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Books for Cooks

A few of the food and cookbooks I’ve been reading and cooking from over the past several months. Most of these make great gifts and are available at local bookstores or amazon.com.

The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews

Don’t believe the cabbage and potato stereotype—a lot has changed throughout the culinary communities of Ireland. Meticulously researched and reported by acclaimed food writer Colman Andrews, the earthy fare from the good people of Ireland is celebrated through beautiful photography, interviews, stories, and recipes both simple and esoteric.

Ruhlman’s Twenty by Michael Ruhlman

Michael Ruhlman is my foodie crush. Handsome, smart, articulate, and a thoughtful observer of the culinary world, he’s written some of my favorite food-related books over the past 15 years that began with The Making Of A Chef. In his latest, Ruhlman plugs 100 recipes into 20 techniques and key elements of cooking—Salt, Water, Acid, Butter, Roast, Braise, and Fry among them. Whether you are a novice or experienced cook, this belongs on your shelf.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

The subtitle says it all—fat is a misunderstood ingredient. McLagan makes the case for its benefits by defusing its reputation as a greasy killer and celebrating its importance to our health and the flavor of food through stories, myths, techniques, and recipes.

One Big Table by Molly O’Neill

Home cooks, farmers, and fisherman, ’cuemasters, church ladies, professional chefs, and more all bring their goods to the table in this lavish cookbook and portrait of America. O’Neill (former columnist and food critic for The New York Times as well as sister to former Reds right fielder and Cincinnati resident Paul O’Neill) exuberantly represents the heart and soul of American cuisine by gathering 600 recipes from coast to coast and region to region. 

The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food by Adam Gopnick

Award-winning New Yorker writer Gopnick explores the meaning of food and our preoccupation with it, never losing the more important message that it’s who is at the table that matters.

What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin

How do you eat when no one is looking? I suggest that you take this funny, insightful book to bed with you—along with a sleeve of saltines, good unsalted butter, and a jar of grape jelly.

Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin

You may not think of Trillin—a respected journalist for The New Yorker, The Nation, Time Magazine, and The New York Times—as a food writer, but the same keen observation and humor that he brings to socio-political articles is blended with love of family and his endless search for “something decent to eat.” In addition to this book, check out Third Helpings, Alice Let’s Eat, and American Fried for more of Trillin’s laugh out loud stories.

What To Eat by Marion Nestle

Policy wonks unite. This is a smart and comprehensible guidebook through the American food industry and distribution system. Nestle is the author that the likes of writers Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser look up to. 

The Bartender’s Guide published by Parragon Books

This is one of several cocktail books that I’ve been working my way through. Next up is the “Night Out” chapter and something called Zipper. Uh Oh.

My Umbrian Kitchen by Patrizia Simone

Chef Simone’s childhood in rural Umbria is celebrated through culinary traditions, family recipes, and a seasonal manifesto. Filled with great simple instruction and lots of ways to use truffles.

The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert

I bought this book simply because Wolfert’s 1973 book—Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco—is one of the first cookbooks I owned (and is now well-loved) that introduced a seemingly exotic and mysterious cuisine. With beautiful design, stunning photography, and fascinating culinary tales, Wolfert continues her journey with recipes like Berber skillet bread and fish smothered in onion jam.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home by Jeni Britton Bauer

Bangkok Peanut, Cherry Lambic Sorbet, Queen City Cayenne, Riesling Poached Pear. You know them and love them from the Columbus, Ohio, ice cream queen—if you don’t, you’ve been deprived of some of the best confection in the country. Jeni gives it up so you can create them at home. Get cranking.