the taste space

My Favourite Cookbooks (and How to Slim Down to 10)

Posted in Book Review, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on March 17, 2012

Rob thinks I can trim my traveling bookcase to less than 20 cookbooks.  I can do it. It is only a year, right? Even though my move is not for a while, I am brainstorming how I would select only 10 cookbooks.

I know cookbooks serve many purposes – to educate about ingredients and how to cook, to share tried-and-true recipes or merely an inspiration for which my own recipes can spring to life. For me, the most important part of the cookbook are the recipes. First and foremost, how do they taste? Next, how hard are the recipes? Are there multiple steps and how long will it take to make them? In addition, what kind of ingredients do I need? Surprisingly, I don’t feel the need for multiple photos. I read cookbooks, instead of glossing through them as picture books. I obviously adjust the recipes to suit my own tastes, and share my adapted recipes on this blog.

With that in mind, I thought I would share my favourite cookbooks and the recipes I have really enjoyed from each (no duds listed here!). Any killer recipes I’ve missed? Not that I need more cookbooks, but what are your must-keep cookbooks?

1. Radiant Health, Inner Wealth by Tess Challis {vegan}

My kitchen was revolutionized when I discovered Tess’ cookbooks. Fresh, flavourful food without too much fuss. Here are the recipes I recommend from her 3 cookbooks.

- Chicky Baby Seasoning (this is the best stock substitute and I use it all the time!)
– Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Rosemary and Garlic (recipe elsewhere)
Baked Lemon Cilantro Pakoras
– Creamy Low-Fat Hummus

- Edamame Miso Dip
- Indian-Spiced Superseed Porridge
- Lemon Ginger Miso Soup
- Mango-Cucumber Spring Rolls with Thai sweet chili sauce
- Zucchini Chips to Dry For (recipe elsewhere)
- 15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles
- Shiitake, Walnut, and Cranberry Salad with Adzuki Beans
- Moroccan Quinoa
Chili Lime Noodles
THE Peanut Sauce (original recipe elsewhere)
Mediterranean Collard Wrap with Hummus, Artichoke Hearts and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Fresh Greek Delight, original recipe elsewhere)
– Alethea’s Caribbean Black Beans
- Rosemary White Beans with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Dolmadas
– Fat-Free Red Lentils and Spinach with Tamarind
Zesty Unfried Refried Beans
– Tamarind Chutney
– Easy Indian Mung Beans (recipe elsewhere)
Dillicious Yellow Tofu
– Saag “Paneer”
- Thai Tropical Fruit and Tofu Salad
- Moroccan Barley and Pea Shoot Salad
- Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad
- Spinach, Orange, and Toasted Almond Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
– Toasted Sesame Orange Teriyaki Vegetable and Quinoa Bowl

- Red Lentil, Spinach and Lemon Soup
- Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries
- Raw Mixed Berry Crisp
- Tropical Mango Pie
– Everything Nice Popcorn (recipe elsewhere)

2. The Two Week Wellness Solution by Tess Challis {vegan}

- Apple Pie Amaranth Oatmeal
– Savory Sage and Red Lentil Soup
– Moroccan French Lentils
Warm Mediterranean Chickpea and Spinach Salad
– Almost Raw Asian Kale and Edamame Salad

- Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad
- Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap
- Garlicky and Lemony Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Salad
- Sexy Saucy Noodles with Thai Skinny Dipping Sauce
– Shiitake-Basil Spring Rolls
– Raw Cinnamon-Raisin Barley Energy Cookies
Raw Lemon Barley Energy Cookies

