Erin Jeanne McDowell

Erin Jeanne McDowell

Cook, food writer and food stylist

https://www.erinjeannemcdowell.com/
Erin Jeanne McDowell works in food media: cooking, writing, and styling all things delicious. Her work has appeared in cookbooks, newspapers, magazines, websites, and ad campaigns. She has a widespread culinary background, with nearly ten years experience working with both digital and print food media. Erin serves as Recipe Editor for PureWow, is a baking columnist for Food52, and is currently finishing her first book, The Fearless Baker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2017). Based in the New York metro area, she is available for travel.

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Erin Jeanne's favorite cookbooks

The Cake Bible

The Cake Bible

Rose Levy Beranbaum

I was 16 when I decided I wanted to be a baker. I used to go to my local bookstore to pour over books as I began to learn about baking. I was too broke to buy any (at first), but this book fed me in so many ways, and eventually became one of the very first cookbooks on my shelf. It taught me precision, to have a sharp, careful eye, and how amazing one single dessert can be.

Vegetable Love

Vegetable Love

Barbara Kafka

The student bookstore at The Culinary Institute of America was one of my favorite hangouts. Full disclosure, I scored this book from the sale bin, but it didn't take long for it to become one of my most dog-eared, well-loved books I own. This isn't a vegetarian book - it's just a book, sorted by vegetables (in alphabetical order, which really gets to the organizational nerd in me) of great dishes where vegetables are the star. It changed the way I thought about cooking, and broke me out of the whole "protein + two sides = dinner" mentality.

How to be a Domestic Goddess

How to be a Domestic Goddess

Nigella Lawson

I used to babysit for a very stylish family in my neighborhood, and right after I started working in my first bakery job, I discovered this book on their coffee table. I was so engrossed when the parents came back from a night on the town that they let me borrow it - it was ultimately what made me decide to go to culinary school and really pursue this crazy, delicious dream I had.

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ina Garten

I used to watch Ina with my mom + grandma all the time - we loved her (still do). She embodies so many of the things I feel the most strongly about in food + cooking. Food should be delicious first, not to be afraid to try new things, and (of course) that butter is king ("How good is that?!").

Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

I'm a long time lover of canning (inspired by the bounty my parents harvest + can in their own garden each year), and I have so many tattered, jam-and-vinegar-stained copies of this book. It's information is clear and concise, and the recipes are simple - perfect for tweaking to suit your own whims.

Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook

Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook

Lidia has a restaurant in Kansas City, and when I was growing up, it was the place we'd go for special occasions. I "blame" Lidia for my deep love of all things carb-based - I devoured her foccacia soaked in buttery olive oil, stuffed myself with mounds of steaming pasta of every variety, and adored her simple vanilla bean flecked panna cotta. Her food comes from such an honest place, full of love - and her recipes are clear and never over-complicated. Many years into dating, my now-fiance told me that he'll never forget the first dish I ever cooked for him: it was pasta, and I everything I know about that, I learned from Lidia.

The Homemade Kitchen

The Homemade Kitchen

Alana Chernila

I've had the pleasure of working on so many wonderful books in my career as a food stylist, but this is one I'll always cherish. Alana is amazing - she can simultaneously encourage you to make unbelievably inspiring things from scratch (condiments, cheese, a dinner for 15), while also reminding you that cooking for yourself should be pleasant and enjoyable - not a pain in the neck. She emboldened me during the weeks I spent with her - and I've taken so much of her advice into my own kitchen.

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Baking with Julia

Baking with Julia

Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan

This book is where I first learned to try things I was originally too timid for. The recipes were clear and excellently presented - it made everything seem achievable. It also introduced me to names that became my guideposts in the baking world. I'm so grateful for this book - I used to pull it off my mom's shelf when I first started baking, and I pull it off my own today.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Simone Beck, Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle

This is the first cookbook I read like a novel - from cover to cover. In addition to learning so many basic techniques that helped me in every aspect of my cooking life, I loved the way Julia wrote her methods - she didn't mince words, but she knew exactly when to delve deeper. In fact, it was even better than a novel, because every recipe was a whole story - and I wasn't sad when it ended, because I then needed to go back and start cooking.