Best Cookbooks for Home Cooking

Recently, Epicurious published their list of the 100 best home cooks of all time. Now the editors have derived a list of cookbooks recommended for the new collector pulled from that list with The Food Lab being given the coveted position of number one. 

In July, I complied a list of books that I recommended to elevate your cooking game based on my thoughts and those of other cookbook lovers with The Food Lab being a top contender and probably my number one pick as well. 

If I am being honest, I disagree with many of their selections - especially for a new cook wanting to build a repertoire of go-to guides. While I have some of the books that have made this list, I wouldn't recommend them to a novice cook or someone who wants to actually utilize the books they acquire. I know many cookbook collectors love The Joy of Cooking and Betty Crocker books but I've never used either and recently just donated my copy of Joy of Cooking which I was holding onto merely for sentimental reasons.

I whole-heartedly agree with suggestions such as The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Small Victories, Dinner Changing the Game and My Kitchen Year for someone wanting to build their library for home cooking - while I understand they are building their recommendations from their greatest cooks list, many aren't logical to me. Certain titles on their list focus on international cuisines and some home cooks aren't ready for diving into unchartered waters, other titles focus on food writing which I feel most dedicated cooks would only enjoy and while I would surely recommend the classics on this list (Julia Child, Marcella Hazan and Paula Wolfert) down the road in a culinary adventure, I wouldn't go right out and buy for a newbie.

In my opinion, The Food Lab, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and Taste & Technique help explain the core basics in an exciting and modern way and other books such as Food52 Genius Recipes, Food52 A New Way to Dinner and any of Diana Henry's titles are my go to for adding some oomph to my dinner rotation.  

What cookbook would you recommend as the best for home cooking? 


Why you should be using fish sauce in more foods

 guacamole If you have a bottle of fish sauce in your refrigerator, you probably purchased it to make a Thai dish, but you don't use it much - if at all - outside of that cuisine. Kay Plunkett-Hogge thinks that's a shame. She believes that the funky sauce and its close relatives can add a unique punch to savory recipes of all types

Plunkett-Hogge explains that many different cultures developed some type of fish sauce - it can be traced to Pliny the Elder and ancient China - but it disappeared from Western culture after the fall of the Roman Empire. That was not the case in Southeast Asia, however, where fish sauce and variants are integral to the cuisine. 

Chefs have been slowly incorporating fish sauce into foods other than Thai cuisine. Plunkett-Hogge uses it in shepherd's pie, Naomi Duguid adds it to guacamole, and Antonio Carluccio puts it in several pasta dishes. Why are these and other chefs singing the praises of fish sauce?  Because it provides "a hit of salty, funky, umami deliciousness that can transform a dish in ways matched by no other condiment," says Plunkett Hogge. 

If you have a bottle of fish sauce that doesn't see much use, here are a few recipes from the EYB Library that can get you started:

Guacamole with fish sauce from Cooking Light Magazine by Naomi Duiguid (pictured above)
Artichokes with walnut-fish-sauce purée from Lucky Peach Magazine by David Chang
Roasted sweet potatoes with yogurt and sesame seeds from The New York Times Cooking by Tamar Adler
Brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette  from Delicious Magazine (Aus)
Fish-sauce-and-black-pepper chicken wings from EAT at the New York Times by Mark Bittman
Roast chicken and three-rice salad from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

More female chefs mean a change in kitchen culture

 Pink chefs coat

Twenty years ago, it was rare to find a restaurant kitchen helmed by a female chef. Pioneers like Judy Rodgers and Alice Waters paved the way for change, and in recent years the number of female-run kitchens has increased dramatically, up by more than 50 percent in the last ten years. Tamar Adler (writing for Vogue) takes a look at this phenomenon in an article explaining this change and how it has affected restaurant culture

Anthony Bourdain chronicled, in entertaining fashion, the norm of kitchens past: bawdy, testosterone-fueled, even abusive. Most women-led kitchens are different. The atmosphere is calmer and more considerate. Says Suzanne Cupps of the restaurant Unititled at the Whitney Museum in New York City, "I'm not going to get what I want by screaming."

