Admit it--2010 is not the decade to have no idea how to cook. Why? Because the way I see it, eating and entertaining at home not only saves you money, it can also save you from consuming heaps of butter and oil and hidden calories that chef's love to sneak into everything. Cook and eat delicious healthy stuff that you can save for leftovers. Or don't cook--order out, spend your cash, watch your ass (grow). Choose the former, and my list promises to make you thinner and richer.
1. Dad's Own Cookbook by Bob Sloan. Daddy Sloan taught me everything I know about making a mean chili and choosing a fresh piece of fish.
2. Canyon Ranch Nourish by Scott Uehlein and Canyon Ranch: This is not spa food. This is delicious and healthy. Try the Baked Ziti and the Lemon Bars.
3. Glamour's Gourmet on the Run by Jane Kirby. Okay, so I worked at the mag for a long time and couldn't resist ordering this on ebay. Actually, I think this was the original 30-minute meal bible. Sorry Rachel Ray.
4. Techniques of Healthy Cooking by The Culinary Institute of America. Gorgeous pictures, great winter salads and amazing fish (love the lime-cilantro vinaigrette). Now if only I didn't have to buy a bundle of cilantro that could double as a Christmas wreath for $4.99. (Jane Kirby would tell me to freeze the leftovers, chopped, in an ice cube tray. Budget smart but not the same as fresh.)
5. Wine for Every Day and Every Occasion by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. Ok, not cooking, but very necessary.
6. The Most Decadent Diet Ever by Devin Alexander. Potato-chip Crusted Chicken and Basil Butternut Smash. Even my kids love this stuff.
7. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. 2,000 simple recipes. Nuf said.
8. Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites. I still relish the day I made an entire dinner party from this cookbook and no one knew it was healthy. (Maybe it was all the wine I served?)
9. Classic Home Cooking by Mary Berry and Marlean Spieler. It's my 'Joy'. Dorling Kindersley knows how to do kitchy yet kitchen-smart step-by-step instructions like nobody's business. My favorite is "making a salami cone" on page 47.
10 and 11 and 12...These are suggestions from friends. Picky, Smart, Sometimes Vegan Friends....They like: •The Friends Cookbook (not kidding! it's a gem!); • Mama Leah's Jewish Kitchen ("taught me everything my grandma never did!"); •Alice Waters Art of Simple Food ("for the roast chicken and turkey recipes"); • All the editions of the Joy of Cooking, ("especially the 1998 version, which was my first ever cookbook."); • Jeremiah Tower's New American Classics ( "He taught Alice Waters everything she knows, but not everything he knows."); • And last but not least, for vegans, The Candle Café Cookbook ('enlightened' recipes from New York's renowned restauranteur, Joy Pierson.")