15 insanely useful cookbooks to buy in 2013

There’s something about the tattered pages and glossy photos of a much loved cookbook that sets it apart from the myriad food blogs and recipes that populate the Web. Recipe blogs may have taken over our browsers’ bookmarks, but print publishing is still alive and well in our kitchen.

While only four months into the year, 2013 has already seen a fair share of unique, incredibly helpful and all-around awesome cookbooks — and there’s more to look forward to this spring and summer. Check out our top picks for 2013 (so far) below.


What’s for dinner? Delicious recipes for a busy life

Eats_CurtisStoneWhatsForDinnerBy Curtis Stone

Release date: April 9

Description (via Amazon): Celebrity chef Curtis Stone, host of Bravo’s hugely popular series “Top Chef Masters,” knows life can get a little crazy. But as a new dad, he also believes that sitting down to a home-cooked meal with family and friends is one of life’s greatest gifts. In his fifth cookbook, Curtis offers both novice cooks and seasoned chefs mouthwatering recipes and easy-to-make meals for every night of the week.

Why we love it: So convenient! Mondays are “Motivating Mondays,” with healthy meals that start the week off right. “Time-saving Tuesday” recipes take only 15 to 40 minutes to make. Then there’s “One-pot Wednesdays,” “Thrifty Thursdays” and “Five-Ingredient Fridays.” And by the look of these beautiful meals, you would have never guessed they were so easy.

Recipes that make us drool: Grilled pork satay and peaches with carrot-cilantro salad; kimchi fried rice; and steak and mushroom cobbler with gruyere biscuit topping. Oh, and he didn’t forget dessert: Pear and dried cherry strudel with amaretto custard sauce? Yes, please.


The Drunken Botanist: The plants that create the world’s greatest drinks

Eats_TheDrunkenBotanistBy Amy Stewart

Release date: March 19

Description (via Amazon): Of all the extraordinary and obscure plants that have been fermented and distilled, a few are dangerous, some are downright bizarre, and one is as ancient as dinosaurs — but each represents a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. This fascinating concoction of biology, chemistry, history, etymology and mixology — with more than 50 drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners — will make you the most popular guest at any cocktail party.

Why we love it: If you don’t care about where your food and drink comes from, this book might not be for you. For everyone else: This is like the coolest trivia book about booze you’ve ever seen — and it also has recipes! Learn about the sex life of corn, worms used in the distilling process and drunken parrots.

Recipes that make us drool: Valencia, a drink made of apricot liqueur, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange bitters and orange peel; and the classic margarita


Eat Vegan Before 6:00

Eats_EatVeganBefore6PMBy Mark Bittman

Release date: April 30

Description (via Amazon): Six years ago, an overweight, prediabetic Mark Bittman faced a medical directive: adopt a vegan diet or go on medication. He was no fan of a lifelong regimen of pills, but as a food writer he lived — and worked — to eat. So neither choice was appealing. He adopted a diet heavy in vegetables, fruits and grains by following a healthy vegan diet (no meat, dairy or processed foods) all day. After 6:00 p.m. he’d eat however he wanted, though mostly in moderation. He lost 35 pounds and saw all of his blood numbers move in the right direction.

Why we love it: This isn’t like a fad diet — there’s no calorie counting or point systems, no starving yourself or cutting out major food groups. It’s about making a lifelong change in the way you eat to better your health (and the environment). The information is coming from a guy who made a career out of being a foodie, so it’s relatable since most people don’t choose to adopt a vegan diet because “it just tastes better.” At the same time, the delicious recipes are encouraging proof that vegan doesn’t mean bland.

Recipes that make us drool: Baked ziti with leftover vegetables, smashed and loaded sweet potatoes, and shrimp tabbouleh


Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen

Eats_HomemadeWithLove_JenniferPerilloBy Jennie Perillo

Release date: March 26

Description (via Amazon): With its delectable recipes and charming girl-next-door tone, “Homemade With Love” is sure to be a welcome addition to the kitchens of longtime readers of the blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen. Jennifer Perillo has long written on the pleasures and importance of cooking from scratch, buying local and eating at home. Jennie shares her love for her farmers’ markets and local purveyors, while dishing out a hearty dose of practical culinary know-how for the working parent — or any busy cook.

Why we love it: We’re big fans of Jennie Perillo’s recipe blog, InJenniesKitchen.com. After her husband died a sudden death in 2011, she turned to cooking to establish some normalcy in her life. Her recipes show that she really puts her whole heart into making satisfying food that brings people together. The meals aren’t always convenient, since the whole point is making them from scratch, but Jennie preps you for this type of cooking with a helpful section in the front of the book that shows you how to stock your pantry, fridge and freezer. Another great detail: She emphasizes sustainable, local and budget-friendly.