Adler visited several women-led restaurants and has quotes from many female chefs. Until I saw the names all in one place, I hadn't thought about how many of the nation's top restaurants are being helmed by women. Their stories echo several themes - wanting to teach instead of berate, consciously choosing to avoid the high pressure and drama of the kitchens where most began their careers - all while being dedicated to the mission of creating top quality dining experiences. 

Ripples of this atypical ethos are spreading. Chef Ari Taymor recently published an essay  about the value of community, repudiating anger and violence in the kitchen and  Sean Brock went public with his problems with alcohol and rage. Brock quit drinking and now meditates; he says he is bringing a new attitude into the kitchen as well as his personal life. 

Whether these changes will continue to permeate the restaurant community remains to be seen. While women have made inroads, most kitchens are still run by male chefs, although that may be changing too: for the first time, over half of last year's enrollees at the Culinary Institute of America were female. 

Photo modified from a Pinterest photo posted by

In Search of Israeli Cuisine

In Search of Israeli Cuisine
is a film that highlights the dynamic food scene in Israel. The film's chef/guide is Michael Solomonov, a James Beard Award winning chef and co-owner of acclaimed Zahav in Philadelphia. He is also the author of the cookbook Zahav (one of my most treasured books). The chef was born in Israel and has lived and traveled there frequently. This documentary follows Michael into hot restaurants and home kitchens, wineries and cheese makers, he eats street food and visits markets. All over the country, he discusses traditions, ingredients, the origins, and the future of Israeli Cuisine.

There are four screenings of this film scheduled for the New York area this month and screenings will continue. Check the film's page for more information or to request a screening in your area. I have reached out to the filmmakers asking if a DVD or PPV option will be available and will provide you with that information when I have a response.

I will be updating the calendar this weekend with tour dates for Solomonov who will be promoting his upcoming book Federal Donuts in September. 

Photo courtesy of Florentine Films.

Friday Flashback - Pok Pok

Any lover of Thai food more than likely has Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand on their bookshelf. Even those who don't own the book, have heard of Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings or as I call them one of the best wings in the world.

Andy Ricker, James Beard Best Chef of the Northwest 2011, is the chef and owner of Pok Pok which opened in Portland in 2005. Since the flagship location, Ricker has spread the his style of Thai cuisine across the country with nine other bars and restaurants. Andy, please come to Denver .....(now the Dave Loggins' song in my head).

Ricker is an expert in northern Thai cuisine having honed his knowledge spending several months every year - for years - studing the food and culture in Thailand. Pok Pok, the cookbook written by Ricker and J. J. Goode, is one of those titles that I always know exactly where it is. I have made the famous wings, the Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork, the Spicy, Sweet, Tart Noodles with Pork, Peanuts, and Herbs and a few others - all of them killer good - and now I want to make those dishes again.

The Fall is bringing so many incredible titles including Ricker's second book Pok Pok Drinking Food of Thailand also written along with Goode. This new title brings the same level of authority as the first book, with a more laid-back approach reflecting the spirit of his Whiskey Soda Lounge location. Accessible and detailed recipes like lao saparot (pineapple-infused "whiskey"), kai thawt (Thai-style fried chicken), and thua thawt samun phrai (fried peanuts with kaffir lime, garlic, and chiles) are examples of what we will find in this title.

Ricker's recipes never disappoint and I can tell you right now - I'm ready for October! 

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

Did you know adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to build your personal recipe collection?  You can do this even if you have a free membership! 

Try it out now and see how easy it is. Browse the recipes below, choose one that appeals, click on the link, and add it to your Bookshelf. (Make sure that you are signed in first.)

All the recipes we feature in these weekly round-ups have online links so you can add any of them to your Bookshelf.

Happy cooking and baking everyone!


