All serious cooks, whether they’re merely fresh newbies or hardened kitchen veterans, will need the best cookbooks to to guide them through. After all, these cookbooks form part of the repository of knowledge by which culinary masters work their way to the top. Not all cookbooks are the same and the really pretty, glossy ones can be quite costly. So if you want to get your money’s worth, you’ve got to make sure you get only the top cookbooks to populate your kitchen library. With that in mind, I have compiled the top five cookbooks of 2012.
Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel E. Presilla
Award-winning Hoboken chef and restaurateur Maricel E. Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina showed up in a lot of top cookbooks lists I looked into this year–and indeed it should be. This gorgeous 901-page tome, which contains 584 of her best recipes, is the product of more than 20 years of research into the deep culinary history and traditions of Latin America from the top of the Peruvian mountains to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. The Examiner’s Leeann Lavin calls Gran Cocina Latina the “first cookbook to present a pan-Latin cuisine.” It is a work of beauty that will inspire you to try these top Latin dishes for yourself.
Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel
“Those who were daunted by ‘The French Laundry Cookbook’ can easily tackle homey sweets like pecan sandies or chocolate cherry scones, or slightly more ambitious productions like the apricot flan tart. It must be said, though, that going to Keller for a blueberry muffin recipe seems a little like hiring Frank Gehry to design your birdhouse. As the pages turn, things get more complex, but instructional photos assist, and the book retains a sense of whimsy.”
Admittedly, this book may not be suitable for the beginner baker, as one reviewer said on Amazon. But if you’re serious about building your baking credibility, this is one of the best baking books you simply must have.
Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
TheKitchn.com describes Jerusalem as a book that is “as much a map as it is a cookbook, and following it leads to some unexpected places.” Indeed, what is clear within the pages of this book is while the city is made up of diverse people with different cultural upbringings (as exemplified by the authors themselves; Tamimi grew up on the Arab side of the city while Ottolenghi came from the Israeli side), common culinary traditions do create a sense of unity within this diversity. As said in this Huffington Post interview, Jerusalem is just as much an autobiography as it is a compilation of recipes.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
I have long been a follower of the award-winning The Smitten Kitchen blog. I have found Deb Perelman, one of the best food bloggers around, to be a very peachy culinary personality. Now she shares the best new recipes and favorite staples from her blog in this much-awaited cookbook. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is just as fabulous as its author’s blog, with its gorgeous pictures, the quirky tales that serve as introduction to each recipe, to the recipes themselves that are unique to this cookbook. This is on of the top cookbooks that is definitely a must-have.
The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila
The last literary masterpiece in this top cookbook list is from another food blogger, Alana Chernila of Eating from the Ground Up. SeriousEats.com calls her book, The Homemade Pantry “a real eye-opener.” After all, it showcases 101 recipes that are meant to replace grocery-bought staples like butter, ketchup, mayonnaise and toaster pastries with cheaper but much more nutritious and flavorful alternatives. Whether you choose to follow Alana’s lead or stick to your grocery staples, you will surely find this book fun to read.
So there we have it – the top cookbooks of 2012. Go visit your favorite bookstore and pick up a copy of one of these cookbooks today.