We all aspire to be the kinds of cooks that don’t *need* a recipe, that can just endlessly riff off of seasonal ingredients and what we have in our cupboard. The reality is that we often need some help, or at least some inspiration, to break out of our cooking routine.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of beautiful, innovative guides out there right now. Cookbooks are the perfect gift for everyone from the foodie, to the home cook, to the design lover. There’s something for every interest and niche, whether you’re looking to actually cook from them or just admire them.
Some interesting, versatile picks to get you started:
Eat your veggies. Ruffage is practical guide to cooking with and enjoying vegetables. Author Abra Berens (a chef and farmer from the Midwest) was struggling to find a comprehensive guide to preparing vegetables when she was a young chef working mostly from a farm garden, so she got creative. The book aims to demystify thirty different vegetables, with everything from shopping and storing notes, preparation techniques, and recipe variations that lay out how one vegetable and technique can be used for a variety of meals. Ruffage doesn’t just give you one recipe per technique, but instead shows you how to use that same flavour profile in a number of ways.
Love Indian food but feel too intimidated to try cooking it yourself? Food writer Priya Krishna wrote Indian-ish, a quirky and colourful book, as a tribute to her mom’s Indian-American hybrid style of cooking. As an immigrant to the US, Priya’s mom taught herself to cook by merging the Indian flavours of her childhood with her travel stories, cooking show inspiration, and her children’s desire for American staples. The result features dishes like Roti Pizza, Malaysian Ramen, and Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar. Approachable and fun, the recipes are interesting while staying simple enough for a weekday dinner.
An alum of Bon Appetit, author Alison Roman popularized a style of cooking that we can only describe as super chill. Dining In features 125 recipes that are simple while remaining current, full of quick techniques and hacks for home cooks. There’s no muss or fuss here, with recipes that are straightforward enough for beginners but impressive enough for a seasoned homecook. Standout flavours include anchovy butter, preserved lemon, za’atar, and garlicky walnuts. The takeaway: keep it simple, have fun, get creative, and share with the people you love.
Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta
Self-appointed “Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of”, Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta is inspired and funny, focusing on three salty, fatty ingredients to elevate vegetable-forward recipes you’ll want to eat everyday. A new kind of vegetable cookbook, meat is used as a garnish for flavour rather than the focus of the meal. It’s healthy, sustainable, and budget-friendly. Most importantly, though, the recipes are delicious, with the salt drawing out complex flavours and enriching the dishes.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation
David Zilber and René Redzepi
From Copenhagen’s famed Noma comes the ultimate guide to funk. The Noma Guide to Fermentation is a must-have for any home cook looking to get into fermentation, with everything from kombucha-brewing, sauerkraut-aging, sourdough-baking, and more. While less practical than other books on this list, Noma will inspire you to tackle a new technique, one that’s very of the moment but also very good for your body. It’s cool and nerdy, with more than 500 step-by-step photographs and illustrations, with every recipe written with approachability in mind.
Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker
If you’re a homecook looking to get into wine pairings, this approachable book is for you. Wine Food is a comprehensive guide from natural winery and wine bar owner Dana Frank and author and stylist Andrea Slonecker. Containing over 75 recipes for everything from brunch, to snacks, to weeknight dinner parties, and wines that pair perfectly with them. You’ll find a comprehensive overview of the wine style that inspired each recipe, with recommendations for multiple producers to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. There’s also a quick-pairing cheat sheet with subjects like “Which Wine to Pair with Takeout”.
Please provide your email address and we'll send you a beautiful certificate for your recipient.