Help I need pretty food pictures
November 6, 2009 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Help for the food-imagining-impaired: cookbooks and sources of recipes with pretty pictures?

My husband doesn't consider food FOOD until it's cooked, so I generally decide and make what we eat. He wants to start putting together meal plans, so to help I want to surprise him with cookbooks (or other recipe sources) with pretty pictures that make him salivate.

This realization came from the other day where he was looking at canned soups and was easily biased by their food photography. I'd like to help him with his food decision-making abilities, and he has basically no ability to imagine what food tastes like from a recipe, so I thought that getting him some resources with food photographed at its tastiest might help.

I'm rather cookbook retarded - I have the Joy of Cooking, an Italian and two crockpot cookbooks - all of which were gifts. When I think of something to eat, I generally go cruising on the internet and amalgamate several recipes into something tasty.

Bonus for food that is fairly simple to make - while I like to try fancy recipes sometimes, I tend to stick to fairly simple things on weekdays.

Extra bonus for things HE could make - he has a mastery of the microwave, can make pasta (and reheat sauce), chop/slice/peel things, etc.

We have a fairly well-stocked kitchen, including a multitude of spices, blender, mixer, full set of pots/pans, good knives, rice cooker, fondue pot, and a crock pot, if that helps.

I am planning on stopping by a used bookstore on the way home - what should I look for?
posted by bookdragoness to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Not only is the food delicious (earthy but elegant as the author, Ina Garten says), but the pictures are amazing.
posted by la petite marie at 11:30 AM on November 6, 2009

P.S. Click on the Recipes link on that page and you'll see a sample of the pictures.
posted by la petite marie at 11:32 AM on November 6, 2009

For online resources, Epicurious lets you search and then order your search by photo presence. Here's an example of the quick and easy section ordered by having a photo.

Also online, Tastespotting collects images from food blogs in one handy website. If nothing else, it will make you hungry over and over again.

These websites are not precisely what you asked for (cookbooks) but they are good places to sit the husband down in front of for twenty minutes.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:36 AM on November 6, 2009

Seconding Tastespotting and throwing Foodgawker into the mix as well. There is a good chunk of overlap between the two, but it's how I find just about all the recipes that I make because I definitely need the 'here is a pretty picture' thing to keep me going.
posted by sperose at 11:53 AM on November 6, 2009

I am in love with book series from the Culinary Institute of America. While, it does have beautiful food photography with its recipes, it also teaches technique, which many books don't.
posted by thebestsophist at 11:56 AM on November 6, 2009

The Taste of Home family of magazines (Taste of Home, Simple & Delicious, etc.) are very photo-heavy and have some great recipes. They also publish photo-heavy cookbook collections of the recipes from their magazines.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:59 AM on November 6, 2009

In addition to the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (Back to Basics, especially), I'd also recommend Giada Delaurentiis' cookbooks if you like Italian food.

Seconding the Tastespotting and FoodGawker recommendations. That's my favorite way to search for recipes by photos.

You might also try taking a look at some food magazines. Fine Cooking and Cooking Light both have scrumptious food photos.
posted by geeky at 12:13 PM on November 6, 2009

Thanks to everyone who's responded so far - these are exactly what I've been looking for!

I meant to add in the original post that websites/magazines/etc are awesome too - I was inspired for this question by a magazine I read in the doctor's office that had great pictures.

One of my best tools for getting him to decide what to eat is to watch Man Vs. Food - it never fails!
posted by bookdragoness at 12:22 PM on November 6, 2009

Mess with him a bit...The Eat Clean Diet for Men.

No really... its actually a decent cookbook designed to improve overall eating habbits with familiar enough recipies that your guy might not mind eating healthy as well.

Note: I am classically trained, so I do disagree with some of the stuff in the book. I substitute in butter when I want it. I use sugar, brown sugar and molasses. I pan sear, and pan fry, which I don't think there's a lot of in the book (its bake, broil, grill and braise) but, I mix a few things in a few times a week to improve my overall health.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:33 PM on November 6, 2009

Okay, they aren't all super easy or lowfat, but the recipes that The Pioneer Woman publishes on her blog are beautifully photographed and delicious. She photographs step by step and makes it seem easy. Plus she's funny. Several times I've decided what to have for dinner immediately after looking at her posts. Plus - she has a new book out and a link to a publicly submitted recipe site.
posted by LilBit at 1:07 PM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

The woman from Smitten Kitchen has nice photos accompanying her recipes. She also has a section talking about how she goes about getting her great pictures, if you're interested.
posted by waitangi at 3:06 PM on November 6, 2009

second Smitten Kitchen
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 9:07 AM on November 7, 2009

I unfortunately wasn't able to find most of these books at the used bookstore - I'll have to try somewhere else. I got him "The Chinese and Asian Kitchen Bible" that I found there because of its pretty pictures and tasty recipes, and I'll check out the others as I can.

I've marked best answers where I was able to get a feeling for the suggested resources and may mark more as I look the other ones up.

Thanks again!
posted by bookdragoness at 10:59 AM on November 7, 2009

Jamie Oliver's cookbooks are full of pretty photos, and the recipes are simple.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:34 PM on November 7, 2009

It sounds like you are in America. Buy your cookery books from (or better, for free postage), because what you're asking for is standard in the UK.
posted by westerly at 1:34 PM on November 8, 2009

« Older Correct parts for a Bernette/Bernina 812 sewing...   |   Cherry cola in Toronto? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.