In a world where takeout has become available 24/7 and the presence of a personal chef has become the mark of an important household, home cooking has become less and less common. The phrase “I ate at home” now means “I went to the pizza place downstairs and got some slices to bring back.” Redefine the meaning of eating in and hone those culinary skills that have been dormant for so long. To help you on your journey of culinary discovery, we have compiled a list of the 10 best cookbooks for the at-home chef.
1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, $40, at amazon.com (pictured above):
If you hadn’t already realized from Julie and Julia, Julia Child has a way with the novice chef. Responsible for making intimidating French Cuisine more beginner-friendly, Child also embraced everyone’s love of fatty, flavorful food, proving that in cooking, we should not always be concerned with calorie content. How could you when it just tastes so good? Child guides the cook from start to finish: from grocery shopping, to advising the chef on which American ingredients make good substitutes for the classic French ones, to which wines are best paired with your culinary masterpiece, Child has you covered.
2. The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox, $35, at amazon.com
Baking, it seems, is an underrated skill in the culinary world. As seen on Top Chef, baking and desserts are always the contestant’s downfall. Thanks to Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox, this will hopefully no longer be the case. The Craft of Baking not only provides delicious recipes, but also includes detailed instructions for classic baking techniques. The book’s third chapter, entitled “Techniques to Help Hone Your Craft,” helps cooks learn baking basics that can be applied to most baking recipes, such as how to make caramel. The book even includes ice cream recipes to experiment with on those hot summer days.
3. 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, $32.50, at amazon.com
Spice up your kitchen, literally, with chef Raghavan Iyer and his 660 Curries, your guidebook to Indian cuisine. Curries and Indian cooking tend to be more intimidating to the beginner chef due to the exotic nature of the cuisine. Luckily, for you adventurous chefs out there, Raghavan is an amazing guide, providing the cook with detailed recipes, ingredient glossaries, and an array of approachable dishes and appetizers that are easy to whip up. Remember, Indian tastes are not easily emmulated with substitute ingredients, so access to Indian spices and ingredients is a must.
4. Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman an Kim Barnouin, $14.95, at amazon.com
Our favorite tough love, no nonsense, vegan guidebook is back and making life easier for Skinny Bitch vegan’s everywhere with some surprisingly delectable recipes. Disproving notions that all vegan cooking consists of raw vegetables, Rory and Kim provide an array of satisfying recipes such as their meat-free take on Chicken Parm. The recipes are easy to follow and — shockingly — easy to digest.
5. Vefa’s Kitchen by Vefa Alexiadou, $45, at amazon.com
Thanks to Vefa Alexiadou, you can now throw your very own “big fat greek wedding.” Vefa includes all the classic greek dishes like spanakopita and baklava while expanding the cook’s eye to an unexpected variety of ingredients and flavors present in Greek cuisine. Vefa instructs you to create impressive dishes like duckling with kumquats, wine-steamed mussels, and pumpkin fritters, all perfect for your next dinner party. But be warned — Vefa’s Kitchen is not for the half-hearted cook, as some of her ingredients are known to be harder to work with and should only be attempted by those with more kitchen ambitions.
6. Savory Baking by Mary Cech, $24.95, at amazon.com
A forerunner of its kind, Savory Baking focuses solely on baking without the sweet and all the — you guessed it — savory. Top American pastry chef, Mary Cech, provides 75 easy-to-follow recipes, including a Parmigiano-Reggiano savory cheesecake, a Canadian bacon bread pudding, and a pepper pear goat cheese scone. If this isn’t enough to switch your baking cravings from sweet to savory, not to worry — Mary Cech has 73 more recipes to satisfy your taste buds.
7. A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman, Shelley Lindgren, and Kate Leahy, $35, at amazon.com
The result of collaborative efforts from top-rated chef Nate Appleman, A16 co-owner Shelly Lindgren, and food editor Kate Leahy, A16: Food +Wine dictates classic southern Italian recipes that go along with the cuisine found at Appleman’s latest restaurant, A16 in San Francisco. The first part of the book focuses on wine, going into detail about everything from the grapes of certain regions, to food pairings, to recommended wine producers. The second goes right into the hearty stuff, with classic Italian favorites mixed with A16’s own San Francisco twist, such as their staple tangerine and arugula salad.
8. Stir: Mixing it Up in the Italian Tradition by Barbara Lynch, $35, at amazon.com
This book should read not only as a cookbook, but as an inspiration to aspiring chefs everywhere. Barbara Lynch is a self-taught chef, and now she passes on her knowledge to you. Growing up in south Boston, Lynch could not afford to attend culinary school. Through her own drive and hunger, Lynch utilized cookbooks from her high school home economics class to pick up her skills. She created her own distinctive culinary style that she shares with cooks in the pages of Stir. Recipes vary in skill level, from a simple gorgonzola fondue to the more elaborate lobster rolls, perfect for the at-home chef looking to cultivate and advance their culinary skill set.
9. Top Chef the Cookbook by the Creators of Top Chef and Tom Colicchio, $29.95, at amazon.com
A collaboration of favorite Top Chef dishes, this book is a dream come true for future contestants and fans alike. Since the goal of many of these dishes were to impress Michelin star chefs, the recipes are slightly more daunting to beginners. For culinary students wishing to push themselves and experiment with the best of the best, this book is perfect. No longer will viewers stare in confusion at what the contestants are making; a detailed play-by-play is readily available. While the dishes are created by amatuers, if the recipes are good enough for the Top Chef judges, they’re good enough for us.
10. Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan, $40, at amazon.com
Food writer Peter Meehan and chef-restaurateur David Chang, have combined their extensive food knowledge to create acclaimed cookbook, Momofuku. The recipes included all come from Chang’s restaurants Ssam Bar, Ko, and of course, Momofuku. Chang and Meehan feature an array of classic American dishes with a prevalent Asian twist, such as chicken wings cooked in duck fat. As with all things Chang, noodle recipes are equally abundant. Amateur chefs be warned — David and Peter have designed these recipes for experienced chefs, so you may want to hold off until your culinary skills are fully developed.
More News We Love:
The Pantry Items Any Chef Should Keep in Their Kitchen at All Times
A Complete Guide of Lower Cal Dining Out Options