Member Photo of the Week:

Roasted Root Vegetable and Wheat Berry Salad from David Lebovitz's indexed blog

Photo submitted by eliza. Have you uploaded any of your own photos yet? Learn more!



From magazines:

7 zucchini recipes by Domenica Marchetti from the  August issue of indexed  Better Homes & Gardens Magazine



From UK books:

5 recipes from Spanish Made Simple: Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day by Omar Allibhoy (Now available in the US)

Enter the Spanish Made Simple GIVEAWAY! (US only)


From US books:

18 recipes from  Everyday Seafood: From the Simplest Fish to a Seafood Feast, 100 Recipes for Home Cooking by Nathan Outlaw (First published in the UK with a different cover)

Enter the Everyday Seafood GIVEAWAY! (US only)

7 recipes from Red, White, and 'Que: Farm-Fresh Foods for the American Grill by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig

Enter the Red, White, and 'Que GIVEAWAY! (US only)


9 recipes from No-Bake Desserts: 103 Easy Recipes for No-Bake Cookies, Bars, and Treats by Addie Gundry

Enter the No-Bake Desserts GIVEAWAY! (US only)

Jamie Oliver gets back to basics

 Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver's career has been going strong for nearly 20 years. Beginning Monday, August 21, he is adding to his lengthy credentials by returning to the small screen with a new program called 'Jamie's Quick and Easy Food'. The chef recently spoke with Food & Wine to discuss why he chose to get back to basics in his new program

The premise of the show is to create mouth-watering dishes using only five ingredients and taking only 30 minutes to prepare. "It's taken 20 years to make this show," Jamie says. "It just struck me that having a large amount of ingredients is an incredible barrier to people either cooking, or not. I wanted to get as many people as possible to just have a go!"

In addition to talking about the show, Jamie talks about his school lunch initiatives, how his career has changed since he burst onto the scene in 1999 with The Naked Chef, and more. We learn that while the chef likes to get his kids to help in the kitchen, only one of his five children (six-year-old Buddy) has expressed an interest in being a chef like his dad. We may be watching a second generation of Chef Oliver in a few years. 

Neighborhood - Hetty McKinnon - Review, Recipe and Giveaway

Neighborhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes from Home and Abroad by Hetty McKinnon is a must-have collection of show-stopping yet simple vegetable-packed global recipes, delivered against a backdrop of charming stories of food, family, and friendship. Based on the beauty of this book, I had to track down her first title, Community (both are keepers).

Hetty's salads can turn the strictest carnivore's head with recipes like Warm Goat's Cheese Croutons with Roasted Beets, Figs, and Apple-Mustard Dressing (which we are sharing today); Shredded Collard Greens, Baked Sweet Potato, and Pinto Beans with Paprika-Buttermilk Dressing; and Eggplant with Haloumi, Beet Tzatziki, and Yogurt Flatbreads. The Thai Carrot and Peanut Salad was out of this world delicious and her Spicy Peanut Sauce will be my go to from now on.

Hetty started making salads out of her Sydney home on Arthur Street in 2011. Soon she was pedaling her salads around her neighborhood calling her project Arthur Street Kitchen. She states that the "phenomena of sharing salads soon went national, with the release of my first cookbook Community, which told my story of sharing salads in Sydney and featured sixty of my hearty, plant-based salad recipes." Hetty and her family now live in Brooklyn where she continues to make salads. She has an event scheduled in New York on the 20th.

Special thanks to Roost Books and salad maker extraordinaire, Hetty, for sharing the following recipe with our members today. Please be sure to see our giveaway below.

Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

A trip to Paris invariably means high salade au chèvre chaud consumption, which is fine by me! In a city where vegetarian food can still be hard to come by, this hot goat's cheese salad has saved me too many times to recall. This is such a beautifully simple salad with the most harmonious flavors. My version includes roasted beets, figs, and a divine apple-mustard dressing. Use whatever salad leaves you have on hand for this.


