Bittman et al.

’Tis the season for cookbook releases, and they are many. I have a cookbook problem (similar to my overpriced-old-antiquey-wooden-box problem), so I have not yet let myself indulge in the purchase of any of these beauties. As I see it, cookbooks fall into two categories. Category A) pretty pictures and a cool layout detailing tons of recipes I’ll never actually make, and B) (the grossly smaller of the two) essential advice and how-tos for staple dishes and go-to crowd pleasers. Of all the cookbooks I own, I think only two fall into category B. This one and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

A guy I dated in San Francisco first turned me on to this cookbook. To make dinner, we would cram into the microscopic kitchen in his mother-in-law apartment that happened to be located right across the street from the school where we both worked. He was the art teacher, but an artist at heart; his bedroom doubled as a studio and paintings filled the walls, including an abstract one in the living room corner that always reminded me of a squid-filled lunch I had one summer in Sicily… We made ravioli from this thick, yellow tome with prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil topped in a butter sage sauce and toasted pine nuts. He was 9 years older and 4 inches shorter than me. And he was a great cook. 

I bought myself a copy of this long after our few months of dating fizzled out, and so began my love affair for Mark Bittman and his cookbooks.

If you're not a cook start here with the basics. If you're in a hurry, try out his newest book. There was a period where I followed his “vegan before six” diet somewhat religiously. If you're curious to learn more about the food system and healthy eating this was the book that made me a believer. Wherever you start, you can’t go wrong. Bittman knows best. 

There are a few other new-release cookbooks that are worth mentioning. Local chef Renee Erickson (owner of Boat Street Cafe, Whale Wins, and Walrus and the Carpenter) just released her first cookbook and memoir called A Boat, A Whale and A Walrus (wonder how she came up with the name?).

Ottolenghi put out a follow-up to Plenty (which falls somewhere in between categories A and B, only because his recipes usually require many, many ingredients that I would have to drive further than the corner store to purchase). This one is called… Plenty More. I have no doubt it's wonderful.

In the food-blogger-turned-cookbook-author world, Joy the Baker’s new book Homemade Decadence is out. If I didn’t have it out for cakes I might crack the cover. Easy Gourmet is packed with cleverly-titled i am a food blog’s recipes. And. AND. Local Seattle food blogger (and my friend) Molly of Dunk and Crumble is publishing her first cookbook in just a few weeks. Like I said, ’tis the season.