A&K-Approved Cookbooks

Saturday, 1 December 2012 | Tags: , , ,

Many of you have requested a quick & easy list of all the cookbooks that received the A&K Stamp of Approval on Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag seasons 1 to 4. Here you go. Happy cooking!

(Cookbooks are listed in reverse chronological order by episode.)

Season 4


Whitewater Cooks with Friends
by Shelley Adams

This book does as promised – helps you make delicious, fabulous food. The recipes are great for entertaining, both for small, casual summer parties, or for larger or more elegant events. We’ll definitely be making the chicken and ribs again too! 

  Whitewater Cooks with Friends
Sandhill Books



The Family Meal
Home cooking with Ferran Adria

We both learned a lot from this cookbook, not just about “Family Meals”, but also cooking techniques, and we found answers to many of the things we often wondered about in other cookbooks. It’s a great, hands-on instruction book to have in your kitchen library, and most of the recipes are quite tasty too!


  The Family Meal Amazon.comBarnes & Nobleicon



New Moroccan
by Mourad Lahlou

While some of the recipes can be quite involved, we both had good results with this book when cooking at home. And even though our 7-hour marathon cook day in our unfamiliar Moroccan kitchen was a challenge, but the recipes still delivered.

  Mourad: New Moroccan
    Amazon.caChapters-Indigo Amazon.comBarnes & Nobleicon



The Babbo Cookbook
by Mario Batali

If you’re looking for unique Italian fare that is of the quality of Batali’s 3-star restaurant in New York, then this cookbook is for you. Just be aware that at the restaurant, they make it look a lot easier than it really is!

  The Babbo Cookbook
Barnes & Nobleicon



Absolutely Chocolate
by The Editors of Fine Cooking Magazine

We love chocolate and can’t live without it. This cookbook’s claim to satisfy any chocolate craving stood up to the rigours of the A&K Test Kitchen, even when trying to impress a picky French pastry chef!
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble



100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know
by Cindy Leive

While there were no marriage proposals as a result of our Engagement Chicken (yet!), we found this cookbook to be accessible and simple. Perfect for a young woman starting out on her own.

Barnes & Nobleicon


Season 3


My Father’s Daughter
by Gwyneth Paltrow

We have to hand it to Gwyneth. She’s definitely a triple threat! This is not just a cookbook that’s endorsed by a celebrity, it’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal collection of family favourites. We definitely think My Father’s Daughter is worth your money.

Amazon.comBarnes & Noble



Canyon Ranch: Nourish
By Scott Uehlein and Canyon Ranch

Though it is labour-intensive at times, we both enjoyed most of the recipes in this cookbook. You may want to make some minor adjustments to suit your tastes, but overall, it’s a great cookbook that helps you eat healthier, without sacrificing flavour.

Barnes & Noble icon 




Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook

We both thoroughly enjoyed testing this book and feeling like we had a little Anthony Bourdain on our shoulder guiding us through the steps. If you’re a Bourdain fan, this is a must-have.  Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook
By Mark Robinson

Though we were both intimidated by it at first, we found this cookbook approachable, and most of the recipes delivered tasty results. We would have liked just a little bit more instruction in some spots, but overall, we’ll both be coming back to this cookbook again.
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon


A16: Food + Wine

By Nate Appleman, Shelley Lindgren

We both love rustic Italian food, and we both had a lot of success testing the recipes in this cookbook. And they’re not your typical Italian recipes either. They offer unexpected ingredient twists, and so much extra information. If you like this type of food, it’s definitely a book to have in your kitchen. Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



by Michael Ruhlman

Though we don’t recommend it for everyone, we found the information in this cookbook very interesting (give it a chance!) and see it as an extremely valuable resource for anyone who wants to improvise in the kitchen and try their hand at creating their own recipes from scratch. 
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



The River Cottage Meat Book

by Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall

We strongly agreed with the core message of this cookbook about being a responsible meat eater by learning more about where your food comes from and how it is raised. While the recipes needed tweaking, we both felt this cookbook is a must-have kitchen resource, especially for carnivores.
Barnes & Noble icon



55. Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook

We’re both going to pull this cookbook out for some future dinner party menus. We think even novice home cooks can pull off these recipes, as long as you give yourself lots of time. Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



The Pleasures of Cooking for One
by Judith Jones

As singletons ourselves, we really like the concept of this book as a whole, and Judith Jones brings some unique ideas to the table. If you’re a family of one (or even two) and are tired of boring meals from a can, bag, or freezer, this book is a great one to have on your shelf.
Barnes & Noble icon



Gordon Ramsay’s Family Fare

It’s not your average cookbook, so expect some unique and creative ideas. And after reading through his cookbook, we agree with Gordon too. Stop watching TV while you’re eating dinner. (Unless, of course, you’re watching our show!)

