Over the years, we’ve increasingly become kitchen minimalists. We encourage home cooks to spend less on a handful of quality ingredients, invest in fewer gadgets, buy smart, and maximize what you already have. But we have one weakness: COOKBOOKS!
It seems no matter how many cookbooks we buy, are gifted, or get through work, our cookbook wish list never gets any shorter. Especially during a year like this one, when so many greats are released.
This week, to help us sort through the best cookbooks of the year, we invited Brian Stewart of Salt + Spine, a podcast that explores the art and craft of cookbooks through interviews with today’s most compelling cookbook writers. Tune in for his picks in unconventional categories thought up just for us: the home cooks who have to feed families night after night. After night.
Brian Stewart of Salt + Spine
Our original thought was to curate the Best Cookbooks of 2018 list ourselves. After all, it’s a job we’ve done for other publications, and it’s not like we don’t have opinions. (So many opinions!) But after discovering Brain Stewart of Salt + Spine several months ago, we knew he was the person for the job.
Not only is Brian as well versed in cookbook releases as we are — if not more — but his interviews with many of today’s most revered cookbook authors gives Brian a rare intimacy with this year’s cookbooks. He’s taken time to cook from them repeatedly, gotten to understand the stories behind the recipes, and even why the authors were compelled to write them in the first place.
If you need proof of just how much of a pro Brian is, we kicked things off by asking him THE tough question: We put him on the spot and asked him to tell us his one favorite cookbook of the year. And believe it or not, he was able to answer. Just like that! (We couldn’t pick JUST one.)
Plus, Brian’s smart and funny, and together we came up with hilarious categories so that we could give you lists of cookbooks for both yourself and also, hopefully, ideas for holiday gifting.
Best Cookbooks of 2018
In this week’s episode, Brian shared a bunch of fantastic cookbooks that you can find in the list below our sponsored message. The cookbooks all fall into the following categories that we came up with specifically for family cooks. Because we’ve got your backs:
Best Cookbooks for Busy Family Cooks (duh)
THE Best Cookbook of the Year (because, of course, and gift giving)
Baking Cookbooks That Don’t Require a PhD (hello, bake sales!)
Best Cookbooks for People Who Hate to Cook (or, you know, just need more practice, which is how we actually like to think about it)
But also… we ran out of time and didn’t get to go over a few other lists that Brian wanted to be sure to share with you, especially since they’re great for holiday gift giving. So here are some BONUS PICKS:
Best Cookbooks of 2018 for Leftovers and Big Batch Cooking
Best Cookbooks of 2018 for Die-Hard Foodies
Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook by Dorie Greenspan
I Am a Filipino: And This Is How We Cook by Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad
Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of by Cal Peternell
Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories by Naz Deravian
Best Cookbooks of 2018 for Kids (yay!)
A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen With Shorey by Jacques Pépin
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes for Kids to Make by Carolyn Federman
Best Cookbooks for 2018 for Instant Pot Mania
Best Cookbooks for 2018 for Easily Weeknight Drinks (because parenthood)
The Master List!
All the Books — and Available Recipes — in This Week’s Episode
Nik’s blog, A Brown Table
Nik’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle, “A Brown Kitchen”
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat and illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton (also featured on Salt + Spine)
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix
- What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food by Gaby Dalkin and photography by Photo by Matt Armendariz (also featured on Salt + Spine)
- Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake by Kristen Miglore
- Rose’s Baking Basics: 100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos, Rose Levy Beranbaum
- Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need by Jessica Battilana (also featured on Salt + Spine)
Jessica’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Repertoire”
- At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking by Nigella Lawson (also featured on Salt + Spine)
- Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks by Ina Garten
- Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World, by Sam Kass
We Love Our Sponsor
A huge thank you to Raddish Kids for sponsoring this week’s episode of Didn’t I Just Feed You.
Even kids who don’t love to eat, love to cook. And it’s no wonder: The kitchen is a fantastic place for kids to flex their independence, learn real-life skills, and cultivates healthier habits. That’s why we’re such HUGE fans of our sponsor Raddish Kids, a cooking kit for kids ages 2- to 14-years-old that sends illustrated recipe guides, activities, conversation cards, a patch, and even a kitchen tool to your doorstep every month.
We know first-hand that Raddish kits work for such a wide range of ages because we’ve used them with our own kids who range in age from 4- to nearly 12-years-old — and they ALL love them. In fact, the 12-year-old insists on using the kits all on his own, and hey, no complaints here!
This holiday season, give the gift of bringing a family together in the kitchen to experience the fun of taking risks, getting creative, and enjoying a delicious, well-earned meal together.
To learn more about how Raddish subscriptions work, what’s included, and pricing options, go to RaddishKids.com
What We’re Digging
This week, we put a twist on What We’re Digging, again! We each shared a favorite cookbook from the year with Meghan citing two favorites that she’s mentioned on the podcast before (you’ll have to listen to find out which got second mentions!), but she recently added more magazines to her cookbook shelf too. That’s right, those classic periodicals make an easy and smart gift for the busy cook in your life — so everyone.
Meghan loved the December issue of Family Circle, which she only recently subscribed to via Amazon.
Stacie gets a little bit controversial with her pick, because surprisingly, despite loving Julia Turshen’s previous and subsequent work, Stacie didn’t love the debut solo cookbook by Julia as much as the rest of the food world. But… she LOVED her most recent cookbook Now & Again.
The idea? Cook once and eat twice by planning for and getting creative with recipes.
It’s fantastic by all accounts, and made it to the tippity top of Stacie’s cookbook list this year, especially for busy family cooks.
Try This At Home
If you’re as into cookbooks as we are, Meghan’s got a solution to indulge, but also keep it minimal after all: check cookbooks out at the library.
Before spending cash on a new cookbook, see if your local library has it and borrow it first. If you love the recipes, then you can invest in owning a copy.
And when you’re done with a cookbook you own, pay it forward by donating it to your library so that other home cooks can do the same!