Two cookbooks I can recommend are “Zuni Cafe Cookbook” by Judy Rodgers and “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.” They are both a few years old, but worth seeking out.
“Ottolenghi” was recommended by somebody on this website for their granola bar recipe. Whoever that was, thank you! I just got the book yesterday, and I cooked two savory dishes from it tonight (salmon with red pepper and hazlenut salsa on p. 139, and chargrilled broccoli with chili and garlic p. 41). Both recipes were excellent. The book is full of lovely photos, although not every single recipe is pictured. Still, there are enough photos, especially in the vegetable chapter, so that you can see how delicious the finished dish looks. The style of cooking is Mediterrranean-Israeli-Moroccan, with a heavy emphasis on fresh herbs, fresh lemon, olive oil, and garlic. This is my kind of cooking! I adore this book, and I can’t wait to try the granola, plus the various grain and vegetable salads. It is a British book, so my American mind has to translate what is meant by “caster sugar,” “courgette,” and “mangetout.” Fortunately, I own a scale that weighs in grams, because that is how all the recipes are written—no cups or ounces to be found in these pages!
“Zuni Cafe” is a fascinating book. Rodgers guides you through the cooking of a recipe, teaching you, for example, how to taste for salt (one of her favorite seasoning ingredients). Her style of cooking is Mediterranean-California, with some French and Italian influence thrown into the mix. The Lentils Braised in Red Wine on p. 267 are a superb winter vegetarian dish (using vegetable stock in place of chicken stock). I’ve made the beef short ribs braised in Chimay ale (p. 383) several times. She has pages of detail on options for roasting lamb, along with seasoning variations. The Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad (p. 342) is super-excellent. Each recipe is accompanied by a wine recommendation. I could go on and on about this book. One drawback is that the photos are in their own separate section, and not all dishes are photographed. Still, the writing is so good, and the layout is spacious enough, that the book is a pleasure to read.
One of my strategies for buying a cookbook when I am not sure I will like it is to first check it out from the library, read several recipes, and try a few. If the book passes this initial “test drive” I go online to place my order. With this strategy, I have avoided buying some cookbooks that did not suit my style of cooking, thereby saving myself some serious bucks and bookshelf real-estate.