This week’s issue of PW lists our editors’ picks for the best books of the year, including five cookbooks: The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman (Simon &Schuster), One Big Table: 800 Recipes from the Nation’s Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Pit-Masters and Chefs by Molly O’Neill (Simon & Schuster), The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan (Artisan), In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart by Alice Waters (Clarkson Potter), and Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). I wholeheartedly endorse all those titles—and here are 10 more (plus 10 honorable mentions) from this year that I loved.
Best reason to stick close to home
Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers by Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher (Andrews McMeel). It’s earthy, beautifully-photographed, and reminds you how some of the simplest foods can be the tastiest.
Honorable mention: The New Brooklyn Cookbook (Morrow)
Cooking with Italian Grandmothers: Recipes and Stories from Tuscany to Sicily by Jessica Theroux (Welcome Books). This made me think of my Great Aunt Marge, a giant among Italian home cooks. She left behind a trove of recipes, but more than that, kitchen memories my family still savors—just like the women in this tome.
Honorable mention: Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner (Ecco)
Best book we’ll totally cook from
In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love by Melissa Clark (Hyperion). Clark is witty, charming, and approachable as she writes about dishes like Dahlia's fragrant chicken fingers, conjured for her chili and bratwurst-eating one-year old's advanced palate.
Honorable mention: The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion by John Barricelli (Clarkson Potter, Mar.)
Best book we’ll never cook from
85 Inspirational Chefs (Network Book Publishing) A who’s who of top chefs—who all happen to be members of the exclusive hotel and restaurant brand Relais & Château—offer recipes you’d never try at home. But it’s awfully fun to look at them.
Honorable mention: The Entrées: Remembered Favorites From the Past by Gail Monaghan (Rizzoli)
Bon Appétit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful by Barbara Fairchild (Andrews McMeel). Fairchild’s parting gift (though Bon Appétit is moving to New York, she’s staying in L.A) is beautiful, and I’ve only just scratched the surface. If you were stranded on a desert island with one dessert book… you get my drift.
Honorable mention: Baked: Great Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
Best international baking book
A World of Cake: 150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions by Krystina Castella (Storey). Pictures of marzipan-covered fruitcakes are gorgeous, and sidebars on such topics as street cakes make this an educational book in addition to a holiday workhorse.
Honorable mention: Turkish Bakery Delight by Deniz Göktürk Akçakanat (New Holland)
Best alternative to sipping a margarita
My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats by Fany Gerson (Ten Speed). Gerson puts Mexican desserts on the map in this excellent mash-up of scholarly research and the pure joy of food. The breadth and depth of recipes here is stunning.
Honorable mention: Fiesta at Rick’s: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends by Rick Bayless (Norton)
Most fascinating food book
What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio (Ten Speed). A fascinating, insightful look at what 80 people around the world eat in a typical day.
Honorable mention: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser (Norton)
Best book to read while you eat
Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life by Kim Severson (Riverhead). Severson manages to pull off a two-fer:an honest memoir about her alcoholism, journalism career, and love of food; and an homage to eight women who've made an impact in America's kitchens.
Honorable mention: Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco)
Best break from the cupcake cavalcade
Cake Pops by Bakerella (Chronicle). You gotta love a baking book by a graphic designer with Southern charm. Bakerella’s pops are adorable.
Honorable mention:The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009 by Gourmet magazine (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)