who are your favorite recipe/cookbook/food writers?
March 1, 2020 4:49 PM   Subscribe

i've been in a cooking rut, and i really want to find some new cookbook writers/chefs to get excited about. who do you recommend?

i have a decent, basic foundation in cooking - i really liked learning techniques from salt, fat, acid, heat, but what i LOVE and am hoping to find more of are cookbook/recipe writers i can follow - two that i adore, and have made a lot of recipes from, are alison roman and deb from smitten kitchen. i love how they both keep ingredients/processes fairly simple and attainable, and yet are creative, draw inspiration from all kinds of places, and still feel a little decadent or fancy. i also feel like cooking a bunch of recipes from the same people gives me a better sense of their sensibility and worldview...and helps me cultivate my own. (i'm not good enough at cooking to be improvising my own recipes, yet!)

can you help me find new/more chefs to follow? whether it's online or physical cookbooks - i'm open to all kinds of cuisines.
posted by lightgray to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've followed for 40+ years the New York Times recipes. Some call for ingredients that I can't find in my smallish Old South city, but I enjoy the variety. Many are quite simple and use/combine ingredients I wouldn't think of using. Sam Sifton of the NYT has a weekly blog about what to cook this weekend that is often a trigger to new recipes for me. NYT has a firewall but I'm a subscriber. Don't know if you can get to this link.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:09 PM on March 1


Nik Sharma @abrowntable for californian food through an indian lens, or maybe indian food through a californian lens. his cookbook Season is excellent and he publishes recipes in the sf chronicle and online.

Frank Prinsinzano @frankprinsinzano on instagram is a professional chef in nyc who uses social media like someone in their sixties - he posts 50+ segment instagram stories with his various methods (he doenst believe in recipes). watching him cook and listening to his advice will make you a better cook if you can get over/enjoy the schtick.

Andrea Nguyen (@andreanguyen88) has published some really good vietnamese cookbooks and her instagram and home cooking are less traditional and more improvisational stuff influenced by her background. her voice and attitude come through in all her published stuff and she just seems delightful and like someone id love to spend time around (in a similar way to the two/three women you mentioned in your post - im counting samin nosrat)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:20 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Former Gourmet Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year chronicles her year after Gourmet folded. She's a great writer, and also her recipes are generally pretty simple but have some interesting twists that elevate them above your ordinary stuff.

Ming Tsai has some great recipes if you're looking for Asian cooking. (Bonus, his stuff is on PBS.)

Friends are huge fans of Maangchi on YouTube for Korean home cooking.

Also, I've found that following the Food52 Genius recipes has led to some great discoveries, like Roberto Santibañez' Classic Guacamole and Canal House's Chicken Thighs with Lemon.
posted by toastyk at 5:22 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


2nding Ming Tsai and adding in (fellow PBS-er) Ellie Krieger. I've long been a fan, but a few months back I bought her Whole In One cookbook (Complete, healthy meals in a single pot, sheet pan or skillet) and it got me out of a cooking rut. I like her philosophy of just because it's easy and healthy it doesn't have to be tasteless or boring.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:50 PM on March 1


I love AR and Deb and I also adore Julia Turshen @turshen.
posted by sallybrown at 5:54 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


And—my favorite food writer of all time is Laurie Colwin, who wrote Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. In a lot of ways her writing was like a precursor to the vibe of both those writers.
posted by sallybrown at 5:56 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Pailin Chongchitnant's Hot Thai Kitchen/Pailin's Kitchen channel and cookbook have taught me everything about Thai cooking and working with common Thai ingredients, all geared at basic home supplies plus she's based in Canada so is able to provide useful recommendations and substitutions for things that are really hard to find in North America.

If you've been sleeping on the juggernaut that is Bon Appétit's media empire, there are several cooks/series that are just fun to watch but there's also just a less-flashy set of "here's one of the editors cooking a recipe from the magazine" - see their "From the Test Kitchen" playlist.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:14 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Lyn Never beat me to the Hot Thai Kitchen recommendation! I am appreciative of her work to the point where I signed up with Patreon exclusively to support her (I have probably at least 20 recipes of hers in my normal “rotation,” which is a lot higher than for any other cook.)
posted by andrewesque at 6:25 PM on March 1


J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats is, IMO, the best food writer out there. Given the choice between him and all other recipe writers combined, I’d take him. He’s got some quirks (really big on sous vide, for example) that I don’t share, but he'll never lead you astray.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:33 PM on March 1 [9 favorites]


I picked up a copy of Joshua McFadden's Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables about six months ago, and every single recipe I've tried has been excellent. I highly recommend it.

