern inspired recipes are the kind of food I want to eat every single day. The recipes are divided up by vegetable family, and run the gamut of salads, soups and curries that you can whip up quickly to recipes that will impress your dinner party guests. Ottolenghi – The Cookbook is also great, I especially love the baking section of that one, but I’ve also heard great things about the meat recipes from carnivores.
The only upside to being sick last week and missing Friday’s market is that I finally got to spend some time with a book I picked up recently. The Edible Selby is an inspiring tour through kitchens and restaurants around the world by Todd Selby, known for his interiors blog, The Selby.
The thing I really like about this book is that the photos are not the polished ones that you might find in an interiors magazine – the kitchens and spaces featured are shown in all their cluttered, imperfect glory. Each cook is also asked to do a handwritten and illustrated recipe, which adds a lot of character, and gives an insight into their process and inspirations. And, did I mention the book also includes fridge magnets? Can’t beat that!