Favorite Cookbooks: Grace Bonney

Favorite Cookbooks: Grace Bonney

To welcome in a brand new series of posts on 101 Cookbooks, I've invited the fantastically talented Grace Bonney to share a list of her favorite cookbooks. Grace is a Brooklyn-based writer who runs the well-loved design blog Design*Sponge. She spends most of her days obsessing over chairs and homes, and (lucky us) her other passion is food. You might remember when I highlighted Grace's "in the kitchen with" section on my last favorites list.

GRACE'S COOKING STYLE (in her own words):
For me, cooking tends to swing two ways: it's either an incredibly nostalgic recipe (like my Grandma Nita's chocolate mud cake) or something that feels clean, fresh and seasonal. I know that last direction is sort of a buzz thing right now but living in Brooklyn, I take any chance I can to get my hands on good local produce. Even though we have a farmer's market I wish we could be a bit more connected to local vendors and producers.

My basic style would be modern comfort food. I really love anything that includes cheese, beef broth, sour cream, caramelized onions, and fresh peas. Which would make my favorite meal a shepard's pie I guess.

FAVORITE COOKBOOKS (the ones Grace turns to most for inspiration):

- I cook religiously from The Barefoot Contessa: At Home. Her recipes are so simple and perfect for weekday dinners. It's a rare occasion when I'm not watching Ina at 5pm while she cooks from East Hampton kitchen. She just feels so relatable and comfortable for me.

- Jamie's Dinners - the pasta section is perfect for casual dinner parties. The eggplant and mozzarella pasta is my favorite.

- Donna Hay: Flavors - this book isn't one I cook from often but I almost always turn to it for flavor ideas or just a little inspiration.

- Craft of Cooking: Notes and Recipes from a Restaurant Kitchen - I love Tom Colicchio's CraftBar restaurant and his clean flavors. I turn to this book when I want to make something extra special.

Grace Bonney's Favorite Cookbooks

- Crescent City Cooking : Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans - I'm southern so I love trying recipes from different regions in the south. Susan Spicer's recipes always have such a kick to them.

- The French Laundry Cookbook - I've never cooked anything in this book but I look at it at least twice a week just to imagine what it would be like to cook like that.

- Forever Summer: Nigella Lawson - Not only to I wish I could look like Nigella, I wish I could cook like her. Caramelized Pineapple with Chocolate Sauce is my absolute all-time favorite go-to dessert.

- Pure Dessert: True Flavors, Inspiring Ingredients, and Simple Recipes - I'm a sweets kind of girl so this is a favorite of mine. I love simple, easy desserts that leave my friends asking for more (and the recipe).

- Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest - I'm traveling to the Pacific Northwest for the first time next month and I can't wait to taste this sort of food in person, rather than in my own little kitchen.


A big THANK YOU to Grace for sharing her favorites with us. Over the coming weeks I'm going to feature more "tastemaker" booklists, focusing on a wide range of people. I'm excited to see which books people really love and use!

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Hi Grace! I hope make it to Seattle when you're in the PNW. If so, you'll need to check out Beecher's Handmade Cheese at the Pike Place Market. It is owned by Kurt Beecher Dammier who penned 'Pure Flavor'. Be sure to try the Mac and Cheese at Beechers as it is heavenly!

Northwest Girl

I really love Jamie's Dinners. I agree, the pasta section is full of beautiful and simple recipes. He's also got this great section on making pasta from scratch. Several food-making friends and I are digging out our old crank-handle pasta machines next weekend to see what kind of damage we can do, and Jamie's cookbook won't be far away.

Nigella is another favorite, though I haven't seen her Forever Summer book yet. Looking forward to that one. And also very much looking forward to this new series of posts.


I love this! My two favourite blogs!


Heidi, I love the idea for this new series of posts, and like Emma, was really excited to see Grace's favorites here since I also love design*sponge! Thanks!


what a great idea and addition to your blog! I look forward to seeing what others have in mind for cookbooks. I know I have my favorites, but I'm always on the lookout for more.

btw, I made your Rosemary Pinenut Shortbread cookies for Christmas time, cut them into little Christmas trees, and mmm, mmm they were a huge hit.


Enjoy yourself in the PNW! I live in the Hamptons, but the PNW is my home. Since you're into comfort foods The Palace Kitchen in Seattle is the place to be. If you're in Portland you must check out Voodoo Doughnuts. You can eat a maple bacon doughnut and learn Swahili in one visit.


I adore both the Nigella and French Laundry cookbook - picked up the Keller book on my honeymoon dinner there. So fabulous!


I am so glad when people post this topic - it makes me feel less like a weirdo for owning so many cook books :)


Once again, TFL is selected over Bouchon. Any one with me on Bouchon being the superior cookbook?


I enjoyed these kitchen photos quite a bit and was struck by something: I hang my knives on a magnet also, but always handle down, point up. I wouldn't think of putting them any other way. Never knew I felt this way until I saw this photo, and not sure why I feel so emphatic about it now, but there you have it.


What a fantastic idea for a series. :) If you are ever looking for more folks, I'd be game to contribute my list of favorite cookbooks.

Victoria E

I love this new series - it's so nice to know that I am not alone in owning cookbooks as reference and then those die hard favorites that are stained and falling apart. I love the idea of recommendations for cookbooks and how to use them.

I live in Portland, Oregon and if you'll be out this way I must recommend Columbia Cafe in Astoria (if you are heading to the coast - I love the maritime museum there too) and in Portland - Park Kitchen and Wildwood would be quintessential NW but there are so many more great restaurants here. And do go to Voodoo Doughnuts - it's a must see.

p.s. Palace Kitchen is my favorite in Seattle!