  Amazon.caChapters-Indigo   Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Bon Appétit, Y’all
by Virginia Willis

Apart from our fear of frying, we had great success with everything we made from this cookbook. We also recommend everyone visit Savannah, Georgia and the area at least once in their lives, and definitely taste a freshly-picked Georgia peach!

Barnes & Noble



Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen

by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Even though our guest chef Prince Rowe didn’t think many of the dishes we made were authentic Jamaican, most of them turned out delicious, and they were relatively easy to make. We think this is a great book for anyone looking to add some Caribbean spice to their cuisine. Just be careful with those chili peppers!

Barnes & Noble


Season 2


Chef Daniel Boulud: Cooking in New York City

Though we were both intimidated at first, this book is quite accessible and we had a lot of success with it. If you enjoy learning about contemporary French cuisine or Chef Daniel Boulud’s creations, we definitely recommend this cookbook.

Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



The Flexitarian Table

by Peter Berley

We both felt there were many tasty recipes in this cookbook, and the vegetarian ones were innovative enough to get us eating more greens.

Barnes & Noble icon



Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

by Ina Garten

This is one cookbook we strongly recommend for beginners and advanced cooks alike. We are in love with this book!

Barnes & Noble icon



The Cake Bible

by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Even though we came close to out-challenging ourselves by making a real wedding cake for a real bride on her wedding day, we both feel The Cake Bible is a definite buy for people who like baking cakes, both professionals and amateurs.
Barnes & Noble icon



Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes

by Jennifer McLagan

Both of us agree this book has some fantastic and delicious recipes. While we’re not going to use it as an everyday meal, it’s definitely a good source for tasty recipes that are easy to make. Barnes & Noble icon



The Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary Edition)

By Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

Joy of Cooking is a must-have cookbook and reference guide for anyone who cooks. If you already have an earlier edition, you may want to stick with it. But if you don’t have Joy of Cooking yet, you should!
Barnes & Noble icon



Oprah Magazine Cookbook

By Editors of Oprah Magazine

We both feel the Oprah Magazine Cookbook delivers on its promise to provide a recipe for everyone and every occasion. It’s simple to read, with lots of pictures, and the recipes are accessible and easy to make for the at-home chef. Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Deceptively Delicious

by Jessica Seinfeld

Our hungry pint-sized testers proved that you can be successful at getting kids to eat more nutritious meals by craftily hiding vegetables in the food. Though making purees is labour-intensive, if you’ve got the time and a picky eater, it’s definitely a good book to have on your kitchen shelf

Barnes & Noble icon



Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen

There are a lot of nuances to Mexican cooking and this cookbook goes into great detail about each one. Even though we didn’t fare so well on our cook day, we really think it’s a case of practicing until you get it right. This is a great book for anyone looking to learn more about cooking authentic Mexican cuisine.

  Chapters-Indigo Barnes & Noble icon



The French Laundry Cookbook

by Thomas Keller

This book is full of gorgeous pictures, it’s well written, and has lots of tips and instruction. However it’s aimed at people who already know quite a bit about cooking, and who are willing to spend time on the recipes. If that’s you, then The French Laundry Cookbook should definitely be in your kitchen library. Barnes & Noble icon



The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

by Marcella Hazan

This book is overflowing with good recipes, solid information, tips and instructions. And even though we had trouble on our cooking day, we don’t blame the book. We definitely think Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is a must-have for any home chef. Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon


Season 1


Everyday Italian

by Giadia de Laurentiis

We both really enjoyed this cookbook. The recipes were relatively easy and the book was very helpful, with extra tips and recipe shortcuts. A definite buy. Chapters-Indigo Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



How to Grill

by Steven Raichlen

 This book promises to teach you how to barbecue and it definitely delivers on that promise. Without a doubt, a good buy for anyone with a BBQ. Chapters-Indigo Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Mangoes & Curry Leaves

by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Though we were new to cooking a lot of these dishes, Overall, we feel this cookbook delivers on its promises and is a delightful excursion for the adventurous home chef.
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble



