5 Cookbooks You Should Own

June 20, 2012 5:30 PM EDT | By Staff Writer
Ye Olde Cookbook
Collectors and cooks alike should look out for these five cookbooks. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

It's summertime, and that means that tag sales are as full of old cookbooks as they'll ever be. We'll show you the five that you should be looking out for.

1. Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Matthew Ruscigno

I'm an Isa Moskowitz apologist. She talks a big talk, but very often her recipes don't walk the walk and fall flat on their faces. There are exceptions here and there, but in spite of the hype, her cookbooks are largely inconsistent save for the two featured here.

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This one is the very best: it comes loaded with incredibly flavorful, guilt-free spins that'll appease even the most carnivorous of eaters. Add to the fact that it's all as flavorful as it is healthy, and you have a cookbook that's worth owning. Ignore her preachiness, if you can, and try anything here. It's all that good, and that healthy.

Mad props to her for the most ingenious fat-trimming technique I've seen in years: a faux-guacamole that replaces half of the avocado you'd typically use with healthy, hip edamame.

2. Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar

by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Vegan cookies are maybe the only baked good that really hold up to their egg-filled, dairy-filled brothers. My favorite store-bought cookie, the Oreo, just happens to contain no animal bi-products, not even milk. But then you get dunking, and the rest is history.

These cookies run the gamut from vegan spins on your old favorites to newer, bolder options. The best: The Red Wine Cookie with Black Sesame. I have no words for how awesome this cookie is, except for, well: awesome.

3. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

by Mark Bittman

Bittman's a chef I really get behind. His column in the New York Times popularized minimalist cooking: the belief that the freshest ingredients prepared as simply as possible yields a better meal than fancy flourishes of too many parts.

His followup to his first book, How to Cook Everything, sees him taking time out of his omnivorous schedule to show his readers how to do veggies right. It's something most people don't know how to do, and as such, delicious greens get relegated to the sidelines when they should be stars. Buy this book and never let them stay anywhere but front-and-center ever again.

Oh, also: kale. He has the very last word on kale.

4. Fish & Shellfish

by James Peterson

This is one cookbook that, from cover design, feels indispensable. That's because it is. For the home-cook that should be eating more fruit-of-the-sea (cc: everyone ever), this is the book for you. You'll learn how to look your fishmonger in the eye, and how to cook fish any which way you could ever imagine.

5. Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

by Michael Ruhlman

I say with no uncertainty that if you ever need to buy a cookbook, this is the one. Michael Ruhlman has provided the home cook with a game-changing tome, one that frees him or her from the shackle of the recipe. He breaks cooking down to its barest forms: ratios of ingredients, then tells you how to alter the ratios to achieve desired effects. It's a cookbook without any recipes; more importantly, it teaches you how to write your own.

These five books combined will provide you with everything you need to know about Eurocentric cooking. Go forth and conquer, my young Jean-Jacques.


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