The Piglet

Meet Your Favorite Cookbooks of 2017

March 19, 2018

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.)

Smitten Kitchen Every Day

by Deb Perelman

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.

Dining In

by Alison Roman

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.”

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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!”

Myers+Chang At Home

by Joanne Chang with Karen Akunowicz

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.”

Sweet

by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

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 Cherry Bombe Cookbook

by Kerry Diamond & Claudia Wu

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!”

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6 Comments

ChefJune March 26, 2018
I completely missed the time period to submit a book for Community Picks, but I have to mention how disappointed not to see Michael Twitty's excellent "The Cooking Gene" included anywhere. Although is is way more than a cookbook, it contains enough recipes to be considered within the genre, and the breadth of the research that went into this book is awe inspiring.
 
Jesi N. March 27, 2018
If it's any consolation, The Cooking Gene is in contention to be included in a nonfiction event in May over at themorningnews.org. Fingers crossed it gets in!
 
GingerBear March 20, 2018
“Sweet” is being reprinted due to the large number of errors. <br />http://crownpublishing.com/SweetUpdate<br />Contact the publisher for a replacement. Until then, consult the errata published above so as to avoid disaster.
 
Sandy March 29, 2018
Thank you so much for this information. Food52, please publish this where everyone will see it. How about a little article for all readers!
 
Jesi N. March 20, 2018
Just speculating here, obviously, but I noticed that Kenzi Wilbur, who was Food52's managing editor and an editor of The Piglet, has moved on to a new job (though she came back as a guest judge and gave us a top-notch review!). My guess is that a lot of the changes and technical difficulties this year can be chalked up to the team working through the transition. I'm sure The Piglet requires a ton of behind-the-scenes work, and it's gotta be tricky to pull off a complex project when the staff is in flux. <br /><br />Long live The Piglet!
 
zooeybechamel March 19, 2018
I'm really disappointed with what you've done with the Community Picks this year. Not only you skipped the reviews but instead of 16 you're only presenting 5 books?! <br />The whole point of the Community Picks (I think) was to read reviews from people that actually cook a lot from the books and to be able to discover a whole bunch of new books. It seems a bit obvious to me that if you're only choosing the top 5, pretty much everyone will already know these books...<br />Can you explain the reasoning behind this? I don't see it. :(