In the fall of 2017, I began this page on the blog to share my very favorite cookbooks…from my own messy shelves. Once in a while, usually on a whim, I find time to continue this cookish-bookish journey. It’s a work in progress. For now, check this out:
There are so many wonderful Thanksgiving cookbooks, but here are a few of my old and new favorites — in no special order. I also have added, at the bottom of this section, links for some books I haven’t bought, but that look scrumptious and worth checking out. If you don’t have a very basic, all-purpose cookbook such as HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING by Mark Bittman or JOY OF COOKING, BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS, etc., then that must be your first purchase. You need something in which you can look up anything. Go to the bookstore and look at a few; buy the one that appeals the most to you. After that, order a special holiday book or keep your eyes out at the used book or thrift store for these or other Thanksgiving specials.
Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers The book by the cookbook expert. Also wrote Christmas 101. Includes basics like Turkey 101 or Pan Gravy 101, but also features a variety of desserts, fun sides, good leftover recipes, as well the stories we like to hear.
The Thanksgiving Table and The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan. Fun and beautifully illustrated books by another long-time expert, who also wrote The Christmas Table and Gifts Cooks Love. Adored the first and feel the same about the second, which highlights regional holiday favorites like “Jack Daniels’ Whiskey and Brown Sugar Crusted Ham” and “Honey and Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potato Spears with Lime.” Diane Morgan’s Thanksgiving for a Crowd on Epicurious.com
Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton, the food editor of the New York Times. A bit smaller book without the big glossy photographs of some holiday tomes, this is not only a useful reference tool, but is a happy read as it’s very personally written. Basics are covered perfectly well, but we also get to tune in to some homey pages like, “Apple Pizza” and “Turkey a la King.” Need directions for a proper turkey sandwich? This is your book.
Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pieby Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and PLIMOTH PLANTATION. An excellent gift for families or anyone interested in the holiday from its historical perspective, Giving Thanks shares the story of the holiday from the famous living history museum, complete with myriad illustrations, and favorite dishes from all over the United States.
Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Written by the late Michael McLaughlin, a well-known and respected food writer, this book is chock full of the stunning color photographs we expect from Williams-Sonoma. Not all books like this are well done (some are incredibly repetitive), but this one is well-balanced and, while focusing on the basics, includes recipes you can totally trust. WS has published a newer Thanksgiving book, as well.
Friendsgiving by Alexandra Shytsman of The New Baguette dot com food blog. This entertaining little cookbook, new for 2017, is about just what the title says, Friendsgiving, a no-family holiday–or anytime–meal that skips politics and family squabbles and focuses on fun for those too far way to get to mom’s table. Choose from small, but artful menus such as The Classic (traditional turkey-type stuff), Cuban Fiesta, Southern Feast, or Modern (vegan/gf) and enjoy eating together just exactly as your group desires.
Quick Breads by Howard Early and Glenda Morris. These well-known teachers from THE BALTIMORE SCHOOL have the knack for writing recipes that turn out tastily beauteous every. single. time. Want yeast bread look and flavor without yeast? Bake here. Fun for holiday breakfasts or for a basic bread for the holiday dinner, I’ll give away that my favorite recipe in the book is Cherry-Chocolate Bread. 20 years old and this tiny little book is still giving pleasure.
Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life by Kate McDermott; photographs by Andrew Scrivani. I’ve been baking pies for 45 years, but love learning anew with this entrancing 2016 book by pie maven Kate McDermott. To gild the lily, photographer Andrew Scrivani– my favorite food photographer ever–took the pics.
Don’t want to read quite so much about pie? Buy the November, 2017 issue of SOUTHERN LIVING; it contains a stunningly full article on southern pie-making by well-known cookbook author Nancie McDermott, “Lost Pies of the South” and might fill the bill!
Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Not a Thanksgiving book per se, but a readable, doable complete, stand-alone baking book for which you’ll be thankful should you want to bake anything from biscuits to yeast breads to cheesecakes or pies for the holiday–or any other day. Keep this one on the kitchen shelf year-round.
