Do you like to cook?
About two years ago, I was a terrible cook. And by terrible I mean unable to make myself dinner beyond pasta and store-bought sauce. I frequented the Whole Foods food bar, ate out a lot, and ate a lot of packaged food.
When I met my boyfriend that completely changed. He values a home cooked meal and had cooking skills from his mother (who's an excellent cook) and experience working in the restaurant industry. I had the palette, but I lacked the skill.
Slowly but surely, he taught me everything he knows and I've become a respectable presence in the kitchen. I am certainly no chef, but I can whip up a tasty meal. One of the things I've come to appreciate is a fabulous cookbook. Not just one with beautiful photos (though those are lovely), but one with real, tested recipes that work every single time.
Hands down, my favorite cookbook these days is Two Dudes One Pan. Don't let the title fool you in to thinking these recipes are any less tasty than something you could get in a restaurant. I've been cooking my way through this cookbook over the last few months and I can confidently say it's the best cookbook I've found. Written by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of LA's Animal and Son of a Gun before those restaurants skyrocketed their fame, each of these recipes is complex in flavor but as promised, uses one pan. The dialogue and stories in between each recipe is entertaining and the photos are representative of how the food appears once you cook it. There is nothing overly styled or intimidating about this book. And if you happen to be gluten free like me, most of the recipes are naturally gluten free or are easily altered.
I also love Everyday Food's Great Food Fast for easy recipes divided by seasonal produce, Babycakes Covers The Classics for gluten free baked goods that fool even gluten eaters, and A New Turn In The South for nontraditional Southern food.
Do you use cookbooks, or do you prefer to just whip something up?