8 Fantastic Cookbooks for Gentlemen

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Let’s talk cookbooks! I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites this month, as you shop for gifts or make up your own wishlists. When we first moved overseas, we sold or gave away almost all of our books– but we have been rebuilding the kitchen section gradually, and it’s been a lot of fun. Most of the food books we now own are gifts that I have bought my husband in the last few years. I mainly browse cookbooks for inspiration and then make my own recipes, so I love a cookbook that takes me places– but my husband loves being able to follow recipes, and these books have actually really taught him to cook. That has been really exciting for me, as you might imagine! The first five in this list are ones that I have bought for him, and the last three are on my to-buy list right now. There are so many awesome books out there! These are a few great ones that are straight-forward, practical, adventurous and inspiring.

OK, so here’s my list of Top 8 Cookbooks for Gentlemen:

1. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman This is the very first cookbook I ever bought for Jeff. It addresses the basics of cooking in a no-nonsense way, and each recipe has a section with optional ways to customize the dish and give new inspiration. It’s a great reference book to have on-hand, and I love Mark Bitman’s straightforward writing style. Having everything laid out like this made the idea of cooking a meal much less daunting for my husband when he was just getting started in the kitchen. It explained everything really concisely, and made it approachable.

2. Appetite by Nigel Slater– If I ever meet Nigel Slater in person, I will give him a big hug. Know why? Because he wrote the book that really got my husband cooking. He writes about food in an extremely approachable way that is still really exciting and inspiring. In this book, he helps readers overcome their fear of messing up a recipe, and teaches how to cook to your own appetite and to make recipes your own. Jeff has cooked so many great meals out of this book, and this was the milestone book that made me genuinely look forward to Jeff’s cooking. I think I’ll write a love letter to Nigel Slater instead of waiting to meet him. Since the first book, I have also gotten Jeff The Kitchen Diaries, Real Food, Real CookingEat– the Little Book of Fast Food, Real Fast Food, and his memoir, Toast. So, I guess you could say that we are Nigel Slater fans…

3. Hunt Gather Cook by Hank Shaw– OK, so I have to admit right here that Jeff has yet to cook a recipe from this book. But this one is about so much more than recipes– it is a pleasure and an adventure to read. A few times, I have come across Amelia sitting on Jeff’s lap, listening to him read this one aloud to her. Granted, she has the ear for interpreting cookbooks as amazing food stories– but this one is a lot of fun. We have yet to gather acorns to leech and grind into flour, but the ideas are exciting, and really educational. Hank Shaw will teach you how to find the wild foods around you, how to hunt or gather them, and how to make them into an unforgettable meal. We would like to get into more wild food and game, and this will be a great guide.

4. 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss– This book was a Christmas present for my husband last year, and it’s actually about a whole lot more than cooking. Tim Ferriss writes about how to learn to do something and then applies it to cooking. It’s pretty complete, in terms of outlining the basics of tools needed, basic techniques, making shopping lists, and tips from pros. There are lots of cool tips and hacks for making things easier or more impressive. It’s a fun book, and pretty fascinating. 


5. Food DIY by Tim Hayward– Alright, I’ll admit it:  I bought this one for myself. But it’s a book that we are both really into and excited about. Food DIY is exactly what it’s about– how to do all kinds of cool food projects that may seem out of reach. The first time I picked it up, I was riveted and had to buy it right away. I couldn’t wait to get started curing bacon, making rabbit confit, smoking mackerel and producing my own feta cheese. I now have dreams of Jeff building us a cold smoker, and I keep trying to think of where we’ll dig that fire pit for cooking a whole lamb in. What this book is awesome at is laying everything out so clearly that it’s hard to be intimidated by the process of making these traditional foods– but it also has just the right amount of geekery for those who enjoy the technical aspects of artisan foods. I used this book when translating my butcher’s instructions for curing ham into a post with more precise instructions. I will be guiding you through some of the recipes in this book in future posts, and I am so darned excited about it!

And now for the ones that are on the wishlist. We don’t own them yet, but I have looked through all of them and will be acquiring them this year.

6.  The Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall– First of all, if you haven’t watched an episode of River Cottage yet, you have to go check it out. This is one of our very favorite shows, and we have watched ever single one of them, as far as I know. Our favorite series was the one about meat butchery, in which Hugh and his butcher friend break down and prepare all kinds of animals. This is the book version of that, and an excellent guide for anyone who is interested in doing some of their own butchery. Even if you don’t want to butcher, this provides a great reference for getting familiar with each cut, and how to bring out all the best virtues of your meats as you cook them. I love the sustainability angle of this book, and Hugh’s commitment to using all of the animal as the best way to respect its life.

7. Booze for Free by by Andy Hamilton– It’s all in the title here! This is a great little book about turning just about anything into a great drink that costs next to nothing. A lot of brewing guides make the process more daunting than it needs to be, and this one simplifies the process so you can figure out how to make ciders, meads, beers and wines easily at home. I would definitely consider this “the gift that keeps on giving.”  We started making our own drinks last year, and it has been such a fun, productive and frugal hobby. 
8. In the Charcuterie by Taylor Boetticher
 Just the picture on the front of this book gives me hunger pangs, and the book is filled with gorgeous photos. I’ll admit that I want to give this one to Jeff very selfishly: I want him to make us lots of meaty treats, and I want to read it and use it myself. This book has step-by-step instructions for all sorts of charcuterie projects, and preserving our own meats is high on this list of things we want to learn more about. 
There are so many exciting books out there! I am thrilled that so many awesome books have come out recently covering traditional food arts, and I am sure there are plenty more good ones to be published in 2014. What are your favorite cookbooks? Which ones have you (or your) gentlemen loved most? 

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5 Responses to 8 Fantastic Cookbooks for Gentlemen

  1. Hausfrau November 23, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Great list! You know we’re big Hugh fans around my house, and I really like Nigel, too (just ordered his latest book as a Christmas gift to myself!). My husband has been into smoking meats lately. I just ordered the new cookbook Smoke and Pickles to give to him–Southern-U.S. food with a Korean twist!

    • Ariana Mullins November 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

      So glad you guys know about Hugh– so much fun to be had there! I looked at Smoke and Pickles, too. It looks really cool! We have little to no experience with Southern food, so that has been my only hesitation. I would love to spend some time eating in the South– there is so much I don’t know and I’d love to taste!

  2. Anonymous November 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Some excellent ideas for my husband’s stocking thanks! Me…I’ll have Nigel please, he’s scrumptious! Cassie

  3. Dave Topping December 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Some good choices there! As you are clearly integrating into the Brit way of life – your husband may appreciate the book that made me a cook some decades ago in the late 80’s – I suspect it is still available: Floyd on Britain & Ireland (isbn 56320626 8 for hardback and 563 20624 1 for paperback). The late Keith Floyd had an eloquent writing style and a prodigous talent for story telling which makes it a great read as well as an essential reference book that I still use on a weekly basis. My edition is disintegrating and bears the marks of the forays I have made into outer reaches of these island’s varied cuisines. Women have clean cookery books in my experience whereas a man’s is usually dogeared, stuck together and smells of the various dishes. That’s my excuse….. Incidentally, this last autumn was the heaviest I have seen for wild berry crops in the UK, and so I have 5 gallons of elderberry on 2nd ferment at present. I will bottle it post xmas and it should be ready to drink this time next year. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

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  1. 30 Classy Gifts for Gentlemen | And Here We AreAnd Here We Are - December 18, 2013

    […] don’t forget my roundup of 8 Fantastic Cookbooks for Gentlemen.  I love giving Jeff books, and these have been a huge hit– not to mention all of the good […]

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