Wednesday, May 25, 2005

First of My Favorite Cookbooks

I own a lot of cookbooks (146 to be exact) and I love them for different reasons. Some are written by my favourite cooking stars, like The Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten, Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pepin and Bonnie Stern. Other books focus on specific topics like BBQ, Healthy Eating, Indian and Vegetarian. Still others describe different cultures or geographic locales and others simply tell a story. All of them have great recipes and most of them have wonderful pictures.

Here’s a start to my annotated cookbook inventory.

I own every Donna Hay cookbook and most of her magazines. They are all amazing. Just last week I bought her latest The Instant Cook. Like all of her earlier ones, this one is beautiful to look at. Almost every page has incredible photographs of simple and delicious meals. Every recipe is a winner. This isn’t just a book of great recipes, it makes a marvellous coffee table book for any foodie.

Ina Garten’s books and tv show make me feel like family. The Barefoot Contessa Family Styleis my favourite, I also have The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I’ve tried almost every recipe in the family style cookbook and the blueberry coffeecake muffins and linguine with shrimp scampi are at the top of the list of my family’s favourites.

Bonnie Stern has a cooking school in Toronto and is an author and TV celebrity as well. I have three of her books Simply HeartSmart Cooking Heartsmart Cooking for Family and Friends and Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking. It’s a toss up between Essentials and Heartsmart for family and friends as to which I like better. Her cilantro-roasted sea bass is making my mouth water as I write this (heartsmart for family). Pecan-crusted tilapia with lemon butter and the double potato gratin (essentials) are outstanding dishes.

Jacques Pepin is a legend and one of my really treasured cookbooks is Jacques Pepin's TableIt’s filled with great recipes and tips to go along with them. The photographs are not as great as those of the three ladies above, but the recipes are fabulous. My favourite (how many times in this post do you think I’ll say “favourite”?) is the potato spinach galette.

Last, but not least for today, is Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I love the recipes in this book. In fact, I’ve bought copies for each of my daughters and some of their friends. Although there are no photos in the book (I love to see pictures and find them more inspiring than the words alone), this is one book I use frequently – sometimes as a starting off point and other times doing exactly as written. I love the couscous and vegetable salad with orange and garlic. Usually I add cooked chicken or shrimp, but it’s great just as it is.

For those of you who were counting, I used “favourite” 6 times!!!

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