Cook with Jamie

by Jamie Oliver

Cook With Jamie unquestionably gets our A&K Stamp of Approval. Jamie’s cooking and food philosophies, as well as his instructional lessons, make this book a definite buy for a wide range of skill levels. Buy from
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Mastering the Art of French Cooking

by Julia Child

We both agree that this book delivers on its promises. Mastering the Art of French Cooking gets the A&K Stamp of Approval. We recommend it for more advanced chefs. It’s definitely not for beginners.
Barnes & Noble icon


Split Decisions


Season 4 


The Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes
by the Home Economics Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Sally West

While Anna felt the cookbook captured the essence of Newfoundland cooking, Kristina didn’t find the recipes to be relevant for today’s cook. 

  The Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes



My Pizza
by Jim Lahey

While we both loved the topping combinations, the issue with the dough was too much of a concern for Anna to recommend it.

    Amazon.caChapters-Indigo Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Essential Pépin
by Jacques Pépin

Anna felt that as a “favourites” collection, it was just too much, and the book itself lacked instruction. On the other hand, Kristina loved the variety and accessibility of the recipes, as well as the DVD extra.

  Essential Pepin
Barnes & Nobleicon


Season 3


Jamie Oliver’s 20-minute meals (app)

We were both disappointed that the app didn’t deliver on its main promise of 20-minute meals, but that said, the recipes did deliver on taste. If you like technology and want to give it a go in the kitchen, you might enjoy this cookbook app. But if you’re not into all the latest gadgets, or just don’t want to get your expensive electronics near so many hazards, stick with a traditional cookbook.

  iTunes icon Android Market 



Marguerite Patten’s Best British Dishes

If you’re looking for traditional, hearty comfort food in the true British style, this cookbook is definitely for you. If your tastes lean more toward modern cuisine, you may want to pick up a cookbook from one of the new generation of British culinary masters instead.
Barnes & Noble icon



Three Sisters Around the Greek Table
by Betty, Eleni and Samantha Bakopoulos

If you are a novice home chef and you’re interested in dipping your toes into Greek cuisine, we do think this book is a good introduction because it has a lot of the classic recipes all in one place, and they’re easy to make. 

  Chapters-Indigo icon
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble



The New Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen

If you’re new to cooking vegetarian dishes and are looking for simple recipes to get you started, this cookbook is a good option. If you already have the original version, you probably don’t need the updated one, though you might want to check your favourite recipes for tweaks.

Barnes & Noble



How to Cook Everything
by Mark Bittman

On the one hand, this cookbook is a great resource for beginners, not just for cooking techniques, but for shopping tips too. On the other hand, because of the pretty major mistakes we found in just a few of the over 2000 recipes, we ended up with a split decision. 

Barnes & Noble


Season 2


A Good Catch
by Jill Lambert

While Anna wasn’t wowed by the recipes, if you’re looking for some good seafood recipes and are willing to experiment to punch them up, A Good Catch may be worth your money and time, especially if you are trying to explore new seafood options. 

Barnes & Noble icon



A Cowboy in the Kitchen

by Grady Spears and Robb Walsh

If you’re looking for a to-die-for pecan pie recipe, sourdough biscuit recipe, and steak rub, it may be worth your while to invest in this book (or at least take it out of the library).
Barnes & Noble icon



Chinese Kitchen

by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

If you love authentic Chinese food and aren’t afraid of cooking with unfamiliar ingredients and techniques, this cookbook is for you. We don’t recommend this for beginner cooks.

Barnes & Noble icon



The Best of the Best and More

by The Ladies of the Best of Bridge

Kristina wanted even more updates and doesn’t think it delivers gourmet meals as claimed, while Anna, though recognizing its many flaws, saw enough jewels in the recipes to give it a buy. 




Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking

This cookbook is a good introduction to traditional Jewish cooking, so if you’re willing to experiment to get things right, you should try Jewish Home Cooking.

