Perhaps you saw her on the Netflix series Cooked, teaching Michael Pollan a thing or two. Maybe you follow her on Twitter to stay up to date on her expert lessons (such as, don’t use butter in your baking). If you don’t know Samin Nosrat, though, now is the time: Her first book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, provides a gorgeously illustrated guide that will make you much more confident in the kitchen. Read on to find out which cookbooks she finds herself returning to again and again.
I’m not one for recipes, really, but I do need them when baking. Flo Braker is a master at writing them. The recipes in this book are utterly perfect, and reading them closely taught me how to use butter better to get textures I’d thought weren’t possible! The buttermilk cake topped with chocolate sabayon frosting is pure childhood nostalgia.
These books are my bibles! Any time I set out to write about any specific type of produce, I look up what Jane has to say about it. I’m also just a huge sucker for her no-nonsense tone. Reading anything by Jane makes me feel like my British auntie is telling me what’s what—so comforting!
When I started cooking, the chefs at Chez Panisse gave me a huge list of cookbooks to familiarize myself with. Over the years, I’ve returned to Honey From a Weed more than any other book on that list. Patience Gray deftly balances charming, lyrical prose and a practical British kitchen sensibility as she guides the reader across the Mediterranean. It’s a work of art, a love letter to a life well-lived. I always manage to find something new upon rereading it.
Years ago, my best friend and I spotted a copy of this book on a shelf in a used bookstore at precisely the same moment, but I let him take it. The decision haunted me for years, every time I visited his apartment and saw the book on the shelf I wondered why I didn’t put up more of a fight. When he moved away, he gave me the book. I treasure it, and it was a huge source of inspiration for many of the illustrations in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
This was the first restaurant cookbook I ever truly loved, and over a decade after its publication, I still find it beautiful and current. It’s thoughtful without being precious or overly complicated. I return to it almost every time the seasons shift to remind myself what I can look forward to.