Valarie and I love books, especially cookbooks. No matter where you sit in our house, a book is no more than an arm’s length away. Although we carry cookbooks around the house and read them regularly, most of our cookbooks are currently in our kitchen and adjacent living room. They have outgrown their space, so Valarie and I are in the middle of two book storage projects. We are currently having custom built bookcases built in our great room on both sides of the large two-story window. In our front room where the fireplace is located, there is a large open mini loft where we have built bookshelves. We are in the process of having a custom rolling ladder built and installed. We are working with the world-renowned Putnam ladder company located in Brooklyn, New York, who have been making custom rolling ladders since the early 1900’s.
Now back to cookbooks we love so dearly. We have multiple copies of digital cookbooks, but there is nothing like holding a bound cookbook in your hands, especially one filled with amazing stories and recipes. The kind of cookbook you open up with a hot cup of coffee or tea and sit down to plan your weekly menu or those special events. We love the practicality and usefulness of cookbooks, but we are always hooked by the stories behind each recipe and cookbook.
We stopped counting our cookbooks after we passed 300 books. They are all unique and special in their own way, but I have listed seven of our favorites below. They were chosen for different reasons, but they all bring immense joy to our kitchen and we love diving into the recipes and stories describing the origin or the recipes, the ingredients used and the special moments celebrated enjoying them. Since cookbooks are so special to us, we are starting a cookbook club later this month. We will be giving away a copy of the featured cookbook and plan to cook several recipes a week from each of the featured cookbooks. More details to come.
These are a few of the cookbooks we pulled off our green metal baker’s rack in the corner of the kitchen area where many our cookbooks are stored. We love these books for the stories and recipes the author’s share. We started with Mimi’s book as her in her husband Oddur live a beautiful culinary paradise they created in France that has now spilled over to their second residence in Italy. They have created a life which is like stepping into a story book full of adventure, travel food, wine, family and friends. So many of these elements are incorporated into the cookbooks we listed below.
A Kitchen in France, A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse – Mimi Thorisson
This book was a gift from our French son, Theo, who was and exchange student of ours in 2014. It is full of amazing recipes. Her and her photographer husband, Oddur, live in a beautiful old 15 room chateau in Médoc, France. They live there with their 8 children and 9 dogs. This beautiful setting lends itself well to all the cooking workshops they do as well as a beautiful backdrop for the cookbook. Valarie and I are looking forward to our first workshop with them as well.
Since all her recipes are driven by what is available at the market, the Kitchen in France cookbook is broken up into four sections – Spring, Autumn, Fall and Winter. A few recipes worth noting are My Aunt Francine’s Fava Bean Soup (first recipe in the book), Artichoke Soufflé, Chestnut Velouté, and Vegetable Tian. The book is full of amazing dishes created with beautiful seasonal ingredients.
The book was such a success, they have since finished two more – “French Country Cooking (2016)” and “Old World Italian (2020). All her books are well researched, full of time-tested recipes. Since their workshops have expanded to Italy as well, it seems only fitting her newest cookbook, is based on Italian recipes. It has been following their adventures across Italy through their Instagram account. The cookbooks are all published by notable Clarkson Potter publishers. This book is a must for anybody that loves French Cooking or simply loves to cook with seasonal ingredients.
Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm (SWF) – Annemarie Ahearn
Annemarie is a classically trained chef who spent over ten years cooking in New York City who moved back to Maine (one of our favorite places on earth) after her parents purchased an old sheep farm along the coast in Lincolnville, Maine. She ran monthly suppers at her farm along with the cooking school. She took the experience of the dinners and rolled it into the cookbook Full Moon Suppers. The book is divided into twelve chapters and features the dinners served for each full moon, from the Full Wolf Moon in January, to the Full Cold Moon in December. The recipes are all based on seasonal ingredients.
Several notable recipes Potato Gnocchi with Lobster, Cream and Tarragon, Fresh Smoked Haddock Chowder, Braised Beef and Stilton Pie and Periwinkles Cooked in Seawater. Love the stories accompany all the recipes. The photography is beautiful as well. Highly recommend this book.
Desserted, Recipes and Tales from an Island Chocolatier – Kate Shaffer
This book is special to Valarie and I, not just because we love Maine, but we have traveled to Isle Au Haut as well. This beautiful Island is off the coast of Stonington, Maine and is typically reached by riding on the mailboat. Kate is a self-taught chocolatier who learned to make beautiful hand make chocolate on a tiny island of less than 200 year-round residents. Her chocolates are as beautiful as they taste. She has since moved to mainland Maine and also has a store in Blue Hill which we always visit when we are in Maine.