3. Radiance 4 Life by Tess Challis  {vegan}

- Maca My Day
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry Shake
– Strawberry Vanilla Milkshake
– Breakfast Quinoa
- Green Velvet Guacamole (aka Edamame Guacamole)
– Supercharged Hummus
Onion Dill Miso Dressing
Miso Healthy Dressing
Lemon Asparagus Quinoa Toss
Asparagus Pecan Quinoa Salad with a Maple-Mustard Dressing
- 15-Minute White Bean and Kale Soup
Holy Shiitake Lentil Soup
Ginger Lime Carrot Soup (with Sweet Potato Hummus)
- Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and  a Mango Salsa
Smoky One Pot Beans and Bulgur with Kale
- Everyday Chicky Gravy (not my favourite)
– Happiness Bowl
– Fast and Forbidden Fried Rice
– Immune Boon Noodles
– Almost Raw Quinoa Toss
Rosemary Mushroom Risotto, aka Rustic Rebel Risotto
– Hungarian Chickpeas (recipe elsewhere)
– Pineapple Tempeh with Red Rice
Sweet and Simple Glazed Tempeh
– Heavenly Raw Chocolate Sauce
- Raw Mango Paradise Bars
- Maca Chip Raw Energy Balls
– Cacao-Cacao Chip Cookies (recipe elsewhere)
Raw Cinnamon Raisin Balls (recipe elsewhere)
– Dark Chocolate Mint Cookies (recipe elsewhere)
– Gingersnap Nuggets

4. Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz {vegan}

I go through periods where I love this cookbook and then I set it down for a while. Not all recipes have been winners, but these have been my favourites.

- Cool Slaw (recipe elsewhere)
– Roasted Beet, Orange and Brown Rice Salad with an Orange Sesame Vinaigrette

Sushi Roll Edamame Collard Wrap with Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette
– Smoky Split Pea Soup (I preferred this soup)
– Hottie Black Eyed Peas and Greens (recipe elsewhere)
- Sauteed Kasha and Mushrooms with Dill
- Chickpea Piccata
- Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal
- White Bean, Quinoa and Kale Stew with Fennel
- Braised Cabbage with Chorizo Seitan Sausage
- Forty Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli
- Mango BBQ Beans
- Smoky Tempeh and Chard Stew
- Yam and Black Bean Stew with Orange and Cilantro
– Lettuce Wraps with Mustard-Hoisin Tofu Salad (recipe elsewhere, I preferred this tofu recipe)
– Grilled Portobello Burgers (recipe elsewhere, but I preferred this recipe)
– Caribbean Curry Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains (recipe elsewhere)
- Tamarind BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potatoes

5. Love Soup by Anna Thomas {vegetarian}

It is no secret that I love soup and I love Love Soup by Anna Thomas. All of the soups have been real gems, flavourful and healthy. However, one draw-back is that the recipes are usually pretty long and dirty a lot of dishes.

- Green Soup with Ginger
– Springtime Mushroom Barley Soup (aka Barley, Asparagus, Mushroom and Fennel Soup)
- Pickle Soup
- Finnish Double Pea Stew with Apples
– Caramelized Cabbage Soup (recipe elsewhere)
- Roasted Carrot and Lentil Soup with Harissa and Mint
– Spicy Black Bean Soup with Sweet Red Peppers (recipe elsewhere)
- Spicy Indonesian Yam and Peanut Soup
– Pureed Soup of Carrot and Yam with Citrus and Spices (recipe elsewhere)
Black Bean Soup with Roasted Red Peppers, Lime and Cilantro
- Warm Lentil and Swiss Chard Salad

6. For the Love of Food by Denis Cotter {vegetarian}

I peruse this cookbook more than I cook from it because while all the recipes are mouth-watering, they typically include multiple steps for one dish. When I do bust them out, though, the recipes have been nice.

- Borlotti Bean, Zucchini and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
– Black Bean Soup with Chocolate and Chillies with an Avocado Salsa (recipe elsewhere)
– Wild Rice Bowl with Ginger-Braised Leeks and a Sweet Pepper, Chilli and Caper Sauce (recipe elsewhere)
- Pan-Seared King Oyster Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy in a Coconut Tamarind Sauce with a Caramelized Leek and Wasabi Millet Mash
- New Potato, Cauliflower, Chickpea and Green Bean Thai Curry with a Cucumber and Coriander Salsa
Roast Pumpkin Soup with Chickpeas, Fennel & Leeks (original recipe elsewhere)

7. Olive Trees and Honey by Gil Marks {vegetarian}

This is a collection of Jewish recipes from around the world. What I love about this vegetarian cookbook is that there are plenty of variations with each recipe. Swapping a single spice will transfer a dish from an Indian version to a Syrian delicacy.

- Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions (Mujaddara, Mengedarrah)
Sephardic Green Beans and Carrots with Tomatoes (Fassoulia)
Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Yemesir Aleetcha)

8. 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyers {meat dishes included but lots of veg*n}

This is one daunting of a cookbook but when we tackle it, the results have been great. It is also one reason we have a large collection of spices and beans.

