It’s been a busy publishing year, both frustrating (for many, many months Amazon made it hard for people to buy my books, mine and thousands of others, due to a dispute with Hachette) and exciting. I don’t think I’ve ever published two books in the same year. The big book is Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient. (Chris Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen last week picked it as one of his favorites. Thanks Chris, and sorry no macarons! The egg is inexhaustible; I couldn’t put every form of meringue in there!) My publisher, Little, Brown, also created an absolutely killer interactive iBook based on the ingenious egg flow chart I created. Yes, ingenious. Ferran Adrià even said so!
The second book is Ruhlman’s How to Roast: Foolproof Techniques and Recipes for the Home Cook, a smaller book about one of our most important techniques, the first in a series of technique books.
Also: a quick reminder that I sign and personalize all my books on request. Just go to my books page, scroll to what you want, and click the “Buy a signed copy” button. We can guarantee before-Xmas arrival only if you order by the end of the day Monday, December 15; if you want a personalized copy, best to order this week. But please, and this is really important, tell me who you want the book signed to by clicking the WHAT THE NOTE INCLUDED SHOULD SAY button before you hit the “pay now” button.
More gift ideas for excellent books on cooking: Near to my heart is Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto. All you really need to know to cook basically everything is twenty fundamentals. This is a book for people who want to feel more comfortable in the kitchen, understand how and why cooking works, inside the hood as it were (recipes are the body and trim, techniques are the engine). It’s also a book for those who like or need to cook and want to cook better. My wife, Donna, did all the photography for the three books above, and the food is not styled but shot as I made it so you can see what food can look like when you know the basics. I dislike overstylized food photography that makes home cooks feel like failures because “that’s not how it looked in the magazine.” That weekday coq au vin on page 52: our dinner! Ditto the lamb shank. That angel food cake? I couldn’t eat it because the kids got to it first!
The short-subject book The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat is also one I’m really proud of (Donna did all those pix as well).
Some other of my books include Salumi: The Italian Craft of Dry Curing and Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.
Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking and The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen also strive to simplify the work of cooking, because it is work, but it’s really, really important that we cook our own food. Our future in many ways depends on it.
My most beloved culinary nonfiction seems to be The Soul of a Chef: The Pursuit of Perfection, closely followed by The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, followed by The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooking in the Age of Celebrity, each book about differing aspects of the endlessly fascinating, brutal, elegant, metaphor-for-life professional kitchen.
And last but not least, a great stocking stuffer, is my essay-long memoir on How I Became a Food Writer Without Ever Wanting to Be One, a Kindle Single called The Main Dish, readable on any device via the Kindle app, including iPads and laptops. I wrote this because I wanted to. I mean, how did this all happen, and why? It’s important that we stop every now and then and answer these questions.