I have to admit that as an avid food enthusiast and food writer I have a surprising lack of interest in owning cookbooks. I love to look through them for ideas, but I often find it more fulfilling to create a recipe than to follow one. However, this is not the case with an armful of books that Norton has published over the past year.
My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South is an amazing book filled with incredible recipes and methods for making your own… well, everything. Using family recipes and methods, Rosetta Constantino illustrates how to collect and dry your own herbs, make your own preserved meats, dry your own fruits and vegetables, make cheese and bread, hand roll pasta and infuse your own liqueurs. All this alongside delightful dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and appetizers. Each recipe is steeped in Calabrian tradition and beautifully presented with photographs by Sarah Remington and commentary written with Janet Fletcher. I guarantee you that even the cook who thinks they can make everything will have a million things to learn from this book. $35.00
The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts For Every Occasion is written by pastry chef Bill Yosses and New York Times food writer Melissa Clark. This is my favorite cookbook this season. I lack a lot of confidence in baking, mostly because I am not a huge fan of sweets so I rarely look for a reason make cakes or cookies etc. The few things I love to make tend to be a little salty or caramelized. Well, this is an entire book of recipes like that. Every single page has something remarkable and delicious on it. This is not a cookbook filled sugary sweets you expect to find in most pastry shops, this is a cookbook filled with deserts you expect to find at a high end restaurant, or indeed, the White House where Yosses is the current pastry chef. The combination of beautiful and amazing recipes and Melissa Clark’s easy to follow writing makes this an absolute gem. Particularly his recipe for making flat, chewy, chocolate chip cookies, a recipe I have since made dozens of times and been told by everyone who tries them that they are the best cookies they have ever had. $35.00
Speaking of the New York Times, this year Amanda Hesser recently released the Essential New York Times Cook Book: Classic Recipes for a New Century, a book she tested over 1,400 recipes to write. Collected from recipes printed in the New York Times over the last 150 years, this book has everything. I mean literally everything. Cocktails, snacks, soups salads, whole sections on potatoes, corn and legumes, 3 sections on different types of meat, breakfast and brunch, bread, baking, frozen deserts, sandwiches, savory pies, and that is less than half the list in the contents. It’s as if the New York Times decided to do a celebrity version of the Joy of Cooking, with recipes from favorite food writers like Julia Child, Mark Bittman & Jamie Oliver. Each recipe was hand picked her after surveying devoted New York Times readers for their favorite recipes, an absolute must have for any food lover. $40.00
Jim Lahey’s recipe for no kneed bread remains my favorite bread of all time. It is something I still make on a weekly basis, even after 4 years. My Bread is an expansion on the recipe he released to the New York Times years ago, covering a wide variety of grains and variations for everything from crusty loaf bread to pizzas to foccacia, and an entire section on sandwiches. I cannot recommend this book enough. For any bread lover, even those with an acute fear of baking, this recipe is hands down the best. $29.95