It's the season for cookbook roundups and best-of lists, and since we mentioned or reviewed over 250 cookbooks this year, it was tough to pick out our favorites.
In the end, we came up with a list of books that may be a little off the beaten path — no Ottolenghi, no The Art of Simple Food II, as these and other big hitters are books we imagine you already have on your radar. Instead, our list includes ten books that we loved and took into our kitchens this year, books that gave us something new to chew on, or taught us new things. When we thought back over the year, these are the ones we really remembered.
- 1 Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love From a Year in Paris by Ann Mah, $10.99 from Amazon: This is the story of Ann, a writer, and her diplomat husband, as they move to Paris for a dream assignment but then are abruptly separated by work. Ann throws herself and her loneliness into exploring France dish by dish. By turns sweet, self-deprecating, humorous, and poignant, with questions of how we grow close to each other through food and curiosity, this memoir is a treat to savor.
- 2 Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, $26.79 from Amazon: 500 pages, 300 recipes, and a wealth of riches in vegetables — this book from Deborah Madison was one of our most anticipated (and enjoyed) books of the year. It's really gorgeously photographed, too; think of it as a coffee table book you'll actually use in the kitchen. (Read our review of it here.)
- 3 Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee, $18.94 on Amazon: Korean food and Southern cuisine are apparently long-lost soul sisters, as Edward Lee shows us in his fresh, creative, and mouth-watering book. (Read our review of it here.)
- 4 Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker, $22.14 on Amazon: This is the book that Faith went gaga for this year — hands down her favorite book of 2013. Andy Ricker brings the tastes and textures of Thailand into our kitchens with stories and voice that make the food and his experiences come alive. It takes commitment to cook from this book, but its a commitment that educates along the way and will give you some amazing meals.
- 5 Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste & Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking by Adam Perry Lang, $27 on Amazon: Clear explanations and enticing flavor combinations make this the perfect grilling book for newbies and grill-masters alike.
- 6 Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley, $11.27 from Amazon: Something a little different: a food memoir told in pictures that are engaging and always personal. Lucy Knisley takes us through the people, places, and experiences that form the memories and bedrock of her food love. (Read our review of it here.)
- 7 A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell, $25.70 from Amazon: This book's concept is just so interesting and fresh — the story of food in 100 recipes. We read it with fascination, cover to cover. (Read our review of it here.)
- 8 Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop, $22.14 on Amazon: Dunlop is one of our favorite translators of Chinese cuisine for Western audiences, bringing intelligence and real depth of learning to her recipes and teaching. This book focuses more on the lighter, vegetable-focused dishes of China. (Read our review of it here.)
- 9 The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti, $22.20 on Amazon: More vegetables! This time through the lens of glorious Italy. We wanted to cook nearly every dish out of Domenica's book. Italian food will never stop being a classic, and this book redirects our attention to the quieter vegetables that form the backbone of Italian cooking. (Read our review of it here.)
- 10 Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, $19.41 on Amazon: Isa's refreshingly down-to-earth style and budget-friendly recipes also all happen to be quick. Sound too good to be true? It's not! Pick this one up. (Read our review of it here.)
And just a couple more...
And then, if you'll allow us a moment of self-promotion, we also wanted to mention that two of our own wrote well-received books this year. Here's a peek at two 2013 books from The Kitchn's staff.
- True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home by Emma Christensen. Everything you want to know (and more!) about fermented beverages, from wine to sake to the best ginger soda you've ever had.
- Bakeless Sweets: Pudding, Panna Cotta, Fluff, Icebox Cake, and More No-Bake Desserts by Faith Durand. The first book to really teach you everything you want to know about pudding, panna cotta, icebox cakes, and other no-bake (and usually gluten-free) desserts. Butterscotch pudding? This is it.
This year, The Kitchn and Apartment Therapy aren't just sharing great ideas in our gift guides, we're giving away $1,000 to help one lucky readerpurchase presents for their friends and family! Through Friday, December 13th, we'll publish new gift guides each day on both sites while collecting entries in the sweepstakes. (See Official Rules for details. One entry per reader, please.) Enter below for a chance to receive a bit of extra help from us this holiday season — we want it to be your best and brightest yet!
And we're not done. Starting on Monday, December 16, The Kitchn and Apartment Therapy editors have lined up ten absolutely unbelievable items (really, you won't believe how great they are!) for our big, blowout week-long Holiday Giveaway 2013. To be notified on when and how to enter to win these super-special gifts, sign up for our giveaway email today, and you won't miss a single one.