Recipes that make us drool: Brown butter Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, fettuccine with basil-walnut pesto, pan-seared scallops with orange and fennel salad, and chocolate tres leches cake


Cooking For Two 2013

Eats_CookingForTwo_AmericasTestKitchenBy Editors at America’s Test Kitchen

Release date: April 11

Description (via CooksIllustrated.com): In a perfect world, cooking for two would simply mean cutting standard recipes in half, but the test kitchen has found that for foolproof results, you often need a smaller pan, less cooking time or even a different proportion of ingredients. And how do you scale down “big” dishes like lasagna, chili and pie? In “Cooking for Two 2013,” the test kitchen has done all of the work for you.

Why we love it: America’s Test Kitchen has never let us down, and neither does this cookbook. Cooking for only two can be tricky sometimes — seriously, how do couples use up an entire bunch of fresh herbs before they go bad? “Cooking For Two” understands the frustration of couples everywhere and offers simple, tasty solutions — 150 of them, in fact, including simple skillet suppers, pasta dinners, everyday main dishes, salads, side dishes and desserts.

Recipes that make us drool: Strip steaks with potato-artichoke ragu, speedy turtle brownies, and baked risotto with shrimp and zucchini


Mad Hungry Cravings

Eats_MadHungryCravingsBy Lucinda Scala Quinn

Release date: March 19

Description (via Amazon): Your family has a hankering — a yen for chicken tikka masala or queso fundido, for shrimp pad thai or a Philly cheesesteak — and they want it bad. So you decide to eat out at a local ethnic or roadside restaurant, or do take-out. It’s expedient, but is the food really that good? Really really good? Because Lucinda Scala Quinn’s versions of all those dishes families crave will knock your socks off and prove beyond a doubt that the foods you love can be made better, faster, tastier, cheaper and more healthfully at home.

Why we love it: Where do we start? 1) So much comfort food! 2) Recipes are lighter — not necessarily “healthy,” mind you — than what you would get from takeout. 3) So many (173) recipes!! 4) Just go buy this book now.

Recipes that make us drool: Caramelized onion and bacon dip (not kidding), Thai peanut sauce and too many yummy sandwiches to choose from


Pancakes: 72 sweet and savory recipes for the perfect stack

Eats_Pancakes_AdriannaAdarmeBy Adrianna Adarme

Release date: May 28

Description (via Amazon): Who doesn’t love a pancake? Celebrated in all cultures and made with a variety of ingredients, they are the ultimate comfort food. When food-blogger-turned-cookbook author Adrianna Adarme first moved to L.A., she yearned for breakfasts that tasted like home, and so her pancake quest began. This is a wide-ranging collection of 72 sure-to-delight pancake recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner — each beautifully photographed in full color.

Why we love it: We had no idea pancakes could be made in 72 different ways, and we love that Adarme got creative and mixed some surprising ingredients together. She also breaks down the basics, like how to make the perfect batter for basic buttermilk, vegan and gluten-free pancakes, plus how to make yummy syrups, simple glazes and fruit-based toppings.

Recipes that make us drool: Ginger pear, chai tea and chocolate pistachio pancakes; cheddar bacon pancakes; and banana bread pancakes


Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American comfort food from the winner of MasterChef season 3 on FOX

Eats_ChristineHaRecipesFromMyHomeKitchenBy Christine Ha, presented by Gordon Ramsey

Release date: May 14

Description (via Amazon): In her kitchen, Christine Ha possesses a rare ingredient that most professionally trained chefs never learn to use: the ability to cook by sense. After tragically losing her sight in her 20s, this remarkable home cook, who specializes in the mouthwatering, wildly popular Vietnamese comfort foods of her childhood, as well as beloved American standards that she came to love growing up in Texas, re-learned how to cook. Using her heightened senses, she turns out dishes that are remarkably delicious, accessible, luscious and crave-worthy.

Why we love it: Um, did you see “MasterChef Season 3?” This woman is remarkable. She managed to win the season with unbelievably incredible dishes despite being legally blind. If that’s not inspirational enough for you, we don’t know what is.

Recipes that make us drool: Can’t find any spoilers online, but we anticipate great things!


Savory Bites: Meals you can make in your cupcake pan

Eats_SavoryBitesCupcakeTinBy Hollis Wilder

Release date: April 9

Description (via Amazon): Hollis Wilder, the first two-time champion of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” takes the traditional sweet cupcake in a new direction, with fresh flavors and a new savory look. The trusty cupcake pan works just as well for satisfying mini meals as it does for decadent sweets. Small, uniform portions make it easier to avoid overeating, and the meals are perfect for making ahead of time and freezing for the week in single or family-size portions.

Why we love it: It’s just an absolutely genius idea for a cookbook. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can all be made in a cupcake pan. Recipes range from savory to sweet, and the photos are gorgeous.

