Your Gift Guide: My absolute favorite cookbooks for 2018

What’s the reason to buy a cookbook? For me, it’s either because it’s a good story or because the author has something excellent to teach me. My favorite cookbooks become companions in my kitchen, wise chef/authors I commune with to enhance my kitchen creativity. I love books that share a unique point of view, that tell a compelling story, that are beautifully designed and have gorgeous photography.

Here’s my 2018 list of the best of the best! These would be great gifts… or fit rather nicely on your wish list. 🙂


Ottolenghi Simple

If you have been thinking that the new Yotam Ottolenghi might be a great choice, you are SO right. I’ve been cooking out of this one a LOT and loving it. Meals are deliciously simple—made in 30 minutes or less, with 10 or fewer ingredients—and of course with his yummy Middle Eastern style.

This will fit right in with your life! A total winner.

Milk Street Tuesday Nights

You are sure to find new quick and easy weeknight favorites on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, with bold-flavored recipes from 20-minute miracles to under an hour start-to-finish.  


There’s a reason why Nik Sharma, author of the award-winning A Brown Table blog and A Brown Kitchen column in the San Francisco Chronicle, has skyrocketed in popularly recently: his unique synthesis of the bold flavors of Indian cooking with cuisines of the American South and California. Isn’t it true that such rare confluences of styles are apt to provide inspiring breakthroughs in the kitchen and beyond?

You’ll love this one.

Cook in the Blank  

Escape from those food ruts and the never-ending What’s for dinner conundrum! This fill-in-the-blank template for 20 easy dinners from the pros at Food52 literally makes meal planning into a game. Choose from among what’s already in your pantry, whatever you’re craving or what’s in season to complete the recipes and refresh your same old same old.

I, too, suffer from What’s for dinner syndrome, and this is actually fun!

The Dinner Plan

Another wonderfully effective approach to tackling the weeknight dinner challenge: 135 well-chosen recipes that provide an appealing spectrum of options even when your time is super-tight.

Feast: Food of the Islamic World

Some of the most sophisticated, timeless, and delicious cuisines in the world are found in Islamic cultures, from Egypt to Syria, Morocco, and Indonesia, incorporating influences from Arab, Persian, South Asian and North African cooking. Filled with history, outstanding photography, humor and of course mesmerizing recipes, this is the book to have to explore these extraordinary flavors.

Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India’s Favorite Street Food

Become a dosa master! These popular, naturally fermented and gluten-free rice- and lentil-based crepes can be filled with a glorious array of stuffings and can easily become family favorites or fun food-focused gatherings for friends.

Delightful and delicious

How to Cook without a Book

Pam Anderson’s classic, bestselling cookbook, updated after 17 years, with the simple basics of “cooking by heart” that are even more relevant today, revamped with using fewer pans, fewer ingredients, and more meatless entrees. Learn the basics—how to shop, stock your pantry, and cook on the fly, ultimately without needing any recipes at all.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Named “America’s next great cooking teacher” by the legendary Alice Waters, Samin Nosrat has been immensely successful at teaching the use and mastery of these 4 elements to make bright, satisfying, delicious food to everyone from kids to professional chefs to Michael Pollan.

The #1 bestseller in the Cooking, Food & Wine Reference category on Amazon, and a 2018 James Beard and ICAP award-winner, this a top cookbook of the year and would surely make a welcome gift.

Gluten Free Flavor Flours.jpg Gluten-Free Flavor Flours

Whether you’re gluten-free or not, this book if fabulous! I loaned this out to my dear friend and soup-sister Julie, who is a legendary baker on our block, and never got it back. If there’s a baker on your list, enough said!


You know I always have to throw in a few favorites on my shelf that aren’t brand new but that I can’t live without because I think you should have them, too. 🙂

Dinner Changing the Game.jpg

Dinner: Changing the Game
NY Times food writer Melissa Clark’s exquisite latest (new last year). By no means vegetarian! There are very few recipes in this book that I would not make in a heartbeat. I’m cooking my way through it.

First of all, the book is beautiful. The title is a fair assessment. It’s inventive, and it’s not fussy. I’ve done many beautiful recipes out of this book that have come together very quickly. And I, who am always thinking how am I going to change this, have had to make very few if any adjustments.

The Flavor Bible / The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

Ok, I confess! I include these book every year because they are absolutely the 2 books I go to again and again and again! If you REALLY want to learn how to work with herbs and spices—the most overlooked but important players in a dish—this is where you go. They will tell you what spices go with what. The color wheel of the spice set. A classic to refer to over and over, as I do!

Maybe this is a gift for you. 🙂


Rebecca Katz
Rebecca Katz is a nationally-recognized author and expert on the role of food in supporting health. She has a Masters of Science degree in Health and Nutrition Education, and received her culinary training from New York's Natural Gourmet Institute. Rebecca consults for health care facilities, hotels, spas and resorts; offers custom workshops for physicians, nurses, and wellness professionals; and is a sought-after speaker at medical centers, wellness conferences and corporate events. She is the founder and director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal in Bolinas, CA, a program dedicated to transforming lives through nutritional science and culinary alchemy. She is the author of Clean Soups: Simple, Nourishing Recipes for Health and Vitality (Ten Speed Press, 2016), The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory and Mental Clarity (Ten Speed Press, 2015); The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age Busting Power Foods (Ten Speed Press,2013), the award-winning cookbook The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Beyond (Ten Speed Press, 2009, 2017), and One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and their Friends (Ten Speed Press 2004, 2008). For more information, please visit: