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Favorite Cookbooks


I’ve decided to limit myself to 12 for this list.  Now that may be tough and I’ll probably swap books in and out as time goes by – for instance there are a couple books that never leave my kitchen during Holiday Baking but that I barely use the rest of the year.  So I wouldn’t call them favorites right now but come November they will be at the top of the list! 

So here are my 12 favorite at the present time.  They are listed in alphabetical order by title. 

Bread, Beth Hensperger:  This cookbook is full of great bread recipes of all types – yeast, quick, muffins & biscuits.  My favorite banana muffins of all time are from this book. 

Crepes: Sweet & Savory Recipes for the Home Cook, Lou Seibert Pappas:  I’ve always made crepes but last year I decided I wanted to really get into all the different ways to use them.  This book has really been educational and has enabled me to learn about several different types of flour and when you use them in what type of crepe.  It’s providing a delicious way for me to learn!

Culinaria Spain (Culinaria Series), Marion Trutter, Gunter Beer:  This is a recent purchase and so I have not actually cooked from it yet.  What I love about it though is that it’s a combination cookbook, geography and history book.  It covers Spain by region which is very interesting.  The photos are wonderful.  This is an inspiring book. 

Dishing with Kathy Casey: Food, Fun, and Cocktails from Seattle’s Culinary Diva, Kathy Casey, E. Jane Armstrong:  Kathy is a local chef extraordinaire.  At one point she was one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs and now she mostly consults for new restaurants.  I’ve taken several classes from her at her studio and not only do you learn a ton but the classes are really fun!  I think I use at least one of her recipes at every party I throw.  Many of the recipes in this book are familiar but have a creative twist to them. 

Entertaining, Martha Stewart:  I use many of my cookbooks by Martha Stewart on a regular basis so I’ve picked one to highlight but really this is a testimonial to them all.  Before I knew who Martha was I would try to entertain in the method that has become her trademark, although on a much smaller scale. :-)  After I "discovered" her (at a Junior League function in Bellevue in the early 80’s) she became an inspiration for new ideas and creative ways to display and serve beautiful food. 

Flavours, Donna Hay:  Yes, Flavours is spelled correctly.  Donna Hay is from Australia.  She is a prolific cookbook writer and even has a monthly magazine that is actually just a smaller version of her cookbooks.  The photos are beautiful and inspiring.  I love her books because they introduce me to new ingredients that are not common in the US.  I also have learned new names for fruits and vegetables that I thought I knew but that are called something different in other parts of the world.  I especially like this cookbook because it’s laid out in a very non-traditional method.  Each chapter is devoted to a flavor and the recipes reflect that flavor.  So, for instance, there is a chapter on lemon and lime where you will find everything from appetizers to desserts based on citrus. 

From Tapas to Meze: Small Plates from the Mediterranean, Joanne Weir:  Joanne is based in San Francisco and among her credits is a stint at Chez Panisse. I had the good fortune to take a Tapas class with her at Sur La Table a year or so ago.  After taking that class I had been waiting for the new release of this book.  It came out in late October and I just purchased it before Christmas so I haven’t had much time to actually work with it but I’ve reviewed it extensively.  I’m basically an appetizer person (I prefer lots of small bites to one big meal) so this book is right up my alley and will give me exposure to some new areas.  I’m thinking of having one of my Cooking Club themes be based on this book. :-)

Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts, Good Housekeeping, Mildred Ying:  I think I’ve had this book for a million years and made nearly as many recipes from it.  Everything always turns out beautifully and I love the big photos that accompany every recipe.  My favorite section of the book is the Cake and Torte section.  I’ve had much success and lots of compliments on the cakes I’ve baked from this book.

Italy (Culinaria), Claudia Piras, Eugenio Medagliani, Ruprecht Stempell, Guenter Beer:  Like the Culinary Spain book I mentioned above I’ve just purchased this book but love the way it covers Italy region by region. 

Pure Chocolate, Fran Bigelow, Helene Siegel:  Fran Bigelow is often considered the premier chocolatier in the US and luckily for me, she is based here in Seattle and has two beautiful chocolate shops here.  This book is really educational.  The first chapters are meant to inform and educate you in all things chocolate, which they do.  Then, Fran shares recipes from both her current stores and a pastry shop that she used to own.  Even if you don’t like chocolate all that much you’ll find this book to be interesting, educational and inspiring.

Ray’s Boathouse, Ken Gouldthorpe, Angie Norwood Browne, Charles Ramseyer, Ray’s Boathouse:  Ray’s is a Seattle institution.  Since I’ve lived in Seattle it’s experienced two fires – one required a complete rebuild of the restaurant – but has always come back stronger and better than before.  The recipes in this book are all about seafood, something we in the Northwest are bountifully blest with.  Many (maybe all) of the recipes in the book are from the restaurant and will having you eating fish like crazy. 

Tom’s Big Dinners : Big-Time Home Cooking for Family and Friends, Tom Douglas:  I also have Tom’s other cookbook and love it, too but decided I would just include one of them on my list.  Tom is also a local chef and now has four restaurants, as well as, a line of rubs and marinades.  What I especially like about this book is that it’s all about celebrations and the recipes are written so that they are easy to double or triple for a larger group.  Tom also offers lots of make ahead tips to help make your entertaining easier. 


  1. Donna permalink
    13-Nov-2007 4:20 am

    Wow, what a great site! I love cooking too, but you must have a REAL talent for it!  These pictures are fantastic too; looks like you can eat right off your pages! Will you please mark me down as friend?  I\’d like to check back here often!

  2. Culinary permalink
    14-Nov-2007 7:45 am

    Glad you are enjoying the space, Donna! 

  3. 兔牙 permalink
    10-May-2008 4:18 am

    Donna Hay i ofter borrow them from library :)

  4. Culinary permalink
    10-May-2008 9:06 pm

    兔牙:  I love Donna Hay – all of her books are really great.  Good idea about the library!  ;-)
    ~ B

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