This fall’s new cookbooks: 27 of our favorites
Fall is a season that many of us look forward to, not only for the weather and the sports and the holidays, but because that’s when publishers tend to drop their best and often heftiest cookbooks. This year’s collection is a terrific one, loaded with books from notable chefs and much-loved cookbook writers and television personalities (Anthony Bourdain! Alton Brown!), with new baking books, conveniently in time for cookie season. Whether you’re looking for cookbooks to gift, cookbooks to cook from for your own holiday tables or just want something to read while you watch football, we’ve highlighted a few dozen of our favorites.
“Everything I Want to Eat,” by Jessica Koslow (Abrams, $40)
This is the first cookbook from the chef and owner of Sqirl, the relentlessly on-trend East Hollywood toast shop. Sqirl, of course, is far more than a toast shop. Jessica Koslow’s tiny restaurant articulates much of what L.A. is eating these days: beautifully orchestrated grain bowls, things-on-toast, homey dishes invariably topped with eggs or house lacto-fermented hot sauce, or the gorgeous jams that were Koslow’s gateway product and our gateway drug to toast in the first place. Koslow’s cookbook is far more than 100 recipes for all those things. It’s built like an art house book with lovely photography, lots of white-on-white design and weird-pretty compositions; and the photos include not only the food and the cooks, but neighborhood regulars, as if it had been somehow crowd-sourced. So you can learn to make Koslow’s Malva pudding cakes, her sorrel pesto rice bowls and strawberry rose geranium jam — as well as more intricate recipes that recall Koslow’s classical training. Rabbit ballotine!
“How to Bake Everything,” by Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35)
Mark Bittman, the former New York Times food columnist, has written 20 books. His latest is in the vein of his popular cookbook “How to Cook Everything.” Because cooking is different from baking, and because we can never have too many dessert-focused cookbooks, especially in time for the holiday season. It’s a predictably massive book, with the heft and presentation of Webster’s dictionary. With over 2,000 recipes, plenty of the variations that the author is known for, and many step-by-steps and instructive sidebars, the book is exhaustive, as you’d hope it would be, given the title. It’s illustrated with small black-and-white drawings rather than glossy photographs, which adds to the school dictionary feel. But it’s also driven by Bittman’s folksy voice, which leavens the didacticism and makes the book engaging and comfortable.
“Dorie’s Cookies,” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35)
Dorie Greenspan has written 11 cookbooks and many columns, run a baking club and a popular food blog, and done more than probably anyone to bring French macarons into our kitchens. But she has not, until now, written a book specifically about cookies. That sound you hear is holiday bakers clapping. Greenspan gives recipes for 170 cookies: classic cookies, bar cookies, savory cookies, refrigerator cookies and maybe best of all, cookies from her now-closed Beurre & Sel New York City cookie shop. This is a nice, big, purple book filled with cookie photography from Davide Luciano and lots of handy tips on techniques, gear, storing (see: holiday gifting) and what Greenspan calls “playing around.” What this means is that every so often, Greenspan gives us a recipe’s back story, a way to tweak the process or a bit of characteristic kitchen advice. Want a really good holiday gift? Wrap the book with a batch of cookies, as well as some refrigerated dough, then invite yourself over around tea time.
“Mozza at Home,” by Nancy Silverton with Carolynn Carreño (Knopf, $35)
This is the seventh book from Nancy Silverton, the co-owner of the Mozza group of restaurants, the founder of La Brea Bakery, the recipient of many culinary awards and a woman who is probably the culinary soul of Los Angeles. Her latest book is a kind of companion piece to “The Mozza Cookbook,” a collection of menus of what Silverton likes to cook at home — or more specifically, what she cooked at her home in L.A. and her other home in Umbria as a way to reboot her love of cooking after years spent primarily cooking in her restaurants. Thus we have simple dishes built around market produce, plates of roasted grapes and charred peppers and marinated olive with cheese. There’s braised oxtails and roasted chicken and Silverton’s near-legendary hamburgers, even a recipe for Frito pie. Threaded through the book, among the 150 dishes and the pretty photos from Christopher Hirsheimer, is a running commentary from Silverton, about how and why she cooks, what inspires her, what she thinks about various ingredients and cooking styles. As she is behind Osteria Mozza’s mozarella bar, where she seems to be whenever you happen to show up for dinner, Silverton is engaging and funny and astonishingly knowledgeable — the difference here is that she’s not cooking while she talks: you are.
“EveryDayCook: This Time It’s Personal,” by Alton Brown (Ballantine Books, $35)
Alton Brown, of course, is the former host of “Good Eats” — which ran for 14 seasons on the Food Network — and some other shows, such as “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Iron Chef America,” as well as author of eight cookbooks. His latest, Brown’s first in five years, is composed of the 100 or so recipes he actually cooks for himself. What this means is less of the MacGyver-ing that he was known for and more everyday stuff, recipes for butterscotch pudding and one-pot chicken and little brown biscuits. This is still Brown, though, so there’s a recipe for pancakes made with nitrous oxide, as well as a “hack” for a four-ingredient snack made from saltines, hot sauce, mustard powder — and clarified butter. “Welcome to my world,” Brown writes in the introduction, explaining why all the stuff (silverware, plates, U.S. Army forks, a Mercury hubcap, his BMW, named Klaus) in the photographs