10 Best Cookbooks of 2010 (plus 2 more)

Our top ten

They say that print is dying.

Great magazines have left us (I still miss Gourmet) for lack of subscriptions and monetary interest. Newspaper presses are stopping in one city after another. Yesterday, some good friends of us said that they are reading most of their books on their telephones.

Print is dying, right?

Not in this house, it’s not.

We subscribe to the Seattle newspaper, no matter how thin it grows. (Danny’s the one who reads it every day. He’s far more up on the news than I am these days.) Stacks of books in every room threaten to topple over onto the adjoining stack. Lu loves when we read to her; she probably hears 40 books a day. (Many of them she demands to be repeated 12 times each. Thank goodness I’m still crazy about Curious George.) And even though I have started, tentatively, reading a few articles on our new iPad, and even downloaded a free copy of Winnie the Pooh to read to Lu when we are traveling, I will never pass up the chance to take a well-worn book into the bath.

From the amount of cookbooks we receive and buy every year, we’re keeping the publishing industry humming.

(Perhaps you have bought our cookbook? Or you are thinking about it for a holiday present? Now is the time to buy. Keep print alive!)

We feel really lucky. Due to the nature of our work, we’re sent copies of cookbooks from publishers almost every week. As some of you might remember, we did regular features last year where we cooked out of one book all week long and gave you our recommendations. (We especially loved David Leite’s The New Portuguese Table and Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice.) We like to test drive cookbooks for you.

In the past few months, we have been too busy traveling and spreading the word about our cookbook to spend evening after evening with anyone else’s book. Of course, this is the season for stacks of cookbooks to appear on Amazon and your local bookstore. We have been overwhelmed with choices.

We thought, therefore, we’d just share our 12 Best Cookbooks of 2010.  (We tried to narrow it down to 10, but we couldn’t do it. Think of it as 1 cookbook for every month of the year.)

Oh, and we’re giving away a copy of each one.

Even in a big year for cookbooks, some stand out strong. In the past few weeks, we have been looking through our favorite cookbooks of the year, cooking here and there, curling up in bed reading to each other at the end of the night. Reading a great cookbook is like entering an entirely new world, like walking through the closet to Narnia.

For me and Danny, there are a few criteria that will keep a cookbook in our kitchen:

— trusted recipes that work
— a strong, clear voice from the author
— a sense of playfulness with food
— a feeling of joy in the act of standing in front of the stove singing through the instructions
— spices or ingredients, flavor combinations, and techniques we had never considered
— something intangible that inspires us to put down the book and go cook instead of read

We don’t run a newspaper or food magazine here. This is our personal site, entirely biased and constantly changing. So we don’t claim that the following cookbooks are The Best Cookbooks of 2010.

We just want to share them with you.

(Oh, and this list is organized alphabetically by the author’s last name (with one exception), rather than beginning with the best book and the following eleven. Also, not one of these books is a “gluten-free” book. They are great cookbooks that have inspired us in the kitchen.)

This book, Anjum’s New Indian, is the surprise come-from-behind book of the bunch.

Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Anjum Anand. I didn’t know she existed. However, our book editor, Justin, who has a food blog of his own, started posting photos of enticing shrimp curries and Bengali squash with chickpeas a few weeks ago and my mouth began watering.

Since reading and cooking out of Modern Spice last year (and still cooking from it — good cookbooks keep on giving), I have been eager to find another Indian cookbook that seemed approachable. I know so little about Indian cuisine and all its intricacies. However, I don’t want lack of knowledge to prevent me from eating great food. Where to begin?

I really love this book. So does Danny. It’s clear and plainspoken. Unlike some of our other favorite books of the year, there is not a lot of the author in here. Instead, she focuses on why she has chosen each recipe as a way of highlighting a particular region of India. (To say “Indian food” is, of course, an oversimplification.) The photographs are splendid and plentiful, which helps those of us unfamiliar with the dishes.

Something that struck me was her description of a Goan shrimp cake: “This is an old Goan dish that many have already been forgotten about and locals are worried that it might soon become obsolete as newer, faster recipes encroach on the New India.” I love that dispersing a recipe like this can save it. I’ll make it, gluten-free.

Green meatball curry, Bengali red lentils, Kashmiri lamb cooked in milk, Coconut chicken fry, Wild Mushrooms in Black Marsala — these are just some of the dishes we’re going to be cooking in our kitchen in the next few weeks. We’re making lots of cookies for you. I can’t wait to feel those spices on my tongue.

“MaggyPam!” Lu shouts out when she sees the cover of this book.

You see, she loves Pam Anderson and her daughter, Maggy, who visited us here on Vashon in the fall. (Poor Sharon. She’s the third of Three Many Cooks, but Lu didn’t have a chance to spend enough time with her to shout “MaggyPamSharon!”) She also loves this video about the three that our dear friends Todd and Diane made about their book. Honestly, she wants to watch it every single day. She sits there, transfixed, watching these wonderful women in the kitchen, cooking food and talking, laughing and making memories as they chop herbs and onions.

“Food!” Lu shouts next when she sees this book. And she’s right. That’s this book.

Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers is a pretty simple, straightforward book. There isn’t a lot of narrative. (Pam, are you listening? I want more of your stories in the next one.) Instead, the book offers one after another of main dishes (plus sides and desserts) that work.

Pam writes clear recipes relying on tested techniques. In this book, she focused on helping people to get dinner on the table quickly, so there’s more time to sit around that table after the food is finished and talk. (The dishes can wait. The conversation is what matters.)

After all those times of watching the video with Lu, we’re making the sweet Italian sausage cassoulet soon!

For the past five years, I have been baking gluten-free cookies, breads, and pizzas. Honestly, the first three years were a steep learning curve. What I love about this process is the mistakes, the leaps up, the investigation, the writing of ratios, and the failures. And oh, have there been some failures.

Starting a couple of years ago, I had an intuitive feel for the flours and how they tasted, how they worked together in heat, how they rose or fell. I knew that I didn’t like the bean flours. Coconut flour left me annoyed since it sucks all the moisture out of everything it touches. Amaranth flour, once a favorite, now sits in the back of the cupboard for its grassy taste. Still, I didn’t really understand it. Sometimes the recipes worked and sometimes they did not.

Two books changed everything about the way I bake and helped our recipes to work for you. One was Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, which started me scribbling numbers on the backs of envelopes, then covering them with flour from an experiment. The other book was Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours.

You see, Kim Boyce was in a similar situation as mine (except she’s a trained pastry chef, and I’m just figuring out the craft at the kitchen counter). At home with her daughters, she intended to bake every day. She didn’t want to give her kids that much bleached white flour. So she started playing with amaranth and teff, plus other whole grains. Her book is a gorgeous evocation of the successes she had. And, it will make you hungry.

After reading and baking from Good to the Grain I realized that the way I use whole grains should be more than haphazard. For decades, gluten-free baking relied on white flours: white rice, tapioca, potato starch, and cornstarch. Those starches are important — we cannot bake with only whole grains. Kim Boyce realized that too. However, as I wrote in the post where I extolled this book, past spring, finding the right balance of whole grains and starches, for taste and texture, means light-as-air muffins, cookies, and cakes.

Now, I always make sure that our gluten-free baked goods have 40% whole grains and 60% starches. In many ways, that means that gluten-free baking is more nutritious than goods made with only bleached white flour! It also works. Danny and I came up with our all-purpose gluten-free flour mix after reading Good to the Grain. We’ll be using it in the coming weeks for our holiday cookie binge. It’s 40% whole grains and 60% starches.

Thank you, Kim. You really changed my baking life. I’m pretty sure that anyone who buys this book will feel the same.

Every Wednesday, I read Melissa Clark’s column in the New York Times dining section. Most Wednesday evenings, I am making whatever dish she created in black ink on newsprint for me. Melissa has this wonderful power, not only to make you hungry (many folks can do that on Twitter), but also to make you feel you must fling away the newspaper and turn on the burners of the stove.

I truly adore her book, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love. A few weeks ago, I told you a bit about it in my post on brussels sprouts salad. I feel somehow I love it so much that I can’t write much here.

(Do you remember that scene in Annie Hall where Alvie Singer says, “I don’t just love you. I lurve you. I loff you.” That’s how I feel about this book.)

Melissa’s prose manages to be both crisp and giddy, filled with conversation and descriptions of quirky relationships between people. Each recipe has an essay preceding it and usually they’re funny. (How often do you laugh at a cookbook?) Reading Melissa’s book, you just want to sit at her table and talk while she cooks and you peel the onions for the next course.

However, the book is more than chatting at the table. These recipes are extraordinary, filled with great ingredients but fairly easy to prepare. Melissa has an incredible palate. I’m still waiting to try the pan-fried cheese with anchovy-date salad, the chorizo corn dog bites, the heirloom potato latkes, and the lamb tagine with apricots, olives, and buttered almonds. I’ll be cooking out of this book for years.

There’s a batch of the gingerbread cookies, with orange zest and cardamom, in the fridge right now. Next week, you’ll see how they turn out.

Or, you could buy the book and make them yourself.

A friend of mine flipped through our copy of The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual the other day and said, “Wow, this feels like an old book.” Yep. That’s the intention. This is an old-school book. The edges of the pages are gold. The size and feel of the hardback reminds me more of a Thackeray novel than a modern-day cookbook. Instead of vivid color photographs in the same style that everyone is shooting these days, this book has line drawings.

I love it.

Danny and I were lucky enough to meet the Frankies in June, which inspired this roasted vegetable pasta salad. Listening to them talk about the the ethos of their cooking, and thus the cookbook, inspired me deeply. Slow cooking, good ingredients, simple preparations, and an insistence on doing things right. As well, in their restaurants, the Frankies emphasize dishes that fill you up but don’t leave you full. Olive oil instead of butter. Plenty of great vegetables. You won’t find any recipes for ooey-gooey lasagna here.

I still haven’t found the time to make their Sunday sauce, a process that takes three full days. (I don’t feel like we’ve been home for three consecutive days this fall!) However, I certainly will soon. I love that the Frankies embrace time in front of the stove. Instead of emphasizing shortcuts and pre-cooked ingredients, the Frankies want you to spend more time in the kitchen. That’s where the magic happens.

Listen, if I had a hard time writing in any way objectively about Melissa Clark’s book? I throw up my hands and let go when it comes to Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

I adore Dorie Greenspan. I’ve written about her so many times on this site that she might as well be a shadow contributor. Before this fall, my adoration came through reading her recipes, making her baked goods, hearing her kind, gentle voice in my mind when I shaped dough and made my way through World Peace cookie disasters. Dorie not only writes recipes that yield meals full of flavor and comfort, but she also writes them so well that you are bound to succeed.

In fact, there’s a passage in her new book that made Danny and I both want to stand up and cheer after reading it:

“Just about every time you cook or bake, you’ve got to make a judgment call — it’s the nature of the craft. I tested these recipes over and over and wrote them as carefully and precisely as I could, but there’s no way I could take into account all the individual variables that will turn up in your kitchen. I couldn’t know exactly how powerful ‘medium heat’ is, how cool your steak is when you slide it into the pan, how full your skillet is when you’re sautéing, and a million other little things that affect the outcome of what you’re making. And so, I’ve given you as many clues as I can for you to decide when something is done, and I’ve often given you a range of cooking or baking times, but the success of any cooking — whether from this book or any other — depends on using your judgment. Don’t cook something for 15 minutes just because I tell you to — check it a little before the 15-minutes mark, and then keep checking until it’s just right. I always feel that when I send a recipe out into the world, I’m asking you to be my partner in making it, and I love this about cookbookery. I trust your judgment, and you should too.”

You see what I mean about her? Anyone who pushes you to use your senses and learn to trust yourself? That’s who you want in your kitchen.

I have to tell you, I am hopelessly biased about Dorie Greenspan now, even more, after I met her in San Francisco this fall. The fact that I spoke on a panel about writing cookbooks with Dorie at BlogHerFood blew me away. What could I possibly say in the face of her knowledge? (True to form, I found something to say and probably talked too much.) She and I had a few brief, wonderful connections that will stay with me for years.

But here’s the moment that stays with me most.

Aran and Danny and I were walking around the Ferry Terminal building, looking at great food and running after the kids. Danny came back from swooping up a fast-running Lu and told me, “Dorie Greenspan’s at Blue Bottle coffee right now!”

Now, I have to tell you, I’m not big on celebrity. I lived with a movie star in London once (and I’m contractually obligated to not tell you anything about that). I grew up in LA, where “celebrities” thronged at every coffee shop. I was an actor when I was a kid. Someone famous? Whatever. It’s talent that impresses me.

So I sort of stood there and hyperventilated for a moment. Should I even say hello? Dorie and I had written back and forth on Twitter for a bit, and she seemed to know who I was, which astounded me. Finally, I strode forward to find her.

All shy and not wanting to bother her, as she was preparing to leave with a friend, I said, “Um, hi, I’m Shauna.”
At that, Dorie opened her arms with a giant smile. She went to hug me, and then she pulled back. In her right hand she held half a bread roll. She ran over to the trash can, threw out the roll, and then wiped her hand on her pants before she came over to give me the warmest, loveliest hug.

I wonder if she felt my tears on the back of her jacket.

Now, you might be thinking, what does this have to do with her new book? Everything. Wouldn’t you want to cook next to someone this thoughtful and kind, this open and embracing? Dorie’s new book is her most personal, a collection of recipes from her life in Paris, a city she loves ardently, more every year. Each recipe is imbued with the gracious passion that seems to fuel her. Whether it’s roasted salmon and lentils, beef cheek daube with carrots and elbow macaroni, cinnamon crunch chicken, or Breton fish soup, every recipe inspires me to move into the kitchen.

Start cooking from Dorie’s cookbook and you will soon adore her too.

I’m a little in awe of Amanda Hesser.

Seriously, not only is she one of the most accomplished and talented food writers in the world, but she’s lovely and composed, even with 4-year-old twins. The woman knows how to string sentences together better than almost anyone else I read, no matter what the genre.

I remember reading Cooking for Mr. Latte to Danny in our first apartment together, laughing and wondering at the stories, then moving to the stove.

(Sense a theme here? We really do love the books that insist we put them down.)

Of course, I have been reading her in The New York Times since long before I lived in New York, well over a decade.

When Danny, Lucy, and I had breakfast with Amanda in New York, therefore, I was intimidated. In fact, I was a little tongue tied. (Afterward, Danny said to me, “Wow, I’ve never heard you at a loss for words before. You didn’t sound like yourself.” Great, I thought. I sounded like a blathering idiot in front of Amanda Hesser.) She could not have been lovelier. Eventually, I relaxed and sounded less like a spazz.

(Last month, Amanda came to Seattle for her book, and I had the chance to have dinner with her at Delancey, along with my friends Rebekah Denn and Nancy Leson. I was far less intimidated and talked like a (sort of) normal person, while also eating a gluten-free pizza made for me by Brandon. Once again, Amanda could not have been lovelier, more full of interesting food conversation, and gracious.)

I have to tell you, if I had owned a copy of The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century before I met Amanda Hesser, I would never have agreed to meet Amanda Hesser. I would have sat there, struck dumb.

This is truly one of the most astonishing cookbooks ever published.

Imagining and sifting and crafting for six years, reading thousands of emails and letters from New York Times readers with their favorite recipes from the newspaper attached, spending too much time in the archives section of the NYT’s building, translating cooking terms from the 1800s, making meal after meal after meal late at night, laughing and stumbling and cataloging more than 1200 recipes with her business partner, Merrill — Amanda Hesser took on a Herculean task.

What’s unimaginable is how easily the book reads after all that effort.

This is my new Joy of Cooking. Whenever I need a base recipe from which to start, like pasta with vodka, I can open this book and find a recipe from Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey, from 1982. I know that it not only made the initial cut of the New York Times editors, but it also was a favorite of at least three readers. Then, it was tested by Amanda and Merrill and made cleaner in the editing. This is a recipe that works.

Also, have I mentioned that the headnotes are hilarious? I kept Danny up late one night, reading one headnote after another to him.

Chickpeas in ginger sauce, spicy orange salad Moroccan style, short ribs with coffee and chiles, Maida Heatter’s popovers, or just a perfect batch of rice — every single one of the 1108 recipes appeals to me.

This one will always be in our kitchen.

Thank you, Amanda Hesser. I may have been too stumbly to tell you this in person: this book is genius.

If you have been reading this website for longer than half a minute, you know how much I love David Lebovitz.

(Let me pause here and say how astonished I am that Danny and I some kind of personal connection with quite a few of the cookbook authors on this list. I never, ever expected this. Any of this. My life the last five years has been nothing but astonishment. I was a high school English teacher when I started this. You never could have told me that I would write a cookbook! Or that I would meet and become friends with some of the most respected cookbook authors in this country. I am constantly amazed. So I want you to know that this is the place from which I am writing these little recommendations, not from “Look who I know!” Some of you might read it that way. I can’t control that. But seriously, I’m like a kid in a candy store here.)

I wrote an entire post about how much we love Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes There’s no point in my repeating myself.

I will just say that this book, like David, is meticulous and hilarious, full of important knowledge, and leading toward the delicious.

You’re missing too much if you don’t own it.

Guess what? We don’t know the author of this book at all. No connection!

That doesn’t make us love this book any less.

Danny is a pretty entrenched omnivore. Before he met me, he could not consider a day without meat. It’s what he loves to cook and to eat. Me? I was a vegetarian for 10 years, which changed long before he met me. However, those sensibilities are still in me.

Slowly, over time, we have eaten more and more vegetarian meals. Sometimes, Danny winced, wishing for meat. However, when he started working at the restaurant on the island where he works now, he began shifting his thinking about vegetarian dishes.

You see, he has to come up with a vegetarian special for every Tuesday.

When Danny decided to make his restaurant in Seattle gluten-free, he did it for me. He didn’t realize how many people would flock to the place, grateful. And he certainly didn’t know how much it would improve his cooking.

A little deprivation breeds creativity. And so again, making vegetarian specials for people that are also gluten-free and dairy-free. Specials like roasted butternut squash and turnips, with wild rice and lentils, grilled tofu, and a parsley-sherry vinaigrette.

Now, Danny truly loves making great vegetarian food. He’s a much better chef now too.

One of his biggest inspirations for creating these dishes? Plenty.

This is a beautiful book. No one eating the dishes out of this book could feel deprived.

Ottelenghi taught me to build a depth of flavor in vegetarian dishes by roasting or smoking or pickling some parts of the dish. This changes everything. When I was a vegetarian, I ate a lot of rice and beans, and then I piled on the salsa. If I had eaten burnt aubergine with tahini and pomegranate seeds, or fried butterbeans with feta, sorrel, and sumac, or Castellucio lentils with tomatoes and Gorgonzola back then? I might never have stopped being a vegetarian.

Good food is good food. Labels sometimes stop us from trying meals that could change our lives. Gluten-free? Most of the world’s great food is naturally gluten-free. Vegetarian? It can just be great food.

Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen might surprise you. It’s so unassuming looking in comparison to these other, sumptuous cookbooks. For awhile, I thought it was a pleasant try and put it aside.

But this book by Amy Pennington just keeps drawing me in.

Amy teaches people how to set up a well-stocked pantry, and then how to cook from that pantry. Pretty simple, right? That’s the point, something Danny and I are realizing more and more clearly. Instead of going out and buying the ingredients we fancy that day, or buying ingredients for a specific recipe, we shop each week for what is missing from our pantry. It might seem more plodding at first, but it actually breeds creativity. If we have good whole grains, gluten-free flours, lentils and beans, oils and fats, vinegars, nuts, dried fruits, and some foods that always live in our refrigerator, we can make anything. Amy’s book really helped us to change the way we organize our food lives.

You can’t help but like Amy. She’s funny and expansive, casual and passionate. She just wants you to cook.

More than any other book on this list, Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen will help a beginning cook to start making great meals. If you have never really cooked much before, and you don’t know where to start, this is a good one.

What I love is that the recipes from Amy’s pantry are never boring. Most books enticing to beginners teach you how to make plain, simple food. With recipes like walnut and garlic chicken, gremolata, cumin black pot with cabbage, and Indian pickled carrots, this book will help you make interesting meals full of flavor. You just won’t have to go out shopping every day for new ingredients if you pay attention to what Amy is saying.

One of Danny’s favorite foods in the world is the artichoke. When he saw the cover of this book, he wanted it. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the author is David Tanis, head chef at Chez Panisse half the year, host of a private dining club in Paris the other half a year. Really, this was a no brainer. We bought this book immediately. You want Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys too.

I love how spare and beautiful this book is. (Having photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer makes any book breathtaking.) Some of the books we love best this year (including ours) are full of narrative, winding stories and hilarious turns. Tanis is laconic, saying only what is necessary. For example, I love that the first section of the book is called Kitchen Rituals, simple acts of being in the kitchen, like how to peel an apple with a knife in one long peel. Or the joys of Ziploc bags, taking harissa with you as you travel to spice up your life, and eating raw artichokes for lunch. This may sound like too little for a cookbook. It’s not. Each ritual taught us something about food that we didn’t know before. (I’m making bags of freezer tomatoes in Ziplocs next summer.)

This is really a book about being in the kitchen all the time. It’s not flashy. it’s not trying to reinvent cuisine, it’s not going to shout at you. Instead, Tanis suggests a life of cooking every day, without the idea that dinner has to be on the table, quickly. It’s about living a life of food, graciously.

On top of that, the man really knows his food. I want to make his tea-smoked chicken salad with ginger vinaigrette immediately.

Also, the book is arranged by a series of seasonal menus: spring, summer, fall, and winter. This helps me enormously when I’m trying to find something to cook for the evening. We could be having duck confit with crisp panfried potatoes alongside celery, radish, and watercress salad with walnut oil soon. Dessert will be spiced pears in red wine.

Truly, I want to make everything in this book. Everything.

We happily recommended Plenty, a vegetarian book full of complex recipes that will make you love your vegetables and grains. Because life is not simple, we’re also enthusiastically recommending Pig: King of the Southern Table.

This is one of the kinds of cookbooks I love most: specific and focused. Villas, a respected food writer who has written more than ten cookbooks, turns his attention to the role pork plays in the South. Guess what? It’s a big role. There’s plenty to read and to cook here.

How about Carolina pork and sweet potato pie with biscuit batter crust? Or Maw Maw’s mustard pork chops and dumplings in cider? Or sherried ham and squash casserole? I’m hungry again.

The book is filled with stories of the people who make and cook pork in the South, as well as little facts along the way. As you know, we love pork in this house. If you do too, you will absolutely love this book.

When we told friends of ours that we were planning to do this (epic-long) post, some of them said, “What are you doing? Why are you promoting other people’s cookbooks when you are trying to sell yours?”

Well, I have to tell you, that’s how we are. We love to give. We’ve been blessed enough to have these books in our home this year, and our bellies have been happy for the cracked-open books on our kitchen counter.