I too lived in Portland, OR a few years ago. Park Kitchen and Wildwood are stellar. I have been away for a few years, but I read about all the new additions. Kristin, what are some of your new favorites?

I am not a blogger, per se, but Heidi, I love your site. I've never written, but I always check in. You put together an amazing site. Kudos.

Stephanie M

What a fantastic feature! Great idea and well excuted. Looking forward to future lists...


Loved seeing this list - I own over 450 cookbooks (the only thing I collect I swear) but am always amazed to find new ones on other people's lists that I haven't seen or heard of yet. I'll be checking some of these out to add to the collection!

Michele Morris

Your daily chat is very much look
forward to All of your recipes are great
and your comments are very useful try Jamies
roast shoulder of lamb, we here are able to get salt m ardh lamb from Wales Also Highland lamb from scotland.Regards Keep Cooking. Murray Podro


Thanks so much for all the great PNW food suggestions! I'm hitting up Portland and Seattle in one week so I'll definitely try to visit all of these. Thank you!

And thanks to Heidi for including me :)



Thanks! I'd love a list of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks too! I've been swearing by Super Natural Cooking in addition to:

How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

3 Bowls : Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery

By the way, last night I finally made the Bulgur, Celery and Pomegranate Salad and we LOVED it. So easy, too.


I LOVE Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. I swear everything I have made from them comes out wonderfully. They are also just a delight to read.

"Jamie's Dinners" is by far one of the most used books of my cookbook collection.


what a nice post to do!

thanks for all the links - some of those are my favs, too, and now i have some newbies to check out!


what a nice post to do!

thanks for all the links - some of those are my favs, too, and now i have some newbies to check out!


I've always admired Jaime, but have yet to pick up any of his books. I should get on that. Nigella is my absolute favorite -- though many of her baked dishes turn out funny, I adore her attitude. Her How to Eat is my kitchen bible. Also, for inspiration I turn to Judy Rogers' Zuni Cafe cookbook (the roast chicken bread salad is a Christmas staple with my fam) and to good old Julia Child (I received a first edition copy of her book for Christmas from my roommate).


I'm not a huge fan of Jamie Oliver as a TV celebrity chef but I think his recipes are fantastic and so are his books. They are always so cleanly presented, with lots of great photography and recipes that you think you know but then find they are more delicious than you thought and that you didn't know them at all!


Has anyone checked out a cookbook called Rice, Spice and All things Nice? It is a wonderful collection of Indian recipes that are spot on. I love the recipes on 101, and I love Cabbage soup. Thanks for that one.


one of my favorite veggie cookbooks is by jeanne lemlin, quick vegetarian pleasures. i own 3 of her cookbooks and her recipes are good, simple and quick. on the other hand i love deborah madison's greens book and also her veggie soups cookbook.
thanks for all your work heidi.


I love the Mustard's cookbook from Mustard's restaurant in Napa Valley. I like Tyler's Ultimate and like you have over 100 cookbooks!


Two of my favorite bloggers have collided! What a great post!


Betsy, I have to agree! Quick Vegetarian Pleasures was the first cookbook I bought when I went veg years ago. I have a bazillion cookbooks now, but that's the one I always come back to!

Jen O

Betsy, I have to agree! Quick Vegetarian Pleasures was the first cookbook I bought when I went veg years ago. I have a bazillion cookbooks now, but that's the one I always come back to!

Jen O

heidi, i just found your blog..lets see about four days ago? well let me say i went to borders today and already bought your book! it took me forever to find it there, but i was determined. I cant wait to start cooking out of it...i want to try the wheat berry salad with the citrus dressing,pine nuts,feta,and spinach. so yummy looking.


ps. the pictures of all the food is so beautiful,it makes me green with envy. the pictures i take never come out so lovely.


Oooooh...some of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks are by Jack Bishop. Whenever I make anything out of his books it is always fabulous. When my husband tells me how good it is I always reply, "yeah, it's Jack". Vegetables Everyday (not strictly vegetarian) is my most used cookbook and I also love A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.


Stephanie M. and Grace:

Some of my new favorites are:
Fife - everything sourced within 60 miles
Toro Bravo - tapas - super yummy
Clyde Commons - in the Ace Hotel
Taqueria Nueve - NW mexican
Mother's - for breakfast
Simpatica Dining Hall - for sunday brunch

Other's that I am dying to try: The Farm, Authenica, Nutshell (vegan) and Le Pigeon


thanks for this email it is a fantastic blog i'll cook some of the recipes tonight

secret someone

Thanks for the great cookbook ideas. Your kitchen looks beautiful, too! I love the lime green pegboard for hanging utensils and pots and pans.


Dear Heidi,

Talking about books, I just received yours, from Amazon.

I just loved the recipes, the photos, the design... but there´s just one thing I´d like to complain about: as I live in Brazil, I have a problem with recipes that don´t have the conversion from ounces to grams. It´s just too difficult to cook with a calculator!

As a suggestion for your next book, please remember that you have readers from outside the US, and that it would be very very nice to put the measures on grams also.

Apart from that congratulations on your wonderful book!



Yeah! You (grace) are such an inspiration. I'm going to be you when I grow up...


Whouhahouu Grace and Heidi at the same time, lucky us!!!


I recommend anything by James Peterson. His new book Cooking is great. It has a wide variety of recipes, and tons of photos that walk you through the techniques.


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