Serious Eats and Simply Recipes are my two favorite cooking blogs. I also go to NY Times Cooking quite a bit.
posted by montbrarian at 6:49 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


I can't remember how I found Jenn Segal, but she's a gem. Some of my very favorite recipes are from her, and she's very good at explaining *why* you should do things a certain way. Even though she is a classically-trained chef and recipe creator, she is willing to advocate (and use!) reasonable shortcuts; for instance, she really doesn't see the need to make a quiche crust from scratch when frozen pie crusts are excellent and easily obtained.
posted by DrGail at 6:55 PM on March 1


Rick Bayless does really good explanations and recipes for Mexican cooking.
posted by uncaken at 7:11 PM on March 1


Clotilde Dusoulier is delightful. I've looked in on her from the early days of her blog, and have three of her books now; she's got a charming voice, she addresses a wide variety of diets over the course of her career (meaning: she's been writing more and more vegetarian and vegan recipes), and she has a refreshing love of cooking.

Binging With Babish is a bit of a stunt blog - he's recreating foods from movies and TV shows - but he has a subsection of his blog and channel called "Basics with Babish" that is more of a general cooking advice/core recipes blog. And Andrew Rea is fun, not gonna lie.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:42 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


I also have learned a lot from Hot Thai Cooking. Another of my favorite cooks is Maangchi, a fount of information about Korean cooking. Her attitude is cheery and infectious. Maangchi has many videos available on youtube as well.
posted by Agave at 8:07 PM on March 1


You may like Six Seasons, which is focused on vegetable recipes throughout the year. The author isn't really a celebrity chef with a whole slew of cookbooks, though.

These are more ingredient-focused, but you may like to explore Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's books, I especially liked his book on meat, which informed my braising technique. British cookbooks tend to underseason things, you may have to add more salt and spices. You may like the Ottolenghi cookbooks (there are more): 1, 2

If you want an oldie but goodie, with a lot of story, what about Julia Child? I like The Way to Cook, but she also has Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which are both worth getting.

Jacques Pepin has a book on kitchen technique, which may be helpful if you want more of a ground to jump off from.
posted by Lycaste at 8:22 PM on March 1


Meera Sodha's East has seen a lot of use in our house this year, and she has the smartness with flavours, modern but not obscure ingredients, and not-too-fussiness of recipes that I also love about Alison Roman.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:19 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Yotam Ottolenghi - Simple (link to the guardian but his cookbook is the same)

Feast by NIgella Lawson (link to all her books). Her tv programmes became a bit of a parody (i.e. slinking around in a nightgown eating butter) but her recipes are great!

Mandalay by Mi Mi Aye - I have this, but haven't made much out of it. Beatiful book and really interesting recipes.
And have you heard of Jack Monroe? She became well-known for her budget recipes but whatever I've made of hers I've liked too.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 4:03 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


J Kenji Alt Lopez. When I want to make something new, I always check first to see if he's got a version out there.
posted by dbx at 4:08 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Smitten Kitchen (Deb Perelman) and Yotam Ottolenghi are two of my go-tos.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 4:10 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


A second vote here for Nigella Lawson's cookery writing : definitely something you can get inspired by.

And a separate vote for Nigel Slater; he's deceptively good at updating traditional recipes and techniques for a modern cook, and I really enjoy what he ends up with.
posted by vincebowdren at 4:39 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Check out the Milk Street magazine and cookbooks (and TV show). It was started by Christopher Kimball after he left America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Illustrated. It’s very similar in format, but from what I’ve seen, the recipes are much more modern and interesting and come from or are inspired by many different international cuisines.
posted by odin53 at 5:30 AM on March 2


