Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best of 2012: Books

There's a little over a week left before Christmas. Still time to pick up a last-minute gift. For the food lover in your life, I suggest one of these books, which represent either my favorites from the year or what I'm very interested in reading. Quick the links to go to Amazon, where you're just a few clicks, 2-day shipping and some wrapping paper away from having any of these under your tree.


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Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet. This year, they released a slimmer-by-comparison one-volume version geared more towards the home cook. Granted, that doesn't mean these are recipes that the average kitchen is equipped to make, but even if you don't (yet) own a sous vide machine, this still sounds like an interesting read (see Washington Post review).

The Science of Good Cooking by The Editors of America's Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby. America's Test Kitchen and its Cook's Illustrated publications are one of my top go-to sources for understand the "why and how" of good cooking. The science-minded volume takes that know-how down to the molecular level to help you really understand how, for example, the starch molecules in potatoes react a certain way from different methods of making mashed potatoes. If you're into food science, but not "modernist" cooking, this volume of more traditional recipes may be for you.

Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. The first time I bit into a namesake chocolate bouchon from Bouchon, I knew I had a found a truly remarkable snack. This volume includes recipes for many of the bakery chain's best-loved confections.

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Crazy Good Italian by Mike Isabella. Still have a hankering for the Top Chef alum's chicken thighs with pepperoni sauce but don't live near Graffiato? With this cookbook you can make that any many other of his Italian-American favorites (like corn agnolotti with pine nuts and chanterelles, which was a huge hit during Graffiato's first summer).

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Proof that a cooking blog can be a gateway to culinary fame, Smitten Kitchen blogger Deb Perelman released this beautiful volume in October, featuring her homey recipes and typically beautiful food photography.

Food Literature

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelssson. A chef's memoir is nothing new, but this one has made it onto quite a few "best of the year" lists. Sounds like this year's Kitchen Confidential or Blood, Bones and Butter.

The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. Taking a first-person approach to research three key steps in the American food chain--farming, grocery retail and chain restaurants--McMillan finds little good but plenty of bad and ugly when she peels back the shiny shrinkwrap on the industrial processes that feed a large portion of Americans every day (here's my review).

Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller. Olive oil may seem like a perfectly benign condiment, but wait 'til you read Mueller's exposé uncovering its shady side and the true believers trying to restore the green-golden liquid to its deserved state of quality (here's my review).

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat by Thomas McNamee. I'm currently reading and enjoying this engaging biography of Craig Claiborne, the man who made The New York Times take food writing seriously and ushered in the modern era of restaurant criticism.

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson. Wilson explores global cuisines through the utensils that shape them. I haven't read this yet, but it's on the top of my list of books I want to read in the new year.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Santa will bring you any of these books tonight?