My friends and family know me well. This year for my birthday, I got four gorgeous cookbooks.
One was Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. There's a recipe for Chick-pea Ricotta Gnocchi that's supposed to bring a little health and protein to gnocchi. There are guides to making toast and eggs with a Chinese twist. There's a savory Poblano Custard for breakfast. There's even a section titled "Grain Griddlecakes." This will definitely become a new go-to cookbook and hopefully teach me how to bring a little more health into my vegetarian diet.
Another was The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. This is where my favorite recipe for bagels comes from. The images in the book are just gorgeous, and they take you through how to proof, knead and twist extraordinary breads. Following the complex recipes promises to yield you "some of the best breads under the sun." It will teach me how to make breads I never knew existed. Apparently, bread isn't worth anything if the process doesn't take at least two days.
I also got two beautiful copies of Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. This is a cookbook I've been coveting for some time. Baked is a delightful bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that carries these absolutely perfect chocolate peanut butter crispy bars. I don't know what to make first from here, but I'm pretty sure it has to happen within the next week. Perhaps the Double-Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread (the ultimate gift) or the Mississippi Mud Pie (A), aka Coffee Ice Cream Tart. Yum.
I'll be returning one and getting Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, also by Matt and Renato. It's got a brown-sugar caramel sauce I'm just dying to put over ice cream. There's a minty grasshopper cake that seems fresh and springy. Both books are filled with photographs that just make the food look more delicious.
After I recover from last night's Ethiopian dinner party (many, many recipes to come), I can't wait to get started baking from these.