Hi my name is Christine and I’m a cookbook-food magazine junkie. Can’t collect enough, can’t stop by any checkout stand or book store food section without picking one up, thumbing through it, reading the side-bars, looking at the photos, wondering when my next fix will kick in. I have a constant longing, craving and yearning for the next one with pretty pictures, will it ever end? I have a collection of about 200 books; food, wine, dessert, entertaining, beverage there are so many that they now serve as decorative adornments (dust collectors) throughout my home. And the magazines, I have finally succumbed to tearing out the photos or recipes I truly want and put them in my working binder and recycle the rest of the magazine to my hair salon (how Green of me! Not really I just cannot bring myself to throw away a $5 magazine that I bought for just one recipe!).
I’ll admit in the beginning when the book was new I read it from cover to cover savoring every word, every photo and actually made some of the food porn that appealed to me the most. Speak to me in pictures don’t give me a cookbook without photos because it will never work between us. I need to see the food; desire it, lust after it, make the recipe and then move on. It just gets old after going through it a few times, same old recipes, same old pictures, same old outcome. OK this is beginning to sound like an article for the Dating Examiner I digress; the hard cover book with the glossy photo for every recipe is the type of book that gets me. Gets me every single time. Think of it as the bad-boy, type-A personality book. The one you can’t stay away from but the one you can’t stay with either. It’s the type of book that makes your knees buckle with its cosmetic beauty, makes you giggle with delight over its expansive and informative recipes with photos that take your breath away leaving you hungry for more.
OK this is a disease, the more you have the more you want, and for what? Let’s do the math, 200 books x say (conservatively) 100 recipes in each book = 20,000 recipes. 20,000!!!!!! Holy Mackerel! (I hate math, it’s so in your face). No I have never made, attempted to make or come close to making 20,000 recipes. That’s insane, 20,000 recipes! I know it, I read it, I just wrote it, it’s in black and white, and yet, the next pretty cover that catches my eye, I just may flirt with it but that’s where it begins and ends. No first date, no innocent glass of wine to peruse with. Well maybe a cup of mocha-java-yahoo with lots of whipped cream in the coffee shop just to sit with the book for a bit…
My list of personal favorite cookbooks, entertaining books and beverage books run the gamut for a host of reasons. My all time favorite and personal best is The Junior League of Boca Raton’s Savor the Moment, Entertaining without Reservations. Being a member of the Junior League of Boca Raton I worked on the committee that published this James Beard Award winning book; it’s still so personal to this day after all these years later. I was a recipe developer, test cook, recipe sampler, photo design layout person, set-up/clean-up person but then again so were the 200 other extraordinary women who volunteered their time and expertise to what has become a legacy in Boca Raton as a magnificent work of art and brilliance. I sound jaded and biased, a little, but the truth is every recipe was tested 3-5 times and the photo shoots agonized over for hours. Labor of love? Yes. A collectible book everyone should have? Yes, because it is a great entertaining book.
The Williams-Sonoma books, any and all. They are professionally tried, tested and true. You cannot go wrong with any of their books and they have pictures for every recipe!
Just starting out? Betty Crocker. She’s the one. Begin with Betty. The book is still the best introduction on basic and instructional culinary knowledge. Betty’s got so many versions but whatever the latest is that’s the one to give as a bridal shower gift, engagement gift or new apartment gift.
The Coastal Living Cookbook. For two reasons one because I am published in this book! And two if you’re a seafood aficionado, live, work or play near the coast then you will appreciate this book and all it has to offer. The recipes are tested and true, the photos make you want to buy a home on the water and entertain and cook for everyone you know. It’s a lifestyle, feel good type of book making you wish summer was a year-round season.
At Home with Carolyne Roehm. Just get this book for the pictures, you will learn so much about entertaining, setting tables, flower arranging and decorating just by looking.
Effortless Elegance with Colin Cowie. Exacting, Enchanting, Effortless. The recipes are delightful and delicious. The party tips and strategies, invaluable. My book is worn, tabbed, highlighted and used over and over again.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Gorgeous pictures with each recipe. Recipes are doable no matter your level of expertise or lack thereof. The recipes are timeless and delicious over and over appealing to myriad of food lovers and critics alike.
The Silver Palate Cookbook. The one and only exception to my rule of cookbooks must have photos or I kick you to the curb! This is gourmet. This is WOW! This is edgy. This is the most dynamic recipe book you will ever lay your hands on. Now with that said, this book is not for the faint of heart whimsical cook or spice lacking pantry. Pretty much you need to know your way around the kitchen, culinary terms and procedures if not, think going from the 1st grade to 9th and skipping everything in between, you won’t know what hit you. If you’re ready, the 25th Anniversary edition is on store shelves now.
101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks. Unless you have what rivals the W Hotel bar in your home you will need some outlet of escape to serve cocktails to your guests and this book has got it all; sweet, sour, fruity, minty, creamy, you get the point, now get the book.
Wine Wise. Brilliant, witty and comprehensive. Want to know more about wine? This is the book that will take you on travels to countries and trails of vineyards that you couldn’t even imagine existed.
That’s 10 listed books. Didn’t I say I had 200? I hate math, it’s so in your face.