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It’s that time of year again. The holiday shopping season is upon us, as is the best-of list season (can’t have one without the other…). I know you’re going to buy some cookbooks this year – they make excellent gifts, and if you’re lucky the recipient might just cook you a fabulous meal in the new year.

To save you all that tedious Google searching, Cookbooker has gathered together this roundup of the best cookbooks of 2011 from some of our favorite sources online. And we’ll keep it updated as new reviews come in.

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Prices are publisher’s list price only; some stores will sell for less. To find an excellent independent cookbook store near you and get some expert personal recommendations, use our comprehensive bookstore list.

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This article will be updated as more top-cookbook lists come in, with new items added. To prevent this page from becoming a mile long, I’ll provide links only for most new sources.

Updated: December 20, 2011 (adding Telegraph Christmas Cookery)

Best of the Best

These are the books picked most often as the best cookbooks of 2011, so if your eyes are too fatigued to go through all of these lovely lists here’s our distillation of the books which have shown up regularly on multiple lists, suggesting they gained a lot of fans this year.

Top Pick: Cookbooks of the Year

Based on the lists we’ve added so far, there’s a 3-way tie for best cookbook of the year. And the winners (with six appearances each) are:  Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi,  American Flavor, by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman and Essential Pepin, by Jacques Pépin.

Highly Recommended

American Flavor, Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman (Ecco) $35

Mourad: New Moroccan, by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan) $40

Cook this Now, by Melissa Clark (Hyperion) $30

Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle) $35

Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, Jacques Pépin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $40

Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Little, Brown & Co.) $50 (though a warning, this is a beautiful restaurant cookbook, but like many a fancy restaurant cookbook, may end up one of those books you look at but rarely cook from – the recipes are complex and time-consuming).

Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books) $40

 


The Lists

Links go to full lists on this page.


Quick Summaries

The major lists are out of the way for the most part, so I’m just going to do some quick summaries with links to other lists of note that trickle in before the holidays are done.

Seattle Weekly
This list covers some of the usual suspects (Pepin at Home, Truly Mexican, Momofuku Milk Bar) but also some less-known books, such as Vij’s at Home, which we did as a challenge early in the year. Unfortunately it’s laid out in the page-view desperate form of a multi-page spread, forcing you to click to see each book. Sigh.

LA Times
This list pops up on other newspaper websites (Chicago Tribune for example), and should probably be on our main list, but who has the time… Anyway, we have Momofuku, Food52, Odd Bits, Food of Morocco, plus some other titles such as The Mozza Cookbook, which don’t show up as frequently elsewhere.

Fox News
Not a bad list indeed. It has a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar (to me anyway) titles, touches on the highlights of the year, and gives a short blurb to each title.


New York Times

www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/dining/notable-cookbooks-of-2011.html


From their holiday gift guide, these are some of the Dining section’s staff picks.

  • Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press, $29.99)
  • Cooking in the Moment, by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter, $35)
  • Cooking my way Back Home, by Mitchell Rosenthal and Jon Pult (Ten Speed Press, $35)
  • The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert (Ecco, $45)
  • The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden (Ecco, $39.99)
  • The Homesick Texan Cookbook, by Lisa Fain (Free Press, $29.99)
  • Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, by Jennifer Reese (Free Press, $24)
  • Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab, $625)
  • A New Turn in the South, by Hugh Acheson (Clarkson Potter, $35)
  • Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal, by Jennifer McLagan (Ten Speed Press, $35)
  • Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books, $35)
  • Rice and Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking, by S. H. Fernando Jr. (Hippocrene Books, $19.95)
  • Rustica: A Return to Spanish Home Cooking, by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish (Chronicle Books, $35)
  • Seoultown Kitchen: Korean Pub Grub to Share with Family and Friends, by Debbie Lee (Kyle Books, $24.95)
  • Simply Great Breads, by Daniel Leader (Taunton, $22)
  • The Sweets of Araby, by Leila Salloum Elias and Muna Salloum (Countryman Press, $21.95)
  • Tender: A Cook and his Vegetable Patch, by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed Press, $40)
  • Truly Mexican, by Roberto Santibañez with J. J. Goode and Shelley Wiseman (John Wiley & Sons, $35)

San Francisco Chronicle

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/02/FDOR1M4SND.DTL

  • Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, Jacques Pépin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $40
  • Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Little, Brown & Co.) $50
  • Serve Yourself, by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press) $22
  • Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar, edited by Matt McAllester (University of California Press) $27.50
  • Whole Beast Butchery, by Ryan Farr (Chronicle Books) $40
  • The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine, by Karen Page with Andrew Dornenburg (Little, Brown and Company) $35
  • Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books) $40
  • Off the Menu, by Marissa Guggiana (Welcome Books) $40
  • The Food 52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks, by by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (William Morrow) $35

There are also some runner-up titles on the website, including familiar titles such as Mourad, and the excellent Super Natural Every Day.


Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/washington-posts-top-10-cookbooks-of-2011/2011/12/04/gIQAB6tMsO_story.html

  • Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, Jacques Pépin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $40
  • All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art, by Molly Stevens (Norton) $35
  • Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle) $35
  • Jekka’s Herb Cookbook, by Jekka McVicar (Firefly) $29.95
  • American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini (Ecco) $35
  • The Homesick Texan Cookbook, by Lisa Fain (Hyperion) $30
  • Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press, $29.99)
  • The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert (Ecco) $45
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan) $24
  • The Food 52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks, by by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (William Morrow) $35

Epicurious

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/howtocook/cookbooks/best-cookbooks-2011

  • Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark (Hyperion) $30
  • Cooking without Borders, by Anita Low (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) $35
  • Heston Blumenthal at Home, by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury) $60
  • The Homesick Texan Cookbook, by Lisa Fain (Hyperion) $30
  • Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes, by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion) $35
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan) $24
  • Mourad, by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan) $40
  • Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle) $35
  • Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books) $40
  • Truly Mexican, by Roberto Santibañez (Wiley) $35

Publisher’s Weekly

A very focused list, with only five books, but picks we’ll see in other lists this year for sure.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2011/lifestyle#list

  • Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark (Hyperion) $30
  • Mourad, Mourad Lahlou (Artisan) $40
  • Serious Eats: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Eating Delicious Food Wherever You Are, Ed Levine and the editors of Seriouseats (Clarkson Potter) $28
  • The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson (Ten Speed Press) $40
  • Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, Jacques Pépin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $40

Esquire

http://www.esquire.com/features/food-drink/best-restaurants-2011/best-new-cookbooks-2011-1111

These five word reviews are a bit of a gimmick – surely the attention span of Esquire readers is long enough to handle fifty or a hundred? Nevertheless, here they are, along with a blatant plug for their own title:

  • Esquire: Eat Like a Man, edited by Ryan D’Agostino (Chronicle Books) $30
  • American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini (Ecco) $35
  • Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard with Heather Shouse (Chronicle Books) $30
  • Cooking My Way Back Home by Mitch Rosenthal (Ten Speed Press) $35
  • Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Little, Brown & Co.) $50

NPR

http://www.npr.org/2011/11/21/142598710/2011s-best-cookbooks-revenge-of-the-kitchen-nerds

Susan Chang lists her top picks, and she titles this year’s bunch “Revenge of the Kitchen Nerds”, noting the surge in books about new and fanciful kitchen techniques. Click through to read the list and listen to her chat about it on the radio.

  • Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark (Hyperion) $30
  • The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden (Ecco) $40
  • All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art, by Molly Stevens (Norton) $35
  • What Chefs Feed Their Kids: Recipes and Techniques for Cultivating a Love of Good Food, by Fanae Aaron (Lyons Press) $25
  • The Food 52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks, by by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (William Morrow) $35
  • The Country Cooking of Italy, by Colman Andrews (Chronicle) $50
  • Lidia’s Italy in America, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Knopf) $35
  • The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert (Ecco) $45
  • Ruhlman’s Twenty: The Ideas and Techniques That Will Make You a Better Cook, by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books) $40
  • American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini (Ecco) $35
  • The Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book, by Judy Rosenberg (Workman) $16

Bon Appetit

http://www.bonappetit.com/tipstools/slideshows/2011/12/best-cookbooks-of-2011#slide=1

This list is courtesy of the excellent Rabelais cookbook store in Portland, ME; they know their cookbooks, and will feature as one of the bookstores in our upcoming ‘cookbook stores top picks’ yearly roundup.

  • Home Made: The Ultimate DIY Cookbook, by Yvette van Boven (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) $40
  • American Flavor, by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman (Ecco) $35
  • The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià, by Ferran Adrià (Phaidon) $30
  • The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson (Ten Speed) $40
  • Mourad: New Moroccan, by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan) $40
  • Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal, by Jennifer McLagan (Ten Speed Press) $35
  • Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook, by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Little, Brown & Co.) $50
  • Bocca Cookbook, by Jacob Kennedy (Bloomsbury) $45
  • Momofuku Milk Bar, by Christina Tosi, with a foreword by David Chang (Clarkson Potter) $35
  • The Art of Eating Cookbook: Essential Recipes from the First 25 Years, by Ed Behr (U of California Press) $40
  • Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all, by Brad Thomas Parsons (Ten Speed Press) $25
  • A Cook’s Year in a Welsh Farmhouse, by Elisabeth Luard (Bloomsbury) $50
  • Rustic Italian Food, by Marc Vetri, with David Joachim (Ten Speed Press) $35
  • Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes, by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion) $35
  • Oxford Companion to Beer, by Garrett Oliver (Oxford University Press) $65
  • Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant, by Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz (McSweeney’s) $30

Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/01/best-cookbooks-2011_n_1123545.html

This list is presented as a slide show, which is a web content trend I normally abhor as a fairly cynical way to generate page views. However, in this case it’s embedded in the page, so you don’t have to reload the page ad-nauseum. This consists of many of this year’s usual suspects.

