My Favorite Cookbooks in 2015

Mid 2014 we decided to help improve our diet, and the variety of food we eat, that we would have a new rule for home cooked meals — each dinner meal had to be different.

It wasn’t necessarily the easiest of rules but was achievable using weekly meal plans combined with a good selection of cookbooks.

Most content I prefer to read online but when it comes to cooking I prefer to grab a cookbook from my bookshelf.

Considering cookbooks are always in the Weekly top 10 best sellers at my local bookstores — I’m obviously not the only cookbook lover!  So I thought I would share my current favorite cookbooks in 2015 that have helped make me a better cook!

What’s for Dinner and Good Food. Good Life‘ by Curtis Stone
whatfor dinnerCurtis Stone’s ‘What’s for Dinner‘ and ‘Good Food. Good Life‘ are my favorite cookbooks.

When we implemented the new rule of every dinner meal had to be different Curtis’s ‘What’s for Dinner‘ was the first cookbook I started with.  I’ve cooked more recipes from his cookbooks than any other cookbook as his recipes always work out well.

Good Food. Good Life‘ is Curtis’s latest book published in March, 2015.

goodfoodWhat’s for Dinner‘ and ‘Good Food. Good Life‘ take a slightly different approach to the recipes.  ‘Good Food. Good Life‘ is packed with hidden gems that I didn’t initially appreciate because I’m a visual learner and not all recipes include photos.  ‘What’s for Dinner‘ was an excellent starting place for improving meals and ‘Good Food. Good Life‘ has been great for expanding cooking techniques.

I track recipes cooked using a Google Sheet.  You can check out the Curtis recipes I’ve cooked in the embedded Google Sheets below (color coding means Red = loved, Orange = liked, Blue – Did not like).

You can check out Curtis’s recipes on his website, Coles Recipes and cooking or watch his recipe videos on YouTube.

Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver

I brought Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food to work on eating healthier breakfasts.  Breakfast should make up 1/4 to 1/3 of our daily calorie intake — but most adults eat less than 265 calories and don’t eat a balanced breakfast.  My breakfasts were unbalanced and too low in calories.

Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food is packed full of great healthy, balanced and delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks while providing good tips on health and nutrition.

I’ve learnt from our rule that every dinner meal had to be different that palate is very individual and you don’t know what you do or don’t like until you’ve tried it.  My husband and oldest son’s dislike of pumpkin and sweet potato is a classic example of this (how can any one really hate pumpkin and sweet potato?).  So my approach with Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food breakfasts has been to work through the recipes to work out what I do like and then adapt the recipes if I don’t like the taste but like the recipe concept.

Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food is the cookbook I’ve written the most notes in!  I’ve enjoyed working out how to adapt the recipes I like the concept of as much as cooking the recipes I liked.  My favorites are Awesome Granola Dust, Pretty Fruit Posts and I love Earl Grey Banana Bread (I freeze the Banana Bread in slices and eat it as a snack).  I haven’t found any recipe of Bircher muesli I like but have found some great baked oatmeal recipes.

I enjoy watching Jamie’s Everyday Super Food TV series because the show provides extra information or tips that you don’t necessarily appreciate in the book.   You can check out recipes from the book here.

Of the other Jamie Oliver books I own my next favorite one is Cook with Jamie.

Eggy Bread
Notes on Eggy Bread recipe for a healthier version of French Toast

The Food Lab:  Better Home Cooking through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

The Food LabJ. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab is my cookbook for reading!  It’s the cookbook I read to learn more about the science that underpins cooking (which appeals to me with my science background).  I love how he explains that apprentice chefs in restaurants learn from the chef but don’t question what they learn while at home we learn from our family and cookbooks but never challenge the fundamentals. As you read through The Food Lab you realize how many of these fundamentals aren’t logical and don’t improve your cooking.

In terms of the recipes – they are more American style cooking which I enjoy being an Australian.  American style cooking is less common here in Australia. My only wish is I would have liked a metric version of the book.

The Food Lab also helped me organize my kitchen better.  Simple things like placing commonly used utensils in utensil holders close to the areas where I use them, using a Amco 2-in-1 Lemon & Lime Squeezer (for quickly squeezing lemon juice) and buying a good mandoline (I went with a Borner Mandoline because I’m accident prone) have made a difference.

And I’m now able to cook the perfect poach egg thanks to being introduced to Heston Blumenthal’s method of poaching eggs.

Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes

Matt PrestonMatt Preston’s books are my cookbooks I use for reading and for cooking.  Matt is a well known Australian food writer and MasterChef Australia Judge.  I love how he shares information on the history of different well known recipes and the inspirations behind his recipes.

Of the Matt Preston books I own 100 Best Recipes is my favorite.   Favorite recipes include ‘Lasagne that’s well worth the work’ and ‘That ex-girlfriend’s potato salad’.  My lasagne is based on Matt’s recipe using techniques I’ve learnt from Jamie Oliver’s Foodtube ‘How to cook classic lasagne’ video.  I cook half the quantity suggested in Matt’s recipe which is enough to feed us for two nights (family of four).

What Else?

My choices aren’t necessarily classic cookbooks.  But as a home cook, with discerning critics, my choices need to be based on cookbooks that provide recipes that are practical, work well and taste nice.

I’m always searching for new recipes or techniques to try.  Let me know in the comments below if you have any recipes or cookbooks I should check out.

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