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7 Cookbooks Perfect for Grads and Newlyweds

Developing a habit of cooking every day doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But those who do it will reap a lifetime of rewards. So if you’re shopping for a new grad or pair of newlyweds, why not give them the life-long gift of cooking? These books all focus on repertoire recipes, doable, classic dishes that are easy to incorporate into daily life and become ingrained in your muscle memory.

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    The Dinner Plan

    Because the authors, both moms, understand just how hard it can be to get a home-cooked meal on the table, they include a helpful index categorizing main courses by their usefulness to particular situations—for example, one-pot meals, dishes you can stagger to suit a family’s schedule, pantry dinners, or super-fast. The recipes tend to use fewer than 10 ingredients, and many employ a technique to make them simpler still, such as fajitas cooked on a sheet pan.

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    Repertoire

    Since we got our review copy, this one has been in near-constant use. Jessica Battilana, who writes the Repertoire column for the San Francisco Chronicle, shares her repertoire of 75 recipes that comprise the backbone of her cooking life. Tried and true, the recipes will satisfy, delight, and nourish all who gather at your table.

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    The Flavor Matrix

    This book is must for any STEM grad (or science geek) interested in cooking. James Briscione puts together infographics that pinpoint the flavor elements or 150 commonly used ingredients, and then shows how to combine them with compatible partners. Nothing is as profoundly liberating as knowing how to cook confidently without a recipe. If ever a book could get you there, this is the one.

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    Small Victories

    Julia Turshen’s recipes, a pleasure to read, come with parenthetical asides that sound like advice from your more culinarily advanced best friend. Her “spin-offs,” a feature of every recipe, offer multiple ways to tweak a dish’s flavor, different ways to use the dish, or how to use the same basic technique with other ingredients. Beyond the straight-up recipes, a chapter called (appropriately) Seven Lists enumerates seven things to do with such ingredients as mussels, pizza dough, and leftover roast chicken, a great reference for home cooks.

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    The Home Cook

    Though she's a chef, Alex Guarnaschelli knows full well what it’s like to cook at home where there’s no one prepping your ingredients or washing your pots. To that end, her recipes are very accessible. Her roast chicken may be spatchcocked (back bone removed and flattened), but the ingredient list is just chicken and salt. Indeed, part of what’s so enjoyable about her book is seeing so many recipes that fit, easily and with white space, on a single page. Though straightforward, the recipes are sophisticated and appealing

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    Twelve Recipes

    The cookbook debut from Cal Peternell, chef at Chez Panisse, was inspired by his oldest son leaving for college. In a warm, friendly tone, Peternell aims to instill skills and confidence in the beginner cook, by way of a core repertoire of recipes. Though, as the title suggests, there are a dozen such core recipes, once you factor in the variations and riffs he suggests, it’s more like twelve hundred. The book is as much fun to read as it is to cook from. Four-color photos that look beautiful but also like real life and occasional illustrations, some by his wife and adult sons (all artists), add to the book’s friendly feel.

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    Food 52 Genius Recipes

    Here’s how Food 52's executive editor Kristen Miglore defines genius recipes: they’re handed down by “cooking luminaries,” make us “rethink cooking tropes,” and get folded into our repertoires to make us feel genius, too. What makes even the well-known recipes fun to read about is the illumination Miglore provides, whether it be about a unique technique— steaming ribs and then finishing them on high heat—or a surprise ingredient, like a little butter in deviled eggs. None of the recipes are overly “chefy,” which makes this book a great choice for beginner cooks, while those who’ve cooked some of these dishes before will still enjoy Miglore’s insights.

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Season 4 Extras

Vercelli, Italy (510)

The home of Italy’s lush risotto rice, Vercelli lies in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, nestled between the Alps and the Mediterranean. Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking pays a…

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