  • The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson (Ten Speed Press) $40
  • Momofuku Milk Bar, by Christina Tosi, with a foreword by David Chang (Clarkson Potter) $35
  • Heston Blumenthal at Home, by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury) $60
  • The Country Cooking of Italy, by Colman Andrews (Chronicle) $50
  • Hunt, Gather, Cook, by Hank Shaw (Rodale) $26
  • PDT Cocktail Book, by Jim Meehan (Sterling Epicure) $25
  • Rustic Italian Food, by Marc Vetri, with David Joachim (Ten Speed Press) $35
  • Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books, $35)
  • American Flavor, Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman (Ecco) $35
  • The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden (Ecco, $39.99)
  • Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Little, Brown & Co.) $50

Honorable Mention: Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab, $625). I agree with their thinking on this one. It’s not a book you can ignore this year – this massive, mind-expanding tome is sure to make culinary history. But for regular people, who can justify the expense? Even discounted at $450 at Amazon, it costs more than the entire top ten list above.


Serious Eats

http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/11/best-cookbooks-of-the-year-2011-gift-guide.html

Of note in this list, which is actually a bit different, and is by a writer who actually cooked regularly from the books listed (as part of the Cooking the Books column, Caroline Russock cooked 300 recipes this year), is Serve Yourself, a book about cooking for one. I have this book and have been meaning to write about it, as although it’s aimed at single cooks, has a really intriguing mix of recipes with a strong Mexican influence, and what I have cooked from it so far has been excellent.

  • Cooking in the Moment, by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter) $35
  • The Japanese Grill, by Harris Salat and Tadashi Ono (Ten Speed Press) $25
  • Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books) $40
  • Molto Batali, by Mario Batali (Ecco) $30
  • Serve Yourself, by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press) $22
  • American Flavor, Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman (Ecco) $35
  • Canal House Cooking, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton (Andrews McMeel) $22
  • Cook this Now, by Melissa Clark (Hyperion) $30
  • The Food 52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks, by by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (William Morrow) $35
  • Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle) $35

 


Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=br_lf_m_1000744551_grlink_2?ie=UTF8&plgroup=2&docId=1000744551

Amazon’s Best Books of 2011: Cooking, Food & Wine (I removed the three non-cookbooks from the list)

  • Modernist Cuisine, by Nathan Myhrvold, Maxime Billet and Chris Young (The Cooking Lab) $625
  • The Cooks Illustrated Cookbook, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated (Cook’s Illustrated) $40
  • Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, Jacques Pépin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $40
  • Oxford Companion to Beer, by Garrett Oliver (Oxford University Press) $65
  • Good Eats 3, the Later Years by Alton Brown (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) $37.50
  • The Homesick Texan Cookbook, by Lisa Fain (Hyperion) $30
  • Momofuku Milk Bar, by Christina Tosi (Clarkson Potter) $35
  • Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle) $35

BBC Good Food

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/blog/588-best-books/

  • The Good Cook, by Simon Hopkinson (£25)
  • Veggiestan, by Sally Butcher (£25)
  • One More Slice, by Leila Lindholm (£19.99)
  • Primrose Bakery Book, (£17.99)
  • Pieminster, by Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon (£17.99)
  • Ginger Pig Meat Book, by Tim Wilson & Fran Warde (£25)
  • Cooking with Coco, by Anna Del Conte (£18.99)
  • Miette, by Meg Ray with leslie Jonath (£17.99)
  • Everyday Asian, by Bill Granger (£20)
  • Spices, by Sophie Grigson (£20)

The Telegraph

www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/8958399/Christmas-Books-Cookery-Special.html

Baking for comfort in chilly economic times is the opener in this roundup of cookbooks (plus a Sylvia Plath joke that’s in perhaps not the best of taste). Interesting is the fact that they’re not all raves, so although How to Bake, the companion to the BBC series The Great British Bake-off is listed first, it’s not actually recommended. Notable also are pans of books by Jamie Oliver and Ferran Adria and a book on testicles.

