I’m really honored to be included in a wonderful series about cookbook over at Serious Eats. Maggie Hoffman has been interviewing some of my favorite people (Luisa! Amy! Dorie!) about their cookbook collections, I have been eagerly following the column since it started and so it was a real treat to get to talk about my own collection.

It has made me curious about your collections. What are the cookbooks on your shelves that are your absolute favorites? What am I missing?

Also, I promise to have my gift guide (including some of my favorite cookbooks from the past year) up by the end of the week. See you then.


50 comments to “Cookbooks”

  1. I have different favorites depending on the season (and lately I refer more to favorite food bloggers than cookbooks on my shelves, when coming up with dinner ideas), but I have one kitchen bible, a basic I think everyone should have. I gift it to everyone just starting out on their own. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

  2. This is probably the most used/worn cookbook in my collection. The Chili Colorado is awesome and the spinach/feta quiche is my favorite. It also has great soups and salads.

  3. Alissa- agreed on the Bittman, it is useful.
    Amanda- I don’t know that book, but it sounds great. Will check it out!

  4. I don’t know how I lived without the Bouchon Bakery book, Sono Baking Company book, Hoosier Mama pie book and Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie book. I have baked countless things from thier reciopes or changed them up and made my own off of things I love in those book. Can’t wait for your gift list!

  5. Katie- I love those two pie books, too. The salty Hoosier Mama crust is my favorite pie crust ever.

  6. Hi Tim! I like your blog a lot and have been following you here and on Instagram for a bit now. I know we disagree on this point but I find Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune cookbook to be just wonderful. The lack of index is frustrating but the recipes are delicious and work beautifully (for me anyway) and I find the writing funny. I’ve also discovered Fanny Zanotti’s Paris Pastry Club which is a great little book full of delicious desserts and a few savoury treats. I’ve made a few things from it and all have turned out wonderfully- especially the earl grey tea cake. I’m with you regarding british men and vegetables and Diana Henry- such good food comes from them.

  7. I’m on a Middle Eastern kick too – SPICE! Goop would be one lucky lady to be invited to munch fried chicken with you. Love your table and chairs – would you mind sharing the deets on them?

  8. ps have you ever heard of the food maven Arthur Schwartz? New York guy, had a show on the radio FOOD TALK for years. Smart, fussy, super informative, very reliable. His SOUP SUPPERS is great, as is his NAPLES AT TABLE. Also, he’s good friends w/Rozanne Gold. Her RADICALLY SIMPLE is simply amazing – such a gorgeous book with recipes that create magic w/only 3 ingredients. Hard to believe but true!

  9. I love Once Upon a Tart probably a bit more than Baked. Love the variety, and the love all over the pages.

  10. Oh my gosh! I have the Jerusalem cookbook too! You are just too cute. I don’t have as many as you do, but I hope to one day. Your cookbook shelf looks just like my boyfriends apartment! Thank you for sharing this!

  11. Bill Granger and Donna Hay from down-under. Fresh, bright flavors, simple recipes and fabulous photography. James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor. (I used to live in Southeast Asia. His stories and recipes just bring me to my knees.) Modern Sauces by Martha Holmberg. And I’m attempting to acquire all eight editions of The Joy of Cooking.
    PS- I adore The Breakfast Book too.

  12. I love “Isa Does It”….whether you’re vegan or not, her recipes are so flavorful and this book covers a wide range of tastes.

  13. Oh! I see so many lovely books in your shelves. So many of them are my adored friends too. Beautiful! I just want some close ups!

    What could I never do without? James Beard. Never. My house on fire cookbook. I’d grab it first.

    What is missing? Is Rose Levy Beranbaum in there? Do you have her? She is cozied up on my shelf right next to the other baking deities you mentioned. Or how about Jeff Koehler’s Spain? Lentils with chocolate picada. They are the ultimate winter comfort food.

  14. Hi All! So nice to hear from you!
    Genia- Ha! Yes, we disagree on Prune, though I do not disagree that the recipes are great. Excited to check out the Zanotti book!
    cR- I love Soup Suppers! As for my table, I made it myself. It is the first and only piece of furniture I have ever made. The chairs though, are from Design Within Reach. They are my favorite thing. Super light, but very sturdy. We’ve been using them for years and they look like new.
    Carol- Will check it out!
    Miss Layla- Glad you like Jerusalem, too. It’s one of the best.
    Jenny- Such great recommendations. I also like Bill Granger and Donna Hay, especially in summer.
    Connie- Will check out that book, I tend to really like vegan books. They’re creative.
    K.- You’ve convinced me to look into that Spain book! Thank you!

  15. I am crazed about River Cottage Veg – a jillion fantastic and gorgeous recipes. Old standby: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Older standby: Home Cooking Volume I by Laurie Colwin – because who on Earth can resist her?

  16. Hey Rebecca- I had kind of forgotten about River Cottage Veg, but agree that it is great! And you’re right, who can resist Colwin?

