Best Cookbooks of 2016


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Best Cookbooks of 2016

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Editado: Dez 30, 2016, 3:17 pm

It would be interesting and instructive to learn of your best cookbook(s) of 2016. Detesting the notion that there can only be one best book, I have formulated “categories” to re-frame how to think of “best of” and to avoid picking one’s favourite child.

(1) New purchase of the year – a cookbook that was published this year
(2) New discovery – a new cookbook author (including work by a chef) whose book was released this year and that you purchased
(3) Chance encounter – a cookbook that came out before this year but was new to you this year
(4) Re-discovery – a book that has been in your collection prior to this year but came to the fore, for whatever reason, this year
(5) Cookbook author of the year – old or new work…Whose work resonated with you in 2016?

I look forward to reading your decisions and to suggesting your own categories.

My personal reply to the above:

(1) Diana Henry Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours: This is a surprising choice, given it’s essentially an offering to resolve weeknight dilemmas of what to cook; however, Diana provides creative options that pull from her travels and research on cuisines within the UK and around the globe, adapting them, sometimes cross-culturally, to yield profoundly tasty dishes that are uncomplicated to make. In the course of cooking from the book, one cannot but end up with amazing pantry staples (especially if one does not wish to make preserves or spice blends) – for example, preserved lemons, palm sugar, tamarind paste, Aleppo pepper, pomegranate molasses (well, this has been a constant in my pantry for 14 years, but that’s by the by). In my opinion, Diana is one of the best contemporary cookbook writers. She communicates strongly and casts a real presence on the page. Some of my favourite aspects of this book include short essays on various subjects, e.g. such as pasta, sausages and Sunday lunch. If you are unfamiliar with Diana's work, I strongly recommend it – particularly Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, Salt Sugar Smoke and A Bird in the Hand: Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood.

(2) Pomme Larmoyer Istanbul: Cult Recipes: French publisher, Marabout, has commissioned writers to document key recipes from various cities around the world, each city getting its own book – so far: Istanbul, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and, just this month, Los Angeles. I was unfamiliar with Pomme, who also wrote Cuisine du Liban, before this book but am impressed by her knowledge of the city and the ease with which she summarises and presents its key dishes, all with tones of brightness and genuine interest. All the basics are covered, such as kısır (a dish of bulgur wheat akin to tabbouleh), köfte, gözleme (stuffed flatbread), lahmaçun (Turkish pizza of sorts), lokum (Turkish Delight), and there were discoveries (for me) as well. Other than recipes, there is helpful information in the form of maps of the city and chef profiles. A real joy to read and from which to cook.

(3) Somer Sivrioğlu and David Dale Anatolia: Adventures in Turkish Cooking: If (2) is anything to go by, I have a strong interest in Turkish cooking and have been blessed by the cookbooks published in recent years. This cookbook covers off all the regions in Turkey and their specialties and provides commentary on how the cuisines have developed, which ones have become national dishes, all the while with beautiful photos of Turkey and some of the dishes. This book is a source of cookery edification, solid recipes, and day-dreaming.

(4) Maggie Beer Maggie’s Harvest: This is a weighty tome that divides and classifies recipes first by season, then by the principal produce, e.g. the first chapter is summer, and the first item of produce is apricots. While Maggie’s focus is local, being the Barossa in South Australia and its Mediterranean climate, the book is immensely useful. Maggie is a fount of knowledge, all of which is shared in her famously warm and cheerful tone. This book has a beautiful embroidered cover, rich paper, and lush images, but beyond its pretty presentation, Maggie’s Harvest is filled with information on produce generally, as well as how to select and store it. The recipes are abundant – her sour cream pastry is foolproof, and the leek and pancetta tart (amongst so many other recipes) is divine. I have kept this book on the coffee table in the lounge pretty much all year for presentation, resource, inspiration and escape.

