Val’s Got a Crush: New Cookbooks



My cookbook collection continues to grow, faster than I can keep up with it. There are books stacked on my desk, splayed out on the sofa, piled up on my nightstand and tucked in every corner of the kitchen. One of the most often asked questions when I’m out and about is, “What’s your favorite cookbook right now?”

Those close to me know that good cookbooks are a subject I’m passionate about (and that I don’t parse words about the bad ones). After all, my dream is to have my own cookbook one day—maybe I can get on that once I clear off this desk. Until then, I’ve put together a quick list of my current favorites.

stack of cookbooks

Cookbooks are a deeply personal item, selecting the right fit is about choosing the style of food that best resonates with how you like to cook. For me, it’s always starts with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

It was unintentional, but not surprising when I realized that these books are all from California based authors/chefs. Ah California, fresh food, seasonal ingredients, acres of specialty orchards and all that sunshine — we’ve got get something out of our crazy tax rates, right?

Here are four newer cookbooks that will gain a permanent spot on my shelves (okay, my desk, nightstand and in between the sofa cushions). Any or all of these would make for a great gift for your favorite home cook this holiday season. It’s just a matter of time before the pristine pages are transformed into food and wine stained testaments of love.

art of simple food 2

Alice Waters: The Art of Simple Food II, Recipes Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden

The first in the series, Art of Simple Food, was organized by cooking technique—such as slow cooking, simmering, sauces and more. This second book of the collection is inspired by the kitchen garden.  All those things you grow and what to do with it all.  On the blog, I’m always out to help people use what they have in tasty ways and Alice Waters is the undisputed queen of this movement. To help you get started there’s an entire section on gardening – planting, planning and composting to name a few.

the heart of the plate

Mollie Katzen: The Heart of the Plate, Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation

Mollie Katzen is a pioneer in vegetarianism and this book brings a fresh, updated feel to her cooking philosophy and style. It provides menus for vegetarian and vegan cuisine and the pages are packed with lovely illustrations. At first thumb-through the mash section really caught my eye and I’m already planning on trying out her cumin-scented black bean burgers next week for family dinner.

one good dish

 David Tanis: One Good Dish, The Pleasures of a Simple Meal

If you buy just one of these cookbooks shown here, this would be the one. David Tanis, a descendent of the Chez Panisse tribe, is a genius with lovely, approachable, and tasty food. He takes a minimalist approach and makes the food shine. All the photography is beautiful and inspiring with recipes that are both delectable and easy. What’s not to like?

AOC cookbook

Suzanne Goin: The A.O.C. Cookbook

Suzanne is a joy; smart, generous, beautiful and talented, all of those traits shine through in her new cookbook. I’m fortunate enough to call Suzanne a friend and completely honored that she of all people, ties on one of my aprons every now and then. Long ago I cooked my way through her first cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques (and just continue to repeat my way through it). The pages are rippled with wine and food stains, tons of memories and I know this next book will be, too.  It’s a cook’s cookbook filled with layers of incredible flavors that will make you look like a genius. The layout is great because it allows you to mix and match your menu and features great seasonal fare.

valerie's cookbooks


Time to get cooking.