  17. Hi Tim – great question! My all-time favourite is anything by Ottolenghi (still getting to know Plenty More, but I love Jerusalem and just Ottolenghi). I regularly enjoy cooking out of River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal, and My Darling Lemon Thyme (by Emma Galloway with blog of same name). Currently discovering and loving “At home in the whole food kitchen” by Amy Chaplin and “Kitchen by Mike” (another Aussie one). I’m also enjoying Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, but probably more for the stories and historical context. Ah, and I could go on but I’m going to check out your favourites now!

  18. Thanks, Sophie! I like hearing about all of these Aussie writers.

  19. I’m really looking forward to your gift guide (aka the place where I find gifts for me)!
    I ,too, love Isa Does It, yummy recipes and beautiful art direction and styling.
    As for me, one of my favorites is Eugenia Bone’s At Mesa’s Edge which inspired a family vacation to Colorado farmland where all we did was cook and eat and talk about cooking and eating. It also inspired the end of 23 years of vegetarianism. It was the fist cookbook I ever really READ and since we live in Colorado, all the dishes are things I can mostly grow in my own garden. Oh I guess it also led me into gardening!

  20. Hi Willy- I don’t know that Eugenia Bone book, though I enjoyed Well-Preserved so I should check it out. That vacation sounds pretty great.

  21. Silk Road Cooking- I’m not vegetarian, but every recipe in here is a gem, love, love.
    Martha Stewart’s Cookie book, I love the table of contents with cookie photos

  22. My favorite cookbook is The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham! Glad to see that made it on your list of books. Do you have any other recommendations for breakfast cookbooks?

    There are a few really good British cookbooks that I learned about after moving to London — Two of my favorites are Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly and One by Florence Knight. If you get your hands on those, hope you enjoy!

  23. Thank you SO MUCH, Tim, for the info on the chairs. Since my husband, and two of my sons, are 6’2″ plus, sturdiness in a chair is an essential virtue! I really appreciate you sharing. I have a friend who purchased many wonderful pieces for her apartment from DWR – I really must acquaint myself with their line.

  24. Hi Tim-
    I love this conversation!
    Tartine is a staple, of course. And I love the recipes in Tartine Bread, not just the bread and pastries! I see you have Anya von Bremzen’s New Spanish Table. I think that book is fantastic. Anything from Moro is great. One of my favorite books is Clifford Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast. If anyone hasn’t seen it, it’s a huge history of Mediterranean food, so some of the recipes are quite old. It’s really really fantastic. And finally, I have a real food crush on Jamie Oliver, which I feel sort of cheesy about. But his books have really helped me become a more fly by the seat of my pants kind of cook. He has not, however, convinced me to fall in love with anchovies.

  25. Tina- I love the Gellatly book so much, those donuts!
    Jesse- I like Jamie Oliver, too. He’s smart and the recipes are usually very satisfying. I’m excited to check out A Mediterranean Feast- sounds awesome.

  26. I have an original copy of Julia Child’s the French Chef Cookbook that belonged to my dad. It’s old, tattered, and perfect. Cannot make coq au vin without it. We turn to Frank Stitt’s Southern Table and John Besh’s My New Orleans pretty often as well for southern favorites. I just made Frank Stitt’s cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. It has dried figs and little pieces of ham in it. Delicious!

  27. Yvette van Boven’s books! Homemade, Homemade summer, Homemade winter….. All uncomplicated comforting food. Mostly little and easy to come by ingredients. Often subtle but interesting twists. Here in the Netherlands Home Baked is just released, love it too!

  28. So many great cookbooks in your post and in the comments! Hard to pick a favorite that has not been listed already (anything by Richard Olney, Dorie Greenspan, David Tanis and Nigel Slater). But some of my other favorites are A Table in the Tarn by Orlando Murrin (lovely voice), Simple Soirees by Peggy Knickerboxer (great dinner party menus) and the Canal House Cooking series of cookbooks by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (all their cookbooks begin with a wonderful essay by a guest writer that evokes the theme of that particular cookbook).

  29. Like you I have amassed a large collection of cookbooks as well. Choosing a favorite depends on the time of year or current culinary obsession. For the moment My newest favorites are Buvette and A Boat, a Whale and a Walrus. Can hardly wait for Mindy Segal’s book to come out in the spring. Have been a fan of hers going back to her days at MK.

  30. Totally agree on the Ottolenghi books – gorgeous. I don’t purchase many cookbooks, but I did get The New Persian Kitchen and enjoy how accessible the recipes are:

  31. Amy- I really like both of Frank Stitt’s books, I cook from them a lot too.
    Jeanine- Love those books!
    Sebastian- Thanks for those recommendations, I am going to look them up.
    Lynn- Agreed that Mindy’s desserts are amazing. Curious to see how things translate into a book.
    Marlena- I love Louisa’s book and cook from it a lot, especially during the summer. It’s a great one.

