On Christmas morning, after the kids have run off to play with their new toys, I sink down deep into the couch under a cuddly blanket with a steaming cup of coffee and my new cookbooks. The floor is buried under a riot of colorful wrapping paper but clean up can wait. It’s time to lose myself in mouth watering photographs and dream of delicious meals to come.
Books are the last gifts I purchase during my holiday gift buying, after all the bigger items have arrived. Just in time for your last minute gift buying, here are my favorite cookbooks of the year:
Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan ($26 at Amazon. Hardcover only.)
I’m starting off my round-up with a cheat because this cookbook came out in October of 2010, but it’s still my favorite cookbook, the one I reach for when I’m looking for dinner inspiration. Dorie’s recipes are the ones I grew up eating, French comfort food that will fill your kitchen with irresistible aromas. But what keeps me going back to this cookbook over and over again is Dorie’s voice, easy and approachable like an old friend, suggesting delicious dishes like roasted chicken for lazy people, top secret chocolate mousse, and a melt in your mouth beef daube.
Everyday Exotic by Roger Mooking ($19.76 at Amazon. Softcover)
Roger Mooking is the host of Everyday Exotic on the Cooking Channel. Like his television show, his cookbook injects new life into routine recipes with ingredients you might not normally use like lemongrass, salt cod, and chestnut. The cookbook features recipes with 50 unusual ingredients and will definitely help you to breathe new life into your weekday dinners. I love that the recipes circle the globe from nori-crusted salmon to pine nut lamb meatballs. The fresh photography and novel ideas definitely inspired me.
Dead Celebrity Cookbook by Frank Decaro ($13.03 at Amazon. Softcover)
I’m including this cookbook more as a talking piece than a real source of inspiration. Written by Frank Decaro, the Daily Show’s movie critic, it is less about the recipes than about the truly random subject matter. There’s a lot to discuss as you flip through: the fact that some of these celebrities are dead, who these celebrities are, and how unlikely the recipe featured was their favorite dish. Patrick Swayze did not strike me as a chicken pot pie kind of guy and I cannot imagine Farah Fawcett feathered blonde hair bobbing with enthusiasm as she tucks into sausage and peppers supreme but it makes for hours worth of great conversation. And who knows? Michael Jackson’s sweet potato pie may turn out to be the hit dish of next year’s Thanksgiving table.