Your Recipes, Upgraded
With the internet providing an endless supply of recipes available right at your fingertips, it hardly seems necessary to invest in print cookbooks anymore. No matter how easy and efficient it is to check a blog for tips on preparing the perfect meal, there’s nothing like taking inspiration from a brand-new cookbook.
The art of cooking is all about learning – and, of course, practice. Cookbooks will guide you along the way as you improve your culinary skills, and give you the confidence to explore new types of cuisine. They’ll also help you create unique recipes of your own as you learn which ingredients work well together, and which ones you’d rather switch out for something else.
Invest some time and care into building and editing your cookbook collection and you can not only learn some new recipes and techniques, but you’ll also develop an interesting feature for your kitchen décor.
Choosing the Right Books
Like the books you display on your coffee table, the cookbooks you choose will say a lot about you. Curating this collection will obviously come down to personal preference, but there are some things you should consider before you start investing in new books.
While you can’t always judge a book by its cover, cookbooks are a bit of an exception to the rule. Generally, a cookbook by a well-known chef will include a photo of the author – but this can possibly indicate that the book is more about its famous writer than it is about food or recipes. Also, look for any awards or reviews to get an idea of how the book has been received. You can typically find these on the back cover.
Especially for books you plan to display in your home, it’s important that the style of the cookbook appeals to you – from the typography and the layout all the way down to the type of paper used. Not only does this make the book look nicer on the shelf, it also makes it easier for you to use. You’ll be a lot more likely to dive into your cookbook for culinary inspiration if you enjoy looking at it.
Obviously, the most important consideration when it comes to purchasing cookbooks is the quality of the recipes contained inside. Just because the chef who authored the book has 3 Michelin stars or is well-received doesn’t mean the recipes are appropriate for you.
Make sure the steps are clear and easy to understand, that they don’t require any equipment you don’t already have, and that they are compatible with your skill level. Take a look at the ingredients listed, too – you want recipes that call for ingredients that you can readily access in the area where you live.
Keep in mind that most recipes will allow you the freedom to make substitutions. Even if you’re allergic to shellfish, you could still benefit from a book of seafood recipes – just opt for a different protein. Recipes for baked goods are a bit more strict, but there’s always the opportunity to improvise and try something new.
Even if the recipes of a particular cookbook are too advanced, see if it might add something else to your collection. Some cookbooks will help you gain a better understanding of a specific type of cuisine, or provide insight into a particular chef’s distinctive point of view. Reading these books might not help you learn to prepare a new dish, but they will give you additional tools to develop your own technique.
Making the Most of Your Collection
The only problem with building a good cookbook collection is that it can sometimes be difficult to use. If you’re looking for a creative way to prepare a specific vegetable, it’s frustrating to dig through a stack of books to find the right recipe – but if you take the time to make some notes whenever you open each cookbook, you’ll be able to take advantage of the wisdom and inspiration found inside.
Whenever you find a recipe that intrigues you, put a color-coded sticky tab at the top of the page. That way, it will be easy to flip through specific chicken recipes when you’re looking for ideas.
Keep your pantry well-stocked. Look at some of the more common ingredients included in your favorite recipes, and replace these items as soon as you notice you’re running low. You’ll be more likely to cook at home If you already have everything you need.
Each month, challenge yourself with a list of a few new recipes to cook – be sure to include the cookbook and page number for future reference!
Inside the front cover of each book, keep a running list of the recipes within it. Include notes about which ones you’ve tried and liked, which ones you didn’t care for, or any substitutions you made to improve on the existing recipe.
It’s also a good idea to go through your collection on a regular basis to remind yourself of its contents. If there are books that only include handful of recipes that are valuable to you, consider taking photos of those pages and clearing out the book to make space for a different one.
When it comes to cookbooks, new doesn’t always mean better – but cycling through your books will keep your cooking fresh and inspired. If you are looking to add to your collection, allow us to make a few suggestions. Find our list of favorite cookbooks here!