There are so many beautiful recipes in this book, but we love the Chocolate Dipped Molasses Cookies, Mexican Whoopie Pies, White Chocolate Lavender Pound Cake, Ricotta Doughnut Holes with Orange-Scented Dipping Chocolate and Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet with Chocolate Black Pepper Sauce. We also love the section on Tools and Pantry Basics which are extremely helpful.
This cookbook makes a great resource for chocolate and dessert recipes. Make sure you add this to your collection.
Piatti, Plates and Platters for Sharing, Inspired by Italy – Stacy Adimando
We have been following this James Beard Award-winning author not only through her cookbooks, but over the last several years as the Editor of Savuer magazine. She recently stepped down as Editor and to welcome her first child into the world. We still follow her on Instagram and look forward to her new projects ahead.
The coolest thing about this cookbook is the design and functionality. It has a lay flat cover that keeps every recipe page flat when you are reading it. Our favorite recipe in the entire book is the Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie. This recipe features the supreme charcuterie of Bologna – mortadella with its visible delicate morsels of pork fat and pistachios, melted fontina, and bulb fennel. The simple but elegant dish cooks bulb fennel in butter, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. That mixture is then cooked with the beautiful shredded fontina and mortadella between two layers of puff pastry. We would recommend purchasing this cookbook simply based on this recipe Valarie has made at least 20 times already. You will also enjoy many other recipes like – Broccolini Frittata, Cornmeal Fritters, and Shrimp and Cherry Tomato Fra Diavolo..
My Life on a Plate – Kelis (aka Kelis Rogers)
Valarie purchased this cookbook for me for my birthday or Christmas, can’t remember now. I heard an interview with her on NPR and had to add this book to our collection. Kelis is a professional singer who collected recipes around the world while touring. She grew in New York can’t remember exactly when she learned to cook or sing, but she can always remember watching her Mom cook growing up. She said this book as a life “lived casually and abundantly.” Love that phrase. Is there any greater abundance than cooking and eating well beautiful ingredients in well prepared dishes.
Some well received recipes in this book are her Spinach and Feta Pinwheels. Valarie made these for me during one of our Food Enthusiast Supper Club evenings. The Shrimp Alcapurrias recipe is simply beautiful. She also has a great Papas Rellenas recipe which turned out like giant softballs when I made them, instead of tennis ball size, lol. Her Jerk Ribs with Brown Sugar Rub and Beef and Bacon Chili are also noteworthy!
The book is broken up into traditional cookbook categories – Starters, Soups & Stews, Sides & Salads, Main Dishes and Sweet Treats. If you love food and culture and looking at the world through an abundance mentality, this book is for you.
Bountiful, Recipes Inspired by Our Garden – Todd Porter and Diane Cu
We love the recipes and spirit coming out of this book from our fellow food bloggers Todd Porter and Diane Cu. This pair of creatives are food bloggers and photographers living in California. They are constantly sharing recipes from the bounty they receive from their garden. We love their blog The White on Rice Couple.
Our favorite recipe from their kitchen is Blood Orange Bars with a Brown Butter Crust. It is featured on page 237. The flavors of this beautiful dessert are so incredibly memorable. From the amazing colors and fragrance of the blood orange to the additive brown butter crust. You will lose all self-control with this dish, but I promise you it is worth every moment, so sit back a part take in a moment of self-indulgence. As the famous Chef Nigella Lawson says, “If you think of it as a guilty pleasure, you do not deserve it.” Save up your calories for the year to indulge in this recipe. I could stop here with the review, but do not want you to miss the great photography and other recipes. Be sure to check out Heirloom Tomato Galettes, Red Tomato Jam with Fresh Ginger and Grilled Zucchini Banh Mi. You need to add this cookbook t your collection, especially for the Blood Orange Bars!
We hope you enjoy our recommendations. Stay tune for news on our upcoming Unstoppable Foodie Cookbook Club. Subscribe today on our website at www.unstoppablefoodie.com for our Foodie Updates, Foodie Friday Newsletter and info on upcoming events like our Unstoppable Foodie Cookbook Club.
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“Life is too short for fake butter or fake people.” Julia Child