- Sambhar Masala
– Bengali Panch Phoran
Sesame-Flavoured Blend with Peanuts and Coconut (Maharashtrian Garam Masala)
– Avocado Chutney
Avocado Chutney
Roulade of Collard Leaves with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango
– Cinnamon-Flavoured Black Eyed Peas (recipe elsewhere)
– Chicken simmered in a pumpkin-lentil sauce with fenugreek (Murghi dhansaak) [made without the chicken] (recipe elsewhere)
- Plantains and Cabbage with Pigeon Peas
- Toasted Split Green Lentils with Spinach
Chickpeas with Mango Powder
– Minty Rice Layered with Chickpeas and Greens (Chickpea and Spinach Biryani)
- Tempeh Tikka Masala
- Mutter Paneer

9. Rebar by Audrey Alsterburg and Wanda Urbanowicz {vegetarian}

This cookbook has phenomenal soups and salads. Every time I pick it up there is another recipe I bookmark. The long ingredient lists can be daunting but definitely worthwhile.

- Bombay Hummus
Greek Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Rosemary
- Tomato Tarragon Soup
- Smoky Split Pea Soup with Roasted Garlic and Sage
- Christmas Eve Borscht (or Barszcz)
Kasha Salad with Roasted Beets and Green Beans in a Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette
- Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Corn Salad
- Lemon Miso Tofu and Eggplant
- Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Allspice

10. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi {vegetarian}

Master of combining new ingredients, this is a great way to try something you have likely never thought of before. A lot of his recipes have been previously published through his column at The Guardian.

- Snowpeas, Snap Peas and Fava Beans in a Tomato-Cardamom Sauce (Mixed Beans with Many Spices and Lovage)
- Pomegranate, Snap Pea and Barley Salad with Dill and Allspice
Quinoa Wraps with Sweet Potato and Dried Iranian Lime and a Sweet Tahini Dipping Sauce (combination of Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potato and Dried Iranian Lime with his Sweet Tahini Sauce)
– Fried Lima Beans with Spinach, Feta and Sumac (recipe elsewhere)
- Roasted Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnuts and Mint
- Sea Weeds and Greens Salad (aka Kelp Noodles with Wakame and Radish Sprouts)
- Grilled Eggplant and Mango Noodle Salad with a Sweet Chili Dressing
- Cabbage and Kohlrabi Salad
- Ultimate Winter Couscous
- Socca Pissaladière

11. World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey {vegetarian}

While she may be the Queen of Indian cooking, I like this cookbook more for the way it introduces each vegetable rather than the recipes. The lushness from the recipes may be lacking since I typically cut down the oil.

- Chickpeas and Chana dal Cooked Together in a Tamarind-Mint Sauce
- Trinidadian Black-Eyed Pea Stew
– Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew with a Peanut Sauce (recipe elsewhere)
Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini

When I originally made my list, I mis-numbered the titles, so I had a bonus cookbook. Oops!  Other cookbooks still in the running:

The Joy of Cooking because I like the intro to all the vegetables. Although I have only made one recipe:

- Spaetzle

Big Vegan because it is a comprehensive cookbook and all the recipes have been nice so far:

- Hazelnut-Sage Pesto
– Creamy Spinach and White Bean Dip
– Sunshine Carrot Tofu Scramble with Spinach
Roasted Vegetable Ribollita
- Rasta Pasta
- Jamaican Tofu Chowder with Collards
Japanese Okonomiyaki Veggie Pancake
– Seitan Burgundy Stew with Parsnips (not my favourite)
– Roasted Tofu and Veggie Curry in Garlicky Coconut Gravy (not my favourite, the sauce disappeared)
Baby Quinoa (Kaniwa) Bowl with Cranberry Jicama Salsa and Sweet Squash Puree (original recipe for quesadillas here)
– Tuscan White Bean and Wheatberry Stew

Vegan Eats World, because most of the recipes have been great and I have made a lot:

