2016's Best Cookbooks
To me, a new year means more than 300 days to try some new cooking. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know I’m a hoarder (*cough* it’s in the name *cough*). This is especially true for me with cookbooks. Buying them is a habit I just can’t, and won’t, quit.
Before we can look forward, I’d like to take you back, to the recently-deceased 2016. Here are some of my favourite cookbooks from last year, that will hopefully inspire some good food this year.
Dinner At The Long Table
by Andrew Tarlow & Anna Dunn (with Scarlett Lindeman)
My first meal in New York City when I visited in 2015 was at Brooklyn’s famed Diner. I remember loving the informal set up (the nightly menu was written down in pencil on our paper tablecloths by the server) and the food. It was inventive, unfussy, yet delicious.
This cookbook, from the people behind Diner – as well as Marlow & Sons and the Wyeth Hotel – encapsulates all of that, and with its wry sense of humour, it’s just a pleasure to read.
Instead of being organised by course, the recipes in the book have been ushered into intriguingly-named menus. From the self-explanatory ’Drinks, Cakes, Caviar & Crème’ and ‘The Night Before the New Year’ to the rather more esoteric ‘The Tomato and the Sea’, each menu doesn’t just make you want to cook, it makes you want to throw a fucking amazing party.
The day I received this book, I read it from cover to cover and promptly began to dream of all the dinners I would invite my friends to. It hasn’t yet happened, but I guess that can be my new year resolution.
All Under Heaven
by Carolyn Phillips
On top of being one of my favourites, this one definitely gets the prize for heaviest cookbook I bought last year. Coming in at 513 pages (that’s like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix level shit!), this encyclopaedic collection of recipes from China is about as deep of a dive into Chinese food you’re going to get without moving there.
The recipes are grouped into five regions: The North & Manchurian Northeast, The Yangtze River & Its Environs, The Coastal Southeast, The Central Highlands and The Arid Lands. Just reading through the recipe indexes for each chapter, you really get a sense of how huge, and how varied, China is.
This book and its recipes are thoroughly well researched, so if you’re thinking ‘a Chinese cookbook written by a Westerner? No thanks’, STOP. This is legit. And with it, your cooking will be legit too.
Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner
by Ashley Christensen
Apparently, Poole’s is a diner which has a pretty serious following over in the States. Knowing nothing of this, I bought this book after reading about it online and seeing the pretty picture on its cover. I’m glad I did.
This is American food (with French techniques) at its best, with new takes on classics like hash – which becomes Short Rib Hash (YAS) – and fried chicken – Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Hot Honey, anyone?
Yes, this is food that makes you want to get in the kitchen, but even more than that, this is food you just want to eat.
Taste & Technique
by Naomi Pomeroy (with Jamie Feldman)
If you’re only going to get one cookbook from 2016, this is it. Cooking from this book has actually taught me about fundamental techniques, and my cooking has improved thanks to it.
I’m making it sound almost like a textbook, but it’s not. The French-leaning dishes, like Burrata with Dandelion-Golden Raisin-Pistachio Pistou, and Hazelnut and Wild Mushroom Pâté, are beautifully thought up and photographed.
Each recipe is made of different components, meaning that you get to learn and refine more than one technique every time you cook from this book. The recipes are also meticulously written, so although the food sounds kind of fancy, it’s almost impossible to go wrong as long as you listen to the book.