Part year-end-round-up, part holiday-gift-guide, here is my list and review of my favorite cookbooks this year. A couple of these were released prior to 2016, I even purchased two of these at the end of last year, but they were what I relied on this year for recipes and inspiration. I’ve broken these down by purpose so you can find what you’re looking for, whether you’re thinking of yourself or a gift. And leave a comment to let me know what your favorites are– I would love to see what I missed out on this year!
The Best Cookbooks of 2016
The “Project” Cookbook
I adore Jamie Oliver. This is the second book I’ve collected from him and it does not disappoint. Let’s be clear, this is project book, the “Ultimate Weekend Cookbook”, as stated on the cover. It’s accurate. It’s the kind of book you pick up and thumb though until something grabs you and then set about making it. All the food in here is rich and indulgent, but the book is as much about making as it is eating. This book includes the best versions of handmade dumplings and pirogies, homemade pasta noodles and sauces and giant servings of savory pies, lasagnas and casserole-style dishes from all over the world. This is my favorite book to find a Sunday Supper: the kind of meal you spend all Sunday making, gather around as a family to eat for a Sunday night dinner and have pack-your-lunch-leftovers all week.
The Healthy, Family Cookbook
This is one of my most used cookbooks this year. You should know two things to start. One, this is a vegan cookbook. Two, I am not vegan. Andrea (of the blog Oh Dear Drea) is cooking for her young daughter and non-vegan husband, so these recipes aim to please. While I am someone who likes my veggies and enjoys meat-free meals, I do think this book has a wide appeal. The food she makes isn’t fussy and everything is easy to customize, swapping in whatever you have on hand. This is the kind of book you go to for healthy weeknight meals that are filling and nutritional but also fast. Which is exactly the kind of food I want to feed my family all the time.
The Baking Book
For some people, their reason to be in the kitchen is baking. I like baking, but I do not love it. But this book makes me want to love it. The beginning of the book goes into a lot of detail on techniques- from baking tips to decorating skills that will carry you though the rest of the book. Most of these are classics combinations with some updates to keep things fresh. Tessa is a professional baker and once cake-shop-owner turned blogger (find her at Style Sweet CA) who’s passed along all of her expertise in one book with beautiful pictures.
The ‘Celebrity Appeal’ Cookbook
This is one for my sister. In fact, she’s the one who introduced me to this book, and she is the perfect audience; that person in your life that likes food, fashion and glamorous celebrities. My sister can cook, but she doesn’t cook often because she’s busy, so when she does she wants something really good. All of this food is really approachable, unpretentious and unfussy, but still decadent and cookbook worthy. Chrissy is so cute and her personality shines throughout this book making it a cute read even if you don’t cook.
The Coffee Table Cookbook
This is a gorgeous book. The story of Hartwood, a little open-air restaurant in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, is intriguing and the images captured in this book are stunning. It’s as much of a cookbook as it is a love story written by two chefs that fell in love with the area, its people and its produce. There are pages dedicated to ingredients, listing their flavors, regions and uses as well as details about the vendors that provide them. The recipes can get a little ‘chef-y’; they’re not terribly advanced in technique but may get a little complicated for a home kitchen. I have yet to cook from this book (not to say that I won’t, there are several dishes I want to try) but I am continually inspired by it. This makes a great coffee table book, even for someone who isn’t a cook, just to idly flip though and fantasize about picking up and moving to Mexico.
A Whole Book about Tacos
This is an entire book about tacos. I actually bought this last year as a Christmas gift for my taco-loving boyfriend. It is a beautiful, detailed book about Mexican street food. I mean detailed. It covers every aspect from tortillas made with more than just corn or flour (like chorizo!) to different salsas to the fillings and chili peppers. Pages of information on cooking techniques, regional flavors, recipes and variations. This book takes a deep dive into what you thought of as street food and elevates it to something special.
The Anticipated Release Cookbook
Ok.. this one isn’t one in my possession, yet. But I have two copies on the way. One for me and one for another Bourdain fan, as a gift. I am a big Anthony Bourdain fan and I really look forward to seeing, cooking and eating from his perspective; actual recipes are so much more intimate than watching him eat on the road via TV. So while I can’t really review this just yet, I am excited to receive it as well as gift it.