I thought I'd share some of my favourite books that I've been using for the past couple of years. I also feel that these books have made me into a better cook, and really make me want to make everything from scratch.
Topping the list is Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Herself. I have all five of her books and use them all the time. The best two are The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Barefoot Contessa Parties!. I use recipes from those books over and over again.
I've also recently fallen in love with the Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from the kitchens of Martha Stewart. It's fantastic. I also have a subscription to the magazine. I can hear the groans - not Martha, it's too hard - but this is Martha for dummies. All the recipes I have tried so far have turned out great and are really easy. I swore off Martha for a really long time after the great Buche de Noel debarcle of Christmas 2000. That thing took me about 13 hours to make and everyone 6 mins to eat. I was beside myself, used every pot, pan, bowl, spoon, knife and cutting board that I owned, and had a miserable 4 month old who cried the whole time I was making it. The cake itself was delicious, but I was so mad with Martha for about 4 years after that whole experience.
Nigella Lawson is another favourite. I have Domestic Goddess and Bites. I've very successfully made the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and the New York Cheese Cake from Domestic Goddess and a few lovely dinners from Bites. Someone even wanted to pay me to make the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake when I made it for Mrs Names' Superbowl party this year!
I also just got Giada De Laurentis' Family Dinner - but I've only made one sauce out of it so far.