Favorite Cookbooks

Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery
General / Natural Foods / Veg-friendly. This bright green volume pops off the shelf endearingly from across the room, and once you have it in your hands it doesn't disappoint. It is a boldly design volume filled Rose Bakery's faces and favorites. Classics are well-represented - scones, smoothies, multiple granolas, soups, salads, and sandwiches. But one of the things I appreciate about this book is the inclusion of recipes that feature natural sweeteners, and slightly off-beat whole grains and flours (quinoa / millet). It includes many vegetarian recipes, quite a number of vegan recipes, gluten-free recipes, etc. Clearly this is a thoughtful compilation of recipes meant to be crowd-pleasers.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Natural Foods. This is my kind of food - abundant family-style platters, big color, bold flavors, and generous use of whole grains. Written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, the cookbook is a collection of 140 recipes from the hugely popular UK-based Ottolenghi establishments. You get the full range of Ottolenghi greatest hits here, both sweet and savory along with lots of veg-friendly recipes.

The Flavor Bible
Reference. I don't keep many cookbooks in my actual kitchen, The Flavor Bible is one of few exceptions. I've long been a fan of Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, I have all their books, and their latest book is getting quite a workout. The jist is this - the book allows cooks to search for complimentary flavor combinations. For example, let's say I'm going to bake some banana bread and I want to add another flavor dimension - perhaps something a little more offbeat than toasted walnuts. I would turn to the book to give my creative juices a jolt. The banana section suggests all sorts of classic, regional, and chef-driven flavor ideas. I also love Culinary Artistry.

Vegan Soul Kitchen
Vegan / Regional. If you're interested in fresh, updated, vegan recipes that explore the flavors and richness of African, Caribbean, and African American cuisines, this book is where it's at.

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
Regional. A beautifully written book highlighting recipes from one of San Francisco's most cherished restaurants. I particularly love the salads and risottos in this book. One of my favorite books to give as a gift.

Patricia Wells' Trattoria
Regional. A personal favorite for everyday Italian. I love Patricia's recipes because she never throws in an overzealous amount of ingredients -- this helps the clean, vibrant flavors in her recipes ring through to the final dish. She makes an effort to keep instructions simple whenever possible without catering to the lowest common denominator, all qualities that make this book great for beginner and advanced cooks alike.

A Year in my Kitchen
Seasonal. Skye Gyngell's stunner of a book. Her recipes are seasonally organized, straight forward and unfussy. I suspect she would find herself at home in many a California kitchen, but her base is the Petersham Nurseries Cafe in London. The photography by Jason Lowe is vibrant and feminine and the pacing of the pages is perfect. The recipes have room to breathe on the page and there is a pleasing flow from word-intensive pages to full page photography, and a nice mix of food shots, ingredient shots, and minutiae / details. A lovely, inspiring book to own.

Nigel Slater's Appetite
General. A favorite volume from one of the best food writers out there. This was the first Nigel Slater book I ever purchased, years ago, and it remains top-of-shelf. His hearty, big-flavored recipes are often accompanied by photographs in harmony with his writing style - personal, unpretentious, direct, and hard to turn away from. If you don't know Nigel Slater (he's from the UK), you should, and this book is a great place to start.

Stephan Pyles' Southwestern Vegetarian
Regional. The design of this book is a bit dated now, but it's a book I continue to enjoy cooking from. Many of the recipes are ambitious and time-intensive, but in every case the end result has been worth it. Clearly a chef-driven cookbook, packed with component-driven recipes, but I always find the process educational, and enjoy exploring the Southwest palette of ingredients as well.

Cooking by Hand
Reference. Aside from everything else that I will say about this Paul Bertolli book, the pasta primer alone makes it worth the purchase. A serious volume enveloped in the spirit that to be a good cook you must commit, reeeeealy commit, to a journey of understanding every aspect of your ingredients. Learn to look at ingredients from different vantage points (Twelve Ways of Looking at a Tomato), understand them at an elemental level (by grinding your own pasta flour, or making your own balsamico), or think about the place of dessert in a menu (Cooking Backward)...a beautiful book on all fronts.

Larousse Gastronomique
Reference Not for the faint-of-heart, a massive book with endless pages of information and inspiration. A classic I couldn't do without.

Jamie's Italy
Regional. My favorite of all of Jamie's books. We get to ride along with him on a road trip through Italy, to some of my favorite and lesser-known regions. Great recipes, inspiring photography, printed on beautiful matte paper. Jamie at Home was released after Jamie's Italy, and it is also pretty great - fun design, lots of great ideas to explore and build on.

Moro East
Regional. For those of you not familiar with Sam and Sam Clark, they run the much-praised UK restaurant, Moro. A few years back the couple took on an East End swatch of land at the Manor Garden Allotments - this cookbook, their third, tells the story of their experience over the course of a year, through a wide range of inspired recipes. I did a more in-depth write-up here.

Chez Panisse Fruit
Seasonal. The is the book to turn to when you are just home from the market with a sack full of perfect plums or small baskets brimming with summer berries. It is the companion book to Chez Panisse Vegetables. This volume covers apples to strawberries - and all fruits alphabetically in-between including papayas, loquats, and persimmons. On top of a battery of great recipes, this book includes essays on selecting, preparing, and choosing between different varietal of fruits.

Welcome to my recipe journal, I'm Heidi. This is where I like to write about the recipes that intersect my life, travels and interests. I write cookbooks, love natural foods, take lots of pictures, do a good amount of globetrotting, and like to make lists of favorite things.

101 Cookbooks Library