The internet is my BFF. We’re tight. We wear matching bracelets.
Alright, not really. Hubs takes that title. But when it comes help for cooking junk I’ve never made before, I love the dang internets.
Epicurious? Yup. Food Network dot com? Uh huh. Blogs? Definitely.
But in my life there comes a time when I want to have a book open in front of me that isn’t digital. I want a hefty, cloth-bound 300+ page cookbook by my stove whose pages are smeared with chocolate sauce, olive oil and chicken guts.
Lord knows I get enough flour and egg goo on my camera and laptop. Sometimes you gotta spread the mess around and let the other inanimate objects share the cooking love once in a while. Plus, paper is exceptionally absorbent.
A few weeks ago, however, while re-arranging our library into rainbow order (yup–I’m a crazy type who remembers books by color, not title), I realized that I hadn’t purchased or been given a new cookbook in over a year. And I hadn’t used a cookbook in over two, not counting my piroshki phase when I ransacked my Russian cooking bible for ideas.
Needless to say, I’m overdue for some additions to my cookbook collection. And while browsing Barnes and Noble last night, I came up with a top five wish list.
1. James Peterson’s Baking
This hefty little number, along with it’s companion Cooking, are sort of considered the new bibles for the home chef. The latter I’m less interested in, because I really don’t want to know how to de-bone a duck. Although I’m sure it will end up on my bookshelf eventually.
But this volume looks divine.
It tells you step-by-step with illustrations (which, clearly, I’m a fan of) how to prepare everything from a basic pie crust to chocolate souffle and everything in between. At first I thought, “I don’t need a baking education. I bake all the freakin’ time.” But upon closer inspection, it’s full of tips and tricks that I had never even heard of. It’s sort of an encyclopedia of baking techniques and recipes, all bound in a pretty, easy to follow and timeless package.
2. Jim Lahey: My Bread
I hate kneading bread. But I love freshly baked loaves. Jim Lahey promises me that I can have my bread and eat it, too.
There are a lot of bread books out there right now that promise the same thing, but here’s the godfather of them all, and the pioneer of the no-knead method. The founder of the now legendary Sullivan Street Bakery in Soho will show me how to make fuss-free bread in a dutch oven. This is one I’ve gotta try to believe.
3. Ree Drummond: The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Miss Drummond in all her man-pleasin, cattle-wranglin, home-cookin, beautiful photograph-takin glory. This ain’t fancy food–gourmet cooks need not apply. But it is delicious and easy with a touch of country. And several touches of butter.
If you have no idea who the Pioneer Woman is, you’ve fallen off the face of the planet. Climb back on and get to know her right here.
4. The Italian Slow Cooker, by Michele Scicolone
Osso bucco and mushroom ragu from my Crock Pot? Yes, please. This is a slow cooker cookbook (say that three times fast) that’s a step above most. You won’t find cheese dip here. Instead, you’ll find innovative recipes that you would never dream of cooking in a tabletop appliance (cheesecake? veal?).
I’m completely psyched to get my hands on this little beauty. Will report back.
5. Momofuku, David Chang
Recipes from the landmark NYC restaurants of David Chang come home, but not easily. They look labor-intensive, involved, and complicated. They also look like they produce quantities that could feed a small army.
Regardless, I want to make 50 pounds of noodles like now after glimpsing at the ginger scallion recipe. And the fried chicken. And the pig’s head.
Not really. But the fried chicken and noodles look delicious.
And there you have it, ladies and gents: my top 5 cookbook wants. 5 cookbooks for me to smear with butter, splash with wine and sprinkle with tarragon. 5 cookbooks for me to totally neglect in favor of the internet. But hey, at least they’ll look pretty on my rainbow-ordered bookshelf.
Happy Monday, and wishing you all a smooth transition back to reality after the holiday craziness.