No, not recipes. Cookbooks, actually! I felt prompted to do this after I got an email asking me which cookbooks I would recommend. At the time, I wasn't at my apartment, so I didn't have any of them on hand. But now that I'm back, and have little to do but watch the Food Network when I get home from work, I figure I'd share my ten favorite cookbooks with all of you!
10. Cupcakes by Pamela Clark
Truth be told, the only reason this is number 10 is because I haven't tried any cupcakes from this book. Yet. And I could have picked one of the other 19 cookbooks that aren't on this list that I actually have used before, but I plan on trying this one out this year. Hopefully multiple times. [especially her fig and toffee crowns and her banana caramel cakes]
9. Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook by Alan Rosen & Beth Allen
These cheesecakes are just divine. In the past, I've made the fresh strawberry cheesecake with macaroon crunch, the pumpkin swirl cheesecake, and the brownie swirl cheesecake, and eventually want to try their white chocolate and raspberry swirl, tiramisu, and devil's food cheesecakes. Interestingly, many of their cheesecakes use a sponge cake crust in place of the traditional graham cracker crust, which gives the entire cake a whole new flavor. Though, all the fillings adapt easily to the traditional crust if, you prefer it that way.
8. Baking, From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
This cookbook weighs about as much as an Organic Chemistry textbook. Dense, heavy, and full of standard baking recipes from scones and coffee cakes to poached pear and pistachio tarts. I've made tons of desserts out of this book, but some of the better ones would include her Tribute-to-Katherine Hepburn brownies and all-American, all-Delicious Apple Pie. It's a fantastic baking guide for beginners, because Dorie gives a lot of great basic recipes, but also has some very impressive ones for more experienced chefs. [do you like my effort at sounding legit?]
7. Wok & Stir-Fry, part of the Cook's Library series
Chinese food! Really, really good, and really, really easy to make Chinese food. Much healthier than take-out [which I don't really like at all], and absolutely delicious. The book is broken down by type of cuisine: soups & appetizers, poultry & meat, fish & seafood, vegetables, vegan & vegetarian, and rice & noodles. There's definitely something for everyone in this book. Their spicy shrimp soup, by the way, is my favorite soup of all time.
6. The Lady & Sons Just Desserts by Paula H. Deen
You know a cookbook by Paula Deen is going to be good. By association, you know that a dessert book by Paula Deen will be incredible. And full of butter. Which this is. This is also full of really easy recipes. Many of her cakes use boxed cake mixes as a base, so there's little in the way of 'from-scratch' baking, other than throwing a couple of pounds of butter, cream cheese, or a can of sweetened condensed milk into the batter. I love her gooey butter cake recipe, which I've altered to my own tastes about six times, and her 1-2-3-4 cake recipe continues to be my favorite basic cake recipe.
5. The Cookie and Biscuit Bible by Catherine Atkinson [recipes by Joanna Farrow & Valerie Barrett]
This was a birthday gift to me from Nitya a few years ago. It is the best cookbook I've ever used for cookie and bar recipes. Each one I've tried out of this book has been a flying success [is that an expression? I feel like it is, but at the same time I'm pretty sure it's not...]. I'm actually going to bake something from it later this week [stay tuned!], and have made the marbled caramel chocolate slices [i.e. millionaire's shortbread], biscotti, pecan nut squares, and chocolate cheesecake brownies. Great, now I'm salivating.
4. The New Indian Cooking Course by Manisha Kanami & Shehzad Husain
Now, Indian [and Pakistani] food is my favorite type of food. Shocker. But I was always afraid that I'd never be able to duplicate the recipes that my mom makes or dishes I've had at Indian restaurants. This book comes pretty damn close. I've only made a handful of Indian dishes so far [all of them with chicken], but I'm hoping to try a few more soon. Especially some of the vegetarian ones.
3. Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor
First of all, this looks like a preteen girl's chick lit. Seriously. It is the most colorful, lacy, polka dotted, pink cookbook I've ever seen. And I love it. Not to mention that each recipe is about as disturbingly sweet as its appearance. But you'll love it too. The best chocolate cake I've ever made is her chocolate caramel-pecan souffle cake. It is the epitome of chocolate decadence. Oh my gosh. Her gooey caramel butter bars are also phenomenal. Even if you're not planning on buying this, or have no desire to bake anything for the rest of your life, do yourself a favor and rent it from the library. I promise it'll make you happy.
2. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz
This was my most used cookbook towards the end of the year. Big surprise! Actually, I was surprised at how well the recipes turned out. You've seen 'em before already, but the pumpkin pasties and peanut butter bon bons are magical [pun intended]. I've also tried the herb-roasted chicken, and it just cast a spell on my taste buds [oh stop, you're killing me]. Hermione's cherry bakewell cake also sounds scrumptious. The only thing it lacks is Butterbeer. But never fret, dear Muggles, for after visiting Hogsmeade and tasting Butterbeer first hand, I vow to come up with a comparable recipe. I'd bet my wand on it [facepalm].
1. Alice's Tea Cup by Haley Fox & Lauren Fox
Yes, my favorite cookbook of 2010 was Alice's Tea Cup's newly released cookbook. It helps that I still have a massive fancrush on the owners [who - did I mention? - signed my copy!] after visiting Nimra in NYC back in October. Honestly though, if you're ever in the city, you have to check their restaurant out. It's one of the cutest places I've ever been, and the food is amazing. Thus far I've only baked their pumpkin scones, which were melt-in-your mouth DELICIOUS, but I've sampled their lemon strawberry scones and their Curious French Toast [which, Nimra, I still need to send you]. Their sandwiches also look incredible, and I'm dying to try the curried chicken sandwiches and Alice's Croque Madam. Go to NYC, eat at Alice's Tea Cup, buy the cookbook. Best life choice you will ever make.
So there you go! My ten favorite cookbooks of 2010. I do want to mention, though, that as the year went on, I began turning to blogs a lot more than actual cookbooks. Tastespotting.com, aside from being my favorite distraction during boring lecture-I mean, my bedtime ogle, is phenomenal for recipes. Just type in whatever you're searching for [as general or as specific as you want] into the search bar, and you'll find dozens of mouth-watering photos to choose from.
Ahhh, another enormous rant. Sorry that there haven't been any baked goods yet! But I will be baking, hopefully tomorrow, so don't worry! There will be lots more pictures and recipes coming, and a lot less me typing whatever nonsense comes to mind. :)
Now, please excuse me while I re-stack these cookbooks on top of my fridge and watch it promptly cave in...