  • Perfect, Felicity Cloake (£18.99, Fig Tree)
  • Short & Sweet, Dan Lepard (£25, Fourth Estate)
  • Flash Cooking, by Laura Santtini (£20, Quadrille)
  • Comfort & Spice, by Niamh Shields (£14.99, Quadrille)
  • Supper Club, by Kerstin Rodgers  (£25, Collins)
  • Galvin: a Cookbook de Luxe by Chris and Jeff Galvin (£25, Absolute Press)
  • Made in Sicily, by Georgio Locatelli (£30, Fourth Estate)
  • Testicles: Balls in Cooking and Culture, a translation by Giles McDonagh of the 2005 work by French writer Blandine Vie (£20, Prospect Books).
  • Scandalicious by Signe Johansen (£20, Salt Yard Books)

Ottawa Citizen

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/food/Cookbook+Issue+Season+Readings/5756814/story.html

  • Odd Bits, How to Cook the Rest of the Animal, by Jennifer McLagan, HarperCollins, $39.99 CAD
  • Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman, Raincoast Books, $45 CAD
  • Essential Pepin, by Jacques Pepin, Thomas Allen & Son, $45 CAD
  • The Ontario Table, by Lynn Ogryzlo, Epulum Books, 320 pages, $29.95 CAD
  • Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen, by Michael Smith, Penguin Canada, $32 CAD
  • Char-Broil Canada Grills!, by the authors of Creative Homeowner, $26.95 CAD
  • Rustic Italian Food, by Marc Vetri with David Joachim, Random House of Canada, $40 CAD
  • Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble, by Nadia Giosia, Random House, Ballantine Books, $25 CAD
  • Candle 79, by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda, Random House, $34 CAD
  • Mourad New Moroccan, by Mourad Lahlou, Thomas Allen & Son, $46 CAD
  • Kitchen Simple, Essential Recipes for Everyday Cooking, by James Peterson, Random House, $34 CAD
  • The Meatball Shop Cookbook, by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow with Laureen Deen, Random House and Ballantine Books, $33 CAD

8 Responses to “The Best Cookbooks of 2011: a Roundup”

  1. Queezle_Sister says:

    Great round up of lists, Andrew. I thought that this description of how Susie (T. Susan Chang) makes her decision very interesting. I was surprised that she doesn’t like cookbooks with multiple ways to measure (gasp – as a recent convert to weighing my ingredients I was dismayed). Whether you agree with the approach or not, Suzie’s transparent selection method was very interesting, and led me to wonder about other people’s lists.

  2. Queezle_Sister says:

    Oh, I should add – Suzie reviews cookbooks for NPR and the Boston Globe, and is included above.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks, QS! I’ll be adding to it regularly, and if anyone finds a list that I have overlooked, please let me know and I can put it in. I also gasp, at least metaphorically at Susie’s dislike of multiple measurements, as I am delighted when I find a cookbook where the author has taken the time (and the publisher has bucked the North American norm) to measure and weigh everything. If you have a kitchen scale, it makes recipes so much more predictable (and quick).

  4. Susie says:

    Aha! Andrew and Queezle_Sister: You’ve picked up on the multiple-measurement thing! I wondered when someone would. Let me emphasize that it’s included in my “unreasonable biases” section, and that by “unreasonable” I mean, I recognize its absurdity and counterweight my judgment accordingly. It’s an aesthetic reaction only. I would never eliminate a cookbook from consideration because of it, and I myself am an avid scale user.

    Thank you for reading so closely! and fostering lively discussion on the lists.

  5. Andrew says:

    Hi Susie! Delighted to see you here on Cookbooker. We just had a discussion about weights in cookbooks on our Forums after I posted an article that called them “the dirty secret of recipe publishing”. http://www.cookbooker.com/forum/discussion/62/weights-vs-volume-in-cookbooks/

    Is your aesthetic reaction because it is harder to lay out recipes with the extra detail? I know that in a book like Heidi Swanson’s recent “Super Natural Every Day”, the layout is a little awkward because she puts in volume, imperial and metric, all on the same line in the ingredients list. But then there are Rose Levy Beranbaum’s books, which have very well composed tables of ingredients, and are simple to follow and easy on the eye…

  6. Andrew says:

    Oh, and PS to our readers, Susie has been listing her favorite recipes from 2011 on her blog, so have a look here: http://tsusanchang.wordpress.com/

  7. Susie says:

    Andrew, that’s it exactly. It’s just harder to absorb the information from the layout when I’m speed-testing and going back and forth from stove to countertop. But on those occasions when I’m using a scale, I’m just grateful the information is there however it’s laid out. Indeed, Heidi Swanson’s book is a favorite of mine, multiple measures and all–made the summer roundup this year I believe.

    I also appreciate the way the Rose Levy Beranbaum books are laid out. It’s a good solution, even if you do sometimes feel like you’re reading a science textbook!

    Thanks for the shout-out to the blog,

    Susie.

  8. Cooksbakesbooks says:

    How wonderful to see all of these lists, one after the other! It’s great to see Jacques Pepin get recognized over and over. His palate is exquisite and he is a thoughtful recipe writer. You can hear him talking as you read his recipes.