Also, we cannot say, “Hey, in the top 10 cookbooks of the year? Our book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef!” Even though some people have been suggesting our book should be in that list, we can’t say that.

But we’d like you to consider buying it. We think you’ll like it.

Here’s Where You Come In

Because we have loved these 12 cookbooks so much, we want you to have the chance to cook from them too. So we are giving away a copy of every one of these books, including ours. 13 of you will have a new cookbook soon.

Simply tell us what makes a great cookbook for you. We’ll see if we can match the winners to the right book.

(Also, if you are thinking about buying any of these cookbooks, would you consider going through our site? If you buy anything on Amazon through these links, we receive a small amount of money for each purchase. This keeps us going in gluten-free flours for all the baking experiments!)

And, believe it or not, we had a heck of a time narrowing this down to 12 books. If you are interested, here are the other books we considered:

Cookbooks That Almost Made the Cut

Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy Delicious Meals

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers: Recipes and Stories from Tuscany to Sicily

Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home

The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009

The Newlywed Kitchen: Delicious Meals for Couples Cooking Together

Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home

Food Books (not quite cookbooks but still amazing)

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition

Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes

Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life

Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More

Cookbooks We Don’t Own Yet But Hope To Soon

Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes

One Big Table: 600 recipes from the nation’s best home cooks, farmers, fishermen, pit-masters, and chefs

In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine

The Sunset Cookbook: Over 1,000 Fresh, Flavorful Recipes for the Way You Cook Today

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets

What makes a cookbook great so it stays in your kitchen?

439 comments on “10 Best Cookbooks of 2010 (plus 2 more)

  1. straystreets

    I agree! Print is very much alive, and always will be in my home. Nothing is better than a collection of good books. – Camellia

  2. miss tejota

    I need a cookbook that can dumb down some of the explanations for non-cookers. A cookbook with a glossary is always nice.

  3. wellunderstood

    A good cookbook is like a good novel. I have trouble putting it down. I read it in bed with a booklight. I fall in love with the author.

    Functionality, though, is something good cookbooks have that novels lack. I like accessible but exciting recipes–things that I wouldn't necessarily have come up with on my own.

  4. Lara

    When we moved into our home, and I set up my new kitchen, I left a whole double wide cupboard for cookbooks. I love having them right there in the kitchen. For me a good cook book has great photos (but there are some great ones with none) and recipes that are innovative but understandable.

  5. Anna

    So many great options! I'm getting some good ideas for Xmas gifts. Shhh…don't tell my husband. I'm hoping to get your new cookbook under the tree too! A great cookbook for me has gluten-free options (of course), but I do best when photos are involved. When it comes to food, I'm a visual learner. It gets me salivating to start a recipe!

  6. Tricia

    Oh goodness – I have been DYING to look at and try Dorie Greenspan's book. I hear so many good things about it all the time and our library doesn't have it (and the book store so far). I can't wait to look at it…someday.

    My perfect cookbook is fabulous recipes with accessible ingredients, beautiful photos, and a lot of personality tastefully thrown in – be in the handwritten notes a la Jamie Oliver or something more eclectic like music suggestions. I love added help like conversion charts and cheat sheets as well – that's what makes it invaluable to me.

    Thank you for your continued generosity!

  7. Sarah

    A great cookbook, to me, has thoughtful stories, gorgeous photography, style, and recipes that work every time… on every level. From breakfast to dessert. I want to get to know the cook through the book, feel the energy of their kitchen, and eat a little bit of homemade love, thanks to their hard work and years of testing.

  8. The Chatty Housewife

    In no particular order:
    beautiful photos
    easy to find ingredients
    gluten free or easily converted
    hard cover

  9. Debra

    My favorite cookbooks are ones that have not just recipes but also teach you little things that make cooking easier or more fun. I am often short on time (and pantry space) so prefer simpler recipes with few but tasty ingredients. So far my current favorites are Asian cuisine. Yum!

  10. gluten-free-foodie.net

    I'm so glad to hear that print isn't dead in your house! I still love curling up with a good book and I adore cookbooks and cooking magazines. And my children love love love books too. They even like paging through my old Martha Stewart cooking magazines, even though they are too young to read them! I also like to print pictures and frame them and hang them on my wall. Too many digital pictures get lost on the computer never to be seen again. Keep print alive! There are some things worth it. 🙂 (I hope there aren't any environmentalists reading my comment.) 🙂

  11. The Escandon Family

    I love a cookbook that uses 'real' everyday ingredients, has great photos and kid friendly too 🙂 I cook only gluten free, but find it's fairly easy to modify a recipe to do so! Thanks for sharing!

  12. InvisiGyrl

    oh wow, I buy most of my cookbooks at 2nd-hand charity shops. Back when I was able to work, I bough cookbooks. I have quite a few but now, this gluten-free thing has me all confused, and I could REALLY TRULY use some help.

  13. Eating for England

    I love this list! Several of these books are on my "want" list…most notably Ottolenghi's since I pour over his Guardian column all the time!

    A great cookbook to me is one that I know I can turn to because it delivers the goods it promises. For me, Mark Bittman's 'How to Cook Everything' falls into this category. It really does have everything I want in it! I know that I'll always find something great when I'm at a loss – and that to me is what makes it a winner.

  14. hangupyourcoat

    I love the idea of experimentation. Which is why I just recently started following your blog religiously. I had never been gluten free before meeting my husband a couple of years ago and now the baking/cooking bug has certainly bitten me. I've even decided that instead of getting my masters now, I want to go to culinary school. Most of this is because my 5 month old daughter has a very high chance of having Celiac's disease like my husband and I never want her to miss out on amazing foods because she can't eat gluten. I've been taking a clue from you and using different gluten free flours in my recipes to see how I can change the tastes and textures of our favorite goodies. I asked for your book for Christmas (nudge nudge mom make sure you pick it up lol) but my main issue with "gluten free" books so far has been how to make "normal" things gluten free, like breads or pastas. I want a recipe book you know, something to inspire me to cook something out of the norm, so I'm excited to get yours and expand our pallets that much more. Thank you for all you guys do, it has certainly helped me make the transition to a completely gluten free household much easier!

  15. Thankful Momma

    What makes a great cookbook for me (and my family): Good, delicious, tried and tested food that my family will actually eat!

    My husband is quite the foodie, and the kids – one will eat ANYTHING and the other, well, let's just say PICKY. So, for me, a great cookbook is something that has good "real" food, little indulgences and a cookbook I can open and use every single day if necessary, whether feeding my family or hosting guests.

    Pictures are great, but not required if it's great food. (My MIL has the old NYT cookbook which my husband grew up on and LOVES, but is no longer published, so I'd love to try out the new NYT cookbook! :))

    Thanks for this awesome giveaway!

  16. Heather Scholten

    A great cookbook for me is one that is adventurous and full of diversity. One of those books that you know you can pull off the shelf and find a great recipe no matter what style of cooking you want to do. With well over 200 cookbooks (everyone gives them to me as gifts) I have only a handful that I use on a regular basis and the pages are well tattered AND splattered – always a good sign that it was a well liked recipe. 🙂

    Thank you for doing this giveaway and book review.

    (Farmgirl Gourmet)

  17. Tams

    Oh wow.. what a list.. want to delve into these all a little more. Thanks so much for the links!

    I love a cookbook with pictures… hehe.. a picture can sell me even on the weirdest sounding dish! Also love a good variety of foods, different ethnic origins, healthy… or just scrumptious!

  18. Dee

    To me a great cookbook has recipes that 1) I can make without buying an entire spice rack or expensive ingredients, 2) won't kill me (or my loved ones) as they're filled with sticks of butter or cream–I always look for heart-healthy recipes, 3) are clearly written.

  19. Lisa Cohen

    The New York Times cookbook is great! Haven't seen any of the others personally, so thanks for the reviews!

  20. misbehaveinca

    Just got your book from our local library–love it! You can "feel" the love you two share, the pictures are gorgeous, and the recipes sound a) simple and b) delicious! Those last three are some things I look for in a cookbook or one I would consider buying. ;p Also, it looks like you've made these recipes plenty of times, not once for the picture, and that gives us non-pros something to hold on to. ;p

  21. txterryo

    What makes a cookbook kitchen-shelf worthy for me is a book that has loads of photos, talks through the recipe *and* doesn't have 239847523987 ingredients to make it work.

    There's a time and a place for a dish/creation that has 18 steps and 36 ingredients, but for a blossoming cook/baker who hasn't learned to sub out things and/or improvise at all (really, I'm at a place where the recipe is gospel), there's only so much I can handle before I throw my hands up and make a sandwich.

    Also, if it's not a special occasion, it's hard to see the merits of buying all those ingredients for one dish, when the end price of that dish is quadruple the cost of buying it ready-made at Whole Foods and double the cost of eating out at a restaurant. Not to mention the time and dishes (I'm a messy cook.)

    Whew! To re-read this sounds like I don't enjoy cooking. I DO. I SWEAR. I like things simple. Simple-r. At least until I have the training wheels fully off.

  22. Sarah Thurman

    A great cookbook is one you can't wait to read the next page and are excited to share with friends and family!

  23. Jessica

    Healthy recipes! So often, cookbooks only include things that I can only make for special occasions or when I'm willing to splurge. I need cookbooks that I can use on a daily basis, with healthy, delicious recipes (with lots of veggies!)

  24. growandresist.com

    I love cookbooks that have recipes that are easy to follow, full of flavor, open to experimenting with and are solid vs just trendy.
    Great list!

  25. cheesemongerswife

    1. Accessible yet encourages you to step outside your comfort zone.
    2. Reasonably priced
    3. Reads like a novel
    4. Good illustrations
    5. Comprehensive index
    6. Encourages creativity
    7. Diverse recipes for different occasions
    8. Bestows the authors love for food on the reader and refutes the notion of mediocrity in the everyday meal.

  26. LeAnn

    Two months ago our lives were changed by a diagnosis that makes gluten free cooking a necessity for our teenage boy. Learning how to cook appetizing gluten free foods is a challenge. I am hoping these cookbooks create delicious foods that will entice him to make wise choices in his eating. Which one would you recommend to start with? Thank you.

  27. Penny

    I like beautiful photos. And I like some "how to". I've gotten a few cookbooks recently that spotlight a technique or challenge for me ahead of time, a "watch out for this" kind of thing that has helped me make a recipe right the first time.

  28. Sarah "Gluten Girl"

    Married white female seeks cookbook with gluten free and low sugar recipes to share with her diabetic husband. Healthy meals are a must for us, but so are quick but flavorful meals as we both work full time but love big bold & spicy flavors. I'm looking for my perfect cookbook match. 🙂

  29. Reema

    A good cookbook is one that has be going back to it, inspiring me to cook and try new things. Pretty pictures are always a plus, pulling me in with foods I wish I could eat them right off the pages, but aren't needed if the descriptions are compelling. I tend to get stuck in food ruts, making foods I am familiar with over and over again so I rely on good cookbooks to inspire me to try something new.

  30. Erin

    A good cook book is one that I keep going back to again and again, so much that the pages are stained or stuck together from using it so much.

  31. raindrop

    My kitchen would not function without a whole library of cook books. Every cookbook has a unique way to approach a dish…even if I don't follow it. I am the type that will turn to the same (or similar type) of dish in multiple books and choose my own mix that suites my tastes and pantry.
    There is something special about having a cook book on the counter(covered in flour and other messy stuff). Hopefully, my sagging shelf of books will be larger after the holidays!

  32. Magpie Ima

    Most of these books (with the exception of Pig–I'm Jewish after all) are on my hold list at the library and I can't wait to explore them.

    My cookbook reading is done late at night, in bed, after everything settles down around here. The best cookbooks will have me frantically placing sticky notes so I don't forget to try intriguing recipes in the morning. And sometimes, not too often, the best cookbooks will become part of my dreams.

  33. Sarah "Gluten Girl"

    Married white female seeks gluten free friendly cookbook filled with recipes for healthy, flavorful yet simple meals. My husband is a diabetic & I am gluten intolerant. We have to watch sugar intake along with whole grain gluten free carbs, but we love bold & spicy dishes. We'd love to be matched up with one of your lovely suitors…i mean cookbooks! 🙂

  34. Grace Boyle

    I will never forget print. I also don't want a Kindle. The written word is so special and so are the bound books in which authors have them displayed. It's so nostalgic for me. Cook books are one of my favorite forms of books that I still collect.

    I love a cook book that is personal, that shares story about where they come from, what the recipe means and of course, visual. I'm a visual learner and although a photo isn't how it always looks, I like having an image in mind while I'm cooking, especially if it's a new experiment 🙂

  35. April Fiet

    A good cookbook is one that keeps everyday life in mind. I am a mom with two kids and so I need recipes that I can make in an hour or less for main dishes, and treats my kids will enjoy. That said, hospitality is something I truly love and I need recipes that take ordinary concepts and add a little bit of "WOW!" for my guests. A good cookbook will have pictures that show what the finished product can truly look like so that I can picture the finished item on my table. 🙂

  36. Bibberche

    Thank you so much for such a comprehensive review on all these books! I really appreciate the time, effort, and passion you put into this article. During the holidays, when everybody is running around breathless, chasing every minute of the precious day, you have shared with us so much of your time and insight.
    The only cookbook n your list that I own was Dorie's (and I just plainly adore her!), a surprise present from my husband, who knows me so well. But there are several on my wish list (we are firm believers in print, and our bookshelves hold witness to that).
    Our youngest daughter has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, and it has been a fierce nutritional battle to keep her blood sugar under control. Due to her diabetes, we live in anxiety of her becoming gluten-intolerant (chances are augmented tremendously).
    Therefore, I was excited and relieved to see that your book has finally appeared in press. What a relief:)
    What do I look for in a cookbook? Just like any other form of writing, it has to have a particular style, it has to be technically well written, and I have to be able to feel the passion that the author has put into the recipes. I love when I can transport myself from reality and get into somebody else's kitchen (Madhur Jaffrey and Ruth Reichl come to mind immediately:) I admire the creativity and yearn to learn something new every time I pick a book.
    Sorry for the long rant:) Wish you the best for the holidays!

  37. Angela

    Pictures and passion. I love beautiful pictures to show me what my taste buds might get to enjoy. The passion of the writing needs to flow from the page and make you feel enthused to try even the most difficult recipe. Jamie Oliver and Cranks are two of my kitchen favourites. Their love for food and flavours is tangible.

  38. Kay

    I love this post! For me, a good cookbook is one with recipes that are clear, concise and adaptable (I have vegetarian, Vegan & GF friends) with lovely pictures of the finished product. I consider a cookbook to be great when it also has witty & engaging dialogue to tell the story behind the recipe. Bonus points for a few complicated recipes that have step-by-step photos (not for each recipe, though). When I find the truly great cookbooks, I don't just read them, I devour them. And inspired, will be off to whip up a recipe for others to savor as well.

  39. zonecoach

    A great cookbook has their stories and information about the author's life. It also shows an author's creativity and love of food and of life. The author should show that they understand the ingredients in their dish; why the ingredient is there; what it does for the dish.
    Last of all, it needs to have sumptutious photographs. Pictures that make me salivate. Once I read the recipe and the story and look at the picture(s), I want to get those ingredients and make that dish!!

    I love good cookbooks!

  40. Kay

    I love this post! For me, a good cookbook is one with recipes that are clear, concise and adaptable (I have vegetarian, Vegan & GF friends) with lovely pictures of the finished product. I consider a cookbook to be great when it also has witty & engaging dialogue to tell the story behind the recipe. Bonus points for a few complicated recipes that have step-by-step photos (not for each recipe, though). When I find the truly great cookbooks, I don't just read them, I devour them. And inspired, will be off to whip up a recipe for others to savor as well.

  41. janaya

    A good cookbook has beautiful pictures, inspiring recipes that help me knock dishes out of the park, and is easy to read. No yellow titles like are found in Gourmet's cookbook.

  42. Catie

    A good cookbook, for me, has clear instructions – I'm not at the point where I can easily improvise in cooking and being a busy graduate student (as if there is another kind) means that I don't have time for recipes that don't work. If I make a recipe from a cookbook and it works – I'm more likely to make another recipe from the book – and the more recipes that work, the more I turn to that cookbook. Photos help. And I'll devote time to some recipes, particularly if I think they are worth it, but those recipes are reserved for special occasions or weekends at the very least. So simple recipes work best for me.

    I need to build a collection of cookbooks and purge the ones that don't work for me. I'll be using this list of books to choose one for my brother-in-law. He loves cookbooks more than anyone else I've ever met.

  43. Tania

    For me, a cookbook needs to live in my kitchen for a long time, move from spot to spot but not too far out of reach…and has turned corners, and pages stuck together.

    And one that has good stories in it to accompany the recipes….

  44. kickpleat

    This is such a fantastic list, Shauna! Not only do I think you've made some great choices (I don't own any of the books mentioned, but want several), I love your descriptions of what drew you to them. For myself, I love a cookbook with accessible recipes without complicated steps or fancy ingredients. I love cooking out of my pantry and I appreciate cookbooks that can teach me something new.

  45. Tashi5

    What makes a cookbook a keeper for me is appealing photos and simple recipes. I like looking at all the delicious things and feeling reasonably confident that I could make it (successfully!).

  46. Veronica

    As much as I enjoy my Kindle, I do hope that print never dies. There are some books – like cookbooks – that just aren't the same on an e-reader.

    You need to be able to go in, look at the pictures, read the stories, make notes in the margins to truly appreciate a cookbook

  47. Rachel

    A good cookbook for me has colorful pictures, vegetarian options, and ingredient lists that don't overwhelm me.

  48. Fiona

    I like different things about different cookbooks, but the one constant is great photography. I find it hard to imagine the end result without a photo. Great photos make me hungry .. and make me want to cook something!

    Secondly I love books that help me to understand new cuisines and make them accessible for me. I'm not a natural cook, so I need the cookbook to guide me, to explain any exotic ingredients and possible substitutes…. preferably all in simple English!

  49. Natalie

    i love cookbooks that have a lot of pretty pictures & healthy recipes; that focus a lot on spices, vegetables, and fresh seasonal ingredients! love it when anecdotes + lovely writing is tossed in as well

  50. Megan

    I have Tanis' first cookbook and I, too, love have sparse or minimal it is. He says only what needs to be said… the pages are clean. The illustrations are beautiful. And the recipes embrace the seasons and fresh produce. I absolutely love that.

    I enjoyed reading your whole post about everything you love about these books. I just met Amanda Hesser and have plans to spend many winter nights poring over the NY Times Cookbook.

  51. The Urban Baker

    what a great post, Shauna! I have several of the books mentioned, a few are on my wish list and the balance are ones that I need to educate myself with.

    A good cookbook, for me, inspires, teaches me something new, is visually fabulous to look at, and the recipes use less than 10 ingredients-preferably ones that I already have.

    p.s. I still get excited when Saveur, Bon Appetit and Cooks Illustrated arrive at my doorstep!

  52. Anne

    I love a cookbook with beautiful, glossy photographs that make it clear what you're looking at is art.

    But what I most cherish in a cookbook, so much so that its pages are quickly dirtied with smudges and spills from use, is when it's filled with food that's meant to be shared.

  53. susan

    I've been cooking for a long time and read about food a lot. I like a cookbook that teaches me something i don't know, helps me to "taste" the food as I read the recipe, and that inspires me to get into the kitchen and try out new ideas.

  54. christine

    What makes a cookbook great for me? First and foremost, the recipes must work. If I follow a recipe and it fails, I have a hard time coming back. Also, the use of fresh ingredients is a must! I also love a cookbook that focuses on techniques that can be applied to more than one situation, not just on individual recipes. And, I must say, I'm a sucker for gorgeous photos 🙂

  55. Ally

    I have spent the better portion of my cooking years consistently turning to Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for basics. While I love my specialty cookbooks, especially now that I'm gluten free, BH&G will always be my standby.

    thanks for suggesting some new ones to try!

  56. Susan

    Thank you for such a thoughtful discussion of these books. Several are on my 'wish list' and this is great insight.

    The cookbook that draws me may not have to read exactly like a novel, but I need to feel the heart, or sense the care that went into it. I love the books that spend a week on my nightstand before they make it to the kitchen (Like 'A Good Appetite, which currently moves back and forth between kitchen and nightstand.)

    It needs to be more than a list of recipes. I like to try new (but not exceedingly complex) techniques & flavors. These should be clearly described, both in steps and the senses (what should you see, smell, etc.)

    Vive les livres!

  57. Mental Magician

    I like a conversationational tone, different flavor combinations that are achieved with ingredients that aren't hard to find, gorgeous photos of every recipe, an easy to use index that has the recipes listed by ingredient, not just the recipe name and page number.

  58. jcowling

    I'm still figuring out gluten-free baking. I needs something to share with my white-flour loving husband!

  59. womanstoryteller

    This is a magnificent list! Thank you for posting it. Now I know what to put on my Christmas list. 🙂

  60. Jen

    A good cookbook is both familiar and yet full of possibility… could I cook this dish? Could I try something new? Could I change the way I eat and view food? A good cookbook both comforts me and challenges me to be more fully in the world.I have carried my good cookbooks with me from north to south, east to west, and I still pull them off the shelf for inspiration, comforting recipes, and fresh ideas (yours is in this trusty category now, joining Friendly Foods, Moosewood Daily Special, and a few select others…).

  61. Sarahem321

    Cookbooks that stay in my kitchen are ones that spark ideas and inspire me to want to eat. Nigella Lawson's books have so many easy quick GF or easily modifiable recipes that make me want to throw things in a pan or pot or oven. I always have one on the counter. Old church and charity cookbooks with irreplaceable tips and tricks and long forgotten dishes are always around, too.

  62. Kathy M

    A great cookbook has an intimate connection to the author(s), you feel the passion, smell the food in your mind and the Pavlovian dog response starts as soon as you read the first ingredient of the recipe. Excellent pictures are also a plus!

  63. jenskitchen

    I love a cookbook that inspires me to cook. I have many on my shelf & a few that are my go-to books. Since I'm just learning to cook, books that discuss & define techniques are the most helpful for me… So that I'm not stuck with just that one recipe or two… The recipes are more like jumping off points.

  64. FTC Photography & Courtney Allison Studios

    Print will NEVER die in this house either! Love the feel and smell of them way too much! Thanks for sharing, these all look fabulous!

  65. havenmaven

    Ok, so I know I've posted about this before, but because Holland is a world contender in pork export, I'm now literally SURROUNDED BY PIG. Which means I'm vying for the cookbook named after the savory beast. Did I mention my 10-year-old son is adamant about roasting wild boar for Christmas dinner? Seriously, surrounded. Need recipes. Please help!

