By Sara Medlicott,
One of the best parts about being a culinary librarian is getting the chance to spend time with all the great new cookbooks. I’m getting to know our staff and students well enough that as I make a new acquisition I can guess who will be the first to check it out. Everyone is looking for something different in a cookbook whether it’s new recipes, a great story or pure inspiration. Cookbooks also make great gifts. You can wrap one in an apron, pair it with recommended kitchen tools or wrap it in a basket with the necessary ingredients for a recipe. Here are my top picks for the year, and judging by the circulation records and the ICC community suggestions.
For the adventurous home cook
Do you know someone who is constantly venturing to the outer boroughs to taste cuisine from distant lands? They prefer Siracha, Valentina and sesame oil over ketchup, mustard and olive oil and they probably love Mind of a Chef. These cookbooks are for adventurous home cooks or anyone who is stuck in a culinary rut ready to try something new.
Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook
You might already be familiar with Maangchi from her channel on YouTube, you will find the book has the same tone and feel; though of course it includes much more content. It’s as if a good friend is teaching you how to cook. All the content is conversational and easy to follow.
Mamushka: A Cookbook by Olia Hercules
Olia includes recipes from all over Eastern Europe. This is a great book for someone who likes an involved project in the kitchen, whether it is baking bread, making sweet conserves or fermentation, Olia covers it all.
The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island by Cathy Erway
I have been a huge fan of Cathy ever since I read The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove (check it out!) so I was thrilled to see she had published a cookbook. This book includes a little bit of everything, great information and history as well as all you need to get started cooking Taiwanese food.
For the foodie who loves a story
I find that there are two camps about wordy cookbooks, people either love the backstory or they just want recipes and photos.
My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
Ruth has a lot of fans already, just seeing her name on the cover is enough for most people. Fans of Garlic and Sapphires and Tender at the Bone will be pleased with the memoir aspect of the book, but unlike her other memoirs, My Kitchen Year features recipes much more prominently. New Yorkers will also love all her interpretations of city favorites and the anecdotes about the changing city interwoven in her narrative.
For the lover of classics with a twist
Two of my favorite cookbooks this year also happened to be written by ICC alumni. These selections focus on classic, traditional recipes but not in any way you are used to! Fresh new takes on pasta and deserts, perfect for those who crave comfort food but want a new interpretation.
Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri is perfect for anyone who loves pasta. This book contains enough science, history and detail for people who really geek out in the kitchen but clear, concise instructions and plenty of pictures for newbies.
The New Sugar and Spice by Samantha Seneviratne includes many of the classics you are used to, like rice pudding, gingerbread and brownies but all with a twist. Instead of categorizing the recipes by type or season, they are divided by spice from cardamom to ginger to pepper. If you are getting bored with your baking repertoire, this book is the perfect way to spice it up – literally.
For the dinner party hostess
This book is for that perfect hostess, looking to try something new. Inspired by a supper club, it’s all about the essentials of an excellent dinner party; great food, great drinks and great company.
The Groundnut Cookbook by Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown tells the story of the supper club they started in London in 2012 with a goal of bringing the traditions and flavors of Africa to Britian. The book is divided into menus, and each section includes not just the recipes but the story of how each menu developed.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Stop by the library and our librarian, Sara Medlicott, can give you a personalized recommendation. All selections are available in the library and available for purchase very close to school in the McNally Jackson bookstore at 52 Prince St.