I believe that if you’re a cookbook, this has to be the best time of the year.
Everybody is talking about you (and in my case sometimes talking to you). You’re front and centre in the bookstore. More likely than not, either you or one of your cookbook friends are being wrapped in pretty paper and stuffed warm and snug under a bunch of evergreen branches strung with lights.
Who wouldn’t want to be a cookbook?!
Needless to say I buy a lot of cookbooks throughout the year and the days of me longing for a cookbook for Christmas are long gone. I just buy them for myself whenever I want.
But for those that do not have a cookbook addiction and who do long for Santa to leave a cookbook, or two, under the tree, here’s a list of my favourite cookbooks of the year (note: some of these may not necessarily have been published this year but I discovered them this year).
Canal House Cooks Every Day by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.
I’ve been a huge fan of Hamilton and Hirsheimer’s for quite some time. Their cooking oasis at The Canal House is enviable and I love their blog. Their cookbook is a compendium of the sharp, focused dishes they prepare. I’m not sure how others would describe Canal House cooking but to me it’s like elevated comfort food. It’s very simple and clean. In it’s spareness, Canal House food leaves no room for poor ingredients because if the heart isn’t good then the rest of it sure isn’t going to be good either. This is a big book and it’s weight and substance is comforting. It makes me happy to think of all the deliciousness ready to be cooked. I loved this one.
What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits and Pieces by Katie Quinn Davies.
I stalk Katie Quinn Davies’ blog, What Katie Ate, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. As soon as I see a new post up I pounce upon it. As much as I love the recipes and the way she cooks, the visual appeal of her blog feeds the hungry just as well. Her book is an extension of her blog. Her recipes are this perfect cross between stylish but not too fussy (so you don’t have to have an army of elves in the kitchen to actually help you make all this food). More than anything, it’s just pretty to look at and hold.
The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas.
The first time that I heard about the Dahlia Bakery was when I was reading about the best coconut cream pie in America. For those who know me well, they know that coconut cream pie is a bit of a “thing” with me. I’m still on the hunt for the best one. I’ve never tried the Dahlia Bakery version but am planning on it. Besides the recipe for the infamous pie, this is just a plain old good baking book with both savoury and sweet to keep you busy in the bag of flour. This book will also make you want to go to Seattle to visit the actual bakery. You’ve been warned.
I can’t help myself. I have such a thing for cheeky cookbooks. I am seriously smitten with Meynink and her work, including her blog The Other Crumb. A cook and writer, Meynink produced this gem of a book that has all sorts of recipes that make you lust to be in the kitchen. I imagine that on the cookbook shelf in the bookstore, this is the cookbook that all the other cookbooks wish they could be – smooth, confident, slightly sassy and in love with the world and food. Eat your heart out other cookbooks.
Coming Home to Sicily: Seasonal Harvests and Cooking from Case Vecchie by Fabrizia Lanza.
I’ve had Sicily on my mind for a very long time now. While I have no immediate plans to visit the region, I hope to one day. The book is based on the rich culture of Sicilian cooking championed by the famous Anna Tasca Lanza and her cooking school. Fabrizia is Anna’s daughter. I stumbled upon the book one evening after work and brought it home with me where its pictures of the Sicilian landscape and its recipes promoting the goodness of seasonal produce prepared simply and with care have comforted me on many an evening. It may be awhile before I get to Sicily but this book is a beautiful bridge.
Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough.
I’m fairly late to the ice cream-making movement but this book inspired me this summer. While I still didn’t make as much ice cream as I would have liked, I certainly did put that ice cream maker to good use. This book just makes me feel like a kid waiting excitedly for the ice cream truck. It’s just a sweet, sweet book.
The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.
When I’m in need of a break, I will stop all else and scour the reading lists of on-line sites to find out what cookbooks are coming down the pike in the next year. While most people are becoming acquainted with the cookbooks on the bookstore shelves, I’m mentally noting what cookbooks I’ll be buying six months, even a year from now. I first read about Cheryl and Griffith Day’s cookbook about six months before their book was published. I knew immediately that I had to buy it. Their story of jumping into the bakery business is inspiring and thrilling. But it’s their honest and pure love of baking that shines through. The book is light-hearted and welcoming to all bakers, but don’t be fooled – these are seriously good recipes. My favourite part of the book may be the opening pages that feature pictures from the actual bakery. I hope I can visit some day!
This seemed to to be the year of inspiring cookbooks about folks who love to bake and just jumped right into it. Much like the baking book above, this is a sweet book with a lot of really good recipes for those that love their baking. It’s a clean and neat book that will inspire and not intimidate in the kitchen.
My Abuela’s Table: An Illustrated Journey into Mexican Cooking by Daniella Germain.
I fell really hard for this book. It’s the pictures – all hand drawn. Daniella Germain illustrated the book, which features family recipes reflecting her Mexican background. I’m not sure if this is a good way to sell a cookbook but all I can say is that this one gave me the warm and fuzzies – that feeling of happy as I read through the beautifully-illustrated recipes. The fact that I love Mexican food is just an added bonus with this one.
True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Gianna Sobol.
I couldn’t help myself with this one. I’m such a sucker for the show. (See what I did there …). The book is delicious.
Happy cookbook shopping!