Formerly part of the bibliography, the recommended reading list has now grown so long as to require its own page! Frankly, it’s probably more useful than the bibliography, as it contains extremely brief, albeit (hopefully) helpful reviews of the various books, magazines, and websites I’ve cited in recipes.
For a specific listing of recipes that I’ve cited in my adapted versions, please head over to the bibliography.
There is also a blogroll of sites I like to read to the right, located on the sidebar. I generally keep it pretty up-to-date.
Note: the book links are not affiliate links, as I do not participate in any such programs. Additionally, all these books were purchased by me or given to me by generous friends and relatives, none of whom work for anything to do with books/publishing/selling books. I used to have one book on here that I borrowed from the library but then I bought a copy of it anyway, so I guess I have now completed the disclaimer portion of this page’s header. On y va…
Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
- Everything you need to know about canning, from selecting the canning method to delicious recipes for your produce. Given that it is fairly inexpensive and that it provides excellent food safety advice, this is a must-have for anyone interested in canning.
Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson
- An exceptionally comprehensive book from the founder and head patissière of the renowned Flour Bakery and Café in Boston. Inside are recipes for all sorts of treats, from simple cookies to fancy éclairs to homemade-remakes of favorite boxed treats. Chang is a classically-trained pastry chef, and her advice section reflects that while also being exceedingly helpful. My only quibble is that there aren’t enough photos of the food, especially since there are so many pages only 1/4-filled with text.
Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver
- Lots of really inventive salads and pastas, and everything is accessible for home cooks. However, Oliver doesn’t sacrifice flavor for speed, and that makes this book a great one for flipping through for weeknight inspiration. For those looking new to breadmaking, the chapter on bread is particularly useful, featuring one base recipe that can be transformed into different breads, both savory and sweet, including zucchini bread and focaccia.
The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila
- A cookbook that anyone serious about building up a larder should own, though what makes this book so charming is that its tone is lighthearted and its recipes fresh yet classic. The book is organized by roughly where things would be found in a typical grocery store, so that one could slowly replace the purchased equivalent with the homemade product. Alternatively, dip in and out as I do, trying things as inspiration and need dictate. And speaking of dictate, the author never does this, emphasizing that what works for some people some of the time may sometimes be usurped by other demands on one’s time, and that is definitely ok! For those interested in phasing out pre-packaged foods, this book is indispensable, supplying recipes for crackers, mixed nuts, toaster pastries, granola bars, and more.
Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
- The cookbook that started my cookbook collecting, and all right, my obsession with Jamie Oliver’s recipes. One of the best books out there for cooking seasonally, plus it includes fantastic photography, useful gardening and canning/preserving tips, and of course, recipes you’ll want to make repeatedly. The accompanying television series, also called Jamie at Home, is highly recommended too.
Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver
- Great Italian food from my favorite chef/cookbook writer. I have permanently borrowed the book from a friend. The food photography is stunning, as usual, and directions are written both to be clear and entertaining. Recipes range from simple salads to fancier dishes that a more advanced home cook can pull off. Definitely worth the space on the cookbook shelf. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dreaming of moving to Italy!
Molto Italiano by Mario Batali
- A classic for any kitchen, Mario Batali’s reputation as an expert on Italian cuisine is cemented with this book. It contains lots of detailed information ensuring reliable, delicious results every time. Plus, the little tidbits Batali shares in the recipe headers are a fascinating peek into the history of Italian cuisine. I particularly like the wide variety of vegetable and pasta dishes.
Momofuku by David Change and Peter Meehan
- I enjoy this book first and foremost for the cheerful attitude of adaptation that Chang and his cooking represent, but also because a lot of the flavors are reminiscent of food my family and I have made and enjoyed for ages. A definite classic not only for its recipes but also for capturing a certain time, place, and mood in modern American cooking. (Note that there is some use of profanity, which doesn’t bother me, but could be a dealbreaker for some.)
Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi with Courtney McBroom
- This is a baking book for people who are serious about sugar. It is also excellent for those who appreciate reinvented classic flavors that are fun yet not excessively over-wrought nor twee. A smattering of pastry and cooking science rounds out a wide palette of desserts, making this both a good reference and an enjoyable read. The (in)famous crack pie and compost cookies are here, and they taste exactly as they do at the bakery.
The New English Table by Rose Prince
- A fantastic exploration of traditional English ingredients, with fascinating information about various heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits. The recipes are creative and allow for adaptation and tweaking. A particularly nice theme throughout the book is taking one meal and turning it into another later on, minimizing waste and maximizing flavor, convenience, money, and time. The book also makes an excellent case for eating seasonally and locally so as to both increase variety in one’s diet and to reduce impact on the environment.
Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
- Fantastically easy to bake and cook from, and dare I say it, even more enjoyable to read. A definite must-have for any busy family kitchen, with recipes that can be adapted from one meal to the next, and savored during both casual dinners and more expansive get-togethers. One of my favorite Nigella Lawson books, it offers a wide range of dishes including one-pot meals, food for celebration, and food for pleasing oneself.
The Northfield Cookbook by The Northfield School Alumnae Association
- Well, this book might be hard to find if you are not a Northfield or NMH alum (or related to one, in my case), but this cookbook is filled with large-batch recipes suitable for those cooking for hordes of hungry students. It also has recipes for foods dating back over a hundred years, so it is useful from a historical perspective as well as a nostalgic one.
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
- In their first cookbook together, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi share many of the recipes that make their London Ottolenghi restaurant chain so popular: bright, fresh Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors permeate the varied dishes, though they aren’t restricted to any particular region of the world, showing influences as far apart as California and Asia and as nearby as London itself. The recipes feature lovely, vibrant salads, hearty meat dishes, and more, alongside indulgent desserts including the cloudlike meringues that helped make them famous. Clear instructions and excellent photography make this book both instructive and appealing.
Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard (published in the UK originally as Tender: Volume II, A Cook’s Guide to the Fruit Garden) by Nigel Slater
- Even if one never intended to cook a single thing from this book, it is worth having a copy simply to savor the text and lavish in the luxurious photographs. An excellent introduction to the varied fruits that constitute an English garden, it is useful as both reference for gardeners and cooks, and for inspiration as well. If you enjoy this book, I also highly recommend the companion volume, Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (originally published as Tender: Volume I, A Cook and His Vegetable Patch in the UK).
River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
- An essential cookbook filled with both inspiration and practical advice, with a focus on using sustainably-grown and -raised food. The recipes are creative yet not outlandish, and they’re not intimidating thanks to the clear instructions and photographs. Great for finding that last-minute idea for dinner or for planning out a week’s worth of meals in advance, thanks to the practical and realistic recommendations by the author.
The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen with Danielle Centoni
- A really charming, fun book that combines traditional treats with new twists. Many recipes are influenced by Kir Jensen’s Swiss heritage, though a fair number are modern, veering into trendy, takes on American classics. However, every recipe is underpinned by classical baking techniques that are clearly explained, so this isn’t a flash-in-the-pan recipe collection; they’re baked goods we’ll still be making and enjoying for years.
Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
- Filled with hearty vegetable dishes; light, gorgeous salads; and earthy desserts, this natural foods cookbook serves as an indispensable resource for cooking seasonally, serving inspiration and recipes for simple dinners for one all the way through to breezy, elegant suppers for a dinner party. It’s natural and vegetarian cooking without the intimidation factor, combining delightful new flavors in an approachable, welcoming way. (If you enjoy the cookbook, you may also be interested in checking out Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 cookbooks).
For this section, the date indicates the last time I cited this source, though not necessarily the last time I read it, which admittedly was probably the issue that’s currently on the shelf at your local newsstand…
Bon Appétit, September 2012
- Probably the trendiest food magazine out there, at least regarding American food fashions. I do wish the international coverage could be expanded beyond a few big names. A lot of the same (American) chefs are featured repeatedly, which leads me to suspect that the magazine is either celeb chef-obsessed, or there are many publicists involved. However, generally the recipes do sound great and they are never boring.
Good Food, March 2011
- Many excellent recipes that use a lot of seasonal ingredients, and it also promotes British dishes. Each issue I’ve seen includes many vegetarian/vegan options, and often some gluten-free ones too. As it is a UK magazine, it does require some familiarity with UK ingredient and cooking terminology, as well as a scale and/or a way to convert metric measurements to their US equivalents.
Jamie, June 2010
- My new favorite cooking magazine. I love the recipes, the photography, even the paper it’s printed on. Includes some recipes extracted from Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks, including some recipes not yet published in the United States, as the latest book has yet to be published here. As it is a UK magazine, it does require some familiarity with UK ingredient and cooking terminology, as well as a scale and/or a way to convert metric measurements to their US equivalents (there is a brief conversion table in the back of the magazine).
Martha Stewart Living, March 2011
- A reliable source of interesting cooking tips and recipes, of which a wide range of techniques and cuisine styles are represented, with a focus on classic, easy entertaining featuring seasonal, fresh vegetables and herbs. (I have heard that others have had some problems in the past with some of the recipes in the magazine and in other related media, but so far I have been successful with every recipe I’ve tried.)
Real Simple, June 2010
- Always a good choice for quick recipes that taste great but don’t require endless amounts of groceries nor exotic ingredients, and the shortcuts really are time-saving without sacrificing taste. Each recipe has complete nutritional information.
Red, March 2012
- A definite splurge for those of us not in the UK, I enjoy every section of this magazine. Yes, it’s a women’s magazine, but I don’t feel talked-down-to and the recipes are really, really good, featuring in-season produce at its best. Also, the photography and writing is delectable.
Saveur, May 2011
- A richly researched magazine that features intriguing recipes and rare ingredients, as well as the history, culture, and peoples who cook and eat them. The magazine is definitely geared more to advanced cooks, though skill level varies depending on the magazine’s theme(s) and/or stories in each issue. The photography is excellent and the essays are always well-written.
The Simple Things, September 2012
- The Simple Things is a brand-new lifestyle magazine from the UK. It has a lot of charming articles about gardening, cooking, and even a bit of crafts. It’s gorgeously designed and the writing is exceptionally well-done, with articles with shopkeepers, crafters, collectors, etc. The recipes are (obviously) simple, featuring ingredient-driven combinations that are elegant and tasty.
Vegetarian Times, September 2009
- A good resource for vegetarians and those who enjoy eating their vegetables. The vegetarian adaptations of international dishes are particularly delicious. Most recipes are suited to the beginner to intermediate home cook.
Websites and blogs
Cats and Casseroles at http://catsandcasseroles.blogspot.com/
- Beautiful photographs, classic American recipes that are easy to make and people-pleasing, and a seriously adorable cat. What’s not to like? Also, it’s published somewhat locally, on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line: Pennsylvania!
National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html
- For those interested in enjoying home-canned foods but not interested in catching or spreading foodborne illness, the National Center for Home Food Preservation is the essential, indispensable guide to safely preparing foods for long-term storage. There are free, tested recipes too, in addition to charts for altitude, acid levels, and so forth.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks! at http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/
- Quick and easy Southern-style food, perfect for beginners as it has step-by-step photographs.
Smitten Kitchen at http://smittenkitchen.com/
- Diverse selection of recipes from many sources, with great advice for tweaking problems that crop up. The photography is stunning and the writing style is captivating. Comment sections are also particularly good.