Fewer cookbooks came into the house this year and even fewer actually made it onto my shelves. From the list of books released in 2014 that I enjoy and look forward to cooking from, there is one book that has risen to the top. A book I find myself reaching for over and over again, never disappointed.
My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. The fact that I like and use this book as much as I do comes as a surprise. I read/scan David's blog and Instagram, and have made a few of the recipes he posts, but was not pinning for his latest cookbook. Maybe it is because he is best known as a pastry chef and I am not a pastry sort of girl. Whatever the reason, I am glad that I pre-ordered the book many months before it was published and then forgot I had ordered it so I did not have a chance to cancel. I have made so many of the recipes from this book, a few have made it into heavy rotation, and there are still more that I am looking forward to trying. For sure, my most useful cookbook of the year.
Second on the list is Roast Figs Sugar Snow by Diane Henry. This book was not even on my radar screen when I came across it at the Book Larder. It is written with cold weather in mind and contains warm, hearty food with a scandinavian influence. Everything I have tried has been delicious.
Next up are a couple of dessert books. Like I said, I am not much of a dessert girl, but sometimes I need a cake for a party, or want a little special something for the family. Madeleines I reviewed in November and am still enjoying, and
Let Us All Eat Cake has become my go to for parties. Remember what Julia Child said, "A party without cake is just a meeting." The book includes the basic recipes that come to mind when you think of cake, with plenty of new flavors to inspire you. All gluten free!
I only bought one preserving book this year, can you believe it? Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellen. Marisa's first book Food in Jars is pretty great and something I do not hesitate to recommend to new canners. Preserving by the Pint provides recipes that you know are going to work, on a very small scale. Now that there is only one child at home, I find smaller recipes more useful. I also like to make a small batch if I am not sure about how the finished product will be received. A really useful book.
The last two are definitely niche books. I was silly excited to see Shrubs by Michael Dietsch. I am a BIG shrub fan and recipes for this decidedly old fashioned beverage are few and far between. This book provides shrubs for every season with fresh, modern flavors. Also, there is lots of history and a few cocktail recipes, which pretty much seals the deal.
Lastly, a book that I enjoyed reading cover to cover, but have not yet cooked from is Haute Dogs by Russell van Kraayenburg. One of the things that makes Bobby Flay's food so good is that he includes a relish/salsa/topping AND a sauce for every dish. Haute Dog follows suite with some of the most imaginative hot dogs you will ever find. Each state gets it's own dog, and the flavor combinations make me want to run right out to the store for ingredients. In addition to the dog recipes, you will also find recipes for all the buns, condiments, and sausages, if you feel like going complete DIY. This book is going on top of the menu planning pile this summer.
A lot of beautiful cookbooks were published this year, full of stunning photography and styling. By the end of the year I had become bored with them. A photo of a long table set for twenty in a barn full of old whiskey barrels is nice to look at, but no help at all when it comes to the actual cooking. I am hoping that 2015 brings more food and substance, less filtered light and fluff.
What was your favorite book (cookbook or otherwise) of 2014?