And in case you still need help, please check out New York Times’ Food Thanksgiving Planning post. This will take you from soup to nuts, but will also remind you to defrost that turkey!
…in no special order. There are stunningly beautiful cookies in nearly every basic cookbook in the bookstore and you can make those until the cows come home with no lack of stellar, sweet success. If, however, you’d like to take a step further into the crunchy world of cookies, these might suit your fancy. Some are newer; some are older, but we don’t get fine new cookie books every year and these are my picks from Alyce’s cookbook shelf. Bake on!
Cookie photos are mine from recipes on the blog.
Scottish Baking, by Sue Lawrence. This baking fool is the absolute queen of Scottish baking. Not only are there favorite cookies here, but many other delectable happinesses to be had. Sue also writes fiction. Check it out!
Dorie’s Cookies If Sue Lawrence is the queen of Scottish baking, Dorie Greenspan holds a similar spot in the hearts of American bakers, though we perhaps have a few queens ruling the oven in our much larger kitchen. Everything from everyday treats like CHUNKERS to unusual indulgences such as MERINGUE SNOWBALLS makes this into a treasure of a book that highlights the knowledge gained from a lifetime of cookie baking. A wondrous gift for your best baker at holiday or birthday time.
Rose’s Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum. 20 years later, this book still holds that special holiday place in our hearts. Stunning color photos and directions for hand/electric/food processor methods of mixing help make this book the top choice if you’re buying just one comprehensive Christmas cookie book.
The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 Large-Batch Recipes to Bake and Share. The name says it all! Trusted GOOD HOUSEKEEPING easy recipes to share with friends, family, and neighbors. Fun party idea with recipe cards included.
One Sweet Cookie by Tracey Zabar with photographs by Ellen Silverman. Do you long for sweets made in New York City? This is your book. Cookie-lover Tracey Zabar collected recipes from bakeshops, cookbook authors, chefs, and baker-friends to write this fun missive. The photographs are edible. Well, almost. Make favorites from Daniel Boulud, Dorie Greenspan, Jacques Torres, et al even if you live in Kansas City, Kansas.
The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year. If you miss GOURMET, you’ll enjoy their favorites from 1941-2009 and be happily reminded of how certain cookies came to be made in nearly every household in the U.S. Cornetti, Mandelbrot, Butter Cookies, Chocolate Wafers and more make their “first” appearance all over again for you. Beautifully designed, I will admit the recipes themselves are printed in quite a small font compared to the larger one used for the introductions. Get your glasses before you bake!
Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen by famed writer Georgeanne Brennan. If you’re into making homemade presents at holiday or any time, I think you’ll enjoy Georgeanne Brennan’s book, which includes some tasty and fun cookies along with nuts, popcorn, etc., as well as attractive gift wrapping ideas. Hard information to locate in this OXMOOR HOUSE book is the name of the photographer, Jim Franco, who provides us with full-page photos that simply take you right in to the cookies.
Cooking magazines often include cookie extravaganzas come December. Save your favorites or clip, punch, slip into a clear plastic sleeve, and put pages in a three-ring binder.
COOKBOOKS ABOUT FRENCH COOKING, ETC.
There are so many books about French cooking, food, and culture, that I hardly know where to begin. But here are a few of my favorites–some old, some newer, and in no order at all:
~Susan Herrmann Loomis: Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin
~Colman Andrews: Saveur Cooks Authentic French
~Julia Child, et al: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes I and II
Edouard de Pomaine: French Cooking in 10 Minutes
Richard Olney: The French Menu Cookbook
~MLK Fisher: Two Towns in Provence
~Dorie Greenspan: Around my French Table
~David Lebovitz: My Paris Kitchen : Recipes and Stories
~Patricia Wells, an American who has lived and worked in France for many years, has several books about French cooking; each is wonderfully delicious! I might like Bistro Cooking best. You can also go to her website (http://www.patriciawells.com) and read about her cooking classes in Paris and Provence.
