Gift Guide: Books for Home Cooks
One of the things I love to do is cook and bake. I don’t like to make elaborate meals, because I don’t have time for that nonsense, but I like to make good, fresh eats. In fact, I keep threatening promising some folks on twitter that because I buy so many cookbooks, I should probably start reviewing them on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.
Here are a few of my recommendations for books to gift to your favorite home cook.
Books by Mark Bittman
I’m a big fan of Mark Bittman’s style of simple, flavorful cooking. My favorite of his books is How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian (which includes the secret to the perfect mac & cheese), but the newly-reissued Basics cookbook is extra nice with loads of great photos. The Basics books would be a particularly thoughtful gift for someone just starting out, because the recipes are largely budget-friendly.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Plenty is a Chronicle book, which means even if the recipes weren’t awesome, the book is absolutely beautiful. But, I’ve cooked many recipes from this book and they’ve turned out wonderfully—my favorite is for the Malaysian stir fry, which taught me how to properly stir fry noodles.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
I’ve loved reading Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen blog over the years and have cooked many of her fabulous recipes. Her new cookbook does duplicate many of the blog recipes, but there are also new ones—plus, the photos and charming recipe intros to each recipe are so much better in book form. If you are a vegetarian, a huge portion of the recipes are meat-free or easily converted to veggie-friendly.
Strong Waters by Scott Mansfield
Strong Waters is a recent addition to our collection here at the Moon Casa, and we are loving it! It’s a book that teaches you to make—you guessed it—homemade booze. My husband’s done some homebrewing previously, but I’m a complete newbie and have already made a couple of batches of hard cider that exceed anything I’ve bought commercially. I love that it’s more than just recipes, it really guides you through the process so you can experiment and come up with your own unique creations.
Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Meet my latest obsession: Julie Richardson’s (who’s a local baker) Vintage Cakes. I’ve made lemon-almond cake, several Texas sheet cakes, cornmeal skillet cake… it’s starting to get ridiculous. This book is perfect for people who are sick of the overly-sweet, overly-fussy cakes and baked goods that are so popular at the moment. This is cake, plain and simple—but with an extra does of awesome.
Hand-Forged Doughnuts by Mark Klebeck
I always tell my husband that if we ever have to live in Seattle, I would put up with the even-worse-than-Portland weather in exchange for two things:
- Many tickets to Mariners baseball games; and
- Many visits to Top Pot Doughnuts
While most people in Portland think that Voodoo Doughnuts are the thing, people who love real, traditional doughnuts know better and will look north for a good bit of fried dough. Luckily, last year Top Pot’s founders released a lovely cookbook (also a Chronicle book—they kill me with the gorgeousness of their book design) that teaches home cooks to make their doughnuts.