While much of recipe discovery has moved online, we still love the multi-sensory pleasure and charm of flipping through physical cookbooks for recipes to try. We have over a hundred in the gatheredtable offices, and with the holidays approaching, we’ve chosen some of our favorites that make great gift ideas for every type of cook on your list.
These definitive cookbooks that can be a go-to for nearly everything, a great gift for new grads, newlyweds and anyone who is new to the kitchen.
1. Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer
The new seventy-fifth anniversary edition of an American home cooking classic never goes out of style.
2. How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food by Mark Bittman
We love everything about Mark Bittman, from his irreverent humor to his steadfast belief that anyone can be a successful home cook (we agree!) – and the breadth and depth in his latest book will not disappoint!
For new (or newish) parent
3. The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David
More than just a cookbook, Laurie David’s book is a manifesto on the value of the shared family meal. Research has proven that everything we worry about as parents – from drugs to alcohol, promiscuity, to obesity, academic achievement and just good nutrition – can all be improved by the simple act of eating and talking together around the table.
Books about cooking that aren’t cookbooks
A couple narrative, memoir-style books about food, ingredients, and learning to cook.
4. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (this is a narrative, not a cookbook) The latest book from the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which he explores how the four classical elements – fire, water, air, and earth – transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. (Read about our founder Mary’s post about lunch with Michael)
5. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (another narrative/memoir)
Kathleen Flinn was a thirty-six-year-old middle manager trapped on the corporate ladder – until her boss eliminated her job. Instead of sulking, she checked out of the rat race – cashing in her savings, moving to Paris, and studying at the venerable Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. (Read about our recent cooking class with Kathleen)
For vegetarians, or anyone who aspires to eat more vegeatables
6. Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison
A classic beautiful book by the queen of vegetarian cuisine Deborah Madison.
7. Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
“I used to head to Yotam Ottolenghi’s eponymous shop whenever I was in London and was delighted when he started publishing cookbooks! Plenty of vegetarian recipes with “exotic” flavor combinations.” – Mary
8. Moosewood Restaurant Favorites: The 250 Most-Requested, Naturally Delicious Recipes from One of America’s Best-Loved Restaurants by The Moosewood Collective
“My first ever cookbook was the original Moosewood… I recall a long-ago road trip from Manhattan to Ithaca which included a mandatory meal at the quirky original cafe, which was founded back when vegetarianism was a very fringe notion.” – Mary
For those who want an adventure in the kitchen
9. Home Made by Yvette van Boven
Gorgeous photos, and some rather complicated recipes that are made more accessible with step-by-step instructions and drawings. We love the wit and darling hand drawings and handwriting.
10. A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories by JJ Goode
“The Spotted Pig was one of my favorite restaurants when I lived in New York, so I had to try this cookbook and discovered with delight that renowned chef April Bloomfield has made her cookbook as welcoming and unpretentious as her celebrity-studded restaurants.” – Mary
11. Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings by Karen Mordechai
With her dinner series Sunday Suppers, Karen Mordechai celebrates the magic of gathering, bringing together friends and strangers to connect over the acts of cooking and sharing meals. For those who yearn to connect around the table, Karen’s simple, seasonally driven recipes, evocative photography, and understated styling form a road map to creating community in their own kitchens and in offbeat locations. This collection of gatherings will inspire a sense of adventure and community for both the novice and experienced cook alike.
12. Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More by Cory Schreiber
The beautiful simplicity and diversity of fruit dessert is highlighted in this seasonally inspired cookbook. Some recipes may seem like they have a few extra steps, but we promise it will be worth it every time. The only thing more satisfying than pulling these out of the oven is when you decide the next morning that they should be breakfast!
While these are written for specific eating styles, we’ve found them to be reliably delish, for one and all.
13. Hip Kosher: 175 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes for Today’s Kosher Cooks by Ronnie Fein
Quite the cookbook discovery… you don’t have to be kosher to love the easy-to-make, healthy, tasty recipes in this accessible cookbook.
14. Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes by Elana Amsterdam
“Elana is a member of our gatheredtable advisory board and she and I have been friends for nearly three decades. This is the paleo/gluten-free cookbook that requires no sacrifices, by which I mean that even though the recipes happen to all be paleo and gluten free…they are also DELICIOUS. Great for families and couples where not everyone is paleo/gluten-free.” – Mary
15. The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson
While we can’t opine on whether these recipes fight cancer, we can confidently assure you that they are pretty easy to make and delicious! We’ve tried ten of them and every one has been a home run. (By “easy-to-make” we mean not hard, although sometimes they include a longish list of ingredients)