- Pressed Baked Tofu
– Five Spice Seitan
– Smoked Hazelnut Spice Dip with Jicama (Dukka)
– Mexican Pumpkin Seed Pate (Sikil Pak)
– Venezuelan-Style Tofu Sofrito Scramble
– Fluffy Scrambled Chickpea “Eggs” with Shallots (Ethiopian But’techa)
– Luscious White Bean and Celery Root Puree
– Ninja Miso Carrot Ginger Dressing
– Sweet Autumn Toasted Pita and Kale Salad
– Smoky Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Shchi) (recipe elsewhere)
– Pumpkin Black Bean Posole Stew
– Freekeh and Millet Pilaf
– Sesame Wow Greens, a spin on oshitashi
– Fastlane Kimchi (cut down on the red pepper flakes, please, half is still plenty)
– Breakfast Banh Mi Sandwich with Star Anise Pickled Daikon (recipe elsewhere)
– Double Mushroom Glass Noodles with Baby Bok Choy (Jap Chae)
– Fresh Noodle Soup in Sesame Miso Broth
– Curry Noodle Soup with Oyster Mushrooms (Curry Laksa)
– Rice Paper Rolls with Kale and Pear and Peanut Coconut Sauce
– Coconut Black Eye Bean Curry (Lobia)
– Island Coconut Brown Rice and Peas
– Pumpkin Coconut Curry
– Flying Massaman Curry
– Pineapple Curry
– Kimchi Tofu Eggplant Stew (Jigae)
Lentils in Berbere Sauce (Yemiser W’et)
– The Great Big Vegetable Couscous
– White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiano
– Yellow Split Peas with Chard and Tomatoes
– Eggplant Shakshuka with Tahini Sauce

How to decide what to bring?  What’s more high yield? The cookbooks that I haven’t cooked much out of? I also garner a lot of inspiration from other bloggers, and have a lot of bookmarked recipes. Therefore, even if I leave a few good cookbooks at home, there are still plenty of recipes to keep me inspired. I just can’t curl up with my laptop before bedtime. In any case, I have amalgamated a fabulous table of contents for me to refer to when I crave some tried-and-true recipes from my favourite authors. I probably should make an index for my entire site, too! :)

I am curious, do any of you use e-cookbooks?

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29 Responses

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  1. Karen said, on March 17, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Made mistake of an “e” cookbook one time, never again….very hard to flip from index to say 3 recipes using particular ingredient, and harder still to make a change in recipe (more/less of a spice, longer/shorter cooking time, etc.) While I love convenience of e-book pleasure reading(almost all reading I do now) will stick to “real thing” for cookbooks!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 17, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Thanks for the feedback, Karen. I have never even read an ebook but it sounds like the flipping the pages to find something fast is something that is really lacking with the ecookbooks for now.. that sucks. :(

  2. Flavors of the Sun said, on March 17, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    What an interesting post. It is always fun to get cookbook ideas from blogs I admire. And though “Plenty” and Madhur Jaffrey’s “World Vegetarian” are both real favorites, many of these books I didn’t know about. And every click led me to another click. What a terrific round-up of inspiring dishes. Thanks.

  3. justafrugalfoodie said, on March 17, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    What a great and informative post! Thanks for taking the time to put this one together!

  4. Emma said, on March 17, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Aaah, you’re not helping me cut down my collection introducing me to all these beautiful sounding books! :)
    I’m definitely going to have to add Tess Challis to my library, and so excited for the release of Vegan Eats World.
    I’ve had the same issue with choosing which books to bring when spending time abroad for 6 months at a time. I would go for relatively new books or ones which you haven’t cooked out of much if you’re someone who likes to make new recipes all the time rather than tried and tested faves. I actually just took appetite for reduction away with me last year, cooked my way through most of the recipes and then relied on all my bookmarked recipes. I’ve just got 500 vegan recipes with me on this trip. I do miss my other cookbooks but have coped!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 17, 2012 at 8:29 PM

      Wow – I love how you dedicated yourself to 1-2 cookbooks for a specific time. With a big cookbook like 500 Vegan Recipes, you could certainly make a dent in the new recipes. i agree, I LOVE trying new recipes…. and while I love Tess’ cookbooks and I have made a lot of recipes, there are still so many more to try!! :)

  5. Rob said, on March 17, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Janet! You can count 660 Curries as one of the cookbooks that *I* will bring. That leaves space for you to bring another ;)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 17, 2012 at 8:27 PM

      But what about 1000 Indian Recipes?? ;) Yours, too?

