Anyone celebrating Father’s Day can find inspiration on our amazing cookbook shelves. My own father preferred the simplest of food, even for festive occasions, but as I worked my way through some of these incredible cookbooks, I saw more than one recipe that I thought might have tempted him, leaving me with a very cozy feeling. Hopefully one or two of these will be the one to capture your father/grandfather/father figure’s appetite as well!
At the top of the list is David Chang’s Cooking at Home which actually came out in the fall of last year, but is a blast to read and so easy to use that it will make any celebration a success. Whether you are making a feast to feed a crowd or a gorgeous meal for just three or four people, he provides the tips and tricks to make it happen. This cookbook is one of the most colourful that I’ve seen in years. Chang and Krishna’s use of colour is designed to help you find your way through all of the incredible information they provide about the ingredients, techniques, history of food, and their ideas for making cooking easier and approachable. Chang co-wrote this cookbook with New York Times reporter Priya Krishna, so the two perspectives provide a valuable conversation about methods alongside incredible insider foodie stories. You might end up trying a brand-new recipe or you might find a new way to cook an old classic. The subtitle for this book is, “how I learned to stop following recipes (and love my microwave)” and I think I can say that this is partially true for me. Reading this book absolutely shook things up and added new recipes to our weekly repertoire at home.
Far less known for his cooking skills is Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of Modern Family) who put his sweet mix of California and the American South into one glamorous cookbook. According to the introduction, he met his co-writer, a recipe developer named Julie Tannous, through mutual friends and they got on like a house on a fire. The two started a blog, which turned into the book, Food Between Friends. I have checked this cookbook out so many times I should just buy a copy. It contains well-described recipe options which you could use for a snazzy Father’s Day breakfast or brunch, turn up the heat on a family luncheon, or take you all the way to an evening meal with stylish cocktails. They alternate who introduces the recipes and their personal stories are entertaining, plus they provide some context about the ingredients and possible substitutions or workarounds. This is a healthy-ish cookbook, but the results always look good on a plate (although not ever as good as they do in the book) and would definitely charm a group of new in-laws – should that be the case for your Father’s Day this year.
If you are looking for a classic way to celebrate Father’s Day – plus an enjoyable read – then you really can’t miss Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ. This cookbook is FULL of BBQ recipes, of course, but there are also step-by-step instructions for building your own pit (you need cinder blocks and something that looks like an oil drum), more information than I thought I would ever need about different types of wood, and endless detail about meat and how to prepare it. This book demanded my attention as soon as I brought it home, even though I knew I could never be this dedicated to BBQ. It really was a pleasure to fall into Scott’s life story and learn about how he developed his craft, built his restaurants, and received a James Beard award in 2018. You can find out more about his food on his restaurant websites – don’t look at it when you are hungry – or find videos of him cooking online, but I recommend you spend an hour or two reading his book and try a few of the recipes yourself. You don’t have to build the whole pit! There are delicious choices in this book that you could make on your grill at home, like his amazing chicken wings, burgers, or spice-rubbed ribs. He even includes some recipes for the stove top, as well including a macaroni and cheese that will steal your heart.
Trejo’s Tacos, written by actor Danny Trejo, isn’t only a sensational cookbook, but has the added bonus of helping you find an excellent movie options if you wanted to see him onscreen after you eat a meal featuring one of the recipes from his book. This isn’t a recent cookbook, but it’s worth adding to this list to remind everyone how much fun it was to read. Trejo writes the book from the perspective of a restaurateur, so there are little tidbits about how a particular meal was chosen specifically to suit L.A. appetites (like the kale salad or his inclusion of cauliflower tacos). The book encourages the reader to mix ingredients and recipes from different pages together to suit their needs. He has a list of what he feels are essential requirements for equipment and pantry items at the beginning of the book and includes an introduction which provides some of his personal history, specifically about his mother and her style of cooking. As you read you get a real cookbook experience with a Hollywood memoir feel. Each recipe is accompanied by suggestions for sauces or sides that could be added to your meal. The book is a joy to read and each meal that I’ve tried has turned out well. I’m looking forward to trying some of his desserts next – he includes recipes for several in the book. I didn’t know until I read the book that his restaurants are well-known for their doughnuts!
Whether you are planning a special meal for Father’s Day or just looking for weeknight inspiration (Danny Trejo’s grilled chicken is superb) any one of these four books would provide some fantastic picks.
If you wanted some suggestions for Father’s Day meals, or any other special occasions, you can always contact us here at the library – we love to talk about books, tacos, doughnuts and fathers, of course.