  66. jenskitchen

    A good cookbook for me has not only good recipes, but also info on technique… As someone teaching myself to cook, I don't want to be stuck with a good recipe or two, I want the recipes to be my starting off points, they inspire me to create…

  67. sam

    My favorite cookbooks have clear directions and recipes that work, let me see something of where the recipes come from (why do these things taste good together? what's the history?), give guidance but don't make me feel as if I'm breaking sacred rules if I adjust something, and stretch boundaries a bit by adding a new flavor or combining things in a way I hadn't thought of. And great photos are a bonus.

  68. Wendy K

    A good cookbook to me has to have recipes that 1) come at least close to working the first time 2) have unique but not expensive ingredients 3) have accompanying pictures, though I don't want more pictures than words and 4) are printed on paper that feels good to the touch. That last item is superficial I know, but touch is one of the pleasures of books to me, and I still use it as a guage.

    I look forward to trying some of the books on your list, but I have to admit that I'm confused by one of your selection. I have been cooking out of Good to the Grain for several weeks now wanting badly to use more wholegrains in my baking, but have had failure after failure with the recipes. It has gotten such good reviews by so many people yet everything I make from it, with the exception of the buttermilk pancakes, has been exceedingly dry and tasting sadly like sawdust. I must be doing something horribly wrong!

    Thank you again for your blog – I enjoy it very much.

  69. Andrew's Mom

    I so agree with every word. I love the feel of a book – I love seeing all my books piled on the shelves. Andrew just turned six – he is reading at a 4th grade level. We started reading to him at birth — reading is so important. So what makes a good cookbook – beautiful pictures help, beautiful words, stories and simple directions….a new cookbook to me is a yet to be adventure. I can travel and explore different places all with a new recipe.

  70. micaela

    a cookbook stays in my rotation if I find myself as compelled to sit on the couch and read through it as I am compelled to get in the kitchen and cook from its recipes. In a perfect world, I'd be a food anthropologist, so I'm attracted to stories and histories and traditions. I loved what you said the other day (I think on the homemade oreos post?) about the internet being a virtual recipe box, with each writer putting their own little touch in a recipe. A great food writer understands that process and even encourages it by outlining how you can take a technique or a recipe and adapt it to other ingredients.

    I put about half the books on your list (including yours) on my Amazon wish list last week, LOL! Now I want them ALL — I hadn't seen the Indian one before, so that one's going on the list as well, YUM! Oh and yes, print is NOT dead as far as I'm concerned, I like to annotate my books, especially my cookbooks. It's fun to go back later and read what I wrote!

  71. VanC

    Sometimes I think I love reading the recipes even more than making them. I have a coverless cookbook that has B&B recipes from all around the US, that I found at a thrift store. Poor thing has amazing brunch recipes plus stories about the inn it came from. I take trips in my head every time I read it.

  72. Anne B.

    Beautiful inspiring pictures
    In-depth explanations and directions
    stories about the recipes or cultural references
    Thanks for a chance to win!!!

  73. Denise

    A great cookbook is gluten free or easy to convert, lower in refined sugar, and has beautiful pictures 🙂

  74. bakeanything

    Humor. The mundane step by step recipe is essential but a little humor goes a long way. Interesting flavors that blows the mind but aren't difficult to find. Beautiful pictures that makes you want to go nom nom nom even while making it. Finally, creative techniques we all can learn from. Many are professional chefs thus, putting some thought into a "house kitchen" would be so lovely!

    Recently became gluten/wheat intolerant. Goodbye baguette and wraps, hello chili with rice!

  75. Melissa G

    So, not a general comment about what makes a cookbook, but rather my long-time favorite and why:
    Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." I love the section arranged by vegetable and have often used it to find a new recipe for the veggies we have on hand or to remember basic information–like baking potatoes.

  76. fallingintofavor

    A great cookbook…

    One of my favorite cookbooks has a picture on the right side of the page, a cute quote and the recipe on the other side. But then again, the book is all about breakfast and that's my favorite meal!

    I like to display books, so I appreciate hardcover. Other than that, I adore all cookbooks.

  77. Alison

    A great cookbook for us has plenty of recipes that appeal to both vegetarians and meat eaters. When Jim went vegetarian, I refused to make separate dishes each night, so I had to find really interesting vegetarian recipes to keep my palate entertained and not feel like I was getting gypped with poor substitutes for meat.

    As a result, we started cooking a lots of ethnic/foreign food and were well-rewarded for our efforts. Since then, many vegan and gluten-free folks have come into our lives and it's nice to have options for all of us. We love trying new things and don't mind (actually enjoy) hunting down unusual ingredients.

    Generally, I prefer a cookbook where the recipes take centerstage and aren't as much about the author. A bit of context for the origin of dishes is nice, but I don't want to read a novel when I'm prepping a meal.

    Thanks for yet another great giveaway!

  78. Jen Maraia

    I'm a fairly inexperienced cook/baker as I'm 19 and only recently starting working in the kitchen by myself. I'm in college and a cookbook that's simpler, both in number of ingredients and types of kitchen items you need, is just what I need in a cookbook! I also LOVE delectable photos that make me say, "I NEED to make that; it looks so good!!" Thanks for being so generous 🙂

  79. katharinesalas

    I love that you love all things in print. I love cookbooks too and am always looking for suggestions. Thank you for breaking down your criteria and for also a brief intro and background on each. I am dying to get my hands on the Indian food cookbook. That is one cuisine that I want to understand better and get an idea for the technique and flavors.

    Thanks again!

  80. katharinesalas

    I love that you love all things in print. I love cookbooks too and am always looking for suggestions. Thank you for breaking down your criteria and for also a brief intro and background on each. I am dying to get my hands on the Indian food cookbook. That is one cuisine that I want to understand better and get an idea for the technique and flavors.

    Thanks again!

  81. Brianne

    I adore cookbooks like Dorie Greenspan's, the ones that give you a gentle encouragement and tell you "It's ok if the buttercream looks like hell right now, don't freak out. Just keep beating it." Cooking from one of Dorie's cookbooks is like cooking with my mom beside me showing me the way.

  82. marcella

    For me, it's not that cookbooks are so good they stay in the kitchen but rather that they are so good they are found all around the house. In the kitchen when I'm cooking with it, in the bedroom or on the couch when I'm reading it.

    I love to read cookbooks; not just skim the recipe to see if it sounds good but read every last word. Books with stories about the recipes win bonus points from me. I love to read that a recipe is Great Aunt Mabels and she won ribbons at the county fair every year cooking that dish.

  83. Melissa

    I love to cook and cookbooks, I just recently moved and got rid of many of my cookbooks, it was very hard to part with them. I'd love to add one of these to my remaining collection, particularly, "Good to the Grain." Thanks for the chance and look forward to the upcoming cookies.

  84. Sheena

    Despite how much I love beautiful photographs it's the writing that makes it for me. A short anecdote from the author, little hints and notes always make me go back. And of course, good recipes that might have a little twist are always appreciated!

    And thank you for all the give aways, you're too kind! 🙂

  85. SLColman

    The best cookbooks are the ones you feel the passion in. The passion for the food, the passion for sharing, and the passion for living life! I love when a cookbook explains an obscure spice or technique and coaches you though 🙂

  86. Lyndsey

    I love a cookbook that tells me a story about the author or transports me to another time or culture. Soup, A way of life by Barbara Kafka is an excellent example of this. I love a cookbook who's recipes always turn out as they should. I have never had a failed recipe from the Barefoot Contessa books. I love an instructive cookbook that teaches me how to be a better cook the way Mark Bittman's books do. Thanks for all you do!

  87. Dee

    Hi Shauna!
    I love your Blog! Thank you for sharing these selections with us!

    I Love real-live-actual printed books as well! The computer is cool, but if you fall asleep reading your laptop and it slides off the bed – you might be in trouble!
    I will definitely be checking some of these out (if I don't win one!) 😉

  88. Rebecca

    A good cookbook is like your oldest friend and meeting a new person at the same time. It will wow you with new flavors but comfort you when you need that certain fix. A good cookbook doesn't just tell a story or share a recipe, it takes you on the journey with the author.

  89. Toby

    I still prefer real, paper books too. A good cookbook to me needs to have photos to show me how mouthwatering the dish looks and it needs to have flavorful recipes. I love all foods with Indian, Thai, or Asian flavors.

    More and more these days I'm making substitutions too – gluten isn't bothering me, but dairy, eggs, and corn have been cut out of my diet.

  90. ronnissweettooth

    My definition of a good cookbook has changed mostly thanks to your book and Molly's book. I was all about photos photos photos! Now, I love when the author tells a personal story about the recipe. It's perfect to read while in bed. Then, I can dream about all the wonderful food that I can make during the week.

  91. Laurie

    you are truly amazing. i love reading your posts and love your story.
    i've been gluten-free for nearly 18 months and love experimenting but cookbooks are helpful.

    the best ones, first of all, make you want to rush into the kitchen and cook! not because of the photos or the descriptions, because you're not exactly sure if the magic will really happen. but if you trust the writer, and trust your own instincts and creativity, it all turns out well. (less like a novel, more like a romance!) thanks for all you do, keep cooking!

  92. wordlily.com

    What makes a cookbook great, for me? Good photos, cleverness or inventiveness in the recipes, and accessibility.

  93. emily

    Wow, it's hard to narrow down when you stop and think about it. I guess for me, I love pictures (naturally), but really I love when the author is passionate and yet accessible.

    I love the feeling of love and home through cooking and especially love the use of whole, real ingredients. I don't mind whether the recipes are long or short as long as they make sense and feel like home.

  94. mrscamacho

    I love a cookbook that has a picture for every recipe. I don't like fussy food; simple ingredients and presentation are my style. I'm cooking with a crawler biting my ankles, after all!

    One of my favorite cookbooks was GRUB. Concept Cookbooks are a fun way to look at food, when you are an experienced chef.

    I really want yours, though! 😉

  95. Jennifer

    A good cookbook tells me a story about a place or a time. It teaches me something new – a brand new technique or a new way of looking at something I'm already very familiar with.

  96. Trishissi

    For me, a great cookbook is one that makes me leap off the sofa and rush into the kitchen to make something within the first few minutes of reading it – those that do this seem to share a few characteristics: great photography, simple but inspirational recipes and a glimpse at the heart and soul of the writer. I made Dorie Greenspan's apple cake four times in one week so she is my #1 this year!

  97. Diane-The WHOLE Gang

    That is a great list of books! I love cookbooks with lots of photos, mostly because I admit I'll get inspiration and go from there. I'm better at writing recipes than I am at following them.

    I also love the feel of the cookbook. I love the pages of your book. That just reminded me, it's time for more meatloaf to get me through these holidays!

    Every year I have cookbooks on my wish list. This year I have from your list Ratio, Heart of an Artichoke, and NYT cookbook. I've not had a chance to even peak at these at the book store but I do love the people behind the books.

    We LOVE books here at our house too. Hubby who has his book published, reads books on his ipad and in hardback. I think both worlds can live together. I think especially for cookbooks!

  98. sg

    I love many different types of cookbooks. I love the feel that the author is the expert and that there is no other version for a dish except the one that they've written; a confidence in their writing complete with menu plans and wine pairings. However, I also love a romance cookbook. Not necessarily about the life and mate of the author, but about their romance with food. The type of books that draw you in with the eloquence in the headnotes. I also love humor. Wow, I'm all over the place. I guess I appreciate any well researched, well tested cookbook where I can sense the author's passion. I love your list and have most on my Christmas wish list already!

  99. Serene @ MomFood

    A computer screen will never replace a cookbook in my hands. Never. Thank you for this amazing resource, full of love.

  100. Serene @ MomFood

    (I bought your book for myself for Giftmas, and Dorie's for my birthday — two brand-new books in one year is WAY out of my usual budget, but it's going to take me a long time to work my way through them, so please don't enter me in the contest; let someone else get the joy.)

  101. Nadine

    I love cookbooks with recipes that aren't too complicated and have pictures. I love seeing pictures of the food!

  102. Shari

    I've been told I have a cookbook problem, I find them very hard to pass up. I have weeded out many that I never actually used, but have kept some that were my mother's and grandmother's. I also still have the first Betty Crocker cookbook that my mother gave me over 35 years ago. I have used almost all of the cookbooks I now have, but have started collecting gluten & dairy free ones now with having food issues.

  103. Ann

    What generosity you have!

    I love the book arts – books and paper will ALWAYS be a part of my life!

    What makes a good cookbook?
    1) Not too hard to convert (e.g., I don't spend a lot of time with non-GF recipes that have dumplings and things – I don't want to use two recipes to make one meal and I'm not skilled / intuitive enough to convert a dumpling recipe on my own … yet).

    2) Recipes where I can work around dairy (substitute or eliminate), as I'm GF/CF.

    3) Recipes with some personality – unexpected pairings of ingredients or preparations

    4) Cookbooks where the personality of the chef comes through (that might be in narrative, in the photos chosen, in the notes …)

    5) Cookbooks that teach me more about the art of cooking, rather than just recipes. I am endlessly fascinated by what flavors "go" together, and how and why different cooking methods work.

  104. michelle w

    I love cookbooks with pictures that make my mouth water and also that encourage me to try cooking with new ingredients. Good cookbooks also provide recipes that become family classics 🙂

  105. Eileen

    I like cookbooks that take me places.
    I used to be confused when I heard a cook talk about keeping cookbooks on her bedtable for nighttime reading. What? No. You read novels and edifying stuff at night.
    Then I was given "How to Eat Supper" and, love the book or hate it, I finally GOT why someone would read a cookbook before bed.
    I like knowing where a recipe came from, or the history of the main ingredient, or about the dinner party that totally flopped because everyone there was lactose intolerant. It brings me closer to a happy, warm, fallible, interested community.

  106. Cookin' Canuck

    To me, the act of fingering a well-word page, splattered in tomato sauce and batter or marked with crayon, will never go out of style. My husband and I also spend hours reading to our two boys and we hope that grow up to appreciate the engrossment a good book can bring.

    I have a couple of these cookbooks – PamSharonMaggy's (cute!) is one of my favorites, but there are a few that are still on my wish list, including Dorie's and Anjum's. Their voices and simple, but innovative, recipes are right up my alley.

  107. amy

    As newly gluten-free a cookbook is now more important than ever. It means I can eat more than the 4 gluten-free options in the grocery store that I ate for the first 2 weeks after being diagnosed. This has changed not only the way I cook, but how I view food. Having a good cookbook gives me the ability to cook food that I actually like and makes me feel somewhat normal, at least for one meal 🙂 So for me a good cookbook is a like a guide to eating.

  108. amy

    As newly gluten-free, a good cookbook is more important than ever. It allows me to eat more than the 4 frozen meals I ate the first few weeks of being diagnosed. It means that I can eat food I actually like, and feel normal- even if for only one meal 🙂 A good cookbook for me is a now a guide to eating.

  109. Lisa Ro

    A good cookbook looks great on your coffee table, even though it may not stay there long; its sheer presence makes you anxious to get up off the couch and take it for a spin. It should be beautiful but not too presumptuous as it's likely to get a few smudges here and there — just a sign it's being loved. Recipes should be well explained, with ingredients that aren't too unusual for easy experimentation. Not to mention easy conversion to a gluten free recipe never hurt for us celiacs!

  110. Janet Archibald

    My perfect cook book would be easy, but fun to read, has beautiful pictures, and has easy to find ingredients. Any of these cookbooks would be great to own!!!

  111. Lori

    I love cookbooks. The glossy photo's..the food porn….I eat , breathe, watch and read food! What better to read than a cookbook. All of these sound amazing. I would love to add any of them to my ever growing collection. Plenty is being bought as a gift for my vegetarian niece.

  112. Nick

    First of all, I can't agree with you more about The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. Not only does it have the feel of a well-loved, old kitchen companion, but the recipes and ingredient explanations are poetry to someone who cooks as much Italian fare as myself.

    As for what makes a great cookbook – while I love my Joy of Cooking and New York Times compendiums, I love when I learn something about the rest of the world through a cookbook. When I travel somewhere, I never turn down a meal, because I believe that food is the purest, most honest expression of a person's soul and hospitality. I know that if I have a guest over for Chanukkah, my mother's pot roast (modified from the Jewish Holiday Cookbook) will tell my visitor that she is among friends and warmth.
    My girlfriend is from Arkansas, and has cooked me some of the best collard greens I've ever had the pleasure of sucking down my gullet. When she came back to San Francisco from a trip to South Carolina, she gave me a copy of the Charleston Receipts (the oldest Junior League Cookbook in the country). While there is a old-fashioned hokiness and a touch of some, frankly, racist elements to it, I've been poring over the recipes because they are not only delicious, but an incredible bit of anthropology. I love Southern food, particularly everything involving pig, but have neither cooked it nor ventured into the region. As much fun as I have with the ridiculous elements of the book, and names like "Cooter Pie," I can't wait to try to make my first Southern pig dish! I'll probably fail miserably, but I'll be damned if I won't enjoy trying.
    So that's what makes a great cookbook for me – pure expression of the cook through the food, a little exploration, do-able recipes, and ideas that keep me both salivating, and reading the book like it's Harry Potter!

  113. Summer

    The cookbook has to have beautiful inviting pictures that aren't so styled that they discourage me. The ingredient lists have to be one column only and the lists of instructions had better not creep onto the next page either. Finally, there needs to be ingredients that I can afford even when I'm broke.
    Oh, and one more thing, I love then the paper on the cover makes my fingers feel happy.

  114. libby

    There is nothing quite like good old fashioned print. Thank you for this wonderful review of top notch cookbooks!

  115. Sarah

    oh I do hope that print does not die. There is nothing better than the smell of books. And magazines, don't even get me started. The glossy pages are no match for a glowing tiny phone. VIVA LA PRINT!

    I love cookbooks. I devour them like novels and I love reading peoples personal stories that connects them to the recipes. I'm also a sucker for good photography and even though I know there are some exceptional cookbooks without photos, I just don't gravitate to those.

    Yours was a perfect mix!

  116. brooke

    Prior to May of this year, I would have said that a cook book just had to pull me in whether it be by cover art, title or a great concept. Then my son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, and things changed a lot. I used to be known for my baking, and now I feel as if I don't know how to put things together or trust my own intuition in cooking.

    So now what I am looking for in a cook book is one that will help me develop an understanding of how all these new ingredients go together. It doesn't hurt if the book has great photos or a great concept, but really all I want is simple, basic ideas to feed my child.

  117. libby

    There is nothing quite like good old fashioned print. Thank you for this wonderful review of top notch cookbooks!

  118. brooke

    Follow up comment: I have a the Cooking for Isaiah and Doughnuts on my amazon list due to recommends from you on the latter and several people on the former. About to add a third one now. 🙂

  119. Kate @ Savour Fare

    I love cookbooks that inspire, that challenge, that make me droll or expand my ways of thinking about things. But the cookbooks that keep drawing me back are the ones that have food I actually want to cook, regularly. The ingredients aren't obscure or difficult to source, the recipes aren't fiddly or unrealistic for the working mom of a toddler. The food is straightforward, but surprising – something I haven't thought of.

    And of course, the ones I love the best are the ones I can read. Like a novel. There are always stacks of cookbooks all over my house because I've been reading them.

  120. Jesse Kreun

    A cookbook needs to have a good picture of the final product. I am sure many of the recipes are good in cookbooks, but I want to be able to see them finished to see if I want to try them! I love food!!!

  121. Patty

    Cookbooks, for me to love them, need to be Bittman-esque. I want to be inspired and unlimited. To bake, though, I feel most safe with specifics, and love that others have the experimenting for me. Good to the grain looks to be a great guide!

  122. Abby

    We actually find that we can bake with only whole gluten-free grains. We use only sorghum, millet, and rice and find little difference in the texture. The whole grains also provide a nice well rounded flavor. Rice alone will certainly make a not-so-great treat, but we have a plethora of gluten-free grains that are often untouched. Our favorite is millet!

  123. Patty

    I like cookbooks to be Bittman-esque, i.e., guides that inspire without limitations, except for baking. For baking recipes, I want someone to do the experimentation for me. Good to the Grain looks like just the thing. Thanks for your reviews!

  124. mommio

    Two things are really important to me in a cookbook: clarity of instruction and photos. I wish I didn't care about the photos, but I totally do.

  125. Amanda

    I'm a sucker for a cookbook and find them irresistible. I love a well produced book that gives me a bit more than just a recipe, but one that inspires me as well. I have spent many happy times thumbing through my copies of "Plenty" and "ready for Dessert" – time spent in either book sends me heading for the kitchen. Dorrie Greenspan's book is high on my list – I can't wait to get it!

  126. Roberta Taylor

    A good cookbook, one that will be pulled out often, has to be a starting point, not the finish line. It should tell me what to do and more importantly, why, use real food, and help me make recipes my own.

  127. emily

    Wow, so many great options. I have recently gone vegan so I am most interested in your recommendation of "Plenty." Super excited to check it out.

  128. Ryah

    For me, I like a cookbook that gives me an outline, a template, inspiration for my own creativity in the kitchen. I love cookbooks, but don't much care to follow recipes exactly. I prefer to be inspired by what I have in my kitchen or garden.

  129. Allison

    What makes a good cookbook for me? Like anyone, I love a cookbook that makes me want to cook from it ASAP. But I also really love cookbooks that tell the story behind the food. That's why I'm such a fan of the Momofuku cookbook – for nearly every recipe in there, they tell its story – why they make it how they do, how it came to be, what they use it for… I love good explanations of food. (Not to mention, when I first read the book, every other minute I was exclaiming, "Ohmygosh, they have a recipe for [insert a dish I've always wanted to learn how to make]!!!")

    Also important – clear recipes that explain the directions well, and also explain (either in the recipe or in a glossary) any ingredients or techniques that aren't common knowledge.

    And I do like pictures that give me a pretty good idea of what I'm supposed to get out of the recipe, too. ^_^

  130. MerryJennifer

    I love cookbooks, and I think I have a serious problem. I can't stop buying them. I don't think print is dead at all.

    For me, a great cookbook is one that I can sit on the couch with and read while snuggling with my kids. It inspires me to bookmark pages, scribble notes on Post-Its, and make me antsy to get OFF that couch and back in the kitchen. I love recipes that are made with seasonal ingredients I have on hand, or are easily obtainable in my local grocery store. I just love to read them.

    Wonderful collection of amazing books – including yours!

  131. chicky73

    Love books too much to ever stop turning pages. To have a cookbook without food splotches and spice rubbed into the paper when I try to rub it off – well that wouldn't be worth cooking from.

    I love cookbooks with photos – books with recipes that I dogear from the minute I see the pictures and start imagining the smells and tastes. I love sweets – CHOCOLATE, good bread (thank you GFG & Chef) and most of all making an awesome meal for just my little family or for entertaining friends. Easy is preferable, but I'm always open to new ingredients & like to grow in technique and flavors. Life used to be Italian or Mexican, now it has expanded. Still in love with one dish wonders and oh, french cooking…

  132. Annah

    I love cookbooks that tell me WHY something works. That said, Cook's Illustrated is one of my faves. Bittman's are good for that too.

