Last month I was raving about the new Williams-Sonoma Tools & Techniques book. It's the book I wish I had when I was first learning to cook. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are much more confident in your culinary abilities, Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes from Sur La Table is the book for you.
I already know that I want a paella pan and a couscoussiere, and this is the book that fuels my desires with descriptions, amazing recipes and gorgeous photography. You too may want do a little shopping or at least dust off your pizza stone after perusing it. Having 2 -3 recipes to go with each item is what really helps you justify your purchase of a food mill or clay cooker or tagine or whatever it is that strikes your fancy. Wondering what else you can do with the chefs torch you bought but never used? Forget creme brulee, the book has recipes for Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes with Bubbling Mozzarella and Toasted Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet and Pear Salad.
In the beginning there is a section on equipping your kitchen, and then the recipes are divided into "kitchens" as in Asian, Mexican, French, Indian, Italian, Iberian and Moroccan. Each "kitchen" has a discussion of essential pantry ingredients, tools and tantalizing recipes written by Marie Simmons, a two-time winner of the James Beard Award. The book is 300 pages long, has 100 recipes along with 125 detailed descriptions of kitchen implements from the common to the obscure. It's not a comprehensive book, but a great resource for using the "things you love" in the kitchen and a wonderful introduction to the cuisine of many lands. For $23 on Amazon this is a terrific book to add to your collection. Get a sneak peek at sections of the book here.
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a free launch party celebrating this book with tastes of recipes at the Sur La Table store at the Ferry Plaza on Friday, April 25th from 6:30-8. Space is limited so to RSVP, please call 415.262.9970