I love cookbooks. As a self-proclaimed foodie and food blogger, I read cookbooks on a regular basis. I take them out of the library, borrow them from friends, and buy them more than any other type of book.
What makes a good cookbook?
There are a few things that all of my favourite cookbooks have in common:
- Well written: All of the recipes in a good cookbook have been tested, so they always work out. As a food blogger, I must point out that if you don’t follow the recipe, then you can’t blame the recipe writer for a failure. However, if you follow a good recipe, then it should always work out.
- Interesting and delicious recipes: The point of a cookbook is to encourage people to try new recipes. It’s fun and exciting to try authentic and traditional recipes or new recipes that involve an interesting combination of ingredients.
- Feed my people: We eat a vegetable-focused, flexitarian diet. I love cookbooks that are designed to feed us.
- Not too simple or too complex: I’m at a point in my cooking life that I no longer need to follow a recipe to make a grilled cheese or scrambled eggs. However, I also don’t have time to spend hours making cannelloni or a souffle. A good cookbook has recipes that are neither too simple nor too complex.
My favourite cookbooks
Here’s a list of my current favourite cookbooks. I will admit that the list has changed over time, based on our diet and my cooking skills. I went from being a vegetarian who ate instant noodles to a flexitarian with a more wholesome diet.
The Joy of Cooking
My copy of The Joy is from 2006, but I didn’t start using it until after Max was born. It’s probably pretty obvious from the way this book is taped together, that I use it all the time. I love the joy of cooking because it contains basic recipes for EVERYTHING from a simple stir fry to Hollandaise sauce. It’s like the original internet, except that the recipes are always perfect.
I only have two of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks: Plenty and Jerusalem. And I love both of them. The photos are beautiful. The recipes are always delicious. The only trick is that I sometimes need to substitute or skip some of the more unusual ingredients.
–I will admit that we did buy za’atar because it appeared in a number of recipes. And I might also breakdown and buy pomegranate molasses at some point soon.–
Vegetarian Entertaining With Friends
Brad bought me Simon Hope’s cookbook way before I knew how to cook. At the time, the recipes seemed impossibly difficult, and I couldn’t get over the fact that they were structured around 3-course meals.
Ultimately, it was this cookbook and the Food Network show Good Eats, that taught me how to cook. I’ve made a few of the dinner party menus, however, I usually just pick and choose from among the recipes.
Doukhobor Fundraising Cookbooks
Brad is a Doukhobor, and his mom still lives in the community. As a result, we own a lot of Doukhobor cookbooks. All of them were self-published as a fundraiser or for a community event. They include recipes from Brad’s Aunties, his second cousins, his elementary school teachers, etc.
While I don’t actually do much cooking from the Doukhobor cookbooks, they are a big part of Brad’s cooking. He makes borshch, pyrahi, vareniki and kvass.
Personally, I love that the cookbooks always include recipes for cooking for 50 people. Community events are always fun, and it’s good to have a few recipes that you can use to serve a whole load of people.
A few more favourite cookbooks
Here are a few more of my favourite cookbooks. They are all specific for a particular type of food, rather than general everyday recipes.
- Mastering Fermentation for some beautiful and inspiring fermented recipes.
- The River Cottage Fish Book is our go-to during salmon season.
- India: A Journey For Food Lovers is all about Indian street food.
- Vegetarian Stir-Fries has everything from pad Thai to Vietnamese-style fried tofu.
- Mamushka has gorgeous Eastern European recipes.