    Love to read about food; cookbooks are treated like novels in this house!

  133. Gaile

    What a gorgeous assortment of cookbooks you've mentioned here. What makes a good cookbook for me is one where the recipes are accessible. I have an overly well-stocked kitchen, albeit pork-free, but if it calls for duck confit or a tablespoon of marmite, its not going to get made here. Ume plum vinegar, tamarind, and any spice from India, we have aplenty. I adore ethnic cuisines for their assertive spices, as much as I love the piquancy of mediterranean food. Recipes that are heavy on dairy or animal fat get passed over here in favor of olive oil and vegetable dishes, or chicken and fish dishes. I love a cookbook that puts flavors together that I haven't tried. I use Culinary Artistry a lot, but still find that a good cookbook will take me to a place even that book won't. I don't mind long process cooking, but only if the end result is restaurant worthy. I love a cookbook that has surprises in the recipes, rather than one that recommends different ways to prepare something I already know how to make.

    And I LOVE your books. For all of those reasons and more.

  134. Lonna

    Your blog really made for a great thanksgiving! My partner is kind of picky and most of the things she likes at thanksgiving usually have all kinds of wheat in them.. she was totally thrilled with everything I made her, it made it really easy. And she is no longer depressed about thanksgiving and having to eat GF 🙂

  135. dramatic ballads

    hmm. connection to the author for sure. pictures are always nice. ingredients that aren't completely out of the ordinary. i read cookbooks like novels so that also is fantastic. 🙂

  136. Robin

    To me a great cookbook excites me to cook the recipe or inspires me to adapt and change it….I love to read cookbooks, I have an entire cabinet of them. I have been known to just sit and read them like a novel. I love to cook and experiment with food. I would love to win any of the offered cookbooks. Thank you Shauna for your cookbook and blog. You and the Chef are favorites of mine!

  137. Mary at Deep South Dish

    I love a cookbook that tells me a story. Whether it's in the form of a memory from the recipe itself, or simply a history of how it came about, I want to know how it came to be important enough to be a part of that cookbook.

  138. GenevaK

    For me, a good cookbook has simple recipes with good ingredients and techniques and tips to help those who aren't the best in the kitchen. And it doesn't hurt to have beautiful photography either.

  139. soimarriedachef

    A good cookbook to me is easy to follow, has great pictures, and the author has a sense of humor (hence why I love Dorie Greenspan). Cooking should be fun, so I love cookbooks that make it that way 🙂

  140. Ruth

    I love your choices, and I have a few of them already, including Plenty. The cookbook is British, so some of the names might seem unfamiliar with American readers (e.g. aubergine for eggplant) but his ideas are breathtaking. He also writes a food column in the UK newspaper The Guardian. For those who might want a sample of his recipes without investing in his cookbook, here is the URL:

    Thanks for offering such a wonderful array of choices, Shauna!

  141. Cortney @ evanhaslanded.com

    Considering my hubs is a graphic designer, print must stay alive ;-)! But all kidding aside, I am a book reader. I don't like reading from a computer screen. And there is just something about feeling the pages between my finger tips!

  142. Jennie

    I love a cookbook that helps me get dinner on the table quickly on nights I just don't have the energy or the time to make a four-course meal (which seems to be every night these days). Excellent post – thank you!

  143. Chrystal

    I am a sucker for a cookbook. When we built our new house I included 2 full bookshelves and have long since filled them and have cookbooks occupying other spaces in the kitchen, the bedroom, and the living room.
    I will try anthing once, but I love cookbooks that are outside of what I do everyday which is homestyle southern cooking without all the fat. I have Indian, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Southwestern, BBQ and many others among my favorites. I love to hear the voices of the author come through. I don't just want a laundry list of dishes, but a connection to the food. It was one of the main reasons that I loved your book. I ordered it months ahead and looked forward to the day that it was delivered into my hot little hands. I have cooked from it over and over and every time it makes me and my family happy to taste the food and think about you guys and the story behind each dish.

  144. Stargirl

    As a beginner, I really love a cookbook that is clear to understand, that uses simple terms, and that uses basics. I have a hard time buying an ingredient that I need for one dish, when I can get something that I use often. With limited kitchen space, it's also hard to have gadgets that you only use once. This can, however, lead to a case of the borings in the kitchen. Occasionally, I will stop and think as I make something for the 8th time, that I should really branch out. But then I go back to making the same boring things.

  145. TJ

    What makes a great cookbook…For me what makes a great cookbook is one that contains recipes which inspire me to cook. Whether that means time consuming or quick, familiar food or not, I love experimenting with a recipe. I read cookbooks and try out a few recipes. Most of the time I don't read the directions and it turns out like something else, but mostly always delicious. Sometimes I do read the directions carefully and that is when I take the time to recreate exactly what the recipe wants me to do. Also, living at high altitude means I need to be creative with anything baking or rising to be sure it will turn out.

  146. RinnieKirk

    I would love to make every recipe that appeals to me, but it's not always possible due to lack of money or energy. Cooking out of your pantry with a recipe book doesn't come naturally. That's why I've been using a few cook books that are one dish or teaching me how to make do with what's on hand. That ways I can still do the fabulous recipes about once a week!

  147. slush

    My favorite cookbooks are those that read like a book. My favs are Dorie's of course. But, I love those with interesting stories and beautiful photos that I want to page through again and again. My cookbooks get slightly beat-up from in kitchen splattering and thats just how I like them.

  148. Amy

    A good cookbook to me should be easy to read and with clear step by step instructions. Also, the recipes should work well and with a beautiful pictres.

  149. Rachel W

    Nothing makes me happier than sitting down and poring over a new cookbook. My favorites are those that usually have a nice intro to the recipe, one which gives a little history, explanation, or just a nice personal commentary from the author.

    I also agree with you on a book that introduces you to new flavor combos. LOVE that! 🙂

    It's amazing how many great cookbooks can be turned gluten free!

  150. Lauren

    I love a cookbook that feels good in your hands, with beautiful ideas that make you not want to put it down and a comfort to it that makes you feel like you can tackle everything it holds. That, and great recipes. You've got to have reliable recipes :).

  151. Mrs. Q

    What makes a cookbook good in my house? Doable with a toddler nearby…so few make the cut! Thanks for the great gift ideas!! I definitely click through your site to buy!

  152. Pacina

    A good cookbook…the ones that have remained in my kitchen through the years are inviting and unpretentious, yet sophisticated enough to make people think I spent all day preparing a dish in the kitchen. I definitely eat with my eyes first, so I love to first look flip through the pages and devour the pictures of the dishes, then delve into the actual recipes. I love cookbooks that take a classic dish and add a new element that takes it to a whole different level. I love to bake and cook for my family and friends so recipes that are not intimidating for others to try and for me to make are ideal.


  153. Rachel

    I love a vegetarian (or easily adaptable) cookbook with a good mix of recipes with regular pantry ingredients plus a few new ones that I'll need to seek out.

  154. Emily

    I think the best cookbook mixes delicious food with good stories that make you want to jump up and start cooking it right then and there. I hope print isn't dead! I admit to using internet recipes a lot, but the best cooking/baking is done the good old fashioned way: apron on, cookbook in front of me, and (gluten-free) flour all over the place.

  155. Samantha Widlund

    I love cookbooks that inspire me to go beyond it – those rare ones that allow me to cook the recipe the first time and then adapt it endlessly for years to come. Basics, but not basic…

  156. Erin

    Your posts are amazing. I was diagnosed with Celiac 4 months ago and am going for the biospy next week. I did not throw away all my cookbooks. I will, instead, make the best of the recipes I know and love and will try hard to TRY NEW THINGS, just as you suggest. I already have started liking olives… because when you ask for gluten free, it is hard to also add, "and hold the olives"… so sure enough I've grown to like them (maybe someday love them). I read your book within a week of my diagnosis. Thank you.
    As for cookbooks, I adore those which list foods by the food, because so often I have a lot of something and am wondering what to make with it. I also like cookbooks that are all homemade (ever see those cookbooks that call for mayo or powdered egg… they are getting too far from the source for me.) And a cookbook with a little story along with each recipe is fun.

  157. Gracie

    A good cookbook should make you want to run to the kitchen and start creating! It should offer advice and make you feel like you’re cooking with an old friend. However, once in a while, it should nudge you out of your comfort zone-encouraging you to experiment and trust your instincts. (And it certainly helps if the pictures are so beautiful they make your mouth water!)
    Having been recently diagnosed with celiac, the transition has been a work in progress-trying new products, attempting to bake and the like- only made more difficult by the fact that living in a dorm doesn’t provide much variety in food offered! I felt derailed-especially since I had been in the midst of researching schools for Pastry Arts so I could open my own bakery after college. I’m just thankful for all the wonderful resources available-and thank you for the hope you have given me that I will again find joy in the kitchen!

  158. amanda

    I love a cookbook that engrosses me so much I cannot put it down – I have to take it to bed and read with a flashlight – the book that I want to cook from cover to cover yet I am so busy reading and inhaling the words and photos, there is no time to stop and cook. At least for a while. Then eventually I open the book in the kitchen and start to cook each recipe that catches my eye and relive it all over again. I don't collect many things but my books have followed me to the other side of the world because I could not leave them behind. I love to know the author through their recipes and their stories and feel as if I've made a friend who is in the kitchen with me, cooking along and guiding. Amanda

  159. Sony

    Thanks for the cookbook recommendations. I have just added several of them to my christmas wishlist. Its always challenging to cook GF for children. Hoping for some new inspiration.

  160. Michaela

    I love a cookbook that won't let me put it down except to cook from it! I love the ones that aren't too formal – where the author's personality and, especially, sense of humor come through. I love a cookbook that doesn't make me feel guilty for scribbling in its margins. And I love a cookbook that is full of approachable recipes (ie, not 1,000 hard to find ingredients) I can experiment with while my daughter bustles around her play kitchen, stopping from time to time to nibble or opine about what I'm doing.

  161. FabFrugalFood

    I look for cookbooks that I can take to bed with me and read almost like a narrative – Nigella has always appealed in that.

    I also often think of cookbook authors as being my mentors in the kitchen – actually, Nigella has suited me well in that regard too.

  162. Poppy

    A good cookbook is one that ends up with salt and sauce and flour all over the pages, where a favorite recipe is lost because the pages stick together but that encourages you to make new favorites, where each recipe is more than just a recipe but a story and an insight in the cook's life. I need to be able to grow with it, to have a few simple recipes to fumble around with in my dorm's kitchen and, as my kitchen grows, the recipes grow in difficulty and intrigue. A good cookbook is one that is formidable but not intimidating! Plus, pictures! Always, pictures!

  163. Disney Heather

    A cookbook is a never-ending journey. What begins as a careful step-by-step trip becomes a journey into the unknown as comfort grows and experimentation takes flight!!!

  164. Anna

    I tend to use cookbooks more as guidelines and incorporate what I have available into the recipe. My husband doesn't like to cook unless he can follow a recipe exactly. I would really like to try some new recipes and techniques, maybe follow more recipes closely and become a better cook. You reminded me that I would love to get a good indian food cookbook.

  165. Kendra

    I love cookbooks. But I'm kind of picky about which ones I will actually buy. I don't have a ton of space to store them, so I cull through them regularly. THe ones I keep? They have to have some pictures–I don't need one of each recipe, although I prefer it. The recipes have to be fairly easy to follow and not require a whole lot of fuss–I'm trying to feed a family of four and time isn't usually a luxury. I like to cook with "real" food and try to stay mostly healthy. I like to be inspired to try something new, as well. My family will almost eat anything, so I love to try several new recipes each week, which is a wonderful "problem" to have! 🙂 Practically, I love to be able to find a recipe based on a main ingredient, so that I can use up that pork shoulder or chuck roast in the freezer! hee hee. These cookbooks all look great, tnanks for sharing them with us! 🙂

  166. kimnixon

    Okay. Cookbooks. Wow…since my diagnosis of Celiac this past March I've actually been afraid of the kitchen, afriad of food, afraid of cookbooks that showed pictures of foods I would never eat again. But I COOK! Boy do I cook. Nothing is pre-prepared I have made some foods I never thought would go together, go together. I now want to embrace food and share with family. I want big celebrations back in my life–but yes I still wish to be the one to control the flow in the kitchen–cause I am still afraid of gluten.

  167. Beth

    I love cookbooks and just bought one today. I need a cookbook with lots of pictures. It helps me so much. And if the author has a personality and throws in some jokes or is snarky I'm hooked.

  168. Ellen

    All these books sounds lovely. But to be honest, making vegetables delicious and interesting is kind of my thing. Plenty is definitely going to be added to Christmas list this year!

    I have also been wanting Good to the Grain but have hesitated because I wasn't sure how easy it would be to adapt the recipes to GF, but you've put my fears to rest. And, I am a die hard for Italian cuisine in all its glory as Italy holds special significance for me.

    Any of these books would be well used! Thanks for the great giveaway.

  169. Dorie

    Well, now we're even — I'm hopelessly biased about you, too!

    Thank you so very, very much for your deep kindness and generosity … it's just so like you.


  170. Jenn

    Print is not dead to me. I'm a bit old school in that aspect. I have resisted a kindle (so far). I helped transition several people to a gluten free life. I shared my cookbook staples with them. Then they would share any new cookbooks they discovered with me. It was almost like a book club for gluten free cooking. I hope I can find a new group of people when I move to San Diego. Keep up the great work!

  171. Kirsty

    For me a good cookbook is not just one that I can cook from but one that I can read. Over and Over.

    I can't go past a Jamie Oliver cookbook. It's a cliche, yes (well in Australia it is) but his first two books – The Naked Chef and The Return of the Naked Chef – still get a workout pre-coeliac's and post.

  172. Melissa

    When the nook's and kindle's first came on the market my husband was intrigued by the thought of not having 9 million cookbooks laying around the house(not even kidding. I have an addiction with cookbooks). I can't do it though. For me holding, reading, and absorbing a cookbook is all about holding it. Reading each page, learning from the author gives me peace. I think e-books cheapen the experience and the point of a good cookbook.
    I love cookbooks that teach me things I didn't know. The ratio to fat and flour for great cookies. The spices that go with what veggies/meat/fruit. I love cookbook's that tell the history behind recipes. Because that's what cooking is about-telling someone's history with cooking the food.

  173. Jada Ach

    I'm a meat-loving English teacher, so the writing needs to be poetic and the carnivorous recipes need to be plentiful. I also enjoy more traditional cooking methods that don't require a lot of fancy gadgets. The longer it takes to make the dish, the better!

  174. Monica's cafe

    I LOVE to read cookbooks and I read them like novels: cover to cover! My favorite cookbooks are dog-eared and spattered on a few pages that have become my favorite 'go-to' recipes, and even if I alter them I still like to have the book open when I make the recipe. Pictures are great, though stories are better. I like some heft to it, and room for notes in the margins. You can't do that on those electronic reading devices-those are too impersonal and you can't trade them!

  175. Brit

    I live in one of the first cities to rid itself of it's newspaper, and I find myself reading less news online because of it. I never thought I'd miss the paper, but I do.

    I think a good cookbook should be able to grow in your collection. You should be able to cook something from it once, love it and then morph it into something that your family will love forever, too. I love to hear about what other ways the author has made the food and what does or doesn't work when making certain dishes.

  176. Zilla

    I love a cookbook that I can read like a good novel and go back to over and over again. Whether it is for a technique, or an entire recipe. My favorite cookbooks range from ones I picked up at a church bake sale to The New Best Recipe, and Joy of Cooking.

  177. Corinna

    I have been a big fan of the MCC cookbooks, from More with Less, to Extending the Table and more recently, Simply in Season. I like they're slant on not only good food, but being seasonal and considering how much we have in the West and how we need to be aware of over-consumption. That being said, I also love decadence (I'm such a contradiction!) and having been diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago, have been looking for good recipes of all kinds. I like chopping tons of vegetables and using lots of garlic and olive oil and whatever else I need to get good, amazing flavours with simple ingredients. My husband and I love food of all different cultures and would travel the world and only eat if we could. I would LOVE to check out your cookbook, and any others you have recommended…they all look great.

  178. Angela

    I have nearly worn out Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking. No pictures, but there area few illustrations for the more difficult recipes.But,what has made this book so incredible is the first 50 pages of instruction on basics, such as debunking the myth that everything Italian is riddled with garlic, when onion is the everyday must for most Italian food. The recipes work and they are based on a strong view point.

    When this book wears out, I'll buy it again.

  179. Steph

    I need a cookbook where the recipes can be easily adapted to be gluten free but also dairy and egg free because my 2 year old son is allergic to both. I am always looking for more cookbooks that meet this requirement since I have to cook pretty much every meal for our family!

  180. theater simpleton

    It's a secret cozy feeling to read other folks comments that mirror my own, regarding my feeling about cookbooks… I too read them in bed (every recipe is a short story! Sometimes inspiring dreams, literal and culinary!)
    My grandmother was the town pie and cake baker for the two hotels in her central Ohio town during the Depression, and she cared for me when my mom was at work when I was small, and my first solo sailing was reading the tapioca box, and following the instructions (including learning how to scald milk in the moment) under her eagle eye one day when I was 5. My mom used to get the packets of reader's digest cookbook cards, and I would cruise those as I got a little older, making the piles of cards (often cookies) of what I was going to make the next weekend. Then I discovered the Sunset "Chefs of the West" column, and I'd demand to get to make dinner or snacks from that once a month.
    For me, inspiring pictures, delicious notes or stories, and cultural or scientific reference points are what make me sooo happy in my current cookbooks. (Ohhh, yes – totally believer in the power of food porn!) Or understanding how the business of the spice routes developed the world, not to mention entire cultures…
    So many of these cookbooks sound fantastic – hoping the library will carry some of them, until I can save up to get them for my own library! Thanks for all the hot tips!

  181. Robin

    A great cookbook for me has new information. I have a lot of cookbooks so it has to be completely new recipes or just a better way to cook an old favorite. I also want descriptions that make me run to my stove to start cooking.

    My current favorite new cookbook is Deborah Krasner's "Good Meat." My only problem with it is it does not fit in my cookbook holder.


    p.s. Interesting that you love the heart of the artichoke, I looked at it and decided there was not enough new material for me.

  182. Sandy

    Oh, this is easy! What happens to the food after it's cooked – who eats it, what was the conversation, what was the atmosphere, what music was playing, what were the kids doing/saying … And tasty recipes, too. (Thus, my book which was released 3 months ago! It has a little meaning and a little soul to it).

    Thanks for the chance to win! Sandy @ Reluctant Entertainer

  183. princessfuzzbal

    I love print, and it's not dead in our house. We may have moved in over 2 years ago, and well in the twenty one feet (length) of our living room (o.k. and the stacks are now under the front window too), the books are stacked up against the wall at least three feet high. My husband is "building bookcases" but well, there's been a lot of stuff over the last two years that has kept him from getting them done. It amazes me how many people don't read or exclaim something like "WOW, you must like to read, no wonder you are so smart." when they come into our front door and see the mess of books. I'm now a lending library for a lot of these books because people ask me for recommendations all the time.

    Now, I also love food. I'm passionate about delicious foods, and I cook for my friends and family all of the time. I have been cooking and baking even more exciting things since I picked up your book and have been keeping up with your blog, so thank you!

    Anyways…I love cookbooks that take you on a journey and can help teach you a lesson. Anything that I can find an even trivial connection to helps hold my interest, and gets me excited. I love anything with passion or personal interest put into it. This list that you have created seems to save me from the boring recipe after recipe with no variations, tips, tidbits, advice or gossip. I love to read just about anything, and I love food, so cookbooks are a perfect match.

  184. princessfuzzbal

    Anyways…I love cookbooks that take you on a journey and can help teach you a lesson. Anything that I can find an even trivial connection to helps hold my interest, and gets me excited. I love anything with passion or personal interest put into it. This list that you have created seems to save me from the boring recipe after recipe with no variations, tips, tidbits, advice or gossip. I love to read just about anything, and I love food, so cookbooks are a perfect match.

  185. Rebekah

    I've been reading Yotam Ottolenghi's weekly column in the Guardian and I'm completely hooked. I love his whole approach to vegetarian cuisine….thoughtful and yet lavish, not just something you can just add meat to to appease the carnivores in the family. Admittedly, many contain ingredients that are hard to source here in Indonesia, but it never stops me from trying!!

  186. Sharla

    Wow thanks for posting this list, I'd love to have even one of these great cookbooks. Hope Gluten-Free Girl and everyone had a Blessed Thanksgiving.

    I am still learning how to substitute gluten-free products in traditional recipes.

    Somehow I think a number of these books may provide such a challenge.

    In addition, I am always looking for new and interesting ways to keep the fire going in my Kitchen and my Relationship – Of course, when my cooking is top notch so too my love life!

    All the best to all who post – Best of Luck To All On Winning A Cookbook!

    Cheers and Much Gluten-Free Love From NorCal!

  187. pseudostoops

    A great cookbook for me is one where the recipes are clear and reliable, and one that helps me think about common ingredients in new ways. I also like books that have solid explanations behind their methodology (I'm a Cooks Illustrated fan for this reason) so I feel like I'm learning more about the craft of cooking as I read and explore.

  188. Allison

    A good cookbook for me is one that has pictures of all of the dishes (it is so appealing that way!) and uses simple, easy-to-find ingredients!

  189. smartmamas

    What wonderful cookbooks. Thank you for taking the time to review them. Cooking is a right of passage in my family. No one is formally trained, but many have owned restaurants both in the US and in Greece. When I was a toddler I lived with my mom above my grandparents bakery. My point is I have a wealth of experience cooking and baking, but lack in the technical aspects. I look for cookbooks that are precise with science behind them. A book I can learn the mechanics, if you will.

  190. loshakova

    I love food. I cook to relax, and I love sharing my cooking with others. Unfortunately, for the past several years food has not loved me back. I thought I had solved the problem with my celiac diagnosis, but things turned out to be more complicated — Lyme disease and multiple coinfections, followed by 9 months so far of antibiotics. Now, more often than not, I know I need to eat but don't feel hungry.

    My favorite cookbooks are the ones that can make my mouth water when I'm in this state — whether it's because of beautiful photographs, engaging descriptions, or simply a juxtaposition of favorite ingredients that is new to me and sparks my imagination.

    My current favorite cookbook is Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Raman Prasad; my most recent cookbook purchase (last week) is The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz.

  191. peanutgallery7

    I have to admit the first thing that catches my eye are the pictures…I just don't have the confidence in my cooking abilities yet, so I need a photograph that I can compare my work to.

    After that I love colorful dishes that incorporate a variety of ingredients. Thankfully my kids enjoy a varied menu!!

