It’s the time of year when everyone is posting those year-end best of and favorites lists, so I thought I’d join in the fun and put together a list of my 10 favorite cookbooks of 2012. These cookbooks and other foodie gift ideas can be found in my gift guide in my Amazon store.
I should preface this list by saying I’m terrible about picking favorites. I’m indecisive and can never pick just one of anything. When I go shopping and find a sweater that I like, I inevitably end up buying it in two colors because I can’t pick just one. (This is probably why I ended up with so many cookbooks to begin with.) While I’m incapable of picking favorites, I do like making lists so writing this post has been an interesting experiment. And because of my ineptness at picking favorites, this list is in order of the book’s release rather than my particular fondness for it.
Practically Raw by Amber Shea Crawley This book helped keep the heat out of my kitchen this summer. If you’ve been wanting to try raw foods but have been afraid of all of the gadgets, kitchen doodads and weird ingredients that you’ll need to buy, Practically Raw is the perfect book for you. The recipes are flexible and most come with lists ingredient substitutions, preparation variations and cooking instructions if applicable. Don’t have a dehydrator to make kale chips? No problem! There are instructions for how to make them in an oven. Can’t find medjool dates for your smoothie? Don’t worry! There’s a list of substitutions. This book is perfect for the raw-curious, and for people who want to ease themselves into raw eating. If you are familiar with raw food prep, you will still enjoy this Practically Raw, as it’s packed with lots of delicious and creative recipes.
Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton This book is jammed full of mouth watering recipes such as Three’s Company Pie (chocolate, peanut butter and banana), Breakfast Cookies and Truffled Cashew Cheese. Since there is information on kitchen appliances and a section on pantry basics, Let them Eat Vegan is a good starter book for those who are new to vegan cooking, but it’s also an excellent book for seasoned cooks who are looking for new recipes to add to their repertoire. The dishes here are easy to make, but are also creative and flavorful. And they are sure to please just about everyone – kids, adults and even the most hardened carnivore. The recipes are all plant-based, so there are no packed-processed ingredients, and quite a lot of them are food-allergy friendly.
Grilling Vegan Style by John Schlimm When I wasn’t inside prepping raw food this summer, I could be found outside next to my grill. John starts Grilling Vegan Style out with a grilling primer, and then explains the ins and outs of grilling foods such as tofu, tempeh and seitan. He even goes into vegan ingredients such as margarine and marshmallows, for those who are new to vegan cooking. There are recipes for just about every food in the plant based world here, from pizza and sandwiches to fruit, vegetables and even lettuce. Yes, lettuce! I bet you didn’t even know you could grill lettuce, did you? There’s even a chapter full of summertime cocktails such as BLEEP! on the Beach and Sassy Sangria. Just like in The Tipsy Vegan, John’s fun personality shows through and he proves that vegan food is anything but boring.
Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer Gluten-free food is boring and tasteless, right? Wrong! Allyson Kramer proves that not only is gluten-free food incredibly delicious, there’s a wide variety of meals to be made in the world of gluten-free cooking. Allyson starts the book out with the basics of a gluten-free pantry, explaining the wide array of gluten-free flours. She then provides a guide of vegan substitutes for common dairy items such as milk and eggs, for those that aren’t too familiar with vegan cooking. The recipes vary from simple dishes such as Simple Homemade Pasta and Basic Brown Bread to more complex fare like Saffron-Infused White Chili and Asparagus & Mushroom Tacos with Cilantro Mayonnaise. Whether you’re vegan or gluten-free (or both – or even neither) you will be thrilled with the amount of delicious recipes that are packed into Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats.
Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas This book could be called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Greens But Were Afraid to Ask! There’s a leafy green nutrition primer; information on buying, storing, freezing and dehydrating greens; basic cooking techniques; and even a greens introduction which lists the different types of greens, what they taste like and how to cook them. The book is divided into five sections: Basic Preparation; Greens with Beans, Grains, Pasta and Other Vegetables; Salads, Dressings and Dips (including a section on massaged kale salads – my favorite!); Greens in Soups and Stews; and Green Juices and Smoothies. There are even numerous sauce and dressing recipes for basic cooked greens and raw salads. Wild About Greens is a must-have for any cookbook collection!
Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen My VeggieGuy loves just about anything in sandwich form, so he was beyond excited when he saw that I had a new cookbook called Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. And with all of the beautiful photographs and creative recipes packed inside, I was pretty happy about it too! In fact, I’m pretty amazed at just how many amazing sandwich recipes authors Celine Steen and Tamsin Noyes were able to concoct. Who knew there were so many different combinations of foods that could be placed between two slices of bread? The recipes here will take you from breakfast all the way through dessert, and with this book you’ll even be able to bake your own bread and make your own meatless sandwich slices.
Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson In the spring summer I make a lot of raw and grilled foods, but in the cooler fall and autumn months I crave warming soups and stews, and I like to make them in my slow cooker so that dinner’s waiting for me at the end of the day. If you’re new to slow cookers, you’re in luck, because Robin starts Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker out with an extensive chapter on slow cooker basics. Everything you could possibly imagine cooking up in your slow cooker is covered here, from snacks and appetizers to dessert and drinks with a plethora of tasty dishes in between. Did you know that you can make pizza in a slow cooker? I didn’t either! You can even make bread, marmalade and cheesecake! Robin’s simple instructions make cooking just about anything in the slow cooker seem easy. She also gives gluten-free and soy-free options, so there’s really something for everyone here.
Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner When I first heard about this book I was expecting it to be full of cheese recipes, but Artisan Vegan Cheese contains much more than instructions on cheese making. It’s full of recipes for everything from cashew chèvre and sharp cheddar to pumpkin cheesecake and tiramisu, with tons of recipes for meals using the cheeses you’ve just made. Cheese making may sound difficult, and the recipes might look a little daunting because they take a while, but the truth is they’re very easy and the hands-on time is very short. What takes a while is the fermentation process which can take anywhere from a few hours to a week. Not everything needs to ferment and there are also instructions for making super quick cheeses such as nut parmesan and easy tofu ricotta. The book contains recipes for vegan versions of other products you might miss from your dairy eating days such as sour cream and almond milk.
Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie Newman This is a gorgeous book with an easy to read layout and beautiful full-page photos taken by Celine Steen. Vegan Food Gifts is full of everything you need to get yourself going in the area of food gift giving, from gift box templates and copiable gift tags to recipes and canning instructions. Each recipe includes ideas on how to gift the finished product, and all of the just-add-water recipes are accompanied by a cute illustrated card that can be photocopied and attached to the finished product. All of the recipes use easy-to-find ingredients that omnivores won’t think are “too weird” to try, and every project has a key rating level of difficulty, cost and speed of completion. Ms Newman has also included a list of sources to find jars and other crafting supplies, making the gifting process even easier.
Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero The first word that came to mind when I saw Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World was “epic”. This is really the War and Peace of cookbooks, as Terry created 300 (yes, 300!) new recipes inspired by cuisine from around the world. Vegan Eats World will take your kitchen on a culinary world tour with recipes for dishes from such far away places as Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, Korea and Morocco. Recipes range from easy week night fare to more time consuming weekend dishes, and there’s a handy icon key to let you know if the recipe is a quick one, if most of the cooking time is inactive, if the ingredients are inexpensive, if the recipe is good for the kitchen novice as well as if recipes are gluten-free, oil-free or soy-free. As always, Terry writes in a casual tone that makes you feel as if you’re hanging out in your kitchen with a good friend.
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