Cookbook recommendations to reawaken a cook’s inspiration

I have a friend who is a great cook, and is going through a rough time. I would like to send her a cookbook that could be a salve for her soul. She loved Anthony Bourdain, and cooks everything. I’m thinking maybe an Ottolenghi. I’ve explored Food52’s lists, but would love some recommendations. Thank you!

  • Posted by: Jamie
  • August 3, 2020


drbabs July 20, 2021
I don’t know your friend, but I know that when I’m going through a rough time, I use cooking and cookbooks to soothe rather than challenge me. I would give her one (or both) of Laurie Colwin's books Home Cooking or More Home Cooking. Her writing is homey and friendly. It’s like reading a cookbook by your best friend who’s a really good cook. I feel the same way about (Food52 co-founder) Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte. Great story, wonderful recipes, she seems like your new best friend. For literal soulful cooking, I would turn to Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin. The writing and stories are great, and every recipe is delicious. I hope your friend is ok.
SillyBee August 6, 2020
The Boba Book by Andrew Chau & Bin Chen: From the founders of The Boba Guys store, one of the most generous cookbooks I've ever read. Love boba and are tired of tea recipes that don't quite taste like from a real store? This book gives you the authentic recipes from their famous store and you can skip the crazy 20 min long line to boot
Ready for Dessert by David Lebowitz: Former pastry chef from Alice Water's Chez Panisse. He moved to Paris and has several other wonderful books that tell of his crazy, French, cooking adventures
Art of Escapism Cooking by Mandy Lee: I have to give another vote for this self trained cook. Her writing is unlike any other I've ever read. Frank, honest and often refreshingly ascerbic. And her flavor combos are incredibly original and super rich. I just want to eat her pics
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat: Yes again and everyone has it too. Gives a great understanding of why good food tastes good...also another former Chez Panisse chef
Pok Pok by Andy Ricker: Yes he's caucasian but his Thai food tastes straight from a Bangkok roadside hawker. Studied Thai cooking in Thailand for 20 years.
Any America's Test Kitchen Cookbook particularly their anthologies. I love learning why a recipe works and why another alteration of it doesn't. This satisfies my kitchen science itch and saves me from making a recipe 20 different different ways to find the one that tastes the best.
gandalf August 4, 2020
Deep Run Roots, by Vivian Howard.
Nancy August 3, 2020
And some from me (towards basics, to reignite interest):
Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
Any good bread cookbook (Bernard Clayton, James Beard, Jim Lahey etc)
Any good book on grilling or cooking over open fire
Samin Nosrat, Salt Acid etc
Any of M. F. K. Fisher earlier books, like Alphabet for Gourmets, How to Cook a Wolf, her classic translation of Brillat Savarin. The later auto-biographical books are also very fine, but the earlier ones have more humor, and great insight on food and hunger.
HalfPint August 3, 2020
Here are some suggestions:

- The Art of Escapism Cooking, by Mandy Lee.
- All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 regions of China, by Carolyn Phillips.
- Smoke & Pickles, by Edward Lee
- BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, by Stella Parks.

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