Cookbooks are expensive. Spend your money on ones that offer great, easy to prepare recipes without a lot of fluffy ingredients you can’t easily get in your supermarket. The thing I hate about most cookbooks is that after six months they sit forgotten on a shelf. I like the ones that have a spiral binding on them so when opened they lay flat for easy viewing as you prepare dinner. I’ve included a few of my favorites here. They are gems that I always refer back to.
A Skillet Full: The Lodge Cast-Iron Recipe Cookbook
This is a great book with recipes compiled by the Lodge cast-iron cookware manufacturing company. For those familiar with my site, you’re already aware what a huge fan I am of cast-iron – and Lodge as a quality American brand founded in the late 1800s. The book pairs recipes with the best pot or pan for their use; including many recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts. The genre is through-and-through Southern inspired. Even if you only have two cast-iron pieces (a skillet and dutch oven), you can make just about anything shown here. A portion of the book sale profits go to the South Pittsburg Tennessee Historical Preservation Society.
The Hatch Chili Cookbook
Publisher: New Mexican Connection, 2003
Spiral-bound; 138 pages
ISBN-10: 0966605608 ISBN-13: 978-0966605600
Author: Thomas A. Beck
Estimated Street Price: $75
If you have ever driven through the extreme southwest portion of New Mexico, you know what a desolate, sun-baked, god-forsaken area of the country it is. Two towns lay on the fringe of existence here… Deming and Hatch. The tiny community of Hatch is world-renown for growing chili peppers. The soil and climate are perfect for it. October is harvest time and tourism kicks into high gear. This book has a very good assortment of regional favorites. It is no longer in print, so you will have to find it from a reseller or through eBay.
Manhattan Chili Co. Southwest-American Cookbook
The late Mike McLaughlin, owner of the Manhattan Chili Company, had compiled a very comprehensive hardcover book on regional chili dishes and other Southwest fixings. The degree of spice in many recipes is hardcore. The dialog throughout is quite entertaining. The book is a nice size, small tabloid – which I’ve referred to as my “Chili Bible” on numerous occasions. A great investment if you can find it.
The Great Salsa Book
Mark Miller is a veteran chef and founder of the Coyote Cafe. This book is a stunning visual compilation of many great salsa recipes. The photography is outstanding. UV varnish on the cover gives the book a premium feel. Recipes range from mild to quite hot. Unexpected salsas made with fruit, nuts and seafood are showcased. A great book. My only complaint is that the binding is very stiff and my copy split in several areas from liberal use. The book does not lay flat when open. A definitive coffee table centerpiece.
Top Secret Recipes: Super Secret Restaurant Collection
Todd Wilbur has done it again in this expanded collection of copycat restaurant favorites. This is a great book. Recipes are easy to prepare using simple ingredients. Straightforward preparation instructions with humorous commentary make this a welcome addition to any household.
Cooking in Cast Iron: Yesterday’s Flavors for Today’s Kitchen
Mara Reid Rogers assembles a great selection of more than 150 regional favorites for inclusion in this book. A comprehensive introduction showcases the complete versatility of cast iron cookware.