I will only list cookbooks I really like and seriously recommend! I may break categories down further as I acquire more cookbooks. Or continue to delve through the ones I already have.
- The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking, Ed. Charlotte Turgeon. A good classic to have.
- Milk Street: The Complete TV Show Cookbook, 2017-2019, Ed. Christopher Kimball. Several steps beyond “America’s Test Kitchen”, though the latter has some good moments. Milk Street looks at foods around the world, and brings ideas back in a home-friendly way.
- The New York Times Cookbook, Craig Claiborne. This version is from a used bookstore, and is dated 1961. If you want photos, don’t go here. But some truly classic recipes… and NO Jello!
- The Chinese Kitchen, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. Authentic Chinese food from various regions in China, not the usual Americanized take-out stuff that is usually supersaturated with sugars and unhealthy salty fats. She takes one conversationally through traditional foods, and explores substitutions for items one might not readily find.
- Everyday Paleo: Thai Cuisine: Authentic Recipes Made Gluten-Free, Sarah Fragoso. Definitely an approachable book for those who decide to eat without gluten. Some of the recipes contain rice, but she provides alternatives for those who go grain-free entirely.
- Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction To Indian Food, Suvir Saran. I took an Indian cooking class under him once, and greatly enjoyed his style. One of the things I learned from his class is how important it is NOT to throw everything into, say, a curry, all at once, just to save effort. But to know when to add ingredients for best taste and flavor when everything comes together at the end.
- Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals, Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat. Features kombu, Napa cabbage, various sea foods, meats and veggies. Once you get making these, it is easy to create your own variations depending on food at hand. There are vegetarian options for making the broth, too.
- The Japanese Kitchen, Shimbo. A really dense cookbook with some line drawings and no photos. The food, however, is definitely authentic. Suggested for those who want to hit the full high lights of Japanese cuisine, not just sushi. You will not find all the ingredients at home — but when you can, do enjoy!
- Quintessential Filipino Cooking, Liza Agbanlog. New book here, and I am excited to explore.
- Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen, Leela Punyaratabandhu. Bar none, this is the best Thai cookbook that has passed into my hands. A lot of the ingredients may be hard to find away from major metropolitan areas, but she mentions alternatives (and for items that don’t need to be sourced fresh, there’s always the Internet). She details recommended cooking implements, and what foods should be found in your stocked pantry. You can readily adapt these meals to gluten-free as needed. Note that a lot of Thai food requires a good level of prep time, especially if you are not used to prep time, but once you start cooking, the meals cook fast. Just a note if you are vegetarian: if you go to a Thai (or Vietnamese) restaurant, depending on the restaurant, a lot of the “vegetarian” food will be still cooked in fish sauce. They’ve just got a different cultural definition of the term, so be aware. Ask. This usually helps.
- Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese home kitchen, . Again, we go beyond raw fish, although sushi/sashimi remains a delight in my personal love..
- Antipasti, Della Croce. I’m not a big fan of pasta, so this slim volume comes in handy when I want to try for Italian flavors, without an overload of carbs. .
- Autentico: Cooking Italian the Authentic Way. Rolando Beramendi,. I truly enjoy this cookbook. I’ve gone to too many over-starchy and sweetened Italian restaurants, so this is a great and tasty addition to my shelf.
- How to Roast a Lamb, Michael Psilakis. Greek cookery. Modern and more traditional, as you may choose. My favorite European cuisine is Greek.
- Poulets & Legumes: My Favorite Chicken and Vegetable Recipes, Jacques Pepin. A very short cookbook with not many recipes, but… Pepin! Unfortunately the Coq au Vin recipe he includes is for people cooking supermarket chickens, rather than true roosters.
- Tangines & Couscous, Ghillie Basan. Moroccan fare. Once I can, I’m getting myself a tagine. You can cook this food without one, however. (PS, as of July 2021, I now have one, and am plotting its first use…)
New World Cookery (Mexico, Tex-Mex, South and Central America, the Islands):
- Alas, I am still looking for some books to recommend in this category…
New World Cookery (US, Canada, Cajun, Creole, Foraging, Native):
- Duck, Duck, Goose, Hank Shaw. Excellent recipes for (mostly) duck, whether sourced in the wild by hunting, or found at your farmer’s market, or from the supermarket. Taste differences between types of ducks seems largely based on their diet and their living conditions.
- The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. Old time recipes, meant to use what you have to hand. Excellent. (TBH, the entire Foxfire series is wonderful on all sorts of levels, especially for homesteaders.)
- Good Things to Eat: The First Cookbook by an African-American Chef, Rufus Estes. Original publication 1911.
- Hunt, Gather, Cook, Hank Shaw. Meals based on food foraging. You can definitely adapt to what you forage from the market.
- Quail Country, The Junior League of Albany, Georgia. I thought there would be more quail recipes in this book, published first in 1983. There are six. However the book is filled out with some good old time Southern recipes – even if the two Brunswick stew recipes herein use chicken instead of squirrel. You can always substitute back.
