Here’s the part of The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks where you get to call the shots, the "viewer's choice" section of the tournament, if you will. We selected 16 of the best cookbooks from 2017 for our Piglet bracket, but we don't want other good cookbooks left behind. So recently, you all nominated a wide range of cookbooks to be considered one of this year's Piglet Community Picks, and today we're sharing the results. Read on for the five winners, and—in our community’s words!—why they’re the cream of the cookbook crop. (Note that any book in the main tournament can’t also be considered a Community Pick. To read up on the main tournament’s judgments, head here.)
Food52’s creative director Kristen called the Winter Slaw with Farro from this book genius (read all about it here), and it’s a great example that the books’ “recipes are so accessible but also feel special.” As another community member put it: “These recipes are unfussy and are meant to bring the joy back into cooking for busy families. But make no mistake...unfussy does not mean dumbed down.” Other recipes that have been standouts to community members include: Pizza Beans, which go very well with Deb's Go To Garlic Bread; Baked Oatmeal with Caramelized Pears and Vanilla Cream (the pears alone are amazing and worth the price of admission); Crispy Tofu and Broccoli with Sesame and Peanut Pesto; Spring Fried Barley with a Sesame Sizzled Egg; and Herb and Garlic Baked Camembert.
Community members gravitated to this book because of its “approachable yet exciting” and “accessible yet interesting” quality, not to mention “it’s an absolutely beautiful book” with “a pleasing yet functional layout.” Author “Alison Roman puts together recipes I wouldn’t normally make because some are out my comfort zone, but it all looks too great not to make.”
To boot, the recipes work: One community member wrote that “every recipe I've made has been outstanding,” while another likes that “Alison takes the time to give us a peek inside her pantry, and provides recipes for condiments, spice mixes, and other dressings, sauces, and brines she uses in her cooking.” What’s more, “Alison is legitimately a hilarious and captivating writer!”
If you love dumplings, this seems like the book for you. More than one community member said the dumpling section of the book is particularly enjoyable—“I especially love making the braised short rib dumplings and freezing them for a rainy day.” Other members lauded that the recipes really work: “Joanne Chang is the queen of cookbooks—I loved her Flour Bakery cookbooks for their universally appealing, clearly explained recipes and feel the same way about her Myers+Chang cookbook.” Another agreed: “It seems well tested because the recipes actually work—not something that can be said about a lot of restaurant cookbooks.”
One fan put it very succinctly: “I love baking and this has knocked all my previous baking favorites off the shelf. It’s beautifully presented, with Ottolenghi’s characteristic style, and I would cook each recipe I’ve tried again.”
Another fan didn’t sugar-coat it either: “Best tasting desserts I’ve had in years.” Food52’s Baking Club enjoyed baking through the book a few months ago, and the office loved this lemon and poppy seed cake, which is probably the simplest recipe in the book (and thus a great place to start if you haven’t baked from the book yet).
The Food52 community already adores Cherry Bombe, the magazine; one community member who nominated the book has collected all the issues. So they were pleased to find that the cookbook is full of “unique and accessible recipes” that are not only “well-written, but represent so many voices in the food industry, all of them women.”
And my favorite anecdote, in the spirit of The Piglet and cookbooks bringing people together to learn new, cool stuff: “This is also the first cookbook I felt compelled to attend a local launch party for here in Baltimore, and it was great because I was able to connect with a bunch of wonderful local women who are doing some really cool food projects in our city!”