Note: This post first appeared at Something Good to Read.
One thing I love about this time of year is the publication of various "10 best of 2009" lists. NPR recently published it's 10 best cookbooks of 2009. Some of these books look intriguing; some, not so much.
Included on the NPR list is Gourmet Today, from the folks at the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. The book is described as "a good go-to reference for basic matters of technique, like making fresh pasta or how to make a roux." Can the market absorb another giant-sized (1024 pages) cookbook such as this? I'm doubtful. And frankly, if there is room on your shelf for such a monster, consider instead picking up either Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, published in 2008, or his 2007 book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Both books are excellent.
Three books on NPR's list that did catch my eye are Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every, Savory Baking, and Clean Food. According to the book's description, Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You focuses on eating "seasonal, unprocessed, and locally-grown foods that are good for us and the environment." These are worthy goals and a new book on this topic might indeed deserve some of our precious shelf space.
Artisan Breads Every Day sounds appealing both because Peter Reinhart really knows bread and because I'm addicted to baking it. There is nothing like having everyone in the house crowd into the kitchen to wolf down warm, freshly baked bread with butter. If you are thinking about resolutions for 2010, consider adding 'bake more bread' to the list; it's not hard to do. Currently I'm working testing recipes from Jim Lahey's My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I'll add Peter Reinhart's book on my to-review list.
Finally, I will check out Savory Baking because while baking sugary treats is fine on occasion, it is more interesting to use herbs, nuts, mushrooms, and cheese. This book promises new recipes to do just that.
So much to read (and eat); so little time. Top 10 lists aren't perfect, but they do assist in separating the wheat from the chaff. As I find more top ten lists for 2009, I'll post about them here.