COOKBOOKS ABOUT ITALIAN COOKING…in no special order:
While there are myriad Italian cookbooks, many by American-type celebrity chefs and others that focus on particular regions or specific foods, these are some of my basic, much-loved, and all-around kitchen go-tos.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (Combines THE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKBOOK AND MORE CLASSIC ITALIAN)
The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rosetto Kasper
The Silver Spoon by The Silver Spoon Kitchen
The Silver Spoon Pasta by Editors of the Phaidon Press
Italian Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Hermann Loomis
Trattoria by Patricia Wells
Cucina Simpatica by Johanne Killeen & George Germon
Italian Food by Elizabeth David
Lidia’s Family Table by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
The Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Gucci
FAVORITE MULTICOOKER COOK BOOKS (aka ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER/INSTANT POT)
If you’re looking for a pressure cooker cookbook, you might check out the following choices–my current favorites– listed in alphabetical order by title. There are many others available.
COMFORT IN AN INSTANT: 75 COMFORT FOOD RECIPES FOR YOUR PRESSURE COOKER, MULTICOOKER, + INSTANT POT-– (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 160p)– Melissa Clark’s second and newest tasty and entertaining hardback addition to the ever-growing list of books available on the subject. While it still Includes basics like buying tips, “Getting to Know Your Pressure Cooker,” and a slew of yummy chicken dishes, this newer book also goes upscale with recipes like, “French Beef Daube with Olives” and “Breakfast Polenta with Dried Apricots + Cinnamon,” and “Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake,” for those who’ve moved past the first base or two of electric pressure cooking. Each recipe can be made in 60 minutes, start to finish. Captivating photographs by Christopher Testani. Included on the list of Best Cookbooks of 2018 from NPR.
DINNER IN AN INSTANT: 75 MODERN RECIPES FOR YOUR PRESSURE COOKING, MULTICOOKER, AND INSTANT POT-– (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 160p)–Melissa Clark’s first foray into the field of pressure cooking books, this attractive and accessible hardback book thoroughly covers the basics: how to use an electric pressure cooker, making boiled eggs, and why make yogurt? It then solves the ubiquitous, “What’s for dinner?” problem neatly and quickly with lots of recipes like “Creamy Macaroni and Cheese,” “Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken and Rice with Eggplant,” and “Classic Beef and Bean Chili,” with some directions for slow cooking, as well. Christopher Testani, photographer. “There may already be plenty of Instant Pot cookbooks on the market, but none of them were crafted by a cook with Clark’s blend of approachable adventurousness—and her flat-out skill in the kitchen.”–Epicurious
INSTANT POT MIRACLE: FROM GOURMET TO EVERYDAY, 175 Must-Have Recipes (Houghton-Mifflin, 2017, 304 p., Paperback) Authorized and licensed by the company that makes INSTANT POT and printed with full-color photographic illustrations, this book might be considered a sort of dictionary of electric pressure-cooking. Available in warehouse stores like COSTCO, as well as on amazon.com, it may have been the sister to many an INSTANT POT Christmas gift. Easy to look things up in, dependable for answering questions like, “How long do you cook _________?” and complete with Pressure Cooking Charts, it’s full of down-to-earth recipes, some of which were written by bloggers!
MULTICOOKER PERFECTION: COOK IT FAST OR COOK IT SLOW, YOU DECIDE, by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen. (America’s Test Kitchen, 2018, 182 p., Paperback) From the famous group of well-known perky testers, their easy-to-read and understand book features instructions for both pressure cooking and slow cooking for every recipe. Coming after a large number of electric pressure cooker books had been published, this all-purpose volume includes necessary and well-written information like, “Why you should own a multicooker,” “Getting to Know Your Multicooker,” as well as their testing notes on several models. The recipes themselves are divided into simple categories like SOUPS, STEWS, AND CHILIS, EASY SUPPERS, SIMPLE SIDES, and so on. While cooking vegetables is not always at the top of my list of things for my INSTANT POT, there’s a pretty good
That’s the list for now. (Updated September, 2020.)
Thanks for reading!
above: my current cookbook library and reading chair