I'm sure I've mentioned before that I really like cookbooks. I don't have the best memory, so it's nice to be able to refer back to them. I like comparing recipes and figuring out which is better and why.
I think it's important to understand why recipes work - or why they don't, and what particular flavours draw me in ( or turn me away). For example I recently learned that Capers are about the best thing ever. They add a real depth of flavour to everything from tomato sauce to chicken piccata. Trust me, try it!
When I get a cookbook the first thing I do is to put post it's on everything I want to try. I make the recipes exactly as written in the book the first time, and then make my own adjustments afterwards, usually aiming to make them slightly healthier.
My all time favourite cookbooks are the America's Test Kitchen Series (the giant one above) I have yet to make anything in it that Peter and I did not enjoy. The recipes are tested out by a large panel of people until the perfect combination of flavours is found. I heard once that some recipes are tested up to 75 times!
However I think the real beauty behind it, is that it tells you WHY you are adding certain ingredients etc.Using this book has made me a better cook - and allowed me to make smarter decisions when substituting items.
The Flavour Thesaurus is also great for anyone who likes to play around with recipes. It lists pretty much every ingredient you could think of - and what other flavours complement it. For example, did you know that strawberries and tomatoes share many flavour compounds and are therefore almost interchangeable? Thus you could add unique flair to say - a hamburger by adding strawberries, or put tomatoes in a fruit tart!
Alice's Tea cup is a restaurant in NYC that has the world's most amazing scones. If you are in New York - GO THERE. You won't know what hit you. I got this book during our family girl's trip last summer, and tried one of the recipes - but failed - desserts are not my strong suit, so I will try it again before I determine whether its me or the recipe.
Butter is a new dessert cookbook, based on a really popular fast growing bakery in Vancouver. I haven't tried anything in there yet but I am EXCITED to! It looks and sounds COMPLETELY unhealthy...but Im willing to overlook this fact in order to make s'mores cupcakes, or butter tarts, or cinnamon-peach buns.
I really like Giada de Laurentiis and her Everyday Italian cookbook, seriously some of the most delicious pasta and sauces ever. I tend to go to her for anything really authentically Italian tasting.
A while back I got her healthy eating cookbook called Feel Good Food - as you can see by the post it's there are a lot of recipes I want to try! The ones I have, so far have been the easiest but really great. Including;
- Chia Seed Pudding
- Baked Fruit with Ricotta
- Rise and Shine Juice
- Avocado Chocolate Mousse (more on this later! so good)
- Shrimp & Avocado Salad
There are other nice aspects to the book, she gives some advice on her beauty routine for example or provides a monthly eating plan including her recipes etc.
The problem with cookbooks is that I am easily drawn in by the beautiful photography - so I tend to collect more than I need or can keep up with. My goal for the next few months is to try and stick to one cookbook at a time and really go through it, not making everything of course - Peter would never eat Green Goddess Soup for example. But just to get as much out of each as I can.
Do you guys like to cook? Do you use books or is it all in your head?