Between the Bernharts’ household and mine, we own a lot of cookbooks. Both families love to cook, but I also often write about food, so I have a few quirky, specialized titles in my collection.
- A few cookbooks
- A few more cookbooks
- Must we say it again?
- Seriously though!
Take The Fabrication of Farmstead Goat Cheese, for example, or, better yet, The Apicus, a 4th-century collection of Roman recipes—fermented fish paste, anyone? Two weeks ago, our blog focused on The Food Podcasts We Love. This week, we thought we’d list a few of the cookbooks we turn to time and time again:
by Alice Waters
Chef, restaurateur, author and activist, Alice Waters, has (according to the New York Times) “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate.” Waters would like to see us all cook more simply and healthfully, using as many seasonal and regional ingredients as possible. In her umpteenth cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, she discusses this a bit. Mostly, though, she focuses on teaching core culinary principles, from stocking your kitchen to keeping your knives sharp and using them properly. And she offers more than 200 recipes for the simple, sustainable dishes she’s known for. Encyclopedic and inspirational, The Art of Simple Food is a great primer for the beginner cook and an excellent refresher course for the seasoned gourmand.
Because Waters’ recipes call for so much fresh produce, we’re pretty sure she’d appreciate our JEM stripe cutting board for prepping it all. For that matter, the traditionalist in her might love our long bread board.
by Hank Shaw
First a disclaimer: The author of this book is a friend of mine, but I loved Hunt, Gather, Cook long before I met Hank Shaw—the man behind Hunter, Angler, Gardener Cook, a blog that’s about Shaw doing those very things. Whether you’d like to learn how to pluck a duck or render its fat, forage for mushrooms or dig for clams, Hank’s books, and his blog, are hands-on guides to living off the land and then cooking up the bounty from your endeavors. His recipes and how-to information are not only practical, they’re persuasive, making a life such as Hank’s compelling, even if it involves killing an animal in order to eat it, “the primary pursuit of humans,” he writes, “for more than a million years.” Hank’s personal and historical insights make this particular book (his first of three) that much more fascinating. In a section on foraging for Manzanita berries, for example, Hank writes, “the first European settlers of California made a sort of cider from the berries of the Manzanita bush. You'll find these bushes growing in great profusion in the Sierra Nevada of California”—an interesting tidbit that becomes relevant when he gives us that cider recipe.
by Jamie Oliver
Okay, we all know the Naked Chef isn’t Italian, but he’s traveled the country countless times foraging, tasting, cooking and learning from grandmothers, winemakers, Napoletani pizzaiolis, and others. As a result of this research (Wait! Can we call this research? It sounds too fun!), Jamie’s Italy is a treasure trove of delicious, truly authentic (trust me) Italian recipes. No matter what region’s cuisine Jamie’s exploring, one of his goals is to make cooking fun and accessible. To that end, whether it’s a recipe for wild boar or schiacciata di manzo con aglio, rosmarino, e funghi (flash roast beef with garlic, rosemary and mushrooms), the instructions in this book are clear, down-to-earth and approachable. To boot (pun intended), Jamie’s Italy is beautiful with its gorgeous matte-finish pages and lush photographs. While perhaps a few too many of the photos are of Jamie posing with this Italian cooking icon or that village nonna, the man’s love for Italian cookery—and for the people of Italy—shines through, making this a great read and a mouthwatering guide to the country’s foods and culinary traditions.
For this cookbook, we’re pretty sure one must own a pair of l flat sautes for tossing the many delicious salads detailed here and a long server for scooping up generous portions of Jamie’s delicious Zuppa di baccala (salt cod soup).