  • 6 small beets (about 1¾ lb; 800 g), peeled and cut into small wedges
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ lb (150 g) baguette, sliced into 1 in (2 cm) thick rounds
  • 7 oz (200 g) goat's cheese log, rind on
  • 5 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary leaves
  • 3 cups watercress
  • 3 cups mache (lamb's lettuce)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 4 figs, each cut into 8 segments
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and crushed
  • Sea salt and black pepper


  • 3 tablespoons apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper


Mache (lamb's lettuce): baby spinach leaves

Watercress: baby arugula leaves

Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).

Spread the beets on a large baking tray, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast for 30-35 minutes until tender.

Preheat the grill to high. Place the baguette slices on a baking tray, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and place under the hot grill for 2 minutes, or until golden. Remove the croutons from the grill.

Slice the goat's cheese into as many rounds as you have croutons. Place a slice of cheese on the un-grilled side of each crouton and top with a few thyme and rosemary leaves. Return to the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the goat's cheese is soft and golden.

To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the salad leaves together with the chives. To serve, arrange the beet slices and figs on top of the leaves, drizzle over the apple-mustard dressing and season with salt and pepper. Top with the goat's cheese croutons and the walnuts.


Roost Books, the publisher, is offering five copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and Canada. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you like to try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on September 19th, 2017.

From Neighborhood by Hetty McKinnon © 2016 by Hetty McKinnon. Photography © 2016 by Luisa Brimble. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

Sweet by Ottolenghi

The UK release date of Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh is less than a month away! It feels like we have been waiting forever, right?

As the publisher did with Nopi's release, if you preorder Sweet from any online retailer in the UK  you will receive a digital access code with the book. This will enable you to review the recipes and content digitally once the book is published.

If you wish to pre-order, using our BUY BOOK option and choosing Amazon UK or Book Depository UK, will provide EYB with a small affiliate fee which assists in our indexing efforts. For those fans who would like a signed copy, you can order one through the Ottolenghi store.

Fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings - including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom - to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream are the foundation for this title. The recipes range from simple mini-cakes and cookies that parents can make with their children to fancy layer cakes and roulades that will inspire the most accomplished of bakers.

Sweet includes over 110 innovative recipes, from Blackberry and Star Anise Friands, Tahini and Halva Brownies, Persian Love Cakes, Middle Eastern Millionaire's Shortbread, and Saffron, Orange and Honey Madeleines to Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut and Rosewater and Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs.

Any book by Ottolenghi is highly anticipated in the culinary world, but this title has everyone buzzing including those who profess to be non-dessert lovers!

September 7th, we're ready!

Is it time to bring back the bread machine?

 bread machine bread

The Instant Pot may be today's "must-have" small appliance, but 20 years ago that title belonged to the bread machine. In the early 1990s, they consumed copious amounts of precious counter space, providing users a "set and forget" tool for fresh bread. After the turn of the century, their popularity waned and most were relegated to the trash bin or thrift store. Now it seems that bread machines are poised for a comeback.

Blame for the decline in the appliance's popularity can be assigned to multiple events. First, the gluten-free craze drove down interest in carbs. Second, the lackluster performance of many models left bread lovers disappointed. Uneven baking, compromised rise, and other flaws prompted baking purists to disparage the machines. Additionally, the ascendance of the 'hands-off' artisan bread technique meant that the time saved by using a bread machines was not as profound. 

A new generation of machines (not to mention a new generation of cooks!), combined with a growing interest in making specialty breads at home, may signal a comeback for the lowly bread machine. Manufacturers are adding more options, making the appliance less of a one-trick pony. Modern machines can make pasta and pizza dough, beignets, cakes, bagels, and more. Prices have dropped, too, making it more tempting to try one on for size. Have you considered adding a bread machine to your kitchen appliance collection?

Photo of Buttery bread machine loaf from indexed website Serious Eats, recipe and photo by Donna Currie, Cookistry for Serious Eats. 

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