A new feature you’ll find here when I’ve added new cookbooks to my library is “New Additions to the Obsession Library.” Although some might think I buy cookbooks just to buy cookbooks, I only buy cookbooks that “speak” to me. The author must be one that I admire and respect, the subject needs to be one that I don’t already have or want to learn more about, and the recipes have to be ones that I would actually make. These “shouted” to me:
VEGETABLE LITERACY BY DEBORAH MADISON
I’ve long been a fan of Deborah Madison and have many of her books. Her latest work, Vegetable Literacy, is a compendium on vegetables, edible flowers, edible wild plants and herbs in addition to being a cookbook with over 300 elegant recipes. The book is broken down into plant “families.” For each member of the “family,” there’s a complete description, a list of varieties, ways to use the entire plant (if it’s possible), cooking tips Deborah calls “Kitchen Wisdom,” and a list of ingredients that pair well with it. All of this detailed information is then followed by must-try recipes.
For example, kohlrabi is one of those vegetables most people tend not to go crazy over. However, I look forward to the next time I see kohlrabi at the market so that I can try her Kohlrabi Salad with Green Onions, Parsley and Frizzy Mustard Greens, the Steamed Kohlrabi Rounds with Lemon and Chives, and Kohlrabi Slaw with Creamy Herb and Avocado Dressing.
Looks like another Deborah Madison winner!
THE ITALIAN VEGETABLE COOKBOOK BY MICHELE SCICOLONE
I’ve got shelves of Italian cookbooks, but very few with vegetables as the main subject. Considering the fact Italian cooking is so vegetable-centric, I felt I needed to fix that.
I picked up this cookbook in the bookstore and opened it to Baked Spaghetti Frittata with Broccoli Rabe and Smoked Mozzarella. I then found Roasted Squash, Arugula and Gorgonzola Salad and knew The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone and I were going to be good friends.
Michelle offers up 200 of her favorite recipes for antipasti, soups, pasta, main dishes and desserts. She gathered them from home cooks, chefs, produce purveyors and Italian magazines along with cherished family recipes handed down through generations. Many of the dishes are fuss-free and perfect for a busy weeknight.
This one looks like a friend who won’t let me down!
OTTOLENGHI – THE COOKBOOK BY YOTAM OTTOLENGHI
Seems everyone is talking about Yotam Ottolenghi these days. Chef Ottolenghi splashed onto the cookbook scene in 2011 with Plenty which quickly became a New York Times bestseller. Along with his business partner and head chef, Sami Tamimi, they wrote Jerusalem, another NYT bestseller. His London restaurants are popular dining destinations.
The padded cover of the book starts the feast for the senses in your hands. The recipes in Ottolenghi – The Cookbook are inventive and all use fresh, vibrant ingredients. Who knew something as lowly and often despised as the lima bean could be elevated to something so sublime-sounding as Lima Beans with Sweet Chile Sauce and Fresh Herbs?
Like me, you may need to do a little research to find out what some of the ingredients are. The Fried Scallops with Saffron Potatoes, Asparagus and Samphire looks absolutely amazing, but hmmm…samphire? After a quick Google search, I learned it is better known as a sea bean which I’ve often seen at Whole Foods but haven’t tried yet.
Looks like Chef Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are on the fast track to becoming culinary classics!
COOK’S ILLUSTRATED MEAT BOOK
When you want to know everything there is know about a certain culinary subject, the folks at Cook’s Illustrated are the ones to consult. The subtitle of this book is “The Game-Changing Guide That Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes.”
Key word: Bulletproof. You know these recipes have been tested, tested and retested.
There’s everything you need to know about how to buy, how to store, safe handling, seasoning, and basic principles of how to cook meat cut-by-cut. Need the definitive recipe for Grilled Beef Satay? It’s in there. Looking for just a great Crispy Pan-Fried Pork Chop? You’ll find it.
After the experts at Cook’s Illustrated give you the hands-down best version of classics, they also provide well-tested creative variations destined to keep your taste buds happy.
I’m already certain this one is going to become one of my “go-to’s.”
FOOD & WINE’S BEST OF THE BEST
This is one I buy every year because sadly, I can’t own every cookbook.
Every year, the folks behind Food & Wine magazine sift through many cookbooks and come up with “The Best Recipes from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year.” All recipes featured were rigorously tested in the Food & Wine kitchens.
Buying this cookbook allows me to try recipes from great cookbooks then decide whether to purchase it. You’ll find the best recipes from books such as Keepers, by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion, Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, Bountiful by Todd Porter and Diane Cu and Caramel by Carole Bloom.
As a bonus, the book is peppered with never-before-published exclusive recipes from 20 of the culinary pros behind these cookbooks.