It’s been pretty quiet around here, friends. For that, I am sorry. 2016 has been an incredible year and an incredibly busy one. I miss having the free time to blog as I used to…but I’m coming up with some fun things for the new year. No matter what, I can’t miss my annual roundup of my favorite cookbooks of the year…and the opportunity to gift a few of them to one of my loyal readers.
2016 was yet another great year for cookbooks. There were so many awesome books this year that it was *really* tough to narrow it down to nine. Slow cookers and the Instant Pot are gaining momentum, the South and Southern chefs put out some of the best books of the year and vegetables started truly getting top billing. As always, there are some big best seller books in my list…and some more out-of-left-field choices. All nine of them inspired me…and I hope there is one or two on the list that inspire you, too.
Here we go:
Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison – I’ve seen many books on canning/preserving and this is, by far, the most beautiful I’ve ever laid eyes on. As a food stylist, I’ll never tire of page after matte page of beautiful in-season produce and loose and a little messy styling. There are comprehensive instructions on all forms of preserving with clear breakdowns of procedures and gear. The chapter “A Trip To The Market in 25 Ingredients” highlights types of ingredients then several unique ways to use each one. Apples become applescrap vinegar, dried apple slices and Broiled Scallops with Apple Gastrique.
V Street by Rich Landeau and Kate Jacoby – A new book from the Philadelphia restauranteurs behind Vedge and V Street! I love that this book isn’t all millet bowls and vegetables on toast – not that there is anything wrong with that. V Street is full of global vegetarian recipes – lots of flavor, spice, umami. Tastes that seem meaty and deep and fulfilling. I have about a dozen recipes marked to try…and their Sriracha peanuts and spice blends look like incredible gifts for the upcoming holiday.
Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard – This book is a tome at over 500 pages and is well on the way to being one of the definitive texts on Southern food and food culture. What makes Deep Run Roots special is that it really highlights Southern food regionally and doesn’t put the culture of Southern cooking under just one umbrella. This is a book about Vivian’s life, her upbringing, family, her much revered restaurant Chef and The Farmer and her journey to use ingredients that are native to her area of North Carolina. It’s a big book but it still feels extremely personal and intimate and oozes the care and reverence Vivian has for her home.
Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy – When I opened Victuals, I was stopped in my tracks. I said it then and I’ll say it now: Ronni Lundy put out the most incredible cookbook of 2016. The recipes, the writing and the exceptional photos by Johnny Autry tell such a dizzying and heartfelt story of Appalachia, a region that few folks know all that much about. It goes beyond being a cookbook: it’s a memoir, it’s a love letter and it’s a road map.
Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau – A few years ago, I made a trip to Venice and one of the souvenirs I brought back was a newly discovered love of the spritz. It’s the signature drink of Venice and they’re as easy to find as a coffee shop. Make a stop for one of these low alcohol drinks, nosh on a few free snacks served with it and continue on with your day. This little book is a stunner – full of 50 recipes both new and classic. It would also make a lovely hostess or holiday gift.
The Photographer’s Cookbook by Lisa Hostetler – This oddball of a book was the passion project of Deborah Barsel, who worked at the Eastman Museum in the 1970’s but abandoned the project when she left. Over 30 years later, Lisa Hostetler came upon a box of documents, recipes and photos from photographers of all areas: food, fashion, still life, documentary. For those that love photography as much as they love food, this is a must-have. It’s a time capsule of photography from the 70’s and the recipes are a great insight into the personalities behind the camera.
Simple by Diana Henry – Any year that Diana Henry puts out a new cookbook, it makes this list. She’s one of my favorite recipe developers and, thankfully, she’s prolific. This new book is an extension of her recent books but paired down a bit. What isn’t lacking is recipes full of spice and flavor…as well as her signature styling and mind-blowing photography.
Skinnytaste Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka – In full disclosure, I had the pleasure of styling this book with my dear friend Helene Dujardin behind the lens…but that’s not why this book made this year’s list. It’s here because every single one of the recipes are fantastic. They work, they are easy to execute and the results are tasty and flawless. Gina puts so much care into each of her recipes – which are either slow cooker or 30 minute meals – and it shows. Get this book and start with the Banh Mi Rice Bowls and the Harissa Lamb Ragu.
Cravings by Chrissy Teigen – Most “celebrity” cookbooks get a bad rap – there’s no way that person cooks like that or eats that much. As soon as I got Cravings in the mail…I was insane for it. I love Chrissy Teigen’s chutzpah and her unabashed love of food & cooking. The recipes are bold, brash and in your face. The “Thai Mom” chapter is particularly fantastic. The photos are amazing, the styling is loose and messy. Cravings is a sexy book and you’ll want to make everything in it.
As has become an yearly tradition on my blog, I’m giving away 3 of the books on this list to ONE lucky winner. It’s a way of saying THANK YOU to y’all for hanging in there all year and for being so much a part of my life. Your support over the years means the world to me. You get to choose ANY THREE of the nine listed in this post. Just leave a comment below letting me know which three you’d like to receive. I’ll be picking the winner (and closing comments) on December 22nd at 7 pm EST– my holiday/Happy New Year gift to you! PLEASE make sure you leave your email in the comment or your comment signature so I can get in touch with you if you win! As this is not a sponsored post & something I’m doing on my own, I’m unable to ship outside the US. Thanks for understanding and good luck!