Hands down, the best thing about the holidays is the food. But if you aren’t a natural cook, or you’re just tired of the same traditional fare, you might be in need of some inspiration. Luckily, our friends at The Brooklyn Public Library were only too happy to help. “Now that the fall season is upon us I begin to think about the various cookies I will be baking for the holidays,” says Danielle Shapiro from the Library’s Highlawn branch. “I am always open to try new recipes and have always enjoyed sitting down and looking through cookbooks. More recently, I have started to not only bake but cook meals for myself, family and friends. There is nothing better than having a home cooked meal or coming home to the aroma of one being cooked.” Below, Danielle has selected ten of her favorite cookbooks. Happy cooking!
The Comfort Food Diaries started as a healing project for Emily Nunn after her brother Oliver committed suicide and her life seemed to be falling apart. Emily resorted back to alcohol, which almost ruined her life, until one night she posted her whole sorry story on Facebook and received an outpouring of support from many of her friends and family, many of whom were cooks that offered her a place to stay and to cook for her. This book is filled both with her journey and the recipes that have been passed down to her. The end of the book provides an index to locating each of the recipes.
Clueless in the Kitchen: Cooking for Beginners
by Evelyn Raab
This cookbook is laid out very nicely, providing information about how to read a recipe, the essentials you need for both your pantry and in the kitchen to cook. The table of contents provides you with the various cooking sections you would be interested in and the index gives you the exact page for the recipe you are looking for. Illustrations and fact boxes appear throughout the book. The fact boxes often give you tips or suggestions for food substitution or enhancement.
by Russell Van Kraayenburg
How often do you make your own dough from scratch? I have been interested in trying to make my own pastries for some time but I haven’t tried because the process seems very daunting. In “Making Dough” Russell covers every type of pastry dough from biscuits to phyllo and carefully explains the ratio between the ingredients used, as well as the ratio of filling to the dough.
Sweet and Simple: Dessert for Two
by Christina Lane
How often do you crave a homemade dessert but decide against it, because you can only make large portions? In “Sweet and Simple” Christina Lane has taken the time and effort to minimize the recipes for two people. She begins her book talking about alternative or healthier substitutes and about the pan sizes you would need. The book’s recipes are broken down by the pan size, with a few recipes being baked in an 8-inch square pan. The latter still cuts down on the portion, but it works out to more than two servings. She is a firm believer of using fruit for many of her recipes.
Simple Green Suppers: a Fresh Strategy for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals
by Susie Middleton
I find myself eating less meat and more vegetables. I also tend to look for good vegetarian recipes to cook when my sister-in-law comes to visit. Even though this cookbook’s title includes the term vegetarian, anyone can enjoy the recipes. Susie pairs up her vegetarian dish with other main staples in the pantry such as noodles, grains and beans to give some examples. She starts off with an introduction “The One-Dish Veggie Supper Strategy.” Each section after that is broken down using one main staple you would find in your pantry. Before she begins to give you the recipes, she provides you with plenty of background information. There is a brief paragraph introducing the meal and the amount of servings that appear before the recipe. The end of the book provides essential techniques and useful tips.
Brooklyn Rustic: simple food for sophisticated palates
by Bryan Calvert
What I liked best about this book is the brief essays written by such famous people as Julia Child, Frank Lloyd Wright, and John Muir. There are plenty of colorful illustrations throughout the book, including the original tin tile roof found in the restaurant called James that was opened by Bryan in Brooklyn. The sections are broken down in a unique way. For example, the vegetable section has the recipes broken down by the type of vegetable used, with each of the following sections done in the same way. “The Basics,” along with the vinaigrettes, sauces and marinades, usually located in the front of most cookbooks, appears in the back section after all of the recipes.
I happen to be a fan of the Cook’s Country TV show. I enjoy sitting down, watching and listening to how they make various recipes and test different brands of food and cooking equipment. This book contains all of that, but is enhanced with color photo illustrations, a paragraph for each recipe called “Why This Recipe Works,” and clear, detailed instructions with added tidbits.
Fress: Bold Flavors from A Jewish Kitchen
by Emma Spitzer
This starts out with the author explaining certain staple foods and spices she keeps handy. Each section is done with photo illustrations, detailed recipe descriptions, and a brief paragraph about the origins of the recipe. Emma has a diverse family and often traveled in the Middle-East as a child, adding a Middle-Eastern flair to several of her recipes.
Best Simple Suppers for Two
by Laura Arnold
I am sure that many of you are in the same situation as me—you want to cook or make a nice meal, but all of the recipes are for 4 to 6 people and you only want to cook for 2 or 3 people. This cookbook provides you with recipes that are scaled down to accommodate that need. It is broken down into five categories: Salads, Meat, Seafood, Vegetarian and One-Pot meals. Each recipe is easy to follow and accompanied with a colorful illustration of the finished product.
Best Sweets & Treats for Two
by Laura Arnold
This dessert book is a perfect companion to the “Best Simple Suppers for Two”. It is laid out in the same format as its companion book with the following five sections: Cookies, Sweet Small Bites, Quick Cakes, Ice Cream & Pudding and Tarts, Pies & Crumbles. Colorful illustrations accompany the easy to read and follow recipes, and the nicest part is that you can make smaller portions to fill that craving you get every once in awhile.
Danielle Shapiro is the Neighborhood Librarian Supervisor at Brooklyn Public Library’s Highlawn Library. Danielle is a children’s librarian, who enjoys working with everyone who comes into the library. She enjoys baking, cooking, arts and crafts and reading good books.