  192. Sharon

    I really am not posting to WIN, but I must say that you two (three), make some of the best GF meals EVER!
    Next time you are in Portland, you might want to hook up with the owners of New Cascadia Bakery. They have a great space
    for a Book Signing…….and of course has a built in GF following. The entire facility is GF.

  193. THE Tough Cookie

    Oh my, this is incredible. I already just want to lay in my bed and re-read all of your incredibly intimate reviews of these books. If I could, I'd curl up and insert myself somewhere in the GB's of this machine, just to get closer.

    A good cookbook seduces me. It throws me a look, it says something to me that sticks in my mind and draws me back to it over and over again, when I'm first getting to know it.

    Like in Melissa Clark's book, her Sesame Halvah Toffee worked its way into my mind like a bad biker boyfriend. Because even though I was looking for hearty, delicious, healthful soups & stews to cook during the week for the two of us, that toffee recipe knew what really turned me on.

    I want to go back to my books over and over again. Year after year, as I get older, learn more and maybe gain some wisdom along the way, I can go back to my books and find things in them that I never saw before. It's as if they say to me, "we've been waiting for you to catch up." And, they don't harbor any hard feelings.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to re-read your whole post again. From the beginning.

  194. Tiff

    I am a full-time law student about to graduate and start studying 10 hours a day for the bar. My life for the past few years has been stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting, and it will stay that way for another 8 months before I'm all done with the learning and can start branching out.

    But I'm 26 and I love cooking and not having as much time or money for it anymore upsets me. I look for recipes — and could use a cookbook — that call for few, simple, common, and/or inexpensive ingredients, and that make — or can easily be converted to make — leftover portions. And help me reuse the leftovers in a new way, maybe!

  195. Molly

    What makes a cookbook great so it stays in your kitchen?

    A cookbook lasts in my kitchen if the recipes are reliable. I want a cookbook where I can make a new recipe when company are coming and know that it will turn out perfectly.

  196. Stef

    My ideal cookbook would have recipes that I can trust enough to do the taboo thing and cook a dish for company that I haven't tested out myself. It has intriguing flavor combinations which I wouldn't have come up with myself, yet the author describes the dish in such a way that makes me want to try it out. I also really love little educational tidbits which I can apply for more than just this recipe. Pictures are definitely a plus, but not a must. That said, the biggest hole in my current cookbook collection is for vegetarian recipes. I am not a fully committed vegetarian, but I usually don't eat meat more than once per month. The only vegetarian cookbook I own is Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East. I have found some gems in it, but it is definitely for the adventurous…not for trying out on friends.

  197. Vanessa Wright

    I love a cookbook I can't burn through – literally! I have a terrible habit of leaving my cookbooks on the hot stove, so I look for cookbooks that tell a story so gripping I won't put it down. As for a good match – aside from any that doesn't kindle the pilot light 🙂 – preserving and reviving classic and heritage "works of artful life" is my passion. So I'd treasure Anjum's New Indian, and I'd look forward to pouring its bounty onto the plates of my family and friends.

  198. gfpumpkins

    For me, a good cookbook is plainly written with clear directions. Sure, stories are great. But when I'm trying to cook, I want the recipe easy to read, maybe even on one page (or thoughtfully split between many). I don't want to be bogged down with stuff that won't help me with the recipe.
    That said, cuisine-wise, I'm open to anything. We're an omnivorous household consisting of one former vegan, and me, the one with Celiac. We eat just about everything and even the ManBeast happily cooks gluten free for me!

  199. Lauren

    A big part of a cookbook for me is the pictures – step by step pictures make it all the more fun. I'm always willing to try a recipe that doesn't sound great if the dish looks amazing…apparently my stomach is directly connected to my eyes!

  200. Charlotte

    I love a cookbook that has lots of beautiful food pictures and simple, classic recipes that don't necessarily require a million steps to perform. A cookbook that contains realistic ideas for a work-night dinner, but with options that can easily be dressed up for a nice dinner party with friends!

  201. Lauren

    I love a cookbook with great pictures – even better if a recipe has multiple step-by-step pictures. I'm always interested in trying a recipe with a beautiful picture, even if the dish's name or ingredients don't sound appealing!

  202. Debra

    I do like photos in cookbooks, but only if they are great photos. I like to 'read' cookbooks too, so I love it if there's a preface to each recipe – what it would go good with, why it's special, & such. I like 'every-day-ish' and 'make-from-scratch' recipes. And I like a book that 'feels' good – not necessarily glossy, but comfortable & manageable to hold & open & use. If it invites me to write in it, jot notes in it, tell when I made it & who for…that's a book for me.

  203. Jeannie Choi

    A good cookbook has great photos, good directions, some narration, and easy to find ingredients. Healthy, unprocessed kind of foods are my favorite type of food so that reflects to the cookbooks I use.

  204. Ashley

    The best cookbooks are the ones that grow with you as you become a better cook. They have basic information that can help readers tackle a dish for the first time, but they also indicate possible variations that can continue to challenge or inspire the more practiced cook.

    I have a couple of cookbooks that fit this description. They stay open on my kitchen counter more than they reside on my bookshelf. I try the recipes again and again, adding or changing or deleting ingredients as I try variations on favorite recipes.

  205. Jen

    Something that makes a cookbook great for me is that it makes me consider new flavor combos or look at a familar ingredient in a new way. I'm also a sucker for great photography (love reading Dorie Greenspan's blog entries about taking the pix for her books).

  206. islandeat

    Shauna, you assembled an impressive list of new cookbooks.

    I like originality, humour, intelligence, great writing, and clear recipes which reflect my tastes, more or less. Good photography is a strong hook, but I try to not be swept away by pictures.



  207. gypsykim

    First of all, print will never leave my home. There is nothing like curling up in bed with a great book or cookbook. I spend a lot of time on my computer for work and I don't want to spend my "pleasure" time on here!

    My second cousin introduced me to your blog a couple of weeks ago and I have been reading it faithfully–and with great relish!! I can't wait to try some of the recipes!

    A cookbook for me has to have real food that tastes really good. I love intense flavors and spices. I read cookbooks like novels. I have two by my chair right now! My collection is full of marked pages of recipes to try. I also make lots of notes if I really like something, and have completely 'x'ed out ones I didn't like!

    Your list of cookbooks is amazing and I would love to have any of them–as well as yours! I look forward to checking them out.

  208. Michelle

    That was a great read, thanks!
    What I love in a cookbook is learning to make things come alive with new ingredients. I grow a lot of my own food and can, so I get stuck making the same things over and over. I find my greatest creativity in the kitchen and love to push that to new limits and expose my family to new things.
    And of course, I love yours!

  209. livinglou

    To me there is nothing better than a great cookbook! I cherish all of mine and spend hours browsing the book store just looking at all the cooking books!

    I love books with lots of pictures and easy to find ingredients, and obviously good recipes by a trusted chef.

    Gotta say I've been lusting after Dorie Greenspan's book, and not only because it's beautiful, but I'm positively head over heels for France!

  210. rends

    I rarely follow exact recipes. I cannot help but to add additional ingredients and substitutions to any recipe in the hopes of making it "my own" even if it's my first time making the dish. I enjoy cookbooks with recipes that are forgiving in this way and allow me to express my culinary creativity 🙂

  211. Amber

    What a great round up of cookbooks! I'm very new to being gluten-free and almost as new to cooking in general. A cookbook that isn't too difficult for a beginner is my favorite. They let me feel like I, too, can cook!

  212. Shelly!

    Oh wow. So many good cookbooks and not one in my collection. I am in awe of your knowledge of food – and your love for creating it. As we've journeyed into gluten- free-dom I have routinely turned to you and The Chef for guidance, inspiration, and fix-its. And that's what a good cookbook is for me. It's takes me to another place in my mind and helps me transport my food there too. It also gives me ideas for new foods – and ways to fix/tweak the things I already know.

  213. Creative Mom

    What I think makes a cookbook good is that it inspires me to cook, makes my mouth water, teaches me new things, has beautiful photos or illustrations, good writing (but sometimes really good cookbooks are just good recipes), and last but very necessary desserts are a must!
    I loved reading about all of the books thank you!

  214. Andrea

    A brilliant post as always! I have a few of these books (Dorie, Amanda, of course yours) and now I want ot own ALL of them. sigh. I agree that a book that makes me want to go make the dish right away is jey. I also love books like Amanda's and yours that tell a story. And books that can help me make a healthful dish full of flavor with not too many ingredients in a reasonable amoutn of time? genius. Oh yeah, and if they have beautiful photography (not sure what the inside of David Tanis's book looks like, but the cover is GORGEOUS) then I am likely to read it for the sheer pleasure of seeing those photographs.

  215. Andrea

    A brilliant post as always! I have a few of these books (Dorie, Amanda, of course yours) and now I want ot own ALL of them. sigh. I agree that a book that makes me want to go make the dish right away is jey. I also love books like Amanda's and yours that tell a story. And books that can help me make a healthful dish full of flavor with not too many ingredients in a reasonable amoutn of time? genius. Oh yeah, and if they have beautiful photography (not sure what the inside of David Tanis's book looks like, but the cover is GORGEOUS) then I am likely to read it for the sheer pleasure of seeing those photographs.

  216. Laura

    I have 3 all-time favorites in my kitchen: One is exhaustive, and clearly written (The Joy of Cooking), one is full of simple, beautiful, man-pleasing food (Mad Hungry) and one is a precise but beautiful ode to baking (Baking from My Home to Yours..Dorie Greenspan).

  217. Heather Moll

    Great photos of delicious tried and true recipes that include really healthy ingredients – some that are different than the average recipe but not so bizarre that they are impossible to find and always recipes that my kids will love too. 🙂

    This was such an awesome post – thanks for your great reviews. I can't wait to get a copy of your book.

  218. Erica

    I would love Melissa Clark's book, it's just my kind of cooking. Simple good meal for me and my hubby. I also would love the New York Times cook book to practice new cooking methods, learn new dishes… However, I think I really would like to have a copy of Anjum's New Indian cook book. I know nothing about Indian cooking, but I just married a Pakistan man. He was born in America, raised in America, so he loves my American cooking. Simple meals that gives the happy warm feeling in our tummies. However, his mother, my new mother in law is very Pakistani. All her cooking involves foreign spices and technics that I have.. no idea how to do. I feel so lost in her kitchen. Maybe this book will help me feel little more familiar with her magical ways in the kitchen.

  219. Stephanie

    "This is an old Goan dish that many have already been forgotten about and locals are worried that it might soon become obsolete as newer, faster recipes encroach on the New India."

    Ok I totally teared up at this. I have to have these amazing books that you're recommending. Even if I've got to get them the *hard* way, I will 🙂 I love that you took the time to share such in-depth reviews. I am a huge fan of cookbooks, and constantly on the lookout for more. I love to cook real food, food that tastes good, makes my body happy, and food that makes other people look at me, and say wow, eating allergen-free is pretty awesome!

    My favorite cookbooks make me drool! The descriptions, the flavor combinations, the pictures! I'm such a visual person, and love a good photo!

    I also really enjoy the simple recipes, the ones that come together beautifully b/c they're full of great ingredients. I work full time, and when I'm not working, I like to play with my family and friends. I like to entertain. But I don't like to be stuck in the kitchen all day, except on Sundays when I make myself make something!

    What a fantastic giveaway! Thanks you guys! Can't wait to see your book under my Christmas tree!

  220. Robin

    I love cookbooks. I love the passion it takes to write a great cookbook. I love photos of delicious-looking food. I love to curl up with am interesting cook book or cooking magazine and plan out all of the new recipes I want to try out during the upcoming weeks. They inspire me!

  221. Smart Healthy U

    What i love is a cookbook that spurn me to cook something healthy and delicious, recipes that inspire me to try something new like roasting peppers for pizza and a cook book that has shopping lists included in the glossary, love that!

  222. Elizabeth

    I love to read cookbooks and really can never see myself using anything but print. My family has varied food allergies and dislikes so it is an adventure every time that I open a cookbook to find something that would appeal to everyone.

  223. liquidlight

    I love any cookbook that makes me buy something that's not already in my cupboard. I love finding new things and flavor combinations that I never would have thought of before.

  224. Mary

    Wow. Thanks for the thoughtful information on the books!

    I am commenting for the first time. I've been reading your blog for about 6mos. now — and enjoying very much. Thanks for all you do. I am really looking forward to buying your book when I am back in the States.

    My mom and I found out we were allergic wheat by accident (then from medical tests). What happened is that I started cooking Indian food and my mom and I began to thrive. Then I returned to my teaching job and my mom went back to her regular cooking and all her usual ills came rushing back. That got her thinking and into the doctor's office. As you no doubt know, if you are cooking Indian food and serving it with rice (which is easier than chapatti or naan for most Americans), there is usually no wheat involved. And there are all those healing spices in everyday Indian dishes.

    Anyhow, that you lead off your list with an Indian cook book caught my eye. NOT that you need any more cook books to check out!!!! — but you mentioned diving into Indian food more, so I wanted to quickly share with you, Six Spices by Neeta Saluja because she really lays out the Indian cooking methods and the dishes are everyday fare and fantastic. And also Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking has meat recipes to die for! (I am thinking of the chef's liking for meat here.) When I am in the States I cook from a range of excellent Indian cook books, including the ones you mention. Saluja and Sahni are good for daily food and farmer's market finds. (BTW: I've lived and cooked in India for the past year.)

    I'm in a rut though… it is hard now, after so many years to break away from the Indian cooking. So I am really appreciating your list because as I reenter the cooking book scene, cookbooks seem to have lost the pull on me that they once had now that I can't eat wheat (or soy).

    What keeps a book in my kitchen? What do I love in a cookbook? More than anything, I love being in the kitchen and cooking. Time spent in the kitchen making food with my hands is the best part of my day. And post gluten, I have kept with me the books that speak to being with and making/creating good food. Don't get me wrong, I love eating, and I am very fond of fantastic flavors, and I love cooking for people and the camaraderie that comes from sharing food, and food history, etc. but often all that is just an excellent excuse for me to spend time in the kitchen — my favorite place in the world to be. (What use is all the great cooking with out people to share it with, huh?)

    Again thanks Shauna. I have really enjoyed your site, your words.

  225. Mary

    Wow. Thanks for the thoughtful information on the books!

    I am commenting for the first time. I've been reading your blog for about 6mos. now — and enjoying very much. Thanks for all you do. I am really looking forward to buying your book when I am back in the States.

    My mom and I found out we were allergic wheat by accident (then from medical tests). What happened is that I started cooking Indian food and my mom and I began to thrive. Then I returned to my teaching job and my mom went back to her regular cooking and all her usual ills came rushing back. That got her thinking and into the doctor's office. As you no doubt know, if you are cooking Indian food and serving it with rice (which is easier than chapatti or naan for most Americans), there is usually no wheat involved. And there are all those healing spices in everyday Indian dishes.

    Anyhow, that you lead off your list with an Indian cook book caught my eye. NOT that you need any more cook books to check out!!!! — but you mentioned diving into Indian food more, so I wanted to quickly share with you, Six Spices by Neeta Saluja because she really lays out the Indian cooking methods and the dishes are everyday fare and fantastic. And also Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking has meat recipes to die for! (I am thinking of the chef's liking for meat here.) When I am in the States I cook from a range of excellent Indian cook books, including the ones you mention. Saluja and Sahni are good for daily food and farmer's market finds. (BTW: I've lived and cooked in India for the past year.)

    I'm in a rut though… it is hard now, after so many years to break away from the Indian cooking. So I am really appreciating your list because as I reenter the cooking book scene, cookbooks seem to have lost the pull on me that they once had now that I can't eat wheat (or soy).

    What keeps a book in my kitchen? What do I love in a cookbook? More than anything, I love being in the kitchen and cooking. Time spent in the kitchen making food with my hands is the best part of my day. And post gluten, I have kept with me the books that speak to being with and making/creating good food. Don't get me wrong, I love eating, and I am very fond of fantastic flavors, and I love cooking for people and the camaraderie that comes from sharing food, and food history, etc. but often all that is just an excellent excuse for me to spend time in the kitchen — my favorite place in the world to be. (What use is all the great cooking with out people to share it with, huh?)

    Again thanks Shauna. I have really enjoyed your site, your words.

  226. Mary

    Wow. Thanks for the thoughtful information on the books!

    I am commenting for the first time. I've been reading your blog for about 6mos. now — and enjoying very much. Thanks for all you do. I am really looking forward to buying your book when I am back in the States.

    My mom and I found out we were allergic wheat by accident (then from medical tests). What happened is that I started cooking Indian food and my mom and I began to thrive. Then I returned to my teaching job and my mom went back to her regular cooking and all her usual ills came rushing back. That got her thinking and into the doctor's office. As you know, cooking Indian food and serving it with rice (which is easier than chapatti or naan for most Americans), usually no wheat is involved. And there are all those healing spices in everyday Indian dishes. (Let me know if you would like to know about more great indian cookbooks! Not that you need MORE cookbooks to look at!)

    I'm in a rut though… it is hard now, after so many years to break away from the Indian cooking. So I am really appreciating your list because as I reenter the cooking book scene, cookbooks seem to have lost the pull on me that they once had now that I can't eat wheat (or soy).

    What keeps a book in my kitchen? What do I love in a cookbook? More than anything, I love being in the kitchen and cooking. Time spent in the kitchen making food with my hands is the best part of my day. And post gluten, I have kept with me the books that speak to being with and making/creating good food. Don't get me wrong, I love eating, and I am very fond of fantastic flavors, and I love cooking for people and the camaraderie that comes from sharing food, and food history, etc. but often all that is just an excellent excuse for me to spend time in the kitchen — my favorite place in the world to be. (What use is all the great cooking with out people to share it with, huh?)

    Again thanks Shauna. I have really enjoyed your site, your words.

  227. Paige

    A good cookbook inspires me to wander around the store for two hours, carefully selecting fresh ingredients. I love leaving the store carrying a bag full of grains and produce, leafy greens bursting from the top, knowing that I have big plans for my next meal and a good guide to help me get there.

  228. Esther

    Thank you, Shauna, for the wonderful list! A good cookbook to me is one I love to read. It's one with delicious recipes that inspire me to try new variations and experiment. A GREAT cookbook helps me understand how recipes work (I own and love your new book; "Ratio" has become a go-to staple in my kitchen (right alongside my other favorite reference, "The Flavor Bible")

  229. Elizabeth

    Like you, I know a lot of these cookbook authors and they are all amazingly talented! I feel like I know you, through twitter and your blog, so thank you for that. What makes a cookbook stay around my kitchen? Use, pure and simple. There is no 'recipe' for loving a certain cookbook. I'm always surprised by the ones I keep coming back to. The ones that eventually fall apart. Tape is currently holding together my Marcella Hazan and of course Joy.

  230. Tracey

    What a fantastic list! I too love cookbooks and have been devouring them by the dozens lately as I learn to cook.

    Dorie's World Peace cookies were the first recipe that I have success with in converting it to gluten-free which gives her a very special place in my heart.

    That said, I love stories! I'm a huge fan of cookbooks that are part cookbook and part biography. If you've ever read Laurie Colwin then you know exactly what kind of book I like to read. I'm a huge fan of the stories behind the recipes, not just a ton of recipes.

    I can read and re-read books like Sweet Life in Paris, Home Cooking, A Homeade Life … and the list goes on.

    Reading about cooking fills my soul and sometimes my tummy. It's the ultimate in books.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites, I think some of these will be on my list!

  231. Betsy

    My favorite cookbooks have lots of pictures – some are great photographs, whereas others are just simple drawings of vegetables or kids pulling carrots from a garden. Cookbooks full of recipes using lots of fresh vegetables from gardens or farmers markets are great – especially if they pair ingredients that are naturally in season and can be found in my area. And anything MIddle Eastern/Indian/Central Asian always gets our vote. I'm excited to check out your suggestions – Thanks!

  232. Amy

    I don't have many cookbooks. I just counted them – 8 in total and one of that 8 is yours! Thank you so much for putting the results of your relentless efforts toward glorious gluten free food to print. My idea of a great cookbook is one that teaches me the "why" behind the "do" which frees me to play. It might introduce new or new-to-me ingredients or demystify the chemistry involved. It has a comprehensive index that is ingredient oriented. It sometimes takes me around the world but most often takes me to my own backyard or farmer's market. Lastly, it calls me to stop cooking and sit down, so I can hear, "Mommy, this is the best ______ ever! Oh, and do you know what I …," for the duration of the meal and beyond.

  233. Roz

    I like a cookbook I can carry round the house, spill my coffee over, read in bed, get flour all over in the kitchen, and excitedly recommend to friends. Good photos are helpful but not essential – some of my favourite books (e.g. Jane Grigson) have none at all. Good cookbooks are friends for life 🙂

  234. Anna

    If I can't put down a cookbook and want to put it down at the same time to start cooking, that's a good cookbook for me. It should have great stories connected to the recipes that make me smile. I'd like to turn to the cookbook for great recipes but also for references (if I just have an idea what to make but not sure how). It should have recipes that I like to do over and over again and the pages get so sticky because I've been using it so much. And when I finally eat the first piece of food I cooked from that book I have to close my eyes and the world stops for a moment. Because it's that good.

  235. furfee

    I love cookbooks and have a very long list of books I want to buy (that makes it very easy when asked what I'd like for my birthday or Christmas!)

    A book stays in my kitchen if it's quick and easy for during the week – in order to make sure I used my cookbooks, I started picking one at random every week and cooking at least 1 dish from it. The books that have found their way back to the kitchen most often are Ching He-Huang's books (she might not be known in the US yet) and before starting my weekly cookbook I would have sworn that my most useful cookbooks were by Nigella! (How to Eat was the first cookbook I received, aged 14).

    I need to re-start choosing cookbooks again, moving cities and then moving house twice in 3 months put it on hold over a year ago. I try to choose something new every week but my weekly food plans are stuck in the same rotation!

    I've heard so many good things about Pam Anderson's book, I think that will be going on my Christmas list this year!

  236. sandi

    A great cookbook for me gets me excited to try out the recipes. I like colorful pictures, clear instructions and
    comments from the author. I love trying new recipes and making meals that my family loves. If you saw my amazon.com history you would know that I am doing my part to keep print alive. I am planning to give cookbooks as gifts this Christmas. Thanks for the suggestions.
    S. Dressel

  237. Natasha

    I would love a copy of Plenty. I'm a longtime vegetarian and have been gluten-free for the past year – I feel great about the wonderful food I'm able to make that's both vegetarian and gluten-free, but I still could use a little infusion of creativity. It looks like an amazing book.

  238. Jennifer Jo

    Great reviews!

    I'd love to copy everyone else and fall head over heels in love with the Good to the Grain book. I'm kinda clueless about different grains and could use a solid (and delicious) education.

