1. Isa Does It
If you want to give some vegan recipes a test run, there’s no better place to start than one by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Veganism can get a bad rap for its propensity towards artificial or processed ingredients. The best part about Isa’s recipes are the resourceful use of vegetables and seeds, for example, to give the right texture to the sauce in her macaroni and cheese. She’s been publishing great recipes over at the Post Punk Kitchen for years; Isa Does It is another leap forward from her previous books Veganomicon and Appetite for Reduction, which are also fantastic. I can’t recommend her stuff highly enough, and her recipes are sure to become staples in your arsenal for a long time to come.
2. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Deb Perelman’s recipes can be like oral histories – every delicious thing I tried for a while was from her Smitten Kitchen recipe archive, and I’ve passed on so many things I like to friends and family for their being easy, delicious, and big hits at parties. She’s great at marketing what she likes, and selling you on why you should try this recipe. Her new cookbook of the same name is filled with seasonally appropriate recipes that vary from appetizers to desserts to vegetarian mains. You won’t be able to stop talking about Smitten Kitchen once you start.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes probably have the most awesome flavor combinations I’ve ever tasted. Plenty is his vegetarian cookbook that came out a couple of years ago, and it is a home run every time. The recipes can come across as special occasion fare because they occasionally require a little more prep, but once you’ve been mind blown by the combination of allspice, celery, pomegranate, and sherry vinegar there’s no turning back. You’ll be wanting everyone you know to try these once you find how they taste like nothing else you’ve ever tried.
4. Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner
Part of the fun of cookbooks is figuring out how things get to taste so good. One half of 31 Days of is a known confectioner and this book is as close as you’ll get to the perfect guide to wow people with truffles, caramels, and other treats. If you’ve ever been mystified by how marzipan could taste so good and be so perfect, get ready to have the curtains drawn and see the light.
5. The Joy of Cooking 1964
I feel like Rombauer and Becker are mentioned almost as frequently if not more so than Strunk and White, and their Joy of Cooking is a landmark cookbook that should be in every kitchen. The ingredients have shifted in recent years to match the trends at the time, to mixed results, but if you can find an older edition it will be very useful. Plus, it’s a great resource for classic recipes that aren’t made very often in this day and age (floating islands! meringues!)