go-to cookbooks

What are your favorite cookbooks?

Our cookbook passions are molded by several factors:

  • Eric and I both really love cooking. We also both love baking, although he does most of the bread and I do nearly all of the sweets.
  • We have a vegetarian household.
  • We are not particularly rule-oriented. With the exception of baking (and even then to some extent), we regard recipes as ideas and suggestions rather than as, say, recipes. People follow recipes. We more regard them with interest. I virtually never measure ingredients, though Eric often does, Mr. Compliant.

So here are the three cookbooks we consult or flip through most often:

  • Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (This one has largely displaced our old favorite, Deborah Madison’s also-excellent Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I had to look up that title because I call it Vegetarian Cooking for Everybunny.)
  • Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness, Indian Home Cooking (This one is not vegetarian, but nearly all the meat dishes involve sauces we just use with seitan or chickpeas instead. We’re also liking the threateningly-large but inspiring How to Cook Indian [Sanjeev Kapoor], which we have out from our library at the moment.)
  • Jack Bishop, The Complete Italian Vegetarian

For sweets, I love:

  • The Moosewood Collective, Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
  • Alice Medrich, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

Beloved cookbooks we just don’t use as often as those include:

  • Chat Mingkwan, Buddha’s Table: Thai Feasting Vegetarian Style
  • Madhur Jaffrey, World Vegetarian
  • Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, Veganomicon
  • Peter Reinhart, American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza

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  1. Posted 11 January 2013 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

    In addition to those you’ve already listed ….

    Hanna and I got Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian from her parents for Christmas and everything we’ve made from there so far has been fantastic!


    And Hanna swears by anything coming out of Tassajara, especially anything written by Edward Espe Brown. Their bread recipes are AMAZING.

    When I was a kid, I used this one:


    I remember their peanut butter ball recipe fondly!


  2. Erin
    Posted 11 January 2013 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    I love love love Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. That’s our staple cookbook.

    I also love the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook – there’s meat and fish in there, but it’s not overwhelming, and she has a section devoted to vegetarian entrees, which many cookbooks don’t (I think she used to be one). Everything I’ve made from there so far has been delicious. (I esp. love the breakfast bars. I made them for a postpartum friend recently; I think they are a perfect food for a nursing mom.)

  3. Posted 12 January 2013 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

    For fancier dinners Dennis Cotters – Cafe Paradiso and Paradiso Seasons are just mmmmmmmmmmmm. We usually cook our Christmas Day dinner from these and before we had children and entertained regularly these were our go to books.

  4. Posted 16 January 2013 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

    I cannot stop cooking from Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook, Plenty. I’ve had it for a little over a year now, and I still use it for meals at least twice a week.

    I agree that the Smitten Kitchen cookbook is fabulous, but that’s no surprise considering how often I use recipes from her blog.

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