It’s a lazy afternoon
And the beetle bugs are zooming
And the tulip trees are blooming…
Barbara Streisand and a cookbook? Don’t mind if I do!
Today is the perfect sort of day to curl up on the couch with a nice fat stack of cookbooks. Listening to the rain falling in the garden, wrapped around a warm cup of coffee, a little cooking inspiration and some delicious dinner recipes is just what I need. Great ideas, beautiful photography, interesting stories; there’s something especially inspiring about a cookbook that’s hard to find anywhere else.
This year was a great one for cookbook acquisition. I’m finally getting around to really checking out the ones I got in December for the holidays and my birthday, all of which have been piled at the edge of my desk, begging for my attention. It’s a pretty epic stack! There are a few that I’m really getting into today, so those will be the ones covered here. In no particular order, with no particular sense of favoritism, these are a few new (to my collection) and exciting cookbooks that I’m loving, finding inspiring, will use to create delicious dinner recipes, and want to share with you guys!
One Seriously Inspirational Cookbook List with some Seriously Delicious Dinner Recipes!
First off, The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook is a no-brainer, awesomely good set of recipes. It’s Danny Bowien’s book; he’s the chef and cofounder of Mission Chinese Food restaurants, which started in SF. Crazy good food from a crazy talented chef! His famous thrice-cooked bacon recipe is in here, and I’m also dying to try out the recipes for smashed cucumber with sesame paste and salted chili condiment, stir-fried corn with chilies and smoked bamboo, and his sweet potato leaves with kabocha squash. Plus the title “stir-fried chicken parts” has piqued my interest! He also has a recipe in there for hand-pulled noodles which I won’t make (not gluten-free), but it looks totally doable. The really exciting thing (for me) however, is the tiny little easy-to-miss recipe for fresh rice noodles that I will be trying out ASAP!!!!!!!!! This recipe isn’t even in the table of contents, it’s just stuck into a part of another recipe! It’s actually a rice noodle sheet, which appears basically to be a fresh spring roll wrapper, and I’m pretty much over-the-moon to have discovered this little gem!
Atelier Crenn Metamorphosis of Taste from Dominque Crenn is another that I’m just drooling over. It’s gorgeous. Drop dead, photographic-work-of-art beautiful. It’s definitely a cheffy book rather than a simple home cook book, but once you muster up a little confidence, you’ll see that there are a lot of ideas here that can inspire you right in your own kitchen. She uses truly impressive flavor combinations, like carrot, aloe, and coconut or white chocolate, marcona almonds, and salsify. It’s entirely likely that you don’t have access to her equipment or aren’t comfortable with her techniques, but that’s what great restaurants are there for! So you don’t have to do it all yourself. It’s for her flavor combinations and aesthetic sense, though, that I really recommend you at least check this book out. Her work is simply astonishing.
Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton is another great one! Way more approachable for the home cook that Atelier Crenn, but still filled with awesome flavors, techniques and ideas! Plus, the book is awesome. It’s created in the style of a recipe book that you might actually find in a restaurant (but with art-directed photos and a hardcover, rather than black and white sheets shoved in a three ring binder…) It actually looks like it’s stained and covered with hand-written notes and drawings. I love it! These are fun recipes: canned sardines with triscuits, dijon, and cornichons for example! Simple salted radishes with sweet butter. Serrano ham with figs and fried pistachios. It’s a great source of ideas. When you just read the titles, you miss the little ingredients that make this food special – the unexpected lime half or drizzle of frying oil as garnish really make this book inspiring! There are some great and approachable ideas here that can be used to make some delicious dinner recipes!
The most exciting book for me, however, is the Heston Blumenthal The Fat Duck Cookbook (the more affordable version). I’m totally geeking out on this!!!!! Heston Blumenthal is arguabl one of the best chefs out there, and this, really, is not even a cookbook. It’s an inspiration well. It’s art, photography, story telling, a journal of ideas and process, an autobiography, a science and molecular gastronomy textbook, and a fat stack of food porn all rolled up in one. It truly is a spectacle of food and art and science, restaurants, chefs, and cooking. Nope. You probably can’t make most of this stuff at home. These are recipes that take days if not weeks or months, specialized equipment, and a whole brigade of cooks to prepare. However, these are ideas that will change the way you approach food, the way you think about food, and your understanding of what it is that food can do and be. This isn’t really a great place to find doable delicious dinner recipes, but it’s an amazing source of inspiration and ideas.
So these are the books that are inspiring me today to create new and delicious dinner recipes. What about you guys? Where do you find your ideas? Do you have cookbooks that you love?
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