If you're challenging yourself in the kitchen this year , you've got to get your hands dirty making (and possibly washing) more than a few dishes. To whet your appetite for the stove, we've rounded up our essential cookbooks for every kitchen. Many of these have had a profound impact on home cooking for decades, and others are the classic cookbooks of tomorrow. Read on to check out our picks.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Julia Child 's classic cookbook brought French cuisine into the homes of Americans. Not only are staple French dishes like boeuf bourguignon and cassoulet broken down and made accessible, but readers are also instructed on how to buy and prepare raw ingredients. Mastering the Art of French Cooking  ($40) has been described as one of the most instructive cookbooks of all time.
How to Cook Everything
When I asked for opinions on essential cookbooks around the office, this was first on everyone's list. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything  ($35) features 2,000 recipes that will expand your culinary knowledge and provide your friends and family with amazing home-cooked meals of all shapes and sizes. The book is a favorite among many celebrities, who seem to be drawn to Bittman's straightforward approach to food.
Tartine Bakery  is run by one of the best bread makers in the world. Chad Robertson brings his art into our homes by way of his book Tartine Bread  ($40). The book is incredibly instructive, is filled with beautiful photography, and helps to demystify the bread-making process. If you're looking to make your own bread at home, why not take advice from the best?
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Ina Garten has won over the hearts of many with her perfectly appointed kitchen in her perfectly decorated house in the Hamptons. But what her fans really love about the Barefoot Contessa are the straightforward, classic, approachable recipes that she brings to the table. She has several fantastic books available, but The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook  ($35) has something for everyone.
The Joy of Cooking
Arguably one of the most important books in American cuisine, Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking  ($35) holds a special place in many households. This book changed the way many women approached cooking at home, as it emphasized freshness, convenience, and simple recipes, like beef Wellington and homemade ice cream. Techniques like knife skills are emphasized, and the new version includes a section on 30-minute meals. Chances are your grandmother had a copy of it on her bookshelf, so why shouldn't you?
The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone
Deborah Madison is known as the Julia Child  or Marcella Hazan of vegetarian cooking. Her book The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone  ($40) is considered one of the most comprehensive cookbooks ever published on the subject. This book is an essential for any kitchen, because, let's face it, it's helpful and economical to know how to cook great food that doesn't involve meat.
The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
For a book filled with step-by-step photos of fast and easy family meals, turn to The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook  ($35). You'll be glad to know that each recipe has been tested and compared against other options, often resulting in unorthodox ways of making traditional dishes. It's a book you can trust, and one that you'll be coming back to again and again.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
What Julia Child  did for French cooking, Marcella Hazan did for Italian. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking  ($30) combines her previous two publications in one large volume. Important Italian ingredients are explained in great detail, and authentic dishes like fresh pastas and risottos are made accessible for the home cook. For anybody who loves cooking with fresh ingredients and real Italian cuisine, this book is a must have.
The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook  ($26) made it on our list of essentials because, well, who doesn't want baked goods from Magnolia Bakery at their fingertips? The recipes are simple, traditional, and utterly delicious. The secret to their success is that they keep things uncomplicated. It will become your go-to cookbook for birthday cakes and weekend sweet treats.