My list of trusted recipe sources is short, and I am perfectly fine with this arrangement. Looking to a small handful of trusted kitchen friends is exactly my speed when it comes to cooking. If I am going to go to the trouble to buy groceries, prep ingredients, and cook food, then I absolutely want to make sure the recipe comes from a source who has a track record of creating thoughtfully written recipes that exceed my expectations and produce dependable results.
However, I also know that there is a world full of creators out there, coming up with quality recipes that can be trusted. From time to time I begin to venture out and see what new sources might be a good fit for me. It takes time to make new friends, but it is worth it.
Today I want to share with you a few new cookbook friends I have made recently. I am enjoying them quite a lot, each for different reasons. I am getting to know them better, and I am still learning about their style and offerings, but I feel confident we will be friends for the long haul.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Lovingly Revised And Exceedingly Cookable
Edited by Amanda Hesser
At the top of my list of recent kitchen loves is the New York Times. I cannot issue enough high praise for this institution as a source. Top notch, every time. Yes, there is a cookbook you can purchase, and yes, it is enormous and worth reading, and yes, I own a copy. But, hear me say, what you really need to do is subscribe to the NYT cooking website and gain access to their storehouse of thousands of well-written, well-tested, well-commented offerings.
The New York Times has done the work for us, only employing talented recipe developers who know how to write for home cooks and who understand the pedigree of those of us who are willing to shell out a few bucks for access to greatness.
What have I loved lately? Tater Tot Casserole. One-Pan Pasta with Harissa Bolognese. Dumpling Noodle Soup. Breakfast Salad. Poppy Seed Tea Cake. Cinnamon Toast Popcorn. Cacio e Pepe Cheese Puffs. Slow-Cooker Hot-Honey Chicken Sandwiches. Berry Jam Fried Chicken. Is your mouth watering???
This is the food I want to eat, and this is the food that I am cooking on non-stop lately. Every recipe is a hit, and I fall more in love with NYT as a recipe source every week. I have one friend who also subscribes to the site, and I love texting her my latest great discovery. She does the same, and I’m telling you, the NYT is the hidden gem of the online recipe world.
Not only does your subscription give you access to a trove of resources, but you also get you own digital recipe box where you can save your recipes, which is so helpful when it’s time to grocery shop or meal plan. I just pull up my recipe box and find what I need.
They also send weekly emails that always inspire me to want to cook and often times bring to my attention a recipe or two I never would have noticed. If I sound a little bit like a fanatic, I will take that as a compliment. Come join me on the NYT bandwagon!!!
Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes
Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food For Having People Over
both by Alison Roman
Let’s talk about Alison Roman. I love her, but in the beginning, I was not a fan. Hear me out. I have never been more delighted to be wrong, and I’ve done a full about-face. I’m not proud of my actions, and it had everything to do with me (I’m prone to quick, baseless judgements when I operate out of fear). But, thankfully, I have seen the error of my ways regarding Alison (and my trigger-happy judgements), and now, she doesn’t know it, but we are kitchen BFFs. Silly, but true. Her ways are different than mine, but we are indeed cut from the same cloth, with a heart to have people over and serve them delicious food, and she does both quite well.
Her cookbooks are written in the voice of a friend who pulls no punches, holds nothing back, and will tell it to you straight. As a reader, I feel respected by her work. As a home cook, I feel seen by her specific instructions on what matters and what truly doesn’t. As a creative, I feel inspired by her commitment to excellence coupled with authenticity.
She is the laid-back yin to my occasionally-overthinking-things yang, plus she is a fellow red-nail-polish-lover. I want to cheer and champion her for all of these reasons, and I want you to love her too.
Maman: The Cookbook
All-day Recipes To Warm Your Heart From The Beloved Bakery and Cafe
by Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormante with Lauren Selkled
This entry is purely emotional, which I recognize is not a great foundation on which to build recipe trust, but I don’t care. Maman: The Cookbook is like the person you bump into at a party and within thirty seconds know you are kindred spirits, destined to enjoy each other’s company for years to come. I can’t guarantee you will feel the same, but let me try to explain what I love about Maman: The Cookbook.
For me, it is the nod to all things French (maman is French for mother), the blue and white plates, the casual refinement, and the story of the bakery cafe behind the recipes that draws me in and invites me to take a closer look. It is an achingly beautiful book, styled with such easy elegance I now want to redecorate my store to look exactly like it. I want my home to reflect the welcoming ethos the authors have created. I want my table to look as inviting as theirs. I want it all, page after page after page.
Maybe I will get around to baking or cooking from these pages, but even if I don’t, this cookbook reminds me that being inspired creatively is just as important as knowing how much flour and sugar to add to achieve the perfect cake. I will be gifting this book to people I love, perhaps along with a loaf of their Pistachio Loaf Cake.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Mastering The Art Of Good Cooking
by Samin Nosrat
Lastly, and on the complete opposite end of the emotional spectrum is Salt Fat Acid Heat. This book so creatively approaches instruction, breaking difficult concepts into easily absorbed morsels, I am blown away. Salt Fat Acid Heat will change the way you cook, shifting how you think about flavor and equipping you with confidence to know the factors that will deliver amazing results time over time. It doesn’t just tell you how to cook a delicious recipe, it tells you why it is delicious, encouraging you to apply these truths elsewhere.
Samin is a gem, the kind of person with whom I want to spend an afternoon. Her infectious laugh and generous spirit have won me over. In her Netflix mini-series she shared and illuminated the ideas behind Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat. In other interviews, most notably with Brene Brown, she is candid and transparent about her life and let us see a bit of why cooking means so much to her. Hers is a beautiful story that has blossomed into a gift we all get to enjoy. She is a very special artist, and her cookbook reflects the heart of someone who understands good food and wants to share that knowledge with the world.
These are my five most recent favorite cookbooks that I am enjoying. Have you tried any of them? I would love to hear your favorites too!