As my family and friends realize how much I love food and live to cook wonderful, stomach-warming and eye-rolling dishes, I get more and more cookbooks as gifts. And I am not complaining one bit, especially since my family and friends are extremely thoughtful gift givers! Plus, I love perusing the cooking section of Barnes & Noble and checking out used bookstores and yard sales for a great cheap find. Combine my thrifty searching with Matt’s relatively impressive collection, and we’re on the verge of a library. In fact, we’re considering removing a cabinet door to create a bookshelf in our kitchen to accommodate everything, especially as our collection grows.
So, as I hope you can see, I love nothing more than a great cookbook. I can spend hours on the couch with a glass of wine, a good movie or TV show and an incredible cookbook. I’m always open to good recommendations, so I thought it only fair to give you mine! Much in the same way as my “Dining Out” page, I’ve also included a brief testament to accompany each recommendation, even on some of the ones I don’t particularly care for. However, I hope you find something you like here!
***Please note that this page is currently under construction***
61 Quick and Healthy Recipes
This is the ultimate veggie bachelor book, as evidenced by Matt owning it before we moved in together.
The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Better Homes and Gardens
This book was a gift from a good friend of my family’s, given to me when I moved out on my own after my sophomore year in college.
Matt’s mom picked this up for us when we went to Ocracoke one year and had some of the most amazing seafood! This is not the most vegetarian-friendly cookbook, but for sneaky pescatarians like me, it’s great. Inside, you’ll find tons of recipes served at the Cafe Atlantic, one of the most popular restaurants on the island. I am of the opinion that these are slightly simplified from what occurs in the kitchen of the cafe proper, which might actually be a good thing! One of my favorite dishes, the parmesan crusted flounder, could be ready for you and your family in a matter of minutes. Absolutely delicious. I’m working my way through it attempting to complicate the recipes and dial up the flavors!
Chez Panisse Cooking
Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters
In reading reviews on Amazon before writing this, I was surprised to find people criticizing the editing and layout of the book. I personally love it. In my post where I give the recipe for Alice Waters’ carrot soup, I discussed how much I love how this book is written. It was one of the first cookbooks to really ignite my desire to learn how to cook. Some of the recipes can be a bit time consuming, where you’ll find yourself asked to make a double consomme or faced with prep work that may keep you in the kitchen for hours. However, they’re worth it. Plus, I find it incredibly refreshing to read about chefs’ experiences with food and discovering flavors. Included are menus for all sorts of events and some basic kitchen techniques, like making a vinegar barrel.
The Compassionate Cook: Or, “Please Don’t Eat the Animals!”
The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
This book is the dictionary of my kitchen. Though it has thousands of recipes, I use it as reference material first and foremost. Whenever I begin a new recipe, I flip through this first for ingredients I’m not familiar with or to see if I can find an easier and less time-consuming technique. I would recommend it to anyone trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet. It’s set up in an icnredibly intuitive way, with plenty of recipes and just as many variations. It’s also perfectly set up for cross referencing. When I decided to make homemade pasta for the first time, I used How to Cook Everything Veggie. Included with the directions is a great list of several pasta sauces I could use. Great for early pseudotarians/veggies/vegans, and a must have for any devotee.
The Joy of Cooking
Irma S. Rombauer
The Kind Diet
This is my favorite vegan-emphasized book. When I stumped for something to eat that’s vegan, refreshing and great after, say, a long weekend of bad eating (it happens!), this is where I turn. What sets this cookbook apart from most of our others that I’ve listed here is that this one spends a great deal of time discussing why you should avoid certain foods (eggs, dairy, meat to name a few). While I agree with many concepts she offers up … some I don’t. I think it’s also a great start to going vegetarian or vegan and outlines a great plan for transition. This is something I’m not always good at explaining, since my transition happened very naturally, to the point where I almost didn’t notice! This is a great read and a very inspiring book. If you’re thinking of going vegan, I would definitely encourage you to look at it. As a cookbook, it lacks a bit of practicality, especially when it comes to ingredients – many are very hard to find unfortunately. (Also … I take the celebrity endorsement/authorship with a grain of salt.)
The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen
I am madly in love with this book. When I discovered that I know longer needed to follow a recipe to the tee to make simpler recipes, I knew I needed to find a cookbook that challenged me to cook extraordinarily. This book is it. Sometimes it can be very involved, with long processes and ingredient lists, but mainly it’s just full of amazing dishes. This is the cookbook I turn to when I want to make something impressive, when family comes over or when I want to wow that manfriend of mine. It also speaks to seasonal needs and appropriations, and has some interesting recipes I never would have considered until I opened this up. For example – part of the soup section describes seasonal and restorative tonics. It’s a must-research, if not must-have.
Panini, Bruschetta, Crostini: Sandwiches, Italian Style
Viana La Place
I don’t always use this book to follow recipes exactly, but I love how this inspires me to make some amazing bread-based recipes that I may not have approached otherwise. It also has given me a good appreciation for unusual flavor pairings, and an inspiration to be just a bit bold with my choices. However, I was surprised to find that not many of the sandwiches in the book were intended to be heated or grilled, though you can certainly throw each one on a press if you’d like. Consider another book if you’re looking for a plethora of grilled options, though drop by a bookstore and leave through this as well.
Rare Collection: Superb Recipes by the Junior League of Galveston County
I’m sorry, Junior League of Galveston County, but I’ve been trying to give this cookbook BACK to my mom for years. It’s a great resource for, say, busy parents or if you’re teaching someone the very basics of cooking. Sure, maybe I’m being a bit too critical for a local, ladies-club sponsored book, but I’ve got to be honest here. This is the cookbook I use the least, mostly because so many of the recipes call for processed, pre-prepared food. One recipe even calls for Cheese Wiz (what???) and still others require that once-obligatory can of cream of mushroom soup that was my mother’s cooking standby. So, like I said – these recipes are good if you’re in a hurry to feed some yelling children or if someone you know has just moved into their first apartment and graduated from ramen … otherwise, eh?
The Vegetarian Kitchen
Vegetarian: The Best-Ever Recipe Collection
When I wrote my recipe for Drunk Onions and Peas, I called this book out for a presumptuous title. Well, I guess it’s appropriate for the writer of a cooking blog to eat her words. I love this book. I use it just as often (if not more so) than The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. One of my absolutely favorite parts of this particular cookbook are the giant, full-color photos of each dish. It has a wonderful range of recipes too, from appetizers, to light lunches and main courses to salads and then heavier entree fare. I also like this because the recipes are a bit more simple than, say Chez Panisse Cooking or Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, making it much easier to use for quick weeknight dinners.
The Ultimate Vegetarian Cookbook
Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
Lucy Moll and Vegetarian Times
The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes
Connie Green with Sarah Scott
This was a gift from my father this past Christmas