9 classic cookbooks we love
Flour Water Salt Yeast
I’ve learned a ton from Ken Forkish. He’s fun and easy to read, but also incredibly precise and pedagogical. He helps you understand what’s involved in creating good gluten networks, and encourages you to treat time and temperature as ingredients. I’ve killed my share of starters, but Forkish’s chapter on levain method is so detailed that you really cannot fail. – A.R.
This book is a behemoth in every way. Its centerpiece is a 68-page basic country bread odyssey, which will humble you regardless of your experience. Mastermind Chad Robertson offers a lot of great new destinations: pizza, seeded bread, pastries and more. Though beautiful, it’s not a book for beginners, which I learned the hard way. I’d recommend starting with Forkish. – A.R.
This colorful book is currently changing the way I think about produce. Author Joshua McFadden, who cooked at places like Dan Barber’s farm-to-table mecca Blue Hill, focuses on the vegetables that flourish in each season and the way we cook and/or preserve them. The recipes are seriously approachable, but yield incredible depths of flavor due to McFadden’s total mastery of the relationship between spice, acid and fat. If you want to fall in love with produce again (or for the first time), pick this up. – A.R.
Made in India
Meera Sodha’s book will help you make authentic and delicious Indian food. It’s a guide to understanding Indian ingredients and how to proportion spices in recipes so the dishes don’t taste heavy-handed. A lot of the unique ingredients in the recipes are used over and over, so after you buy fenugreek or asafetida from the store you’ll have several ways to use it. – M.N.
I appreciate the complexity of cooking from a restaurant-based cookbook; they’re detailed and precise. These recipes aren’t fast, but they offer a big payoff with bold flavors. To date, the roasted grouper dish – which is actually six recipes in one – is one of the best things I’ve made in my own kitchen. – M.N.
For months after eating at Gjelina in Los Angeles, I wouldn’t shut up about its green chickpeas dish. My friend gifted me the cookbook to keep the memory of that legendary dinner alive. I’ve cooked out of it countless times since and discovered new things to obsess over – like the mushroom toast and the grilled kale salad. The recipe instructions are flawless and the results are even better. – M.N.
The Moosewood Cookbook
I picked this up unaware of its significance as one of the preeminent vegetarian cookbooks, originally published in the 1970s. I just fell in love with Mollie Katzen’s simple, flavorful dishes, flexible ingredient lists, adorable illustrations and the typeface that feels like reading a hand-written recipe from your favorite Midwestern aunt. It’s my go-to, dog-eared reference in summer when my backyard garden produce is at its peak. – C.K.
The 150 Best American Recipes
This random gift was unexpectedly full of some of my all-time favorite recipes. It’s an odd, dated collection with sources as diverse as Marion Cunningham and defunct websites from the aughts. The deceptively impressive chocolate torte recipe (credited to a California grocery store flyer) will convince anyone you’re a professional baker. The double-chocolate layer cake (from Gourmet magazine) is now my signature contribution to any celebration – it’s the best cake I’ve ever made. – H.H.H.
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
This has been one of my go-to reference books for years. Dad-joke musings aside, Peter Reinhart offers an encyclopedic guide to a wide range of breads with every kind of leavening agent, with extensive information on traditional shaping. Nothing is better than the cinnamon bun recipe unapologetically styled after Cinnabon. – H.H.H
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