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Melissa Mayo

December 4, 2015


Post by Melissa Mayo

It’s the holidays and I know everyone is always looking for gift suggestions. For me, nothing tops a recipe book.

As you can see, I am a little OCD about my collection. I even sort it by colors.  I’m  a meshugganah . I know. You don’t have to tell me.


My favorite cookbook of all time belongs to my mother. It’s a simple handwritten black journal. It no longer has a spine. Its’ pages spill out everywhere and each page is stained with flour, oil, fingerprints and smudges from years and years of use.


I hope to one day include many of her favorite recipes in my own book. Till then I have made  a list of some of my favorite books.

13 to be exact… because that’s my lucky number. I have no doubt that whether you gift these to yourself or others, there will be smiles all round and good food coming out of the kitchen.

Happy holidays. Wishing you a New Year filled with blessings

xxx Chef MM

The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook – If you cannot make it to Santa Monica’s famous farmers market this book will transport you there. The emphasis is on quality ingredients. it includes tips about buying and storing produce and recipes are grouped by season.

My French Kitchen– From the author of “Chocolat” comes this treasure of a book. It is full of beautiful pictures of French food and French life. It also includes charming childhood stories to go along with these classic recipes. The tomato tart is insane.

Seriously Simple Parties – This book is one of 20 books written by my dear friend Diane. She shares straightforward and simple recipes to create mind blowingly delicious food. There are also tips that’ll make throwing a party just as much fun as attending one. A must own for anyone that loves to entertain.

Monday Morning Cooking Club -This book was a 40th birthday gift. It’s a collection of recipes from the Jewish community in Sydney Australia. It’s like a warm bowl of chicken soup. Comforting for the soul and the recipes are amazing.

Sunday Suppers at Lucques – Okay. Let’s just state for the record that Suzanne Goin can do no wrong in my eyes (or should I say mouth). I am a huge fan. The recipes are a little more complex, so it’s better suited to a more experienced cook. But in my mind this is a master piece…

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics – I love Ina. She cooks just the way I do. Simple techniques that are full proof and her food is so flavorful. This book tackles all the basics so it’s perfect for a novice cook.  I also love her top 10 lists …

The Barefoot Contessa – It is spectacular. Stunning photographs, simple recipes and helpful tips. Many require only a handful of ingredients and no more than an hour  from start to finish. And there are gorgeous party platters that don’t even require you to cook!

Baking with Julia – So I actually do not enjoy baking. It is a science and I am not a fan of all the measuring and precision that goes into it. So this book is like a bible to me on the rare occasions that I need to bake. It is filled with every and any recipe you can think of baking.

Jerusalem – Yottam is a genius. He has an understanding of flavor profiles like no other chef. He also uses a ton of my favorite ingredients. But this book is more than a cookbook. It is an air ticket to the magical land of Israel. A snapshot of it’s foods, markets and people. If you don’t own a copy, run don’t walk to buy one.

Absolutely Delicious  – Sharon is a phenomenal cook and has been an inspiration to me. I own every one of her books, but this one is my favorite. It’s jam packed with fabulous recipes and gorgeous photos. I also love how she includes a few recipes in each section that are quick and easy and can be made in 10 minutes or less. It’s perfect for busy people.

Cooking with Myrna Rosen – I don’t think there was a single home in South Africa in the 70’s or 80’s that didn’t have a copy of this book. I think I have made almost every recipe in it. It’s the food I grew up eating. Unfortunately it is out of print. I’m so lucky my mom agreed to given me her copy (truth be told, she still unhappy about it). If you can purchase a used copy or wrangle it from someone willing to part with theirs, you are very lucky.

Salade – The photographs are incredible. If you are a salad lover you won’t regret buying it. It’s filled with salads made from delicate greens and hearty grains to luscious vegetables and fruit. The combinations are brilliant and the end result is mouth-watering.

Webers’ Real Grilling – The experts from Weber take you through the basics and beyond. Perfect for braai and grill masters. You’ll be sizzling in no time. Over 250 recipes with simple-to-follow directions.

And if all else fails there is always the gorgeous Carrol Boyes recipe holder “Stand on Duty” . It is without a doubt the first thing on my wish list this year. A not so subtle hint to Saul & Jade ….. hahahha



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