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OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Cookbooks to collect for your kitchen hoard

by Kelly Brant | October 13, 2021 at 1:56 a.m.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

In addition to hoarding canned goods (a relatively recent development), I am a long established cookbook hoarder.

I've written many times before about the stacks upon stacks upon stacks of cookbooks that fill my workspace in the newsroom, my dining table at home and now, in these days of working from home, my writing room. That's not to mention the cookbooks that have earned permanent homes on the shelves in my dining room, the test kitchen and guest bedroom.

Here's a selection of what I've been reading and cooking from lately:

◼️ "The Essential Cookie Companion, Revised and Updated" from King Arthur Baking Co. (Countryman Press, $35). This tome, released last week from King Arthur Baking Co. (formerly King Arthur Flour Co.), features nearly 300 recipes for not only the usual cookies — chocolate chip, oatmeal and sugar as well as cookie bars — but also no-bake cookies, biscotti, brownies and shaped cookies like springerle, animal crackers and elephant ears. There are detailed illustrations for certain techniques as well as a handful of color photos. For a sample recipe see Harvest Moons, also in this section.

◼️ "Middle Eastern Sweets" by Salma Hage opened a whole new (old) world of desserts to me with its irresistible blend of color photographs and approachable recipes tied together with Hage's easy writing style, which is informative without being textbookish. It has all your favorite Middle Eastern desserts — baklava, halva, ma'moul — but adds recipes with definite western influences like tahini and chocolate chip cookies, along with banana cake. There's also a whole chapter of beverages — traditional and not. Unfamiliar ingredients are easily understood with a quick peek at the book's glossary. (Phaidon, $35)

◼️ "Chicken Bible: Say Goodbye to Boring Chicken With 500 Recipes for Easy Dinners, Braises, Wings, Stir-Fries, and So Much More" from America's Test Kitchen has quickly become my go-to book when there's a package of chicken or ground turkey in the fridge with no real plan for how to use it. So far every recipe I've tried — Chicken Chili For Two (coming to these pages soon), Turkey Meatballs With Lemony Rice, Chicken Mole — has been excellent. (America's Test Kitchen, $40)

◼️ "The Latin American Cookbook" by Virgilio Martinez features recipes — lots and lots of recipes — from across southern North America, Central America and South America. The scope of this book is vast and although many of the recipes lack context, I recommend it to anyone interested in getting to know Latin American food beyond tacos, churrasco, tamales, posole and Brazilian cheese bread. For a sample recipe, see Garifuna Pumpkin Cake also in this section. (Phaidon, $49.45)

◼️ "Betty Crocker Best 100: Favorite Recipes From America's Most Trusted Cook." Betty turned 100 this year and published a book featuring 100 of her "best" recipes to celebrate. I like this book, not because the recipe are necessarily the "best," but because it includes mostly basics (with gluten-free variations) and doesn't hurt nearly as much as Joy of Cooking if you drop it on your foot. Like Betty, this book definitely skews sweet with 63 recipes for dessert or sweet breakfast dishes. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)

◼️ "A Chef's Book of Favorite Culinary Quotations," compiled by SG Seguret, would make a nice stocking stuffer. This small book is exactly what its title says — quotes about food and drink. (Hatherleigh Press, $12.50)

And these are next:

◼️ "The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook: 550+ Recipes for Warming Dinners, Holiday Roasts, Seasonal Desserts, Breads, Food Gifts and More" from America's Test Kitchen (America's Test Kitchen, $34.99)

◼️ "Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds and Legumes" by Abra Berens (Chronicle Books, $35) to be released Oct. 26

◼️ "Sheet Cake: Easy One-Pan Recipes for Every Day & Every Occasion" by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Clarkson Potter, $22.99)

◼️ "One-Hour Comfort: Quick, Cozy, Modern Dishes for All Your Cravings" from America's Test Kitchen (America's Test Kitchen, $29.99)

◼️ "Nadiya Bakes" by Nadiya Hussain (Clarkson Potter, $29.99)

◼️ "Maman: The Cookbook" by Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte with Lauren Salkeld (Clarkson Potter, $30)

◼️ "Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide" by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras (Workman, $40).

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