      • Rob said, on March 18, 2012 at 6:34 AM

        The jury is still out on 1000 Indian Recipes! I haven’t even looked inside it yet :)

  6. Joanne said, on March 17, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I really can’t imagine cutting my cookbook selection down to only 10…but I suppose there’s a lot of inspiration online also! I think I would probably take cookbooks I hadn’t really cooked as much out of just because you’ve posted a lot of the other recipes and will still have access to them!

    And now I’ve just added all of htese to my amazon wish list. :P It’s a good thing I’m not moving any time soon…

  7. Karen said, on March 18, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Though a recent Vegan (long time Veg.) have already bought more than I can fully explore for a very long time, am surprised no mention of Lindsay S. Nixon, she has 2 Happy Herbivore Books, with another on way. Nice mix of International ideas, and relatively short, easy ideas. Thanks for you ideas (and your “blog”, have “saved” many there) and as others have said, I will have to check out T.C.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 18, 2012 at 1:08 PM

      Hey Karen, Thanks for the tips. I’ve flipped through the HH cookbooks but they never grabbed at me. Mostly due to their sheer simplicity but I like her take at lower fat vegan cooking. :)

  8. Eileen said, on March 19, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    I think seeing which recipes are available online (and perhaps documenting a few of your favorites yourself) could potentially make the cookbook cull a bit easier.

    I don’t use e-cookbooks at all–unless you count recipes found on blogs. But for the most part I don’t use recipes at all, and just flip through my cookbooks for inspiration.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      I definitely agree it would be great to see which other recipes from those cookbooks are already online. I like Isa and Tess’ blogs because they share a lot of their recipes already. It definitely makes it easier to access healthy, tasty recipes. :)

  9. Ashley said, on March 21, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Great post! Can’t remember if I told you but I made the 40 clove garlic and broccoli from AFR and really liked it! I’ve never used an e-cookbook and have no real desire too. I think it’s easier to just flip through and I can also write on the pages. If I were you I’d probably take a few of my favourites, and a few that I haven’t cooked out of much and want to try more from.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 21, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      Sounds like a great strategy, Ashley. I much, much prefer the real books, too…. Tess’ cookbooks are all coming, for sure. :)

  10. Fuss Free Helen said, on March 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Goodness. I am astonished at how much you use your books. I must look out Tess Challis now.

    I find that having my books on Eat Your Books means that I can reproduce many recipes from the title, ingredients and a quick google.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      Helen, yes, I agree… I have scoped out recipes based on google searches from the title’s name for cookbooks I don’t own… muahahahaha! If I was more confident, I could whip things together with just the list of ingredients… I think I should work towards that – great idea. :)

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  12. [...] is one problem with my list of top cookbooks for my [...]

  13. [...] maintain a well-stocked pantry and use fresh ingredients whenever possible. I love trying out new recipes but usually tweak them to my [...]

  14. [...] blog. Her high praise for 1000 Indian Recipes was one reason I picked it up, despite my embargo on new cookbooks. Lisa described this as a great salad for those not used to fiery hot dishes, which sounded right [...]

  15. [...] is no secret that I bookmark a lot of recipes, from other blogs and my cookbook collection. I also recently joined Pinterest (follow me!), which may not be a good thing. Time will tell. Some [...]

  16. [...] Eats World which is available today! And those were only a few of the recipes, since I tested over 30.  This is a vegan cookbook geared at international cuisine, from Colombian Coconut Lentil Rice [...]

  17. [...] a lot of cookbooks and trying to wean myself from my cookbook library before our move. Last year, I picked out my top 10 cookbooks to move with me, but I may have to revise that list as I have discovered new favourites. Even more [...]

  18. narf77 said, on June 16, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    This list is amazing and exhausting all at once! I just pinned you in entirety to Pinterest :) Cheers for sharing these wonderful recipes and cookbooks with us all. I think they should give you vegan cookbooks for free. You are doing an amazing job at selling these books. I have several of them on my “must buy” list thanks to your list :)

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  20. […] PPPS. Versions of Isa’s dishes made previously, not all from Isa Does It (more recommended dishes can be found listed here): […]


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