by Public Service Associate Owen
October brings many wonderful things: the changing of the leaves, sweaters, football games on cool Friday nights, and many other wonderful aspects of autumn. It also features something else I find wonderful – it’s National Cookbook Month! As someone who is always looking for new recipes and creative ideas for cooking, I find cookbooks to be a great source of delicious inspiration. Our cookbook collection here at BPL is quite extensive, so whether you’re vegan, a budding grillmaster, gluten-free, looking to lose weight, or looking to wow the guests of your next dinner party, we have a cookbook for you! To celebrate our collection, I thought I would pick a few of my favorite cookbooks that we have here at BPL.
One that has quickly become one of my go-to favorites is Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: Tuesday Nights. Kimball is well-known for his multimedia gastronomic empire, but his book Tuesday Nights focuses on recipes that are quick, relatively easy, and simple to work into any hectic weeknight. The recipes are also drawn from all over the world, as Kimball excels in drawing inspiration from all sorts of food cultures. From a braised chicken dish with olives and preserved lemons inspired by Moroccan cuisine to a recipe for quick-and-easy Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan, everyone’s palate is sure to find dishes that become staples week in and week out.
If you prefer a more scientific approach to your cooking, then J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab is a must-read. Lopez-Alt challenges all sorts of kitchen stereotypes in an attempt to find the most optimal way of cooking a plethora of dishes. There are tips and tricks for perfecting omelettes (salting the eggs 15 minutes beforehand improves the texture of the finished omelette), steaks (contrary to popular belief, frequent flipping may yield better results), and all sorts of foods and dishes. Yet Lopez-Alt never comes across as condescending – he seems to have a genuine love for improving his own cooking techniques and is more than happy to share his findings with the reader. While not necessarily a traditional cookbook, The Food Lab is an enlightening read that is sure to hone your cooking abilities.
If you’re more of a baker than a cook, then I highly recommend Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. Saffitz, who stars in her own YouTube show where she makes recipes from Dessert Person, has a firm grip on nearly every aspect of the baking world and it shows in her recipes. I speak from personal experience when I say that her brown butter chocolate chip cookies, pecan carrot cake, and apple tart will blow you away with how scrumptious they are. On top of the excellent and easy-to-follow recipes, Saffitz indulges the reader with her witty writing and tales of her baking past. Dessert Person is an easy recommendation to make for anyone who loves baking.
Cookbooks can take many forms, but perhaps the highest form it can take is the regional cookbook. Whether it covers recipes passed down experientially from generation to generation, or ingredients and dishes totally unique to a specific country, or the story of how food evolved in a place due to migrations and mixing of cultures, the regional cookbook acts as a gateway to another place and to a human experience entirely different from your own. Some of my favorites that you can find at BPL include Sean Brock’s South, Jeff Koehler’s Spain, and Marcella Hazan’s Marcella Cucina. Each of these wonderful cookbooks have opened my eyes to the wonders of Southern, Spanish, and Italian cuisine, respectively. No matter where you want your taste buds to travel to, we have a cookbook for you here at BPL. Bon appétit!
- Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball | print / digital
- Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz | print / digital
- The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt | print / digital