It’s that time again! I love coming up with these annual lists–I like that I don’t limit myself–anything that comes back to food is included–and it can really make me appreciate the year. Sometimes the item is not even a true recommendation, just something that made me happy. Affiliate links have been used to link to items where appropriate.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break. Ours was wonderful but too short (aren’t they always?). So, as always in no particular order, and with no further ado:
- Booze in hot chocolate. OK not particularly original, but sometimes I can take a while to clue in, and this past fall I officially discovered the many joys of alcohol in hot chocolate. So far my favorites are vanilla rum, tequila, peppermint schnapps plus Peppermint Kahlúa, Caramel Bailey’s plus Kahlúa, Maple Bourbon and Sweet Lucy Bourbon. Yes that is a lot of choices. I, uh, might have had a hot chocolate bar for more than one holiday event. Ahem.
- My favorite tool? You probably already guessed from the photo above, but OXO changed my life forever when they sent me their OXO Good Grips Cookie Press. John and my mother in law bought me the seasonal themed disks for Christmas and I am so excited to try them out also!
- TCHO Milk Chocolate finally came to Jungle Jim’s and is finally available at Amazon. This is the best chocolate I have ever tasted anywhere, period. I. LOVE. IT. It is too pricey to bake with, but for eating out of hand I am addicted. That first affiliate link will take you to the “Cacao” milk chocolate, which has a whopping 53% cacao (be still my beating heart!) but if you want a smaller batch to try or something a little less intense, try the TCHO Organic Serious Milk Classic, which has 39% cacao (nothing to sneeze at!). Both are excellent.
- Chai Pani, Asheville, NC and making chaat at home: if you were reading The Spiced Life back in the summer you guys know that this excellent Indian restaurant in Asheville was a total revelation for me, inspiring me to make my own chaat (Indian snack food) at home. Check out these mango chaat for an example–and for a great snack to serve for a Super Bowl party!
- This text. OK it is not a recommendation, but this remains one of my favorite things that happened in 2014 related to food:
- For someone with as many cookbooks as I have, 2014 upped my game still further. 2014 was the year publishers began seriously sending me cookbooks to review. For more about how I review books, see this review of Easy Indian Cooking, but in general my policy is I only accept books I expect to like, and you only hear about them when I do. When I come across a book I do not care for, you guys just do not hear about it. Some of my favorite reviews from this year include: Shroom; Sugar Rush; Simple Thai Cooking; Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: Rose Bakery; and Melt. You can add all of those books to my best cookbooks of 2014 list also, even though some were released before 2014.
- Experiencing regional (Yucatan) Mexican cuisine at La Choza in Cozumel!
- I finally acquired a slow cooker! You can check out all of my slow cooker recipes here.
- OK and now for my favorite cookbooks… in addition to those listed above, 2014 was a great year for Phaidon! Thailand: The Cookbook and Mexico: The Cookbook both ushered in a new era for the typical Phaidon cookbooks focusing on one country cuisine, featuring a lot more color photographs than they have in the past. Thailand especially won me over with its gorgeous photos of Thailand itself. The cookbook links here will take you to my reviews.
- 2014 was the year I really discovered Diana Henry. If you love Yotam Ottolenghi (for the kind of food) or Nigella Lawson (for the awesome writing), I highly recommend checking her out. A Change of Appetite was at the top of my Christmas list (thanks, John!) after I checked it out from the library. I have also acquired and have at the top of my piles to check out Pure Simple Cooking: Effortless Meals Every Day; Plenty; The Gastropub Cookbook; and Crazy Water Pickled Lemons: Enchanting Dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa. What can I say, when I discover a cookbook author I like I start acquiring their books! Especially when they have been around a while as it means I can find the older books at good used prices. Henry’s writing is terrific–A Change of Appetite really sums up a lot of how I feel about food and all of the various news we keep learning about what is healthy and what is not. I highly recommend you check it out.
- Books I loved reading but have not cooked from yet. All of these books were acquired in 2014 (if not published then), and in all cases I could not put them down. I have not cooked from them yet, but in all cases I have bookmarked many recipes and read them cover to cover!:
- Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland
- Kim Sunee’s A Mouthful of Stars: A Constellation of Favorite Recipes from My World Travels
- Carla Hall’s Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World
- Einat Admony’s Balaboosta
- Marilyn Tausend’s Savoring Mexico: Recipes and Reflections on Mexican Cooking
- Rachel Khoo’s My Little French Kitchen: Over 100 Recipes from the Mountains, Market Squares, and Shores of France.
- Cookbooks that are worth the purchase price for the single recipe I was inspired to make from them (full disclosure: in some cases these are review copies that I did not have to pay for; links are to my reviews with recipes):
- Prerna Singh’s The Everything Indian Slow Cooker Cookbook: Includes Pineapple Raita, Tandoori Chicken Wings, Mulligatawny Soup, Lamb Vindaloo, Five-Spice Strawberry Chutney…and hundreds more! This is an odd one I fully admit, but do not let the “Everything” label throw you off. I have loved everything I have made from this book, and it has been featured on this site more than once.
- And last, as always every January, those cookbooks from 2014 I am super excited to have acquired but that I have barely even opened:
- David Sterling’s Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition (The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere)
- Rawia Bishara’s Olives, Lemons & Za’atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking
- Nicole Spiridakis’ Flourless.: Recipes for Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts
- Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere
- Charles Phan’s The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food
- Kamran Siddiqi’s Hand Made Baking: Recipes to Warm the Heart
- Diane Kochilas’ Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die
- Hugh Carpenter’s Mexican Flavors: Contemporary Recipes from Camp San Miguel
- Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi
And that’s not even counting all the cookbooks I still hope to get my hands on!
Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy says
How awesome is that cookie press! We are big fans of spritz cookies in my house. I used to make them with my grandma, and now I make them with my kids. Looks like you do too. And thanks for all the cookbook recommendations– now I have a long list to keep me busy. Happy New Year, Dana
I had never used one before and it was a total revelation. Happy New Year back!
Mary Bostow says
I don’t know how you find the time to read every cookbook , make recipes and still be sane! You are incredible!
My family might question the sanity claim 🙂 but I love reading cookbooks! That is my relaxation!
Great post Laura! It has been a great year of books and recipes. Your reviews sum it up perfectly!
I love hearing about all the cookbooks you’ve received and loved in the past year! Obviously I read along, but it’s nice to have them all summed up like this. Many are on my wishlist as well!
We have a Chai Pani here too for when you visit again!