From How to Cook Everything Fast at a thousand-plus pages to an authoritative collection of Mexican recipes that clocks in at 705 pages, the year 2014 saw a slew of hefty cookbooks. Here’s a look at just a few:
The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (HMH, Oct.), 576 pages
Beranbaum covers the waterfront in this, her 10th baking book, a comprehensive tome featuring a total of 150 recipes and 121 color photos. Baking Bible’s wide-ranging scope—it covers four categories of baking from cakes to breads—is one reason for its length, says the volume’s editor, Stephanie Fletcher. But Beranbaum’s comprehensive style was also a factor. The veteran baking book author likes “to give the reader as much and as specific information as possible in order to make the recipes truly foolproof and to teach why things work the way they do,” Fletcher says. This means numerous recipe variations, tips, techniques and notes, as well as charts for each recipe with measurements in volume, ounces, and grams.
How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food by Mark Bittman (HMH, Oct.), 1,056 pages
New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, not known for his brevity in the How to Cook Everything series, presents with How to Cook Everything Fast, a substantial volume featuring 2,000 recipes and variations. In a starred review, PW wrote that “the book delivers on [Bittman’s] promise of ‘delicious food prepared from real ingredients—and quickly.’ ” Recipes that seem complex are broken down, then reformulated so they’re easier and quicker to prepare. That means a tome replete with numerous tips, techniques, and shortcuts, including, says editor Adam Kowit, 300 suggestions for speeding up (or slowing down) recipes, 100-plus sidebars, more than 150 line drawings, and a 28-page Fast Kitchen section featuring a range of fast-cooking ingredients, tips and techniques.
Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte (Phaidon, Oct.), 704 pages
In our starred review, we wrote that Arronte, with the voluminous Mexico, has provided the “definitive guide” for “those interested in learning how to make authentic Mexican cuisine.” At 650 recipes and 150 color photos, the thorough Mexico required such length, says Phaidon publisher Emilia Terragni. “[O]ur aim with Mexico: The Cookbook was to create a book that captured the country’s authentic and traditional flavors,” she explains. In Mexico’s case that meant allowing enough space to cover a diverse cuisine “steeped in a history spanning thousands of years.”
Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton (Random House, Nov.), 576 pages
Fifteen years after launching her New York restaurant Prune and two years after penning her memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2012), Gabrielle Hamilton sat down to write her first cookbook, the eponymous Prune. Though Hamilton told PW that she could have penned a cookbook following the restaurant’s opening in 1999, she decided to wait. When she did take the leap, “she wanted the most comprehensive document of what they did at Prune for the last 15 years," says Pamela Cannon, Random House executive editor, adding that the cookbook with 289 recipes and a generous allotment of 241 photos contains "almost everything they cooked in the restaurant since that time."
Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook: More than 1,000 of The World's Best Recipes for Today's Kitchen by James Oseland and the editors of Saveur (Weldon Owen, Oct.), 624 pages
This cookbook packs 1,127 recipes into an encyclopedic collection of classic recipes from the world’s food cultures. The global theme made it clear that the book would be substantial, says Helen Rosner, one of the editors. “As soon as we realized that the book we wanted to publish would be a comprehensive, thorough greatest-hits compilation—a real roundup of true global classics—it was clear that this book was going to be a behemoth.” The goal was never, she adds, "Oh hey, let's definitely hit 1,000 recipes."