FIVE ESSENTIAL COOKBOOKS EVERYONE SHOULD OWN

(Well, if you cook like I cook, anyway.)
  1. Bar Tartine by Nick Balla and Cortney Burns
    The authors (and chefs at Bar Tartine) have structured this how I believe all cookbooks should be structured: techniques first, recipes second. The first portion is particularly helpful, detailing how they make all of their own spice powders, vinegars, nut butters, fermented foods, etc., while the second portion features recipes that more accurately represent the way Burns and Balla like to eat than calling to mind fussy "restaurant food." The best cookbook I have read.
  2. My Bread by Jim Lahey
    I don't believe this book is the best path to artisan bakery-quality bread, but it IS the most widely accessible. The no-knead process will quell home bakers' fears, and, given a long fermentation/proofing time, the flavor is beautifully sour. If you're looking to bake loaves with an attractive, crackly crust and minimal effort, this is your book.
  3. The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
    I'm by no means a vegetarian, but I do cook hella vegetables. The ability to coax out their inherent sweetness, temper their bitter notes, and balance their earthiness is what takes them from side dish to main event (or just really great side dish). That's what this book teaches.
  4. River Cottage Meat by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
    A book devoted to meat! (See? Not a vegetarian.) I believe all omnivores have a responsibility to, at the very least, consider consuming the animal in its entirety. No, you don't have to eat hearts and livers every day. Yes, you should try them. This book speaks to that. It's time to surrender your "steak and chops only" card.
  5. Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
    All of a sudden, fermentation is like, IN. It's honestly not hard to make your own kraut, yogurt, kimchi, grains, etc., but understanding the process behind it (and why it's good for us!) demystifies something that has, for a long time, been shrouded in mystery and weirdness. Plus, science is cool!