(5) Anna Del Conte: I had read about her for years in other cookbooks or endorsements in newspaper articles, particularly from Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith, before deciding to attempt some of her recipes. This year I read and cooked from Entertaining all’italiana published in 1993, and sadly no longer in print) as well as revamped versions of Gastronomy of Italy (an impressive repository of almost everything culinary along with classic recipes, including the lightest carbonara ever), Anna del Conte on Pasta (from Anna's 1976 book Portrait of Pasta) and Italian Kitchen (a compendium of 4 little books books published in 1993, entitled Gli Antipasti, La Pastaciutta, I Risotti and I Dolci). Everything I have made has turned out perfectly. In order to produce dishes as close to Anna's intention as possible, I was perhaps fussier than normal in acquiring ingredients that are seasonal or Italian (dried pasta, cheese, balsamic vinegar, etc). I was successful and learned so much about Italian cuisine this year. I delight in Anna's knowledge and guidance; her prose is authoritative, charming and occasionally (and appreciatively) cynical. Informative and unimpeachable work.

Dez 30, 2016, 9:59 am

Not nearly as fancy as yours:

(1) I found The Cape Malay Cookbook on a sale table at the library. Trying it convinces me that Faldela Williams is a great cook, who can put across what she does well. Good news is, I gather that a more recent edition than mine is still in print.

(3) The above would count here as well.

(4) Two entries here: Cooking Apicius and The Roman Cookery of Apicius: Two remarkably different takes on this historic cuisine, both traceable to the same source.

(5) In view of (4) above, Apicius, of course. I gather from LT that there are at least half a dozen modern books founded on his.

Dez 30, 2016, 2:43 pm

Another winner from Ina Garten: cooking for Jeffrey. She is always so practical, presenting recipes to die for.

Jan 1, 2017, 3:57 pm

Two which I found immensely practical and full of yummy stuff:

Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tam - Some terrific timesaving recipes for condiments and spice blends, as well as a lot of fun to read.
Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes by Kirsten K. Shockey - The two most successful recipes so far for my family are for Salsa Kraut and Kim Chee.

Jan 1, 2017, 10:20 pm

The cookbook first published in 2016 that I have cooked from the most is Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. I really love the roasted broccoli hero (it sounds weird but it really is a good combo--it's a great mixture that doesn't even need to be in a sandwich).

I have enjoyed reading Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking but I haven't cooked anything from it yet--I am planning on doing so soon.

From late 2015, I really like The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. The tomato soup is definitely a keeper.

Jan 2, 2017, 2:06 am

> 2 hfglen: Your dedication to Apicius is probably as overt and committed to Turkish cuisine for me. Clarissa Dickson-Wright was well-read up on Apicius and on the tv series, Two Fat Ladies, prepared his recipe of green beans and mustard. I'm glad to know home cooks refer to his wisdom of the times also.

> 3 kerrlm: Thank you for the recommendation. I do not have all of Ina Garten's books but appreciate her experience in respect of simple cookery.

> 4 MrsLee: Nom Nom Paelo sounds incredibly useful. Along the lines of Madhur Jaffrey?

> 5 ChristinasBookshelf: I have been meaning to read Zahav: A World of Isreali Cooking as it came out with strong reviews and was a recipient of a James Beard Award in 2016. Please let me know how you get on with any of the recipes.

Jan 2, 2017, 9:22 am

>6 kitchenaglow: If you take out the spaces between the > and the number you will get links that include the name of the poster.

Editado: Jan 5, 2017, 11:50 pm

>7 MarthaJeanne: Thanks MarthaJeanne!

Jan 7, 2017, 11:05 am

>6 kitchenaglow: I've not had the opportunity to read Madhur Jaffrey. I would almost describe it as a graphic novel with photos, except it isn't. It is fun to read, if only for the author's excitement about her cooking discoveries. The recipes I've tried have been keepers. The Magic Mushroom Powder is something I will always have on hand to season with!