One of the best weeks of my life was spent with Kate Hill at Camont located near Agen in southwest France. We spent the days poking around local markets and cooking what we found in her farmhouse kitchen. When we weren't cooking, we were eating and talking about food and drink in France. It was absolute heaven. I was in one of my favorite places in the world with a most charming and knowledgeable host and teacher. So you can easily understand how happy I was to see her self-published book, Cassoulet, make its appearance at the end of December.
Having actually made a cassoulet under Kate's watchful eye, I know there is no one better to instruct us about how a cassoulet should be made. In this small volume, she explodes common myths and misconceptions. She explains the ingredients and introduces us to the people who provide them. Happily, she provides recipes that are simple, clear and straightforward. If you have any interest in French food, especially the food of Gascony, this is a book you must add to your library. You can order a digital edition from Kate's website or a softcover copy from Blurb.
The second book that won my heart this past year is Michael Solomonv's Zahav.
We ate at his restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia this past summer and that meal was a great way to celebrate my birthday. Zahav is a happy, energetic place and I hope to have the pleasure of eating more meals there in the future. In the meantime, this cookbook will let me recreate some of my favorite dishes from the restaurant. Solomonov's hummus is absolutely the best I have ever eaten. The four of us- one my dining companions doesn't even like hummus- ate this stuff as if we hadn't eaten in a week. We ate every bit of a very generous bowl. I dream about it sometimes. But the secret is here and it can be yours. The other dish that we adored was the roasted lamb shoulder. That recipe is in this book and is worth every bit of the time and attention it takes to cook it. There are other great recipes in here and the remarkable story of the man who created them. This book is a good read and,it would seems, a reliable guide to modern Israeli cuisine.
Diana Henry has made this list several times in the past and this year scored another hit with A Bird in Hand.
Her subtitle is Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood and that is exactly what she delivers. Most of us , who are omnivores, eat and cook a fair amount of chicken. Here are recipes that will add to your repertoire and your reputation as a wonderful cook. You can trust her recipes to work and even if you don't follow them precisely, they offer inspiration that will send you confidently off on your own. I agree with Yotam Ottolenghi who said "Everything Diana Henry cooks I want to eat." When I cook from this book, I am hoping to garner the same kind of compliment.
So,this is my list for 2015. I would love to know who made it to your list of favorites.