I listen to NPR on my way to work almost every morning. A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with a cookbook author and, even though I'd just had breakfast, I was hungry again listening to her talk about simple Italian plates.
That cookbook was called Piatti and is by Stacy Adimando. When I went to buy a copy of it on Amazon the other day, I went down a cookbook black hole. (Does this happen to anyone else? Please say yes.) I read the reviews, peeked inside, and ended up with a shopping cart filled with books. Here are some of my favorites, which I managed to narrow down by focusing on recipes that will not only feed a crowd but that they'll enjoy.
1. Piatti by Stacy Adimando. I literally started salivating in my car when I heard Stacy describe fresh mozarella, marinated in olive oil and herbs, and then served with warm crusty bread. This is the book that started me down the cookbook rabbit hole and one that I am definitely buying. And I'm not even a diehard Italian food fan (it's delicious but I'd usually rather eat French). Even the photo of artichokes on the cover makes me hungry. I also love that these are big plates for sharing which makes having people over to enjoy them much, much easier. AND (I know, I've already written too much on one book) the recipes are organized seasonally.
2. Nopalito by Gonzalo Guzmán. Good Mexican food might be the greatest thing in the world (recent awards would back this opinion up). Sadly, my own Mexican culinary skills are pretty much limited to tacos and store bought tortillas. This cookbook gets fantastic reviews and I'm excited to challenge/upgrade my talents in the kitchen with this cookbook. Plus, Mexican food is great for a crowd (and how good does fruit salad with chile and lime sound?).
3. Cúrate by Katie Button. My love of Spanish food rivals my love of Mexican food. I've been dying to visit Katie Button's Spanish restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina for a while but based on the reviews, if I buy this cookbook, I might not need to. A lot of these are small plates (tapas) that are also great for a casual dinner party.
4. Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California by Travis Lett. Don't ask me how to pronounce the first word of this title because I'm probably not going to get it right. The recipes in here, however, look amazing. Grilled escarole wedges with lemon-anchovy dressing and roasted peppers? Yes, please. Charred blade steak with green peppercorn & sherry pan sauce? Sign me up. This is the first time I've ever read about Cal-Med cooking (didn't know it was a thing) and I'm honestly really excited about it. The photography in this book looks amazing too.
5. This isn't a cookbook but I made this blueberry skillet cake over the weekend and it was fantastic. Just don't do what I did and double the blueberries because you think you're smarter than the recipe... it will end up crunchy on the outside and soggy on the inside. I'm going to add some lemon zest next time I make it and maybe a pinch of cinnamon. It's such an easy cake and would be great for a group dinner. This almond cake recipe is also a great one for a crowd (and can be made with almond flour if you have GF guests). Make it a day ahead so the almond flavors really soak in. I like to "ice" this cake with apricot jam.
6. Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen. If you're anything like me, you love a good cheese board. I've been taught the basics by my mother over the years but based on the cover of this book, I really need to up my game. I love how excited people get about a good appetizer board at dinner parties, it's always such a highlight of the evening.
7. This is also not a cookbook but I've admired Charlotte Moss' style for years. This book, Charlotte Moss Entertains, is the venerated decorator's guide to effortless entertaining, table setting, and more. I love that she has a party every summer she calls the "Caftan Caucus." This book is a template for what I want my parties to look and feel like and Moss' writing is a delight.
Do you have your eye on any cookbooks? Any tried and true recipes you want to share (I promise I'll try them)? Let me know in the comments below!