  239. A Thought For Food

    All of these are wonderful picks! I highly recommend checking out the Flour Bakery cookbook by Joanne Chang (came out earlier this month). I need to get my hands on Dorie's book. I'm ashamed to not own it 🙁

  240. Julia

    Oh, that's a tough one! I have plenty of cookbooks (but never enough, if you know what I mean!). I always look at cookbooks as a sort of inspiration, never following the recipe to the letter, judging my own instincts and seasonal produce (apart from baking books!). So, essentials in a cookbook: clear theme, mouthwatering pictures, tested recipes and some logical division into chapters for easy navigation.

  241. KJB

    For me, it is recipes that work. I know how to cook so basics are not necessary, but a cookbook author who can take the complex and make it, if not easy, at least understandable, that is what I look for.

  242. Kelly

    I enjoy simple, timeless recipes that are not complicated and that can become rhythmical with time. Good food, simple ingredients. When time allows, I do enjoy reading portions of cookbooks that allow the reader to understand the "why" or science behind the cooking methods or ingredient selections.

  243. Sara Pugh

    As a new cook and an even newer gluten free diner, the importance of a cook book is on functionality. I don't understand many of the big words that cookbooks often try to use and if there are too many steps, I often just give up. My favorites are Amish recipes or something that teaches me about the chemistry that is going on within the recipe. My cookbook collection does continue to grow as I continue to discover a love for cooking!

  244. Sara Pugh

    I've found a love for cooking recently – and even more recently discovered that I needed to eat gluten free. So recently the best cook books are the ones where I can fully understand the chemistry going on and know how to incorporate it within my gluten free eating now. I love easy recipes, ones without huge words or steps that folks only learn in chef school. Simplicity really is a bonus!

  245. MelMM

    I love my cookbooks! Just looking at them on the bookshelves gives me a sense of well-being. What makes a cookbook a keeper for me? Well, I want to be able to tell that it was written by a person, rather than an institution. I want it to be opinionated and uncompromising. That the recipes work should go without saying. Good editing is something I may not notice, but I will surely notice its absence. The same goes for the layout and design. While I appreciate a pretty photo, many of my favorite books have none. I tend to prefer more specialized cookbooks to big general purpose ones. A book that does one thing well, whether it be a specific cuisine, a technique, or just a unique personal approach to the food, will usually hold my attention more than one that tries to be everything to everyone.

  246. anna

    My favorite cookbooks have three common traits, generally. First, the fresh ingredients for a given recipe are season appropriate (ie. can be found in the garden or at the market during the same season). Second, the book can be read like a novel, taken to bed, and held rapturously in one's arms while dreaming of kitchen antics – my favorites in the readable area are of course Gluten Free Girl & The Chef, The Passionate Vegetarian (LOVE her), and Wild Fermentation (it really riles up the mad scientist in me :). The third is that it gives widely applicable "rule of thumb" knowledge – engendering deeper understanding of the processes. Cookwise is great for this, as is Wild Fermentation, and Ratio is on my Christmas wish list, in hopes that I can gain confidence on the GF baking issue 🙂
    Overall, I love a book that both shares and invokes a passion for food and provokes an adventurous spirit.

  247. inag

    Great giveaway! I love cook books! I have always had huge success with Jamie Oliver cook books – fresh, simple, easy to read recipes plus great pictures of amazing food – doesn't get any better than that!

  248. Sandra R

    Great selection of cookbooks! A good cookbook reads like a book but with added artwork in the photos. The Indian cookbook looks very interesting, must check it out!
    I must say my current favorite cookbook is yours! I am having so much fun experimenting!! Keep writing!!

  249. dilettante

    What makes a great cookbook for me?

    A sense of the vision and personality of the author.

    At least 5 "go to" recipes for that don't require me to run to the gourmet food store. (And that
    can be expanded or contracted easily depending on the size of the crowd.)

    A few gorgeous and carefully selected photos.

    We are a tiny family of vegetarians (two grown ups and one very large-spirited 4 1/2-year old). I also love to cook for a crowd and host regular creativity sharing gatherings for our people. I need help creating vegetarian food that is so special omnivores won't notice what's missing!

  250. Helena

    I'm not that much of an accomplished baker (much less cook) yet, so I need a cookbook that explains everything to me. I just ordered Dorie Greenspans "Baking: From my Home to yours" because I've read nothing but rave reviews of it. My favorite book that I already own is David Lebovitz' "The Perfect Scoop", and I have to say, I'll never go back to store-bought ice cream. And it's so easy! I also read his blog regularly and bought his book about Paris, because I simply love the way he writes.
    This post was really helpful to me, even if I don't win, I'll by some of these books for sure. And even though I'm don't eat gluten-free, I'll have to buy your book too, I just love your way with words, Shauna!

  251. Tristina

    What a wonderfully delicious list! My husband and I recently entered the world of gluten-free for health reasons. I discovered gluten is a huge trigger for my incapacitating migraines. So I've been spending the last month trying to figure out baking gluten-free and reading everything I can get my hands on. A wonderfully tasty gluten-free cookbook with stories and explanations would be heavenly.

    However, we also have noticed, in our effort to cut out gluten we are cooking/eating more and more ethnic cuisine – Indian and Thai mostly. Indian is so easy to make and so rich and wonderful. My spice cabinet is so full of amazing Indian spices now!

    Thank you for this list, I'm bookmarking it and sending it to my mom for present ideas for me.

  252. Emily

    I love for cookbooks to tell me a bit more about combining flavours and putting things together. I am on a tight budget, which can make it hard with some of the things I like to look at, so a cookbook that delivers interesting delicious meals that will not cost a bomb are important to me.

    (and I already have Anjum's new indian. So you know 😉 )

  253. Emily

    I love for cookbooks to tell me a bit more about combining flavours and putting things together. I am on a tight budget, which can make it hard with some of the things I like to look at, so a cookbook that delivers interesting delicious meals that will not cost a bomb are important to me.

    (and I already have Anjum's new indian. So you know 😉 )

  254. Emily

    I love for cookbooks to tell me a bit more about combining flavours and putting things together. I am on a tight budget, which can make it hard with some of the things I like to look at, so a cookbook that delivers interesting delicious meals that will not cost a bomb are important to me.

    (and I already have Anjum's new indian. So you know 😉 )

  255. Amy

    A great cookbook inspires me to create not just the food in the recipes but the atmosphere the food creates. If it is a rustic recipe I want to set the mood in as though you are being transferred in front of a fire in an enchanting cottage in the country.

  256. thewhimsicalcupcake

    a 'keeper cookbook' in my kitchen has to have clear, precise instructions and descriptions on how something should look or the texture it should have at a certain cooking point is always much appreciated and oh so helpful! i also love a pic of each recipe, at least the ones that aren't commonly known. i hate looking at a recipe and scratching my head at what its supposed to look like 😉

  257. Sara

    Thank you for this amazing project! I purchased yours weeks ago and have been devouring it lovingly since! For me, a good cookbook shares both essential techniques with its readers AND forces the reader to think about different ingredients and spices in new and inventive ways. I don't need another recipe for mac and cheese, ya know?

  258. Sabayon

    There are basically two broad categories of "what I want in a cookbook"
    One thing I love is a cookbook that makes me look at food in a new way. In college I was a vegetarian (before lamb) and after a numerous cookbooks with ingredients like "egg substitute" or "soy hamburger crumbles", I discovered Vegan with a Vengeance which has no industrially produced fake meaty stuff, but instead uses whole foods in all sorts of amazing creative ways. Noe that I am no longer a vegetarian this is one of the few cookbooks I retained from that time, and one I use at least a few times a month. Then there was How to Eat which makes even a simple roast chicken seem voluptuous and satisfying. Nigella Lawson makes every kind of cooking into a profound extension of one's zest for living.

    The other category I love is the anthropological/historical ones, that let you really sink down into a food culture. It needn't be a "foreign" or "exotic" culture, indeed I think The Cornbread Gospels does just as good a job as something like Real Thai (actually practically everything Nancy McDermott has ever written falls in this category). I love the cookbooks that introduce you to a diversity of foods and traditions that is glossed over and homogenized by most "Cooking of __" style cookbooks.

  259. Amy

    A great cookbook inspires me to create the entire food experience. When you read the recipe you are transformed into the place it is setting and want to recreate this. If I am cooking a rustic French meal I want to take whoever I am cooking for to a small cottage in the Provence. I think this is what makes a great foodie experience.

  260. NicoleD

    A few years ago I would have said that great pictures were the most important part of a cookbook, but then I purchased The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook and the stories that accompanied each recipe made me fall in love with it hard and fast. It was like reading a satisfying book with the added bonus of delicious recipes. I also love easy-to-prepare meals for jazzing up the weekday.

  261. Mary

    I love a cookbook that is clear about its process, but is mostly about a love of sharing great food. And I love recipes with a small list of great seasonal ingredients that I can pick up from the Greenmarket.

    About a month ago, I tried "Braised Lamb with Concord Grapes and Green Tomatoes" from Olives and Oranges, an amazing cookbook by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox. It was incredible: juicy, earthy, slightly tart. Mmmm. Transportive!


  262. Kristi Lou

    A great cookbook to me is one that I refer to over and over. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is one I go back to again and again. I also like cookbooks with beautiful photos, such as The Herbal Kitchen, by Jerry Traunfeld. I like cookbooks to teach me, just not list the ingredients and the steps. Teach me something, please!

    Thanks for reviewing the books. We are not GF, but I truly enjoy your blog. Good eating is good eating, right?

  263. toquegirls

    What makes a good cookbook?
    Great photography. Innovative but manageable recipes. Reflects a wholesome, healthy attitude towards food, just like I want in my kitchen. And, for some of my favourite books, they bring back memories of meals and vacations relished.

  264. Stacey

    Well, now, you've just helped me create my holiday wish list! Thanks!

    A good cookbook for me gives me the "why" of how things work together, but also gives me interesting recipes to make once as written, and then play with later. Good stories from people who love food and being in the kitchen make it perfect. I love to create good food, and the world of gluten-free has given me more reason to research and learn. As we move towards a more local and sustainable diet, we're trying to be less meat-focused, and enjoy at least three meat-free dinners per week.

    I second the love for Amanda Hesser. Her pieces were the first thing I'd search for in the Sunday magazine, or online. What wit and talent.

  265. manuela garcía sánchez

    I loved this post! I´m totally addicted to books, and specially cookbooks, so I´ve put all of them on my wish list at amazon, except yours, that already sits here next to me in Barcelona. I´m the youngest of nine siblings, and I come from what was a very poor family during Franco´s times here in Spain. My mother could barely make ends meet, but her kitchen was always a paradise. Our whole life happened there, for the entire family and our friends too. We chatted and laughed while cooking, surrounded by simple seasonal ingredients and a lot of creativity. For me and my family, the story of humankind is intimately connected to food. I now have a gluten-free cafe here, and aim every day to bring my mother´s kitchen environment alive. My favourite cookbooks are those that connect me to that pulse of life, where I can sense what goes on in that kitchen, the excitement that the person feels when cooking, shopping for groceries, thinking about new recipes, seeing people taste the food. And those who have simple, clean, seasonal ingredients that bring to the table what the earth is producing at that very moment. I also love books that serve almost as an antropological essay, that tell us how cooking has developed through neighbouring countries, how it has travelled, how other countries or cultures have adapted the same dishes with a twist. I love those magical connections.

  266. MC

    I believe that a good cookbook is one made up of recipes that tell a food story. I like cookbooks that share family recipes that people have made for decades. Food should be appreciated, so any good cookbook should take care of the ingredients and provide recipes that are cherished.

  267. Adrienne * Tough City Writer

    A great cookbook is mystery, travel, dreaming, history . . . it makes you want to try new things, but keeps you coming back for the recipes that will become part of your history. A great cookbook will be recommended to your friends, saved for your children. And your children will receive it (one day) falling apart, spattered with food and hand-written notes, held together with an elastic band.

  268. Adrienne * Tough City Writer

    A great cookbook is mystery, travel, dreaming, history . . . it makes you want to try new things, but keeps you coming back for the recipes that will become part of your history. A great cookbook will be recommended to your friends, saved for your children. And your children will receive it (one day) falling apart, spattered with food and hand-written notes, held together with an elastic band.

  269. julianne

    What makes a great cookbook to me is tried and true recipes with ingredients that don't require mail order (or internet). I like recipes with lots of fresh natural ingredients and the meals don't take forever to make (unless of course we're talking about desserts which I'm totally fine killing a whole day to make a dessert). I love Moosewood Weekday dinner recipes because I can make organic easy, but I do have to revert to my inner 5 year old and say I would prefer picturesto be included! Visuals!!!

    That's why Pioneer Woman is so popular- it's dummy proof step by step pics that make things so easy. Too bad that takes up too much room in print, so at least 1 or 2 pics is great.

  270. Auglaise

    There are so many things a cookbook can be, but for me I like a cookbook that presents recipies that are well-written, thought out, and that I'm likely to turn to again and again.

    I'm particularly interested in Plenty, which I'll be buying myself on your recommendation (if I don't win it, of course!).

    Also, as you mentioned an Indian cookbook on your list, I wanted to share what is possibly the best Indian cookbook I've come across – Miss Masala, by Mallika Basu.

    My boyfriend and I cook feasts from this on a weekly basis, and then freeze portions so that we can enjoy them in the week. We've even stopped going to our local takeaway because we can get better food at home!

  271. Anne Marie

    I love cookbooks that inspire, have beautiful photos, relatively easy to find ingredients and recipes that I can accomplish after work.

    Your new book is wonderful and we loved the shrimp with almond sauce, once I located the Marcona almonds!

    The Urban Pantry sounds like a good book for me, it seems like I'm always running to the store for 1 or 2 ingredients that should probably be in my pantry.

    Thanks for some gift ideas, too.

  272. claiborne

    Thanks, Shauna! As someone with a cookbook problem,I will say that the handy reference tomes sit tight by the stove, but the ones that are artfully written and breathe with vivid stories will stay on my bedside table and beckon like a great piece of literature. Also, a respect for ingredients and a sense of seasonality are a must in a cookbook.

  273. Isabella

    I love cookbooks that can thoroughly explain the recipe; pictures are always helpful. Even better is when those photos include images of people actually making and enjoying the cooking process.
    Most importantly, I love making a gluten free meal that doesn't have us missing gluten at all.

  274. Rachel

    New cookbooks are always spectacularly exciting! I go for vegetarian or vegan cookbooks or yummy baking books. I love great photos & commentary to compliment recipes. Interesting spice combinations & books with recipes from other parts of the world are always enticing. I appreciate recipes that allow for deviation & my own touch….I rarely follow a recipe strictly by the book.

  275. Jenna

    Your description of a great cookbook sounds perfect to me. I'm an avid, but still very much amateur cook, so I love having beautiful photos to give me a sense of the basic direction of the recipe. Little editorial comments, opinions, suggestions are great – like a friend sharing a recipe rather than a cooking god issuing dictums – makes the whole process a lot more fun. You really hit it on the head with the "playfulness" part – food doesn't have to be heavy and serious, and that's a really freeing concept.

    These books are all going on my Christmas wishlist.

  276. JAV

    I have learned to cook through experimentation with your site and a handful of other bloggers that are out there & from my mother's guidance. My celiac diagnosis and moving away from home spurned an absolute need to learn how to cook a variety of clean, healthy, tastey food. I now have a new appreciation for cooking and for how nutrition affects all parts of life. I am now confused with baking substitutions, simple sides for protein meals, etc. A perfect cookbook for me at this stage is one with seasonal, whole foods, gluten free or easy to adapt to GF, and with new ideas so I am not in a rut & can continue to have fun learning to cook.

  277. Staci

    Thanks so much for the great list! Print is definitely still alive in our house. I love having a good cookbook on my shelf!

    For me, one thing I look for is normal ingredients. If I have to go to 6 stores just to get things for one recipe, I will give up. I also love seeing photos!

  278. Arielle

    Not much is sweeter than sitting down with my sister to plan a holiday meal, drooling over the beautiful photos… I'd like a book with simple meat recipes and less grain dishes or desserts – I have to eat a low-glycemic diet and have only just started eating meat again, so I'm not entirely sure how to cook it yet. I love indian food!

  279. Marty52

    A good cookbook for me needs to have recipes that are clear and concise, so I know what is going to happen and when. I like a little background story about each one, too. Oh, and the recipes need to WORK all the time, not just when the planets align!! 🙂

  280. Ya Chun

    a good cookbook? one with wipe-able pages. I always get mine dirty.

    and I like it when recipes are more suggestion – you can use this or that vegetable, more of this or less of that spice, serve with this or that, etc.

    i hope santa brings me a cookbook this year!

  281. loulabelle_nz

    I'm terrified of cooking. Terrified. I don't know how it started – because I have wonderful memories of baking lovely treats with my Mother as a child – but just the thought of preparing a meal for someone now makes my heart race and my skin go clammy. I've had some disasters, which haven't helped… someone suggested poaching fish in milk once, which resulted in disintegrated fish on the floor; a gluten free lasagne is generally layers of gunk stuck together in a mess (but I have had one dear friend eat it none-the-less). Now I don't bother. I have a lot of cookbooks that go ignored on my shelf, while I eat out or heat store-bought soup. Despite this, I LOVE food. A great cookbook to me would be one that kept it simple, started with the basics, provided no-fuss/quick-win/easy-peasy recipes that a beginner could pull off, and helped me build my confidence. Because I have a real need now… it's not just me anymore and I'd love to make food for my partner in the same caring, giving, sharing way he makes meals for me.

  282. Michelle Maskaly

    A good cookbook must have easy, low-fat and delish meals. it also must have good pictures. I'm a creative person and I need to see what it is I'm trying to make.

  283. Kathleen O'Brien Noble

    Have you cooked with "Cooking for Isaiah"? Your blog along with this book really helped gluten-free cooking feel more natural. With two busy young children, I need uncomplicated recipes that seem familiar to the kids. You and Silvana Nardone opened up a whole new culinary world for my family. Thank you!

  284. elizabeyta

    A good cookbook: good writing. Your comment about stories and funny headnotes. All the draws me in. I want to know WHY this recipe speaks to the author. I like it when they show off with pictures. And I like it when I take what a cookbook author has done and I make it my own. Helps me to be creative in my own kitchen

  285. Jon, Meghan, and Emory

    I love this! There's something so satisfying and beautiful about seeing a stack of good books. Especially good cookbooks, of which I've requested a few for Christmas.

  286. emily

    The new generation of food writing is what pulls me in. Comparing my mother's worn and weary Quaker cookbook to your cookbook, to the cookbooks on this list, the story is more apparent. While the older cookbooks had their fair share of history the newer writers spill that history onto the pages. The love, the emotional connection, to each and every dish is there. And it draws you in. And that's the kind of cookbook I keep buying.

  287. bfkoontz

    I love a cookbook that teaches me new things, is easy to follow and the recipes come from a reliable source. Those are the ones I reach for again and again. I read cookbooks often, just for enjoyment, but I really love them when the pages get stained and wrinkled from use. Then I write notes on recipe pages so I remember when I made it and what I liked/disliked etc … I have a cookbook problem.

  288. jennyp

    A good cookbook is one that over time becomes stained with sauces, chocolate, crumbs, etc.
    A good cookbook tells a story through the recipes, making you want to jump into the kitchen! Oh and options for the non-meat eaters always help.

  289. Erin Farrell

    I'm just discovering the joy of cooking with my husband – we are newlyweds and try to put aside time every weekend to get in the kitchen together and celebrate through food. I have been gluten free for a year and a half, and my husband is so supportive – our home is totally gluten-free – so our time in the kitchen together has become a time of experimentation, of successes and a few epic failures! Thanks for inspiring me along the way! I picked up your new book last week and am working my way through it, making plans.

    As to what I look for in a cookbook? I look for a book that is not simple, but breaks steps down into terms a new cook can follow. A book that inspires me to get off the couch and into the kitchen.

  290. Martina

    For me, a great cookbook needs to have some vegetarian recipes, a good index, a beautiful design (maybe including pictures of the food), and most of all recipes that are doable every day. I'm willing to spend some time from start to finish, but less willing to fuss over sautéeing 10 different ingredients separately and so on.

  291. Cooking Confections

    This is a very timely post. Just today, I bought an older house and the deceased lady's son was there to show me around. He was quite teary telling me about how his mother loved to cook for friends and family. He left for me all her cookbooks, handwritten recipes and baking pans, tools, spoons, etc. The cookbooks are priceless- grease stains, sugar stains, handwritten notes. In my mind's eye, I can see her in there with her apron on and cooking up a feast for all to enjoy. I can truly feel her spirit in that kitchen. Obviously, I was supposed to buy that house. (PS, his aunt has just been diagnosed with Celiac's)

  292. zinnia

    A good cookbook for me is not too involved since I have less time as a busy mom, has good pictures that make me hungry, offers good healthy ingredients for raising children, and has a lot of heart.

  293. jsamama

    I'm a single mom of three amazing kiddos (9, 7 and 5). I work full time and it would be really easy for me to fall back on Kraft mac and cheese or grilled cheese sammies every night. I'm an avid cook, baker and cookbook collector, while I love a good grilled cheese, that usually just doesn't cut it for us. I want my kids to look back and remember the delicious meals we shared. Doesn't have to be fancy, just fresh and full of flavor. I'd love to have any one of these books (except for Pig and only because we're vegetarian!)

  294. Carly

    What wonderful selections, the only two cookbooks I picked up this year were yours and Elana's pantry almond flour cook book. I like pictures, I like a story, and I also like to hear the author's voice through out the book.

  295. Nimble

    What gorgeous hunks of prose about all these books. Makes me smile. A good cookbook to me lays out the ingredients and technique and tells me why I want to commit to this recipe. It is written by a cook with enthusiasm to share and experience to direct and inspire me as the reader. And not snooty!

  296. Tabitha

    I like cookbooks that are text-rich, ones which focus primarily on the chemistry of food and the physics of cooking. I value books that explain WHY (ex: you add lemon juice to milk to make it thicken, you blanche a duck in order to reduce the amount of fat on it, you don't over-saute garlic because it becomes bitter, and so on). My "keeper" cookbooks are full to bursting with practical information.

  297. J

    I just can't say how much I love your writing – it makes me feel like I have the freedom and the ability to really experiment and play and make mistakes and find joy in cooking – thank you!

    I've been living in New York for a year now, and my fellow and I only just moved into our own apartment, so for the first time I really have a chance to "own" my kitchen and sprawl out and cook. Being New York, though, what I'm really working with is a teeeeensy kitchen with a teeeensy stove, a teeeensy amount of counter space and about 3 cabinets for storage. So – creativity time. Urban Pantry looks like exactly the right ticket!

