There are so many sources of inspiration, it is almost mind boggling to figure out where to turn when planning to cook a meal or entertain. From cookbooks to web sites, the options are endless and we’ve narrowed down our favorites from national to local resources. Here’s our recommendations for people looking for ideas beyond what we have here on Le Poisson Bleu.
This column is a work in progress and the recommendations are in order of significance.
Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa, Family Style
Ina Garten’s cookbooks are simple and very user friendly with great ideas for entertaining. Out of all of her books, the “Family Style” edition is my absolute favorite. It is great for entertaining big crowds and if you are to buy just one of her books, this would be the one to get. The mac & cheese recipe was a staple for us at endless parties and was the inspiration for our world famous 🌭 Hot Dogs & Cabernet 🍷parties. In addition, her Chicken stew with biscuits got us through many of cold night nights but we tinkered with it a great deal and ended up with a heartier dish with a kick to it by adding red pepper flakes while cooking down the onions. She has a host of books, and I would all recommend her first book that put her on the map “PARTIES” which is perfect for a new entertainer.
The Balthazar Cookbook
If you have ever been in New York City and asked someone where to go for an authentic French meal, most people will point you to Balthazar which has remained a top destination for power-brokers to tourists alike. Every dish there is amazing and they did an excellent job re-creating their recipes for home use. The recipes are, at times, a lot of preparation and attention to detail but in the end, absolutely worth the effort. Many restaurant cookbooks are nothing more than marketing tools but this cookbook ‘hits it’ on every page. Though it takes a bit of time and coordination, I suggest to turn to age 130 and create the braised short ribs, a forgiving dish so this is great for a beginner. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of hunting down veal stock try our short rib recipe
Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza, Pasta, and More
Wolfang Puck has a lot of books out there but his Pizza, Pasta, and More! book is absolutely perfect for casual meals that capture freshly harvested, seasonal ingredients that become delicious meals. I consider this a brunch or weeknight cookbook when you don’t have a lot of time, want to keep it casual and at the same time, make something people will remember. The art of this book is to see what is in season and you expect to see at your local farmer’s market. Skim through the index of the book and pick recipes highlighting the fresh fare available to you. When summer comes upon us I flip to his amazing gazpacho recipe with the inspiration for our own. This is out of print but you can buy it uses on Amazon.
The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook
Gramercy Tavern is an iconic restaurant in the heart of New York City. I would often stay at a nearby hotel as it was almost a certain that I would have lunch or dinner there and not just once. Their recipe for the Meatballs with Braised Onions and Mashed Potatoes makes the book worth it just based on being able to make these treats at home. They were only served in the “bar” but we would beg to have them as appetizers when were eating in the more formal dining room. In addition to this book, check out their head chef’s additional cookbook, V is for Vegetable. a great book of ideas for healthy and fresh meals.
Well the Bible of all magazines in Bon Appetite, a magazine the blends in lifestyle, ideas and well tested recipes. They also have a great podcast that walks through many cooking ideas, industry trends.