Cookbooks that are inspiring, teaches you something and approachable in a home setting are harder to come by than you might think based on how many that are produced. But these are our proven favorites that have used time and time again for reference, inspiration, methodology or complete dishes.
This book is what only Heston Blumenthal could do. Equal parts history lesson, education about the theory of cooking and insight into his method to arrive at his recipes. All while giving away every possible “secret” he has, this book makes it possible to recreate Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in your own dining room, and many of the recipes are quite approachable even though there are a lot of steps and components. Buy Historic Heston from Amazon
Bouchon is one of the most solid books on actually cooking good food. It gives an insight into Thomas Kellers mind in a way that’s accessible and applicable for everyday cooking, whether you follow the recipes in the book or not. It doesn’t only cover various techniques but also what they’re good for. The recipes themselves are centered around classic bistro dishes that are refined without losing their unpretentious origins. One of the real standouts, in addition to the very good version of the Boeuf Bourguignon, is the Chocolate Terrine with Custard Sauce and Pistachios from the dessert section. In general, all of Thomas Kellers cook book are exceptional and should be present in every serious home cooks collection. Buy Bouchon by Thomas Keller from Amazon
Similar in style to Bouchon, Marc Forgione doesn’t overly complicate things and provides plenty of pasta and hearty meat and potato dishes – 8 of them in fact. The Tomahawk Chop with Chimichurri and Potato Brown Butter is primal indulgence while the utterly sublime Halibut with Sauce Proposal is refined counterpart. The first part of the book tells Marc’s story and makes for a very fascinating read for those who only discovered him when he became an Iron Chef. Spread throughout the book is very detailed descriptions on technique, producers he uses and other insights. Buy Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant by Marc Forgione from Amazon
3 Star Chef doesn’t offer much on theory but it’s one of the most approachable books out there on how to create truly world class food in your home. We wouldn’t exactly call it three star cuisine, but definitely solid Michelin-class food and maybe even a step above that. The recipes are clearly sectioned and laid out in steps to allow for preparation and only final finishing right before serving. We particularly like the Halibut with Carrot Pappardelle and Passion Fruit Sauce, the Halibut with Smoked Horseradish Velouté and Navarin of Lamb with Celeriac Purée and Thyme Jus. Buy Gordon Ramsay 3 Star Chef on Amazon
The little brother of Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet, the single volume at Home focuses less on theory but has many of the techniques laid out that pushes consistency, depth of flavor and texture of dish components to the next level. In itself it’s not a brilliant book, there are a number of recipes for complete dishes but they seem a bit simple and lack the understanding of the bigger picture that makes Keller’s and Heston’s food so spectacular.
But using these techniques in combination with other recipes, whether they’re your own or from other books, makes it possible to take your cooking to a level only found at the world’s absolutely best and most progressive restaurants. Not much in way of equipment is needed and the techniques are easy to follow and implement. Try making a burger or scramled eggs the Modernist way and see for yourself. From this perspective, it’s one of the most important cooking books written. Buy Modernist Cuisine at Home on Amazon