- The Taste of Country Cooking, Edna Lewis. Old farm recipes from Virginia. A few line drawings, don’t expect photos. Two rabbit recipes, one quail.
Paleo/Primal/Perfect Health Diet/”Traditional” Foods Cookery:
- The Ancestral Table, Russ Crandall. My absolute tops favorite book in this sub-genre, Crandall ascribes to the “Perfect Health Diet” viewpoint on food. It helps that he had a long experience of dining on Asian foods while living in Hawaii. I don’t particularly like the name, “Perfect Health Diet” — sounds a bit sanctimonious — but the actual principles seem mostly sound to me. The food in this book is neither bland nor settled back into Americana, although some American home-grown food ideas definitely show up here. Due to the Asian influences, this is seriously my fave cookbook in this broad category. This book cooks gluten-free,and mostly grain-free, and mostly Paleo, but includes some dairy, rice and white potatoes (not traditionally “Paleo”, at least not until later.)
- The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas, Jennifer McGruther. With the exception of the raw dairy, this is my kind of cook book! I guess at some point I’ll have to try raw dairy, but not today. I’ll do balut first (it’s cooked). She sprouts her grains, and ferments up a storm.
- Well-Fed, Melissa Joulwan. Some truly wonderful recipes here, including her ground meat and spinach muffins — I’ve since adapted this one to mini-muffins Joulwan comes from a family of chefs, so her international flavor is appreciated. Gluten-free, and Paleo.
- Well-Fed 2, Melissa Joulwan. I didn’t know she had more in her, but she did, and most of these recipes break new grounds. I’m pleased to own this next cookbook, as well. Gluten-free recipes, and Paleo. I like the fact that she creates recipes that are both flavorful, and truly healthy.
Principles of Cookery:
- The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. Which foods work really well with which spices, seasonings, and other foods. HIGHLY recommended! .Find my review HERE.
- Ratio. Michael Ruhlman.
- Sauces. James Peterson.
- The Science of Good Cooking, America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated. This particular book isn’t heavily illustrated, but it does provide a LOT of good cooking ideas and principles, along with scientific rationale towards why certain procedures work over others. Very useful! No, I will choose healthier cooking oils than the default they suggest, but hey, otherwise this is an extremely useful and seriously recommended resource. My review can be found HERE.
Adaptable to Vegetarian & Vegan Cookery:
- Field Roast: 101 Artesian Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share and Savor, Tommy McDonald. And not a single “faux meat factory-made” ingredient in sight! Something to keep in mind for a “meatless Monday” or as ideas for serving your vegetarian and vegan friends. Something to keep on the shelf to use for those of us who want a satisfyingly filling omnivore meal – which even being an omnivore certainly doesn’t mean every day needs one to consume meat.
- The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden, David Hirsch. The Moosewood cookbooks have a good and reliable variety of vegetarian and vegan fare.
- Moosewood Restaurant, Low Fat Favorites. Some days you really want a low fat meal or three. All the recipes are vegetarian or vegan.
- Salad as a Meal, Patricia Wells. Salads as a main course, and entirely yummy! Some of these do incorporate meat, but you don’t have to do so. See my Peterson review.
- Silk Road Vegetarian, Klein. My favorite vegetarian and vegan meals come from cultures where they’ve had generations of experience making them. Those are the types of recipes found herein. My favorite cookbook bar none for vegetarian and vegan food, bar none.. These ones are also gluten-free. Read my review HERE.
- Vegetables, James Peterson. No, this book isn’t strictly vegetarian, but Peterson delves into the ways and means of vegetables to enhance any meal, meat-containing or otherwise. Indeed, most of the meat-containing recipes can be adapted to a vegetarian plan by simply — omitting the meat. I find mushrooms and eggplant and (quality-sourced!) good fermented tempeh to be reasonable substitutions for meat when I prefer to not eat meat, or when I am cooking for vegetarian friends. This book could actually also find a home under the category, “Principles of Cookery”. Peterson is a good name to follow in the world of recipe cookery, no matter your overall interest. My review can be found HERE.
And So Forth:
- Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony, Madeleine Pelner Cosman. The last third and more of the book is actual recipes, fortunately written in reasonably contemporary English. Mind you this is the food served Above the Salt – the foods the peasants ate was seldom recorded. But the front part of the book discusses how foods were used, as well as other cookery information. Book is new here, from a used bookshop.
- Momofuku, David Chang. Meals from the high-end New York City eatery. I dined at Chang’s restaurant, Má Pêche, for my 60th birthday. Everything except dessert we’d rate as 5 stars — dessert was rather pedestrian we all thought, perhaps 3 or 3.5 stars. (I should have reviewed the place at the time.)
- Planet Barbecue!, Steven Raichlen. A good variety of recipes around the world for the grill.
- Project Smoke. Steven Raichlen. Ditto.