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100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Fabulous Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life. I know, I know… it seems a little heavy-handed, especially considering the subtitle includes “…to get you everything you want in life.” I can’t remember who I got this from, but there are actually a few great recipes in here. All the dishes have fun names, although I wish there were more photos. Each recipe is laid out so that it is easily followed and captioned with where it came from/who contributed it. There are also great tips in each section to help stretch out a protein or change up a meal. The crab cake recipe is one on which I base my own. I also really like the season finale shrimp, breakfast in bed mimosas, instant seduction pork chops, and bikini season baked salmon.
Good Eats: Volume 1, The Early Years. Pretty much any of Alton Brown’s cookbooks will become some sort of standard on your bookcase. I love this man for combining food and science. I love love love Good Eats and was super sad when it went off air. I still love him on Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef, and Cutthroat Kitchen, but only because he had me at Good Eats. There are tons of photos, tips, show trivia, and recipes in each book, which makes this book so great. I only wish that the table of contents laid out each recipe rather than just the episode title. I can learn from this guy forever and I totally swear I am going to his next food tour.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier. I got this for Christmas from one of my best friends and I am so excited to dig in. Its actually pretty awesome that my friend, who loves cowboys and country living, got me a cookbook written by an awesome lady who actually lives on a cattle ranch. The photos are beautiful and colorful. Everything is laid out step by step with photos in the cook’s voice. I’m really looking forward to trying her chicken tortilla soup, grilled corn guacamole, watermelon granita, and spicy lemon garlic shrimp. Yum!
The Man Who Ate Everything. And its sequel: It Must’ve Been Something I Ate. I first encountered Mr. Steingarten when he judged Iron Chef America, which he frequently does. His droll, dry, witty demeanor coupled with his devil-may-care attitude toward’s his fellow judges quickly made him one of my favorite judges. Not a cookbook at all, these two books chronicle his journey with food and include a few of his recipes. The books go by quickly and you’re easily immersed into his world, mind, and cooking. They definitely inspired me to cook.
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes. This memoir of an American woman who fell in love with a Frenchman (and French food) hooked me. It shows her journey in learning how to appreciate, cook, and experience food. It makes newbies feel better about not knowing anything about food or the kitchen. I also love the recipes she includes, and regularly pull out the ones for mussels and meatballs.