Deb Dana and Hannah Sugarman’s Favorite Cookbooks

So…I like to cook. You know this.

And I own far too many cookbooks. You know this, too.

And Hannah? The protagonist in THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS? She REALLY likes to cook. I hope you’ve all bought a copy of the book and therefore know this as well.

So given that cooking is near and dear to my heart — and Hannah’s — I thought I’d give you a list of my favorite cookbooks, and Hannah’s, in the hopes that you, too, will turn on your oven and bust out your inner cook!

Dana’s Favorites (or, “a very small sampling of cookbooks Dana uses again and again”)

1. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. Ina Garten gives impeccable instructions, and her recipes are well-tested. Every recipe I’ve made out of this cookbook has come out perfectly. Favorite dishes include: French potato salad, grilled salmon salad, perfect roast chicken, coconut cupcakes.

2. Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy by Lidia Bastianich. I love Italian food, and the recipes in this cookbook are delicious and well-tested. I have made tons of recipes in the book, including rice with fresh sage, vegetable soup (amazing), strangozzi with chard and almond sauce (photo below), and farro pasta with arugula and ricotta (also below).












3. 150 Best American Recipes. The editors of this book did the legwork for all of us and found some of the best recipes out there. I’ve loved pretty much every recipe I’ve made from this book, and my favorites include the savory fig tart, Italian pumpkin soup (made with amaretti!), slow-roasted chipotle pork, braised green beans with tomato and fennel, and double chocolate layer cake (best. chocolate. cake. ever.).

4. Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The recipe for Dorie’s sweet tart crust is worth the price of the book. I also love the “Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies,” applesauce spice bars, and Alsatian apple tart (photo below).

Alsatian Apple Tart cropped

5. Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan edited this cookbook, which features all of the recipes from Julia Child’s PBS series Baking with Julia. Some of the more intricate recipes take days to make (like some of the country breads), but there are simpler recipes, too, and those are some of my favorites: challah (photo below), Finnish pulla, popovers, blueberry-nectarine pie.


Other favorites include baking books by Kate Zuckerman, Sherry Yard, Claudia Fleming, and Nick Malgieri.

Hannah’s Favorites

1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. A classic. Some of Hannah’s favorite recipes include bouillabaisse, Boeuf Bourguignon, roast squab chickens with chicken liver canapés, Grand Marnier soufflé.

2. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. What Julia Child was to French cuisine, Marcella Hazan is to Italian. Hannah loves making porcini risotto, classic polenta, pork roasted in milk (yes, her Jewish bubbe is rolling in her grave), and tomato, butter, and onion sauce.

3. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Hannah loves shopping at the farmers’ market, and Alice Waters was one of the pioneers of the movement to eat seasonally and locally. Hannah loves making the marinated beet salad, polenta torta, potato gratin, and nectarine crisp.

4. The Commissary Cookbook by Steve Poses, Anne Clark, and Becky Miller. This is the cookbook from the famous Philadelphia establishment, The Commissary, which was like an upscale/gourmet cafeteria. Hannah’s favorite Commissary recipes include the carrot cake (DUH), mocha fudge cake, chicken salad with horseradish-juniper berry mayonnaise, and pumpkin waffles with hot cider syrup.

5. The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. When Hannah feels like being super fancy, she busts out this tome by famed chef Thomas Keller and whips up mouth-watering dishes like soft-poached quail eggs with applewood-smoked bacon, braised prime beef short ribs with root vegetables and sautéed bone marrow, cappuccino semifreddo with cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, and poached banana ice cream with white chocolate-banana crepes and chocolate sauce.


Now it’s your turn! Tell me: what are YOUR favorite cookbooks?




13 Replies to “Deb Dana and Hannah Sugarman’s Favorite Cookbooks”

  1. Wish I could tell you, but honestly, I prefer take-out menus. *grin* TG gets a lot of use out of our Joy of Cooking, though. Guess that’s my favorite, once removed. 🙂

    1. Joy of Cooking is a great resource! And let me tell you — some nights I prefer takeout menus, too. After two book signings back-to-back on Sunday, I was like, “Chinese takeout, here I come!”

  2. I don’t use cookbooks much for cooking. But for reading, I love Nigella Lawson’s books. And I do make her moonblush tomatoes all the time. I can get behind her passion for canned (tinned) fish and pickles.

    I am so nervous for you to read GOOD LUCK GIRLS, Deb Dana. Almost every book you mentioned is in there.

    1. I love Nigella’s books for reading, too! Her headnotes are so much fun — I feel as if she’s talking to me directly.

      And there is NO reason for you to be nervous about me reading GOOD LUCK GIRLS!!! I know I am going to love it!! You are such a good writer. Frankly, I was terrified for you to read my romantic “comedy” because I am clearly not as hilarious as you are!

  3. Holy cow…those photos are AMAZING. Now I’m starving…

    My favorite cookbook is actually one I inherited from my father – it was his favorite too. It’s the massive Culinary Institute of America Cookbook. We refer to it as “the CIA Cookbook” and we have a favorite family joke that goes something along the lines of “what’s in this?” – “I could tell you…but I’d have to kill you.”

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