My Favorite Cookbooks

While I was walking around New Orleans, I stumbled into a store and started flipping through the cookbooks. Forgive me for being a newbie, but I found a line of cookbooks that I adored. The store was Williams-Sonoma and it was their line of cookbooks.

What makes a good cookbook for me?

  1. Killer photo – I get no joy looking at the Joy of Cooking. Boring text cannot compare with a photo taken with the latest and greatest macro lens. The photo for a recipe should scream – eat me, I’m so tasty!
  2. Minimal Ingredients – Sometimes I think recipe authors put too many things in their dish, just to stamp their identity on the dish. Fewer components mean that I’m more likely to make the recipe.
  3. Well Written Sequential Steps – As a software developer, I have written my fair share of user documentation. My rules are to keep the steps simple and don’t assume English is the reader’s first language. Most recipe writers would do well to use my rules. I’ve seen too many recipes with all kinds of extra verbiage, clever writing, and steps that aren’t even sequential.

I must have spent an hour going through the full line of cookbooks. All of them were amazing. Beautiful photos, minimal (normal) ingredients, and not a wasted word in the directions.

Williams-Sonoma: Food Made Fast Asian (Food Made Fast)
Williams-Sonoma: Food Made Fast Asian (Food Made Fast) by Farina Kingsley

Williams-Sonoma: Seafood: Food Made Fast
Williams-Sonoma: Seafood: Food Made Fast by Jay Harlow

My birthday is on December 19th. 😉


Add yours

  1. MAS, I’ve looked at those, but have not purchased any. Go to the library to check out the full collection. Lots of great books.

    Also, you might look at Giada De Laurentis’ books. I have all three. Nice pics (and of the food, too 😉 ) and so far, nothing has been too complicated. Everything I’ve made has turned out perfect.

  2. Being a big fan of all-things-internet it comes as a small surprise to hear you advocating cookbooks. Recipe’s are one of those things that are ridiculously easy to find on the internet. Sometimes it’s fun to go to your pantry, spot the ingredients you have on-hand, then go google up a recipe using those…

    Having said that, good food photo’s in a good recipe book are hard to beat for motivation. And I couldn’t agree more about your comments on concise instructions.

  3. My issue with online recipes is I am just overwhelmed. There is no filter. Too many recipes, too many ingredients and too many steps.

    I will use online recipes to confirm things. I baked a parsnip the other day and I quickly looked online to see what the average temp and time were.

    I’m new and I see this line of books as a tool to support my cooking education.

  4. Mlis –
    Thanks for the tip. She’s hot! 🙂

  5. What the Joy of Cooking lacks in pictures, it more than makes up for in its breadth. And since it meets your other two requirements, I like to think of it as my home cooking encyclopedia.

    One book that will really fulfill your needs is Steve Raichlen’s “How to Grill.” Each recipe is not only easy to follow, but also exemplifies a particular grilling technique. There are not only fanciful pictures of the finished product, but step-by-step pictures of each part of the recipe.

  6. I agree with Andrew, I also like Joy of Cooking. Good place to get basics.

    And like you, MAS, I prefer having books. I’m a bit of a collector of them, too.

    My husband especially likes the recipes that call for lots of speedy stirring and baking. Bend down to place in oven, bend down to retrieve from oven….it’s all very odd. :p

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