Seconding Meera Sodha - I actually don't have East, though I've been meaning to check it out, but I own both of her previous books Made in India and Fresh India and can't recommend them enough. A fresh, modern approach to Indian cooking, very approachable, yet she retains the important parts of the cuisine. And her recipes are really well-tested - I haven't had one fail me yet.
posted by peacheater at 5:59 AM on March 2


Also, if you love Deb and Alison Roman, I think Melissa Clark is also likely to be a winner for you. She publishes a lot of recipes in the NYTimes, but her cookbook Dinner: Changing the Game gets my personal vote for highest ratio of recipes you'll actually cook to recipes published. Just like Meera Sodha, she's really good at simplifying to get at the essence of a recipe. She draws from a wide variety of cuisines.
posted by peacheater at 6:01 AM on March 2 [6 favorites]


Yotam Ottolenghi, Heston Blumenthal
posted by megan_magnolia at 6:06 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


David Lebovitz has a lot of great stuff that goes beyond his experience as a pastry chef. And there's the added benefit of his thoughts and observations as an American living in Paris.
posted by lowest east side at 6:09 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


The Guardian's Felicity Cloake has a series: How to cook the perfect... I find it very inspiring, both for when I'm trying to figure out what to eat and for when I want to cook something I don't have a recipe for. I always double-check with what Kenji Lopez-Alt or Daniel Gritzer have to say at Serious Eats, though.
Even though you don't subscribe to the NYTimes cooking section (it's a separate subscription), you can subscribe to their newsletter. I do, because it's full of good ideas. Then I find the recipes elsewhere.
I like Ottolenghi a lot, though right now, most of the vegetables here are depressing. I feel Nigel Slater is better at dealing with Northern seasons.
Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat is a book I want to buy but I haven't bought it yet. I'm linking to the website because there are some recipes from the Netflix show that was based on the book, so you can try them out before buying.
posted by mumimor at 8:21 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan has been my favorite for a while now. I was never a huge fan of the magazine, but pretty much every recipe I've tried from the book has been great, and some of them are definitely in my heavy rotation (like the massaman curry or the miso chicken and rice that you make in a rice cooker or pressure cooker).
posted by 6and12 at 10:29 AM on March 2




yay, this is exactly what i was hoping for!!! thank you all for the excellent suggestions - i'll be slowly reading and cooking through them!
posted by lightgray at 1:25 PM on March 4


Ella Risberger's Midnight Chicken is a great one for explaining remedial action you can take when you think you've broken it.

Nth-ing Ottolenghi (noting the challenges of rare ingredients and unusual approaches that aren't hard but need to be approached with confidence), Clotilde Dusoulier, Deb Perelman, Jack Monroe, Andrea Clark's How to cook the perfect... and Andrew Rea's Basics with Babish.
posted by k3ninho at 3:48 PM on March 4


I keep a spreadsheet where I track all the new recipes I've tried over the past several years. I just filtered it down to the ones I rated highly, and one name immediately jumped out: Melissa Clark. She's prolific (a long-time columnist for NYT Cooking) so not every recipe will be a winner, and she may not be as charismatic and charming as Deb Perelman or Alison Roman (who I also like). But overall, her recipes are reliably delicious, and I think fit the bill of what you're looking for -- not fussy, attainable and straightforward to make, with her own spin. Two of my favorites from her book Dinner: Changing the Game -- harissa chicken with potatoes and leeks, and Vietnamese caramel salmon. She has a new book out, Dinner in French, based on her childhood memories of summering in France... I can't wait to cook from it.

Surprised no one's mentioned Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) or Diana Henry yet. I think Ina is the proto-"simple-but-delicious-and-slightly-decadent" cookbook writer, and Diana is a master of drawing inspiration from all around the world while maintaining her own voice and point of view. (I personally find Diana's actual recipes a little inconsistent, but YMMV, and her creativity and the diversity of her recipes are definitely inspiring.)

Also... I absolutely adore Emiko Davies's Italy-focused cookbooks and blog. (She's Australian and totally deserves more recognition in America.) I haven't cooked any of her recipes yet (mostly because I'm a little intimidated), but her photography and writing are beautiful and thoughtful. I have all 3 of her cookbooks, and I love curling up on the couch and savoring them. She has one on Florence, another on Tuscany's coast, and a third inspired by her Italian husband's family history.
posted by amillionbillion at 8:50 AM on April 13


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