Saturday, December 18, 2010

Top Cookbooks 2010: Sweets & Special Interests

When it comes to cookbooks, there is one for just about everyone. There are also certain categories like baking and pastry where it is impossible to pick just one.

Baking is not easy, but some cookbook authors explain it effortlessly. At first I was going to call this section "bakers" but it's really more than that. These are books for anyone who appreciates sweets. Even non-bakers will find something to love.

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-In-Your-Mouth CookiesChewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies
Alice Medrich is a goddess of baking and chocolate. She is like a perfectionist, scientist and genius pastry chef all rolled into one. Her recipes are simply marvels. In this book Medrich works with different flours, and often scales back the sugar and fat so flavors really shine.

Bookmarked recipes: Wheat-free toffee bars, Breakfast biscotti, Pebbly beach fruit squares

Why? Because these are not just your standard run-of-the-mill cookies. There are lots of originals you won't find elsewhere

Who? Any passionate baker or cookie appreciator

Ready for Dessert
Ready for Dessert
David Lebovitz, blogging phenom and former pastry chef at Chez Panisse has written several cookbooks, but this might be his best yet. It's a compilation of all his favorites--from ice cream to cookies to cake and fruit desserts. You will also enjoy the notes with each recipe that tell stories, share tips and often produce giggles.

Bookmarked recipes: Bahamian rum cake, Chocolate crack cookies, Watermelon sake sorbet

Why? You've read his blog, and probably tried his recipes for free. Now it's time to pay the man!

Who? Anyone who appreciates well-written and well-tested recipes in the specialty where you need them the most. Lebovitz is not working in a professional kitchen so these recipes should work as well for you as they do for him.

Bon Appetit DessertsBon Appetit Desserts
You know why you read Bon Appetit, you are looking for fresh, solid recipes that you can serve to friends as well as family. In this massive volume there are step-by-step photos, ingredient and equipment notes and plenty of tips.

Bookmarked recipes: Banana caramel napoleons, Oranges with pomegranate molasses and honey, Black forest boule-de-neige

Why? Creative, impressive recipes and plenty of them, 600 to be exact.

SPECIAL INTERESTSGluten-free? Italian food fanatic? Flavor freak? Science geek? Guy with only bacon in the fridge? I got you covered. These are books for special audiences and special needs.

Gluten-free Girl and the ChefGluten-free Girl and the Chef
The book is about Shauna James Ahern, the gluten-free girl and Daniel Ahern, her husband, the chef. It's filled with recipes that mostly would appeal to anyone, gluten-free or not. But there are also recipes for those who cannot eat gluten. Embracing life and love and good tasting things are what the 'girl and the chef are all about and so is the book.

Bookmarked recipes: Bacon-wrapped pork belly, Watermelon gazpacho, Creamless corn chowder

Why? The stories and the recipes will help you find or rediscover the joy that comes in the kitchen. The tips on gluten-free baking alone are priceless.

Who? Well, gluten-free first and foremost, but anyone who cooks for someone gluten-free would appreciate this book too.

Ethan Stowell's New Italian KitchenEthan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen
Ethan Stowell is to Italian food what David Chang is to Asian food, not a purist but a flavor junkie and a stickler for quality. Both make big bold food and manage to coax the most flavor out of everything they make. They seduce you with texture and intensity. They are not about authenticity, but about creating fantastic food. Hallelujah! I love Stowell's restaurants and am excited to be able to make some his most memorable dishes at home.

Bookmarked recipes: Sardine crudo with celery hearts, pine nuts and lemon, Spaghetti with garlic, chile and sea urchin, Rhubarb soup with prosecco

Why? Ethan Stowell is one of the most exciting chefs around and even if you don't follow his recipes, you may be inspired by his approach

Who? Anyone who appreciates gutsy, sexy food and is willing to seek out some ingredients you won't likely find in the supermarket

My Calabria
My Calabria
Americans love Italian food and yet our repertoire is terribly limited. We know so little about Italian food and most Italian cookbooks rarely if ever cover Calabrian food. Cooking teacher and Calabrian native Rosetta Costantino has shared her family recipes and a glimpse into a different way of life.

Bookmarked recipes: Creamy chickpea soup with shrimp and anise seed, Cooked red onion salad with oregano, Potatoes layered with artichokes and breadcrumbs

Why? Because there is so much more to Italian food than pizza and pasta!(but yes, there are some great recipes for pizza and pasta in this book too)

Who? For anyone who adores Italian food, and wants to experience a bit of a lifestyle filled with gardening, foraging and preserving in addition to cooking what is in season

Recipes Every Man Should KnowRecipes Every Man Should Know
I have a thing against little bitty books. Except if you are a guy and you're intimidated by cooking, perhaps a little bitty book is just the ticket.

Bookmarked recipes: Better-than-IHOP pancakes, Greens with bacon, Lobster with beer and butter sauce

Why? Because these dude-friendly recipes by the lovely writer and recipe developer Susan Russo will coax even the most reticent man into the kitchen

Who? Any guy who isn't sure where the kitchen is, let alone what goes on in there.

Cooking for Geeks
Cooking for Geeks
This is a book for people who want to know how stuff works. It's not extremely practical because of the way it's organized, but you can always look things up in the index (if you want practical you should get The Keys to Good Cooking). The volume is a mishmash of articles, interviews, science experiments and more.

Bookmarked recipes: Honestly? There are recipes, but it's not really about that.

Why? For the fun of it

Who? Science majors and those who wish they were