  Chapters-Indigo Barnes & Noble icon



Garlic, Garlic, Garlic

by Linda and Fred Griffith

If you are a garlic fanatic, check it out, but be prepared to add your own tweaks if you really want the recipes to really pop. Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



Thai Food

by David Thompson

If you know the basics of Thai cooking, this cookbook might be a good addition to your shelf. If you’re looking for a step-by-step introduction to Thai cuisine, look for a more basic cookbook to start with first. Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



The Best Light Recipe

by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

We were all fooled by the low-fat cheesecake recipe, including our guest chef, who is a strong advocate of using high-fat ingredients for flavour. And though we felt there were some notable recipes in this cookbook, Anna didn’t feel the cookbook delivered on it’s “THE BEST” promise, while Kristina found the recipes easy and tasty enough to recommend.  Amazon.comBarnes & Noble icon



New Food Fast

by Donna Hay

Ultimately we didn’t agree on this cookbook because, among other things, some recipes just weren’t feasible to create in the cookbook’s 30-minutes-or-less promise, and Kristina felt the recipes needed more flavour.

   Buy from </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>  Chapters-Indigo Barnes & Noble icon



The Silver Palate Cookbook

by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

We had success with some of the easier recipes from the cookbook, but since we don’t agree on a verdict, we can’t give this cookbook our stamp of approval.


   Buy from
  Amazon.caBuy from
Barnes & Noble icon
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  • Kim Wallace

    So many to choose from but Gwyneth’s “My Father’s Daughter” is on my Santa’s list. After watching the show (pvr’d) and learning about all of her approachable good-for-you hints – made me immediately put it on my list. Thanks Ladies ~

    • annaandkristina

      Good choice, Kim! You won’t be disappointed.


    LOVE watching your show!! My kids do too!! (6&8)

    They were extremely excited when you tested the Gluten Free cookbook, and now know not to buy it!!
    I am interested, though, Kristina, how you will test recipes with your gluten intollerance?

    • annaandkristina

      Thank you! Say hello to your kids! I am very careful. I can have some in moderation. It’s only tricky if the dish tastes really good and I want to eat more than a couple of bites!

  • Sonia De Rosa

    I’d love for you guys to test out a “healthy” cookbook….as a mom with a new baby, I want to eat healthier and just have no time to research and test recipes, but if there was a great cookbook out there with all of it in one book, that would be a miracle for me 🙂 Thanks!!! Great job ladies, you are so entertaining to watch!!

  • tellula bankside

    I’m looking for a cookbook with freezable meals and/or make ahead meals. Any suggestions?

    • annaandkristina

      Hi Tellula, we haven’t tested any specific cookbooks like that other than Deceptively Delicious, which is geared toward parents of picky eaters. The Pleasures of Cooking for One (which is often easily adaptable for two) also has a number of dishes that work well as make ahead meals, and as leftovers. We’ll put the idea on our suggestion list for next season. Thanks for watching!

    • Janet Feast

      Try “Fix, Freeze and Feast” available on Amazon.

  • annaandkristina

    Thanks for the tip, markyoloup! We’ll put it on our suggestion list.

  • markyoloup

    There is also Gloria Pitzer who has published several books of secret recipe of popular brands

    Such as the famous KFC secret spice

    While Todd Wilbur’s version only contains just four

    • annaandkristina


  • LL

    A suggestion to test cookbooks focused on pressure cooker cooking? Or test pressure cookers? I recently purchased a pressure cooker after a lot of research, been reassured that they are full of safety features. Now to experiment cooking with it. I think this would make a great topic.

    • annaandkristina

      Thanks LL, we’ll put that on our list! Have fun with your new pressure cooker.

  • gallerypapillon

    would you consider adding Margaret Dickenson’s “Margaret’s Table”. the book exudes classic dining along with tasty and tempting culinary ideas. thanks!

  • Pingback: Food Skills 101: The Cookbook Challenge | Good Food News()

  • Jennifer Hughes

    Will there be a season 5? I love your reviews and this show!

  • Sarah Healey

    I’d love for you to do an episode on “Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss” by Buddy Valastro, the cake boss. His meatball recipe he shared on Rachel Ray and featured in his Las Vegas restaurant is one of the best things I have ever eaten. His Sunday “gravy” pasta dish is good too. Not sure if they are featured in his book, and I’m curious if the book is as good as those dishes.

  • Paula

    I’m addicted to your show, you guys are hilarious!! Look forward to the new stuff you’re cooking up. How do you choose the chef to taste your. ….. creations?