This is in no way a comprehensive list of the best books of 2013. There were so many beautiful, informative, collections of recipes that hit booksellers’ shelves this past year that it would be impossible for me to cook from, and read, each of them. However, I was lucky enough to get my hands on at least 30 new books in the past twelve months, and I wanted to take the time to highlight a few of my personal favourites from 2013.
Mad Hungry Cravings:: I'm unabashedly smitten with Lucinda Scalla Quinn. She's a woman after my own heart when it comes to her dedication to feeding a family well, and her sophomore cookbook contains more tasty, do-able, well-tested recipes designed for feeding her hungry boys. When I'm feeling unmotivated, or lacking inspiration, her books are often the ones I turn to first.
The Mac + Cheese Cookbook:: Without a doubt, this book is a treasure for anyone in charge of feeding people who eat a lot. And if that group of people happens to include a six-foot tall 13-year-old, then I suggest you grab yourself a copy of this as soon as possible. The flavour combinations are creative, yet kid-friendly, and don’t call for ingredients that are difficult to source. Make a double-batch of any of the recipes and freeze a tray of pasta for emergency dinners, lunches and even late-night snacks for said kid (for real).
Bread and Wine:: This book weaved its way into my heart and mind this summer when I devoured the entire thing while on vacation, and I have gone back through the pages many times since, highlighting some of my favourite paragraphs from within. This is the ideal read for anyone who loves food and values the connections that can be around the table, and the essays are both humourous and heartwarming, punctuated with recipes that will inspire you to share a meal with your favourite people.
Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen:: Jennifer Perillo’s charming tone, mouthwatering recipes, and dedication to cooking from scratch are nothing short of inspirational, resulting in a cookbook that I’ve turned to time and time again since it joined my growing collection of favourites earlier this year. Her homemade pizza dough recipe has quickly become a regular in our rotation, and I’m mostly impressed with Jennie’s ability to marry bold flavours with simple cooking techniques.
The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert:: This book is pure fun for anyone interested in learning more about wine. It was written by Richard Betts, one of the world’s few master sommeliers and a self-descibed loather of wine snobs and wine-speak, who happens to think that buying wine should be a simple part of your regular groceriy shopping routine (yes!). The book is smart, fun, and completely approachable, and the scratch-and-sniff component perfectly pairs with the informative illustrations tucked between the pages.
The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes:: I think Rachel Khoo is about as adorable as they get, and I love her collection of delectable, do-able recipes that perfectly fuse her British upbringing with her obsession of classic French cuisine. She successfully demystifies the food of France, often perceived as intimidating and time-consuming, and puts a modern spin on traditional French cooking. Witty and well written, I’ve enjoyed reading this book as much as all of the others this year.
Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook:: Without a doubt, this is the most original book to cross my desk this year, but it’s not surprising considering who’s behind the concept and creation. As I’m sure you know, Julie Van Rosendaal is Canada’s cookbook queen, and this time she’s partnered with Pierre A. Lamielle to bring us an illustrated cookbook based on the classic story by Lewis Carroll. Julie’s recipes and photos are weaved throughout the pages and contain plenty of inspiration for scones, teatime treats, and other delicacies you and your children will love to make.
I have one copy of The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert and one copy of The Mac + Cheese Cookbook to give away to a Family Bites reader. Leave a comment letting me know what your favourite book (cookbook or otherwise) of 2013 was and I’ll draw a name at random on Sunday December 22nd. Good luck!
Update: Congratulations to Andrea! The winner has been contacted via email.