Recipes that make us drool: Mushroom and potato charlottes topped with a fried egg; avocado mousse with shrimp and mango; and prosciutto pockets with zucchini, tomato confit and buffalo mozzarella


Try This at Home: Recipes from my head to your plate

Eats_TryThisAtHome_RichardBlaisBy Richard Blais

Release date: Feb. 26

Description (via Amazon): From Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars” winner Richard Blais comes his very cool debut cookbook for home cooks looking to up their game with more excitement in the kitchen. A new way to make a dish is always on Richard Blais’s mind. He has a wildly creative approach — whether it’s adding coffee to his butter, which he serves with pancakes; incorporating the flavors of pastrami into mustard; making cannelloni out of squid; microwaving apple sauce for his pork chops; or cooking lamb shanks in root beer.

Why we love it: See “Recipes that make us drool.”

Recipes that make us drool: Barely smoked salmon with pumpernickel-avocado-egg salsa and “everything bagel” vinaigrette; potato chip omelet; and clams steamed in ginger beer with Texas toast


One Pan, Two Plates: More than 70 complete weeknight meals for two

Eats_OnePanTwoPlatesBy Carla Snyder

Release date: March 5

Description (via Amazon): One pan + fresh ingredients = dinner for two! With an emphasis on reducing prep time and the usual sinkful of dishes, cooking instructor Carla Snyder serves up the ideal couple’s guide to simple, complete and truly delicious meals that can be made in one skillet in less than 60 minutes. With recipes for home-cooked pasta, grains, sandwiches, beef, pork, chicken and seafood, “One Pan, Two Plates” will nourish couples, from newlyweds to empty nesters, every night of the week.

Why we love it: It combines two things we love: simple recipes that don’t need to be reworked to feed only two people, plus very limited dishwashing. The book’s clean, accessible design and the beautiful photos don’t hurt either. Oh yeah — it also includes wine or beer pairings for each dish!

Recipes that make us drool: Crispy sage pork cutlets with couscous, peas, figs and pistachios; lo mein noodles with chicken, snow peas and peanut sauce; and thyme-rubbed salmon with shallots and caramelized cauliflower “risotto”


Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites: 100 recipes that are fast, fresh and simple enough for tonight’s supper

Eats_SteamyKitchen_HealthyAsianFavoritesBy Jaden Hair

Release date: Feb. 5

Description (via Amazon): Steamy Kitchen creator Jaden Hair, top Asian cooking blogger, gives a healthy and truly inspired overhaul to more than 120 classic Asian recipes. Featuring good-enough-to-eat photography shot by Jaden herself, this book speaks to a new wave of healthy eaters without sacrificing flavor, ease and fun. Jaden makes Asian foods seem approachable, not intimidating and also offers new material for experienced Asian cooks looking to expand their repertoires.

Why we love it: Asian food can be intimidating to the inexperienced home cook — this book, just as advertised, seamlessly guides you through the recipes. Adding her own creative twists to traditional Asian cooking, Hair formulated some truly mouthwatering creations. If you’re a fan of her blog, SteamyKitchen.com, you’ll love this book.

Recipes that make us drool: Make your own pickled ginger; baby bok choy with garlic and ginger; quinoa salad with avocado and peas; and cucumber apple kimchi


The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook

Eats_VeggieLoversSrirachaCookbookBy Randy Clemens

Release date: July 2

Description (via Amazon): With a devoted cult-like following, Sriracha (aka rooster sauce) has skyrocketed to foodie stardom. But beyond its popular use as a condiment, its potential as an ingredient was revealed with the release of the highly acclaimed “Sriracha Cookbook.” This collection of delicious plant-based recipes showcases the flavor and versatility of the darling of the hot sauce world. Focusing on veggies first and foremost, the recipes also feature delicious and conveniently nutritious beans, grains, legumes, nuts and of course … sriracha!

Why we love it: Um, because it’s sriracha.

Recipes that make us drool: We’ll have to wait until July to find out.


Taste of Home Mom’s Best Made Easy: 387 classic dishes for today’s cook

Eats_TasteOfHomeMomsBestMadeEasyBy Taste of Home

Release date: March 7

Description (via Amazon): With the hustle and bustle most family cooks face today, few moms have time to prepare the comforting dinners they grew up with. Thanks to “Mom’s Best Made Easy,” however, it’s a snap to re-create all of those cherished flavors … with only a fraction of the work. The homemade goodness of comfort foods is at your fingertips … when you dish out dinner, your family will be dishing out the compliments.

Why we love it: 1) So many recipes! 2) It’s by Taste of Home — they’ve never let us down. 3) It includes 10-minute dishes — TEN MINUTES! Sold.

Recipes that make us drool: Twice-baked deviled potatoes, apple cinnamon turnovers and best-ever potato soup


Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 Just Desserts: 200 recipes under 200 calories

Eats_HungryGirl200Under200DessertsBy Lisa Lillien

Release date: May 7

Description (via Amazon): The first-ever all-dessert cookbook from Hungry Girl, “200 Under 200” features sweet treats with fewer than 200 calories each.

Why we love it: We can have our cake and eat it too — without any guilt.

Recipes that make us drool: PB cheesecake chocolate cupcakes, roarin’ red velvet cake pops and strawberry shortcake cream fluff cups


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