  32. The Breakfast Book is a true favorite, but one of my recent favorites is the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook from the bakery of the same name in Savannah. The book itself is gorgeous, and it’s so pleasant to be able to make some of their amazing cake and comfort food (and more cake!) at home because I don’t actually live in Savannah.

  33. I’m excited to see your gift guide! I’ve always loved discovering new (well, new to me) cheesemakers and so on through your annual gift guides. :) As for cookbooks, I recently got Einat Admony’s Balaboosta cookbook, which looks beautiful though I haven’t cooked anything out of it yet, aside from the challah bread (which was very easy to put together and looked/tasted spectacular). I regularly go through Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which is great because he goes into detail over techniques for proofing, shaping, etc. And enough recipes that range from beginner friendly(ish) to more ambitious ones!

  34. one of my favourite cookbooks is an old one, Great Good Food, can’t remember author. healthy cooking and wonderful recipes. i have Vegetarian Recipes from the Middle East and North Africa. it has some of the most delicious recipes EVER.

  35. Interesting question. Of course I have to many cookbooks and yet never enough. All cookbooks are equal, but of course some are more equal than others. For bread baking I rely heavily on Dough and Crust by Richard Bertinet (home made bread never tasted better). For baking Alice Medrich is my greatest inspiration (I own nearly all the books). She inspires creativity and offers fail proof techniques. My cooking is most inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi, Denis Cotter from Cafe Paradiso in Cork (Ireland) and the humble but delicious cooking of Edward Espe Brown’s (Tasajara cookbooks.

  36. Schneiderluvsdoof says:

    December 6th, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Great interview! And a smart rule to prevent shelf-overflow. I love your shelves!

  37. but curious still, if you have read Silk Road Cooking

  38. Thanks for the continued good suggestions, everyone.

    Laura- I don’t know that book, but am going to check it out soon. It sounds like something I would really like.

  39. Wow! So many of my favorites are represented here, and I found some new suggestions that I’m excited about. I’m going to add: anything and everything by Claudia Roden, “The Handmade Loaf” by Dan Lepard, and one of my new absolute favorites to flip through even when I’m not getting ready to cook, “Polpo.” Gorgeous book designed based on old Venetian typography, a pleasure to hold, with fantastic mostly-authentic recipes that have so far been delicious and slightly luxurious.

  40. Hi Tim-You saw my cookbook collection earlier this year on a housewalk. I’m not as disciplined as you about shelf overrun. :/ Anyway, one of my favorite books Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts. Desserts that are simultaneously homey and special enough to be worth the effort. I’ve made countless recipes from that book.

  41. Carollina- Yes! I love that book, it is a classic. And I loved your cookbook collection, it was so impressive. We should start some sort of Oak Park cookbook club. : )

  42. Home Made Baking is a new favorite! I am hoping you have at least one cookbook by Ruth Beranbaum. Or Yvette Van Boven. This gluten free book I picked up recently has been astounding me – it’s called Flourless. (with the period in there too)

    happy almost the end of 2014.

  43. Hi Tim,
    I came to your blog today to specifically ask if you had any favorite mediterranean cookbooks because I’d like to get into that, and I feel like we have similar taste in recipe styles (or lack thereof, i.e. Milk Bar. Haha). I’m so stoked to see you’ve recently laid this out! I’ve added Spice and Moro to my amazon cart. Thanks for being awesome!

  44. Oh snap, Tim! I was just reading thru your blog and stumbled on your interview. Thank you for your acknowledgment. I really can’t wait for the day that we meet in person.

  45. Yay, Kim! I can’t wait either. Hopefully sooner than later. xoxo

  46. Hard to say which are the all-time favourites on my shelves… the one I use most at the moment is Ottolenghi “Plenty more” , but I also keep going back to Claudia Roden’s A new book of Middle eastern Food . “La Cucina – the regional home cooking of Italy” is a book I highly recommend if one really wants to know about real Italian food – the kind of food people actually do cook in their home kitchens… (Rizzoli NY) And I’m baking my way thru Maggie Glezer Artisan Baking across America.

  47. This is a difficult question. For specific recipes I will go to Stephanie Alexander’s amazing compendium, The Cook’s Companion, for technique, Alice Waters or Paula Woolfert, for inspiration, anything by Nigel Slater, his writing just makes you want to pick up a wooden spoon, or Jamie Oliver. For Italian, River Cafe and salads, Ottolenghi.

  48. Thanks, Clare (and everyone), for the continued thoughtful responses.

  49. Like Alissa, I depend more on my computer for recipes these days. I have bought very few cookbooks in the last five years, but one of my favorites among my newer books is Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. And of my old books (couldn’t tell if you have these or not), I think that Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman’s two wonderful books, Cucina Rustica and Cucina Fresca, are woefully underrated. Simple, delicious Italian recipes. Love them!

  50. Why havent I found you till now. Just what I need. Essays on food. And other things.

    Wonderful writing.

    – Archana.

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