  298. leona

    Oh, cookbooks, how I love thee! A good cookbook to me has a good picture for every recipe. I love to read cookbooks so narratives/stories/history is always welcome but when it comes to wanting to cook/bake a recipe I am all about a visual. My eyes write the check and hope my skills can cash it. 🙂
    Practically, I am trying to cook with whole grains and fresh ingrediants. Any of the cookbooks on the list would be great though!

  299. Melissa Davlin

    For me, a good cookbook has descriptions that make the text come alive. I want to be able to picture those ingredients on my cutting board, that dish on my plate, those spices on my tongue. A well-written cookbook doesn't need pictures to get me hooked.

    Also, the more veggies, the better.

  300. Stephanie Ann

    I absolutely LOVE to cook, but finding out I was allergic to wheat just a few months after I graduated high school was devastating to me. That was two and a half years ago and I've discovered the wonderful world of "substitutions". I would love a cook book that is easy to tweak recipes so that they can fit my dietary needs. One of my all time favorite cook books is my mother's copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Even though it's not inherently for gluten/wheat free cooking, that's what I use it for and I LOVE it. Thank you!

  301. Stephanie Ann

    Me again! 🙂 I also love to cook exotic types of food (Indian is my favorite) despite my allergy. ALMOST every one of my culinary creations has turned out fairly well and its fun to share them with my family. They can't even tell that I've changed it!

  302. Jennywenny

    Mmm, these look incredible. I already have david lebovitz' incredible dessert book, which is wonderful but I can see I need to do more shopping!

    I love pictures, but dont always need them, moosewood survives on my shelf despite not having any. I do like the recipe to be all on one or two pages as having to keep picking it up and turn the page is a bit hassly!

    Much as I love dear dorie greenspan, one of my favourite recipes of hers, dories perfect party cake, is over several pages and I have to keep picking the book up and repositioning it on the cookbook holder.

  303. Meryl

    I bought your new book today in the store as a gift for a friend, and loved it so much that I was loathe to wrap it up! I'll buy *my* copy through your site, though.
    I'm a personal chef and what makes a great cookbook for me is very simple- it needs to provide someone like me, who lives in food, a breath of fresh air, a reminder of new and essential technique, and a laugh or anecdote never hurts either. As a cook, I have a hard time following recipes exactly EXCEPT when baking, which is why I feel strongly that baking cookbooks (like Dorie's! or David's) must be precise and careful with measurement and observation.
    Happy Days,

  304. mercedes.

    this past year it has been my goal to cook more– real meals, not just a pot of rice and some frozen veggies. (i'm a vegan.) so out of all these cookbooks, the one that intrigues me most is urban pantry, and i'm definitely adding it to my christmas list.
    i'm also considering ratio for my mom, who is a real master in the kitchen. it sounds like the kind of book she would love.

    so thank you for all the wonderful recommendations!

  305. Yosser

    To me the best cookbooks tell a story of which food is a major part, but not the only part. Its a novel were food is one character in the plot.

    If you ever get chance check out Maura Laverty's cookbooks and novels. She an old Irish author whose books tell a great tale as well containing good old fashioned recipes.

  306. Jill

    The cookbooks that stay around the longest in my kitchen make have recipes for good desserts. Love ones with multiple recipes that I can come back to again and again.

  307. Jessica

    I need a good cookbook that is simple to cook with. I have only gone gluten free in the past 2 years and the idea of 20 different flours combined gives me the chills! I am single, 25, and going to graduate school. I don't have time to measure all different flours or money to spend on all of them. I usually keep an all-purpose GF flour, coconut flour and almond flour on hand. I also use the crockpot a lot and like QUICK recipes because I teach school during the day and go to class at night! I need a cookbook for a crazy single lifestyle! THANKS!

  308. Genisa

    I'm always attracted to cookbooks that remind me of storybooks from my childhood and textbooks from my favorite classes. I am a person who will spend the evening on the couch with a glass of wine, a notebook, and a writing utensil marveling over a new cookbook. I love to know the background and relevance of a recipe, so I spend a lot of time reading the introductions of recipes and chapters. I also like to pore over each and every recipe looking for new ingredients, or different uses for familiar ones, or even techniques that I haven't tried before. And the pictures! I almost want to buy two copies of the book sometimes- one for kitchen use, and one to tear the pictures out and hang on my wall. Good pictures really get me motivated to make the food, but also give me new and exciting ways to plate, too. The most memorable cookbooks awaken the imagination, whisk you away to new places, and leave both you mind and your midsection sated.

  309. Ada

    I only moved out of my parents' home about a year ago, so my cookbook collection is pretty small, but my first cookbook is still my favourite: The Joy of Cooking. Instead of reading my textbooks, I will happily read the descriptions of exotic foods or the methodical theory behind such time-honoured traditions as baking bread. I love the Joy because it not only tells me about the techniques needed for a recipe, it explains why they're needed.

    As I've gained cooking experience, I'm now seeking cookbooks which have the same quality of instruction but instead focus on certain cuisines, since I love trying new recipes. Maybe winning one of your cookbooks will help. 😉

  310. my darling lemon thyme

    Wow. What an awesome list! I have heard about most of those books and own two of them, but it's always such a treat to hear what it is about them that other love.
    For me to love a cookbook it has to…
    1. Have amazing recipes using new idea's, ingredients or techniques
    2. Have stunning photo's, of as many of the recipes as possible. I simply do not give books a chance if they don't have photos!
    3. Have amazing desserts/baking recipes! I usually flick through a book from back to front. If there arn't tasty sweet treats, I usually don't buy it.
    4. Have interesting headnotes. I love to read cookbooks like a novel.
    Congratulations on your own wonderful cookbook, and for such a heart warming post. I had a smile on my face while reading it and laughed out loud more than once 🙂

  311. Raucous ruckus

    I love a cookbook with imaginative flavour pairings. Not funky pairings, exactly. Just really interesting and imaginative combinations brought forth by the truly food-wise mind. Then the cookbook not only provides a host of recipes, but inspiration for a multitude of other ones…and the confidence to try them out.

    And I love love love your cookbook. Thank you so much for this list. Many of these will definitely make it to my Christmas gift list.

  312. Megan

    I like cookbooks that have recipes that push me to try ingredients I might not have used before, but also offer some dishes that I can make without doing a ton of research and prep. We LOVE books and have way too many of them (this it even possible to have too many books??) in our home!

  313. allison

    A great cookbook is one that gets you excited to cook. One that doesn't use a ton of rare ingredients; one that has recipes for comfort food and some for fancy occasions. My 3 favorite cookbooks are all ones that I bought second-hand. They were all written in the 40's when it was important to use everything that was available. I also find that these cookbooks use a wider variety of grains than most cookbooks written today.

  314. Ang

    At this time in my life, I need recipes that are fabulous, yet easy to prepare. I have two-year-old triplets, plus a first grader, which make for a pretty hectic dinner time these days, and limited time for preparing food! I also need a cookbook with ideas that will tempt a picky six-year-old with celiac.

    Thank you, by the way, for the giveaway, and for all of the wonderful recommendations – I want to add all of them now to my Christmas wish list!

  315. Scott

    A good cookbook:

    a. explains why you should add spices to the onion before adding the liquid
    b. defines blanche!
    c. makes you flip around for complementary recipes or other definitions
    d. doesn't take itself too seriously
    e. knows its audience (the Kosher Palette, which we use often, is a good example)
    f. tells a good story.

    As the dad of a 4 yo celiac, finding good cookbooks has taken on new meaning.

  316. Catherine

    A good cookbook is one I can snuggle up in bed with and then fall into a blissful sleep even though the book binding is stabbing me. Your book is one of those.

  317. Stephanie

    A good cookbook for me inspires me to cook. It trusts me to take the pattern of a new dish — the instructions — and turn it into a real thing that is delicious and lovely, that is just right for my table.

  318. StylinGirl

    A good cookbook, in my opinion, takes simple accessible foods and a few easy extras to combine into something extraordinary.

  319. Maki

    Hi Shauna. I always have a hard time choosing new cookbooks, so to have a list of recommendations is great!

    Also.. While it doesn't offend me, "spazz" is slang for "epileptic" and in England, it's offensive to the degree of the word "retard" in the States. I just wanted to let you know because I wouldn't want you to be inadvertently offending anybody.

  320. Claire Berman

    Hi Shauna! Many thanks to you and Danny (and Lu, I imagine!) for reviewing these cookbooks. I personally can sit and read cookbooks like a novel, and I particularly enjoy reading stories that have been woven in with the recipes. I love beautiful photos that make me want to drop whatever I'm doing and make that dish, right in that moment. For me, a cookbook that stays in my kitchen is reliable and like an old friend. You can count on a good cookbook to produce delicious food every time. And I find it nearly impossible to part with them – just seeing them on the shelf in my kitchen makes me feel comforted.

  321. Jessica

    I'm a college student who must eat gluten free so a great cookbook is one that is either specifically gluten free or easily converted recipes and one that does not require too many ingredients or really, really specific ones since I have a limited budget!

    I LOVE print books and newspapers and will always have many in my house!!

  322. Wanderlust & Veggie Burgers

    I love a cookbook that explains what to how and how to it, that presents each dish like delicious art! Since I'm not a terribly experienced chef, I like pictures to know how its supposed to come out. Silly, I know, but you have to start somewhere! A great cookbook should have personality and flavor.

  323. Wanderlust & Veggie Burgers

    oh oh oh I forgot to add in my comment that a really really great cookbook to me also is loaded with vegetarian recipes or tips to convert them.

  324. mjcopeland

    Liking a cookbook is sort of like liking a person. You just do. The recipes have to be wonderful of course, but the rest is just the essence of the author shining through. If I "get" the author, through her/his prose and recipe construction, I usually like the cookbook! A well-designed cookbook will catch my eye, no doubt about it. But, it's no match for the writing and the recipes.

  325. erk

    I have two kids and limited time; I both want to cook things that are healthy and which don't have ingredient lists two miles long and/or require a trip to a specialty store. I am still looking for a vegetarian or an Indian cookbook which fulfills that wish.

  326. Steve

    I like cooking Meat and Desserts!
    Or is it "Desserts and Meat!"? Hmm… I will have to think on that one.
    My favorite cookbooks use more simple and easy-to-find ingredients (rural community in northern IN is *not* full of specialty stores 🙂

    Cookbooks are fun!!


  327. jeanette from everton terrace

    A few things I like in a cookbook are alternatives – substitution offerings if you will. Also love when they suggest pairings, like "this goes great with cauliflower" or something. I'm a gluten free vegetarian so I find most cookbooks have large sections I can't use anymore. I'm hoping to get yours for Christmas – it's on my list and I love that you promote other people's work, it's one the things that makes you great.

  328. romanzadelarco

    My friends laugh at me; where most of them use the library to check out novels, I borrow cookbooks. Stacks of them. And I read them. Cover to cover. When I find I've renewed oneas much as they'll allow, then I think about buying it. I do this because I have already acquired too many that collect dust on a shelf mostly thrift shop finds that seemed irresistible at the moment of acquisition. There are a few favourites that I seem to return to, with recipes that have gone above and beyond, and resonate on all levels.

    I now have a gluten intolerant 4 year old granddaughter, plus a stepson who has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, so the joy of cooking has become a much more serious venture. I need all the help I can get, and truly appreciate your recommendations!

    For me, a good cookbook is like a great friend, someone you turn to again and again, both for the familiar and for new inspiration. Not overly complicated, with an easy familiarity. It helps if there are just a few enticing photographs, and if the ingredients are readiliy available in one's pantry.

  329. Johanna GGG

    lovely ode to print!

    Our place also is bursting at the seam with books. Who could give them up for all the ipads in the world!

    I try to be very disciplined about buying cookbooks because I just don't have room for many more so I really need to be inspired – I love glossy photos but it is really the writing, the personality, the ideas.

    I have so many cookbooks with the basics that I look for one with recipes that challenges me to cook something new, different and exciting! I also mostly buy vegetarian cookbooks because as I don't eat meat, books that are full of meat recipes just waste my space.

  330. Christy

    Well since my daughter and I have to be gluten and dairy free it is a cookbook that is easy to follow with great new ways to cook our old favorites. I made your GF stuffing for Thanksgiving and I gotta tell you it was a hit! Easy to follow, made total sense and was so yummy we were all just picking it out of the pan and eating it. 🙂

  331. Maria Duncan

    One that gives straightforward instructions with excellent results that my whole family enjoys.

  332. Stephanie

    I love cookbooks… it's sort of an addiction.

    However, I tend to "use" rather than "follow" recipes. So my favorite cookbooks help me understand HOW to use an ingredient or HOW to make a type of food. Two of my go-to's are Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" and "The Joy of Cooking."

    Most of the ones on your list fit the bill! (I'm sure "PIG" does, but I'll skip that one!)

    Now I have to send the link to this post to anyone who might be getting me a Hanukkah present 🙂

  333. Lisa Abbott

    I read cookbooks voraciously, usually while I'm eating. What I love most is narrative. Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure is as old as I am and its stained, loose pages with the Modigliani-esque sketches still entrance. Cook's Illustrated and their detailed accounts of professional cooking travesty give me hope when I feel out of my element. And as a recently-diagnosed glutard, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef has been a godsend. That pastry tart crust is utterly made of win.

  334. shornrapunzel

    To keep me coming back and wearing out the edges of the pages, I need a cookbook with beautiful images as well as inspiring-sounding recipes. If I can't see what the food looks like, no matter how delectable the title of the dish sounds, I am far less likely to make it.

  335. Abbie

    oh my goodness I love cookbooks. I love illustrations and photos. I love to read a bit of background about the chef, the dish, the inspiration, the cultural history, and I love a recipe that brings you through that adventure. Basically, I like to read and salivate at pictures as much as I love to slice, saute, and sear. I think that new cultures, fresh perspectives, and vibrant colors is what keeps my nose in a good cookbook!

  336. Andrea

    What makes a good cookbook for me is when I am so engrossed in it that I take it to bed and stay up until I finish it.

    This almost always comes from the head notes on the recipes or in the essays included.

    Oh, and good recipes help, too! Recipes with whole, seasonal ingredients that are prepared simply.

    Thank you for putting together this list!

  337. Tastecraft

    A great cookbook needs to spin narrative in with thoughtful dishes and inspirational photos. Luckily-your book does just that! But I don't have any of the others and would love to!!!

  338. D Louise

    Yeah for print media! Although I'm a HUGE consumer of audio books [no, not cook books–yet], I still love the feeling of a paper book, newspaper, or magazine in hand. This goes triple for cookbooks, and yours is an amazing collection.

    For reading, oh, cookbooks in general and the ones with stories in particular. Now, for cooking, what sends me, a celiac diabetic cooking for one, to the kitchen is Madrah Jaffrey and Shauna, so I'm really lusting after your top choice and your new book. Got. to. have…

  339. beastmomma

    Wow–I really love this post and the way you reviewed the books. To answer your question, a good cookbook has great narrative of how the recipe came to be and what occasions it is good for; I also appreciate good step by step recipes with approximation for how long things take and tips for different variations of recipes.

  340. Jenn Sutherland

    I love cookbooks that first tell me a story – seduce me with the story, and I'll follow you straight to the food. And second, I'm looking for interesting flavor combinations and homey preparations…things that are too fussy or precise don't always make the cut in my kitchen when I'm working 2-3 recipes at once on a Sunday morning to get some of the cooking done for the week ahead.

    I'll definitely be picking up Anjum's book…I'm always drawn to Indian flavors, especially in winter, when there's nothing so warming as a bowl of spicy lentil soup or dal.

  341. Esther

    Wow what a wonderful set of books! Quite strangely I had literally popped over to mention I have just reviewed your book and can certainly recommend anyone who doesn't have it to buy it!

    I love books like yours which can be read almost like a novel and at the same time I love to learn new techniques and how to understand ingredients better. I like the combination of art and science that is really good cooking.

    That said I live in the UK so you might not want to send me anything as the postage adds up!

  342. NishaPurple

    I love your blog. I read and relish it every time I get a chance to take it in.

    I love cookbooks that explain the science of what we are doing to achieve the beauty at the end. A good cookbook has photos (or illustrations) to keep you company, clear directions, and superb new ideas for menu and recipes.

  343. Jamie Macke

    What makes a cookbook great to me? After taking food for granted for 20 years, being diagnosed with celiac disease after years of struggling with symptoms, going through the hell of grieving all the foods I'd lost, trying all the premade "old-school" gluten free foods that resembled cardboard, and finally discovering that food can taste good again, maybe even better, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a cookbook great. You see, I've realized that cooking is an art form in its own right. It combines skill, knowledge, ambition, creativity, instinct, and emotion. There is nothing better to me than creating a meal for a group of people I care for and connecting with them as we eat it. There are days its challenging and frustrating, but nothing is better than when you take a bite of something that tastes amazing. Now that I know what cooking is for me, I gravitate toward cookbooks that are informal, full of good stories and discussions, delicious recipes, and that teach me how to become better. I love it when a cook book allows me to see the person behind the recipes, and I laugh or cry at their words. It helps me realize that the author is on a journey too, and I am privileged that they allow me to share a part of it.

  344. Mollie

    Thank you for rounding up these amazing cookbooks for us! What makes a good cookbook for me is the use of template recipes (I think I got that term from 101 Cookbooks). I LOVE it when I can use a recipe over and over (mastering basic techniques) to make different variations to suit my mood or the ingredients on hand/in season. It's essential for me to get a strong understanding of what the author is going for in each dish – whether that is accomplished via narrative (like Cooks Illustrated) or just including a great description of what the end product is like. Finally, if a cookbook has these things going for it AND is very comprehensive I am sure to refer to it again and again.

  345. Yosser

    I love a cookbook that tells a story and the food is just one of the characters. If the story is good the food becomes even more inviting.

    If you get a chance check out Maura Lavety's cookbooks and novels. She is an old Irish cookbook writer and novelist. Full of great stories and old recipes

  346. celiacinthecity

    Although I love cookbooks with the basics, just the recipes, I need pictures! And lots of them. And now that I own so many different cookbooks, I appreciate ones that tell a story. (like yours, love it!) I appreciate seeing what other people are up to the in the kitchen too!

  347. Rebecca

    I very much enjoyed Ruth Reichl and Laurie Colwin's books on cooking and food. The stories are what made the included recipes so delightful. Food and cooking makes for happy stories and memories. That's what I enjoy most in a cookbook.

  348. annielmcr

    This is, quite possibly, my favorite subject– good cookbooks!

    I like to read a cookbook like a novel, and, from when I get a new one, I take it around everywhere with me– on the bus, beside the bed, reading in the bathtub…you name it!

    I like pictures and it is important for the recipes to actually work, but what I really like are the stories behind the recipes– descriptions of what inspired it or how it was incorporated into a meal. I also like it when the author shares a little of the creative process with the reader– its like being in the kitchen next to them…While I do actually cook recipes directly, I also just like to soak them in and use them as a springboard for a new riff.

  349. leedav

    I was so excited to see the photo of the books on flickr. I already have many of them on hold at the library. I don't often purchase cookbooks because I already have so many so a new has to be really, really good. My all time favorites are the books by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid because they make me want to BE them! I fully agree with your comment about Narnia. Above all else, it must be a good read.

    P.S.- I loved the video of Pam Anderson and her daughters an just from watching it created a dish similar to her sausage cassoulet and have had it twice so thanks for that!

  350. Caneel

    I agree with you — I enjoy looking at and posting recipes online, but there is no replacement for cookbooks (or books and newspapers) in print. I have so many! I don't really have a list of things that I absolutely must have in a cookbook but as a busy mom, I do find it helpful when recipes list the projected prep and finish times. Of course, most of my cookbooks don't have this, but if I'm looking at a recipe I've never tried and it doesn't have this, I try to skim through it and estimate myself.

  351. Ashley Bennett

    I love cookbooks. No matter how many recipes I get online, there's just nothing like sitting down and thumbing through pages of deliciousness! My favorite cookbooks are full of fantastic pictures (this usually inspires me to start cooking), stories of the recipes (love those) and are clear in their instructions. I love to learn about different cultures through food and I love innovative recipes that I wouldn't necessarily come up with on the fly. I like recipes complicated or simple, doesn't matter to me, as long as the food comes out Amazing!

    By the way, I've requested your cookbook for Christmas, hope I get it!

  352. Ashley Bennett

    I love cookbooks. No matter how many recipes I get online, there's just nothing like sitting down and thumbing through pages of deliciousness! My favorite cookbooks are full of fantastic pictures (this usually inspires me to start cooking), stories of the recipes (love those) and are clear in their instructions. I love to learn about different cultures through food and I love innovative recipes that I wouldn't necessarily come up with on the fly. I like recipes complicated or simple, doesn't matter to me, as long as the food comes out Amazing!

    By the way, I've requested your cookbook for Christmas, hope I get it!

  353. Dana

    In the past four years, I got married, started grad school, got diagnosed with severe gluten, dairy, and egg intolerance, and converted to (Eastern) Orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christianity has extensive fasting periods in which we eat essentially vegan (Lent, Advent, Wednesdays and Fridays of almost every week). I have always loved to cook (a family heritage) I am learning to love the rhythm and seasonality of this (both natural and religious seasons), but when I combine it with being a gluten-free, busy and not-rich grad student, sometimes cooking is more of a burden than a joy. Nowadays I experiment with ethnic foods quite a bit, but overall I gravitate toward cookbooks with vibrant and unexpected flavor combinations, fresh but mostly simple ingredients, and enough flexibility to inspire me during vegan and carnivorous periods alike. (For instance, I love but don't own Alice Waters' "The Art of Simple Food." I swear everything I make tastes better for a day or two after I read it!)

    By the way, I made your brussels sprout salad for Thanksgiving dinner (with sheep's milk pecorino) and it was splendid. I also made an apple pie with your vegan pie crust and topped it with a gf-oat and pecan crumble. All the non-allergic people gobbled it up and asked me to make it again next year. Thanks!

  354. mahnkee

    For me, a great cookbook has gluten-free and vegan recipes… (or dairy substitutions). I enjoy using cookbooks with pictures. I love recipes that call for common ingredients that I have on hand. I also love a durable cookbook that will hold up through my successful, and sometimes disastrous, cooking experiences!

  355. bethany

    I agree, I like reading cookbooks that draw me in with stories and the personality of the cook. Sometimes that's a big glossy travelogue with recipes, sometimes its the family reunion binder with aunt Muriel's directions for a casserole that feeds an army.

  356. Teal

    I have been reading your blog for a few months now, ever since I saw your cookbook in Madison Market in Seattle. I am a student at Seattle Central trying to stay off the "college diet" and keep a partner with the appetite of a 12 foot tall pubescent football player fed (without breaking the bank) by cooking nearly all my meals from fresh ingredients. In July, I was told to stop eating wheat and dairy by my acupuncturist. I thought, "Well, what can I cook then?" You and other GF bloggers have helped me to answer that question. In fact, now I eat better, more nutritious, more flavorful food than I ever have. I'm still learning how to cook – let alone how to cook GF. The only cookbook I own is a Joy of Cooking I got from my boyfriend's mother when he and I got our first apartment. I hope to expand my collection in the years to come (also hoping that your book materializes under the tree). I want to thank you two for the passion for cooking you have helped me develop.

  357. Cynthia

    A great cookbook is one I love to read in bed before going to sleep, with recipes that make me want to get right out of bed — forget sleep! — and start cooking them. I like good photos, clear ingredient lists and directions, and most of all, a true "voice" from the author. Just like a good food blog!

    I cannot imagine a life without books, and have passed my love of books on to my children, now grown–and good cooks–and to my grandchildren, who call me their "Book Granny."

  358. Tim

    I love a cookbook that has been well-loved. By that, I mean the ones you find at your church sales, Salvation Army and thrift stores. I especially love reading the notes and comments that their previous owners wrote. My favourite is a cookbook from my mother-in-law's collection – she wrote who she served it to, what she substituted and if she would make it again.

  359. Kate

    accessible writing, sustainable food choices, and meals I can feed the various food preferences of my family after a long day at work. I think I need some MaggyPam in my life!

  360. Beth

    I love cookbooks with beautiful, full page photos. Even the most fabulous recipe can look rather bland on the page without an accompanying image. You eat with your eyes first, after all! I also like to read cookbooks like magazines, flipping through until something catches my eye.

  361. Beth

    I love cookbooks with beautiful, full-page photos. Even the most fabulous recipe can appear rather bland without an accompanying image. You eat with your eyes first, after all! I also like to read cookbooks much like I read magazines, flipping through until something catches my eye.

  362. Laurie

    I have six of those cookbooks on my existing wishlist already! I may have to add a couple more! A good cookbook to me reads like a novel. I love the stories behind the recipes. And of course, hopefully the recipes are delicious. Pictures are welcomed, but not always necessary. Thanks for having the giveaway 🙂

  363. Allison

    Several things come to my mind about my favorite cookbooks: Glossy pages with fantastic pictures of the dishes and a good-to-read-in-bed backstory. A nice, pleasing font, a table of contents and an index. And lastly, tips to make the dish vegetarian, dairy-free, and especially gluten-free.

  364. Nikki V.

    My favorites are ones where the recipes are accessible and easily integrated into the daily routine. Its as if the recipes were always in my life and I couldn't imagine life without them!

  365. gfbrooke

    I am always in search of a good cook book all about baking. I enjoy cooking, but I love baking. I've always had a sweet tooth and enjoy reading a good dessert recipe and browsing gorgeous photos almost as much as baking the dessert itself. After my celiac disease diagnosis last year, I felt I needed to buy gluten-free only cookbooks, but thanks to your blog and a recent class I took, I am branching out and learning how to convert traditional recipes into my own delicious gluten-free versions. I now am looking for any good baking/dessert book and look forward to the challenge of recipe conversion!

  366. jodi b

    I read cookbooks like they are novels. The stories grab me first, the pictures and finally the recipes themselves. I love to explore the cookbook and make it a part of my family. I am a bit of a cookbook junkie!

  367. Diane

    What makes a great cookbook for me…the following:

    1. First and foremost – a unique voice and a specific sense of place. I appreciate books that take me into a deep-rooted culture of food. The best of the ethnic cookbooks can do this, but so can books exploring traditional food ways. I don't want dumbed down short-cuts for an American kitchen, and I am willing to travel with the writer on a journey to understand what I need and how to use it.

    2. A good section on list of ingredients, with explanation as to best way to source them, best brands, etc.

    3. The recipes work. I know this sounds like a given and kind of redundant, but so many coffee table books have recipes that *almost* work but not quite. The books I return to over and over again are ones that I know I can open at random, pick any page, and trust the recipe will succeed brilliantly.

  368. Shuku

    No matter what, I still go back to print – there's something about the feel of a book in hand that e-books just don't have. As for a cookbook that'll stay in my kitchen –well. I live in SE Asia. Some ingredients are incredibly expensive or at least hard to get around here, so any cookbook I pick up needs to have enough recipes in it that utilize ingredients I can find, or that I can easily substitute. That said, I will pick up just about any that have good ideas in them because I never know when they might come in handy. Good writing, clear directions, and non-patronizing tone are also important.

  369. Kathryn

    Hello: Thank you for the opportunity to win the cookbooks. I usually just make stuff up out of my head, but my sister loves cookbooks. I would love to be able to gift them to her.

  370. Laura

    As a novice in the kitchen, I haven't fallen in love with cookbooks yet. But I love your site and can imagine what a good cookbook can do. I remember when my daughter was diagnosed with all those food allergies and Carol Fenster's Cooking Free saved me from crying everytime I needed to prepare food. Her recipes aren't melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but for me she was a pioneer, leading the way into a new world of baking and eating. And even when I find other books to love, I won't get rid of that first life-saving book.

  371. crescentfresh

    A good cookbook for me is one that concentrates on recipes that fit my dining needs (dinners and side dishes, mostly) has ingredients that are not tremendously specialized and are easily found (usually from farmers markets or a Whole Foods, etc.), and matches my cooking skill and available time (advanced intermediate-advanced, not much time for making dishes that take a while). I like cooking and not baking and find cookbooks that reflect that. I also admire the creativity of the author. I can, for the most part, sense a recipe that has just been thrown together and one that has actually been tested and enjoyed by its creator. (Without including names, you can usually tell who is prone to be found on which side of this coin!)

    And after getting some news from the woman helping me with my diet/nutrition yesterday, we're going to try to remove wheat from my diet to see if it improves my health. So I have a brand new need — just one day old — to find wheat/gluten – free foods and recipes. And that's how I ended up on this site, my first visit here.

  372. hmhill_kymom

    Since daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I find ethnic cooking easier and am trying to start a collection of those without much success. I also want to keep our Southern traditions in an allergy friendly way, kinda intimidating.

  373. Cheryl Arkison

    I'm finding that I really enjoy reading cookbooks. Not just the recipes, but the text, the blurbs at the top of recipes, and the technical information.

    A book that is in frequent rotation for inspiration is always one that offers recipes I might not think of on my own or pulls me out of my comfort zone in the kitchen.

    It also must have a really good index.

  374. Francina

    For me, any great cookbooks should contain recipes that strive for delivering a layered complexity in taste without indulging in unnecessarily complicated steps. They should also have lucid instructions, at least one photo per recipe and passionate presence of the authors.

  375. Christine

    What an awsome list! Thanks for sharing so many great suggestions.
    A great cookbook for me is one that is pleasent to read, teaches me something or gives me new ideas, and inspires me to run to the kitchen! I love cooking and baking fancy complex dishes just as much as simple tasty ones.

  376. Kristie

    I love cookbooks! Cooking is a lost art form…today there is too much take-out, frozen, boxed, etc. So to see the recipes, with all the precise measurements, and the glorious and delectable photographs is to see fine art in your very own home! I aspire to be as great an artist…and to find the courage to ad-lib once in a while!

  377. Alison

    I love cookbooks. I often pick up one of mine when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I will leaf through the recipes that I've made time and mark the ones that I hope to try. I'm getting married in the summer of 2011 and working on my cookbook collection. Those who only have electric recipes are missing out!

  378. Megan

    Something that not only contains a great set of recipes, but also inspires changes in my current go-to dishes.

    And of course, some great pictures.

  379. Artist without a Muse

    A good cookbook can be read easily, is hard to put down, and makes you drool all over the lovely photos!

  380. Seattle Pastry Girl

    I was so excited when I read this post. Thank you for taking the time to put this list together. First I look at the photos-they have to have some heart and soul in them ,not just stock pics of bread. Then I review bits and pieces of the recipes-have to have a lot of the heart and soul of the chef in them. And I love little stories or notes or helpful hints. I just started with Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table thru French Fridays with Dorie blog. And Mowie over at Mowielicious turned me onto Otto Lenghi when he mentioned his Orange Polenta Cake. Print rocks !

  381. Zaidi Family

    We, too, have books on shelves, stacks and in every imaginable nook and cranny in our home. My husband is a bookseller and our 18 month old son is a huge lover of books already. When I saw your list of cookbooks I was so excited! I love cookbooks and am getting into cooking more and more now that my son is eating food with us. I have done much of my searching online as there is a vast resource, but when I find recipes this way I miss the cookbook experience. I love feeling the pages, smelling the ink, seeing the photos and reading the cook's thoughts and words, seeing the recipe the way they intended it. Making food that inspires and tastes as good as it sounds is a large part of the exploration. I am also a fan of things that are quick and easy to prepare while entertaining a little person in the kitchen. 🙂

  382. EDunnack

    These cookbooks all look amazing and I would love to cook from all of them. The type of cookbooks I find myself turning to again and again are full of stories about the food. I also love gorgeous photos but honestly, I'll pick good stories and food writing over photos any day!

  383. Zack and Jackie

    Simplicity. Between my schedule and my husband's schedule, I thrive on dinner recipes I can whip up in 30-45 minutes. Also, dinners that freeze well. I'm on the road a fair amount and having meals in the freezer makes it easy on my man!

  384. Kerrie

    HERE HERE to keeping print alive, we are just a pair of under 30 d.i.n.k. and subscribe to the daily newspaper down in phoenix which I am pretty sure puts us in a small minority group. Last year one of my new years resolutions was to bake bread, I choose not to put any pressure by affixing a quantity. I was slow to start, only having done a pizza crust through June. But as fall came I renewed my passion and now I would say yes I did bake bread this year. Amanda Hesser tome sounds like a wonderful book to have or Urban Pantry. But anything new to challenge myself for the next year would be great as well, vegetarian or Indian say.

  385. Laurie

    This is my first post! I'm a new reader of this blog and have been gluten free for a few months now … still playing with it but after several weeks in tears I was happy to find this blog 🙂

    For me, a good cookbook must have great photos – I'm very visual and creative and love to present my meals well. I also can't follow a recipe to save my life. I always improvise but do not yet have the experience to make it successful (well, I eat what I make but may not serve it to company) so I need recipes that are flexible and forgiving and a cookbook that inspires creativity.

    Thank you!!

  386. Laurie

    This is my first post! I'm a new reader of this blog and have been gluten free for a few months now … still playing with it but after several weeks in tears I was happy to find this blog 🙂

    For me, a good cookbook must have great photos – I'm very visual and creative and love to present my meals well. I also can't follow a recipe to save my life. I always improvise but do not yet have the experience to make it successful (well, I eat what I make but may not serve it to company) so I need recipes that are flexible and forgiving and a cookbook that inspires creativity.

    Thank you!!

  387. melissa

    For me a good cookbook is one that has the perfect balance of food, stories, and pictures. Pictures because I am so visual when it comes to food…colors and textures inspire me. Food because ultimately that's what it's about, and I use recipes as much for inspiration as I do to actually follow them and cook something tasty. And stories because I want to know what kind of a person would recommend this food, the journey they've taken with it, the meals they've shared that has included it. It gives the dish a history that I can pass down (and maybe share its stories) and gives me ideas of ways to make it my own.

  388. Kelly

    A Cookbook should make you feel like your creating an art piece, not something to fill up a plate. But it's not the same as the painting you hang up on a wall. The way I like to think about cooking is the way the Buddhist monks think about creating a mandala. You spend hours putting your heart and time into the ingredients, letting the spices and colors play with your senses. It's a way of meditation really, letting you focus in on yourself and others.

    And then you step back from your creation, look at it, and destroy (eat!) it without a care in the world.

    Just like painting, the art of cooking is all about embracing the verb, not the end product, and I like cookbooks that help me enjoy the process and immerse me in/ teach me about the ingredients!

    (I love your site. I found it when I was researching Celiac disease after I started getting non stop stomach aches. I get the blood test tomorrow! Crossing fingers! 🙂 )

  389. Melissa

    For me, the great cookbook has to have pictures. Maybe it's shallow, but a picture of the final project not only captures your imagination but confirms that you are on the right track with your own creation. It needs to have some practical, stand-by tried-and-true recipes that also have some recipes that will stretch you by being a little bit outside the box.
    I have a friend that just discovered her gluten intolerance. I am excited to surprise her with your cookbook for Christmas!!

  390. CatNoir

    I love cookbooks that teach new recipes from Europe. I really appreciate it when an author takes time to write about their life and cooking experiences. It shows love for their craft.

  391. Wendy

    The cookbooks I keep must have, first of all, good food. Interesting food. I love trying new dishes. Second of all, they must, MUST have a good index. Thirdly, the recipes need to be for healthy food. I'm vegan, though my family is omnivorous, and I refuse to use copious amounts of 'white' (ie, flour, sugar, rice). So lots of good veggie-based dishes that I can augment with meat for the family is ideal for me.

  392. Laura Schmidli

    I absolutely need a cookbook that gets creative with common ingredients. Like you mention in your post, I try to shop once a week and then just use what I have… instead of wasting time and fossil fuels to get to the store and indulge in some special ingredient. I love cookbooks that are relatively simple because it is also easier to involve my partner in the cooking. A recipe involving black truffle oil = he's not likely to participate. 🙂 But when we're working with the simple things from our farm share, we can both get down with the cooking and not worry about ruining any rare ingredients. Thanks much for your blog!

  393. Rachel

    For me a great cookbook has recipes that are visually enjoyable & easy to read, that inspires me to try new ways of preparing food or new combinations of ingredients. I love lots of beautiful photos or illustrations, great descriptions of the food along with the recipe. A book, like you say, that makes me want to jump into the kitchen right away!

  394. Cathy

    The cookbooks which stay right at my elbow in the kitchen are those which are highly detailed reference books (the Flavor Bible!!!), but those which I read in bed, on the couch, lounging on the floor, are those with stories. Or the recipe is written in such a way that I can SMELL the aromas. I would LOVE to have Dori's book (Santa??) or David's book (have you tried his Idiot Chocolate Cake?!?!). But then I love the idea behind the Grains book (gotta eat healthier.) LOVE your selections!

  395. Tanya

    I too love a real book – I cannot bear to give my books away whether they are recipes or novels. Each time I move I receive complaints about how back-breaking my boxes of books are! After reading, they make up a part of me – my repertoire of life. I enjoy the visual imprint a page leaves on my mind after I try to absorb whatever I'm looking at.

    I had a bad car accident three years ago and subsequently found out that I was gluten intolerant a year ago. The first book I read was your Gluten Free Girl. I have anticipated the release of your recipe book — one I am sure that will be well utilized. I am in the midst of another move, so I've had to put off purchasing any more books! But reading your blog, I feel like you maybe you can never have too many recipe books — after all, eating well is all about taking care of ourselves. Living and eating in the present!

  396. Best Wishes, Marie

    i great cookbook is one that responds to seasonality, but also that many of the recipes are like a skeleton that can be filled with items that are in season or that you just happen to have for some reason.

    ie. some years ago, i learned to make a vegetable puree soup. it was originally a zucchini soup, but i have used the same recipe for almost every vegetable under the sun. sometimes more than one at a time.

    almost like a language. noun + verb + adjective. once you get down the basics, you can swap things out. a great cookbook for me give me a great meal the first time and a framework to tweek forever.

  397. loverstreet

    i have library copies of alice waters books "in the green kitchen" and "the art of simple food". with these two books (and the recent arrival of "gluten-free girl and chef") i finally know the desire to read cookbooks like a novel, curled up on the couch, dreaming and scheming recipes for each season. i am dreading the day i have to return my alice waters books to the library, but at least your book belongs to be me forever.
    my favorite part about "the art" is the section on how to be in the kitchen, how to savor the steps and the preparation. i am learning to love to cook, instead of cooking just to eat, so books that help me savor the process are my favorites.

  398. Erinn

    What makes a good cookbook? Good cookbooks should not be fussy- in other words…they can do without unnecessary & complicated steps and ingredients just for the sake of seeming fancy or more professional. Some of the best recipes I have are simple, straightforward, use traditional cooking skills and incorporate ingredients that you might find in any food lover's pantry. I am also a fan of having a photograph for each recipe- sometimes a photo can teach you so much more than the text!!

  399. Paula - bell'alimento

    Nothing like a cookbook! I adore seeing the mouthwatering PHOTOS and reading the stories behind each of the recipes. I want to FEEL the passion!

  400. this girl

    A good cookbook makes me stop and read ingredients aloud, it inspires me and changes the direction of my day. The best cookbooks have enough delightful spirit to stand alone and plenty of flexibilty to stand up to me changing them into gluten-free vegetarian meals for my partner.

  401. Andrea

    I love cookbooks, but can't name just one thing about them that keeps them on my shelf. I love beautiful photos, great writing, fail-safe recipes, comfort food or new experiences. It's rare that I'll find all these (and more) in one book, so I just have to keep adding to my collection. 🙂

  402. melinda

    I was lucky enough to try the snickerdoodle cookies that Danny brought in to The Hardware Store Restaurant for employees to try. Yummmmy! I liked it better than any cookie I've tried in a long time. Please keep experimenting on us!
    Cheers – Melinda

  403. Eef

    I love cookbooks. I have more cookbooks than novels. Novels I get from the library. But cookbooks I buy. I love to hear what people eat in faraway countries. I love to learn how I bake glutenfree, soyfree, sugarfree & vegan. How to turn simple ingredients into a delicious dinner… I loved to read your lovestory! I read cookbooks, tasting everything in my brain. But it needs good pictures though!
    Thanks so much for this list of your favorites. It gives me much more pleasure than reading the amazon bestseller list 🙂

  404. Marie

    I've been cooking gluten free and as much organic as possible for my seriously ill teen for 2+ years. We do not use processed foods, so a whole foods book is essential. Believe it or not, I've been winging it without a gluten free cookbook. We have hypoglycemia, so I use only whole grains, again winging it. Other things very helpful: a variety of recipes with some unusual ingredients to try, but not so many I have to go to the store for every recipe, and an index. Thanks!

  405. Kristen

    What makes a great cookbook for me is good quality photos and using mostly staple ingredients because my kitchen is small and I don't have much storage space for lots of random things.

  406. High Valley Gardener

    I'm so happy to finally be visiting your blog. I've read Use Real Butter for a few years and seen reference to you, but wasn't GF, so never looked. Recently my 2 year old grandaughter has been diagnosed with severe food allergies, and my daughter and I are scrambling to create a GF normal for her. I wanted to make GF Christmas cookies, and was just going to check out your blog when my daughter sent me the link. THANK YOU!!! As for the demise of Gourmet..I'm with you on that. I have copies going back to the 1970's. Also, as an English teacher, I appreciate your appreciation of the printed word. While I'm considering the options of e-readers, I don't quite think I'm ready to give up books (although my husband would love a few less stacks of them lying about!) And as for cookbooks….hours of tantalizing fantasizing there!

  407. skarin917

    Wow, I just happened to stumble upon this page tonight in search for some gluten free holiday cookie recipes. I was recently diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity and am still grieving the loss of gluten. I know this may sound silly, but I love to cook and now am overwhelmed in navigating through this new way of cooking. I have tried pre-packaged items that I just couldn't stomach and would rather not be eating processed items. So as I was reading some of your blogs I started to get excited about cooking again! So thank you.
    As a kid I used to wait in anticipation for my parents subscription of gormet magazine to arrive. I would pour over the recipes and pictures, imagining myself cooking for large parties of friend and families. I do the same with cookbooks, I basically read through them as regular books!
    I can't wait to get started and share some of these cookies with family and friends this holiday season! Things may just return to normal again!

  408. Theresa P.

    the best cookbook is one i can't put down. except to make one of the recipes.my love for cooking has been with me since childhood.when at christmas you got one gift. all i wanted was an easybake oven with such intensity. i still remember that intensity ( quite a few decades later) it was like you could will it to be. oh,i did get the easybake oven and that same day i made up every cake mix etc. that came with it. i have 4 brothers & 2 sisters to cook for. and my love for cooking has grown as i have over the years. and so has my collection of recipes.

  409. Linda

    A good cookbook, for me, is one that is set up so it is easy to read as you are cooking, easy to find ingredients, not too many ingredients, fairly easy recipes. If I get tired just looking at a lot of ingredients or a long list of instructions, I lose heart.

  410. pickygourmet

    I recently decided to become a vegetarian, and am trying to eschew as many animal products as possible (I'm still eating cheese at this point, but I forsee veganism in my future once I learn how to fully adapt to meat-free cuisine in the kitchen). This means I have been reading new cookbooks like it is going out of style.
    My favorites have functional recipes that are easy to follow the instructions of, as well as something more. I like it when the author adds something personal, like how her grandmother inspired her stew recipe, or how her CSA box inspired the casserole. I also like it when the author gives you something of herself or himself along with the food. That is one of the reasons that I adored your first book, and look forward to the second.

  411. Laura

    As someone who is newer to cooking from scratch, and a working mom, I love cookbooks with quick, fairly easy, healthy recipies with a good dose of personality to hold my interest. Beautiful pictures help too. Thanks for all these reviews! It really helps narrow down the field.

  412. MK French

    If I come back to it – that is the true test to me. If I've made something out of it that I liked so much, that worked so easily that I do not hesitate to pick it up again.

    I just bought Amanda Hesser's book – and I'm hoping for Tanis'!!

  413. Dushenka

    A good cookbook is inspirational, precise about technique and explains the variations that result from slightly tweeking the recipe. Learning that there really is a difference when you measure the temp. of water using a candy thermometer when baking yeast breads made a *huge* difference in the quality of breads I was able to bake at home. On the other hand, realizing that there is a *lot* more leeway than we tend to think when following a recipe is also quite useful. My favorite cookbooks have been on one end of the spectrum “New Best Recipe” by the authors of Cooks Illustrated and on the other end “Unplugged Kitchen” by Viana La Place. I love “Feast from the Mid East” by Faye Levy and “Keo’s Thai Cuisine” by Sananikone for their explanations of dishes that I have loved to eat but not known the special techniques for reproducing them at home until reading these books. I can’t think of even one recipe from Ina Garten that I can make without modifying but the pictures are so beautiful and the stories so delightful, how can one not enjoy the Barefoot Contessa books?

  414. Emilia Gallo

    A good cookbook that will stay in my kitchen is one that acts like a transportation devise – inspiring my imagination on the journey (preparing the recipe) and giving me a feeling of exquisite satisfaction upon arrival!

  415. Laura

    Drat you Gluten Free Girl!!! I just made a goodcook order, but then I go and read your list and realize I simply MUST have the whole grain baking book. Now I have to pa S&H (bc small order)! Your list was by far the best written and most persuasive one I’ve seen–several other books not carried by thegoodcook made their way onto my wish list as well! 😉

  416. Barbara H

    For me, the best cookbooks have beautiful photos showing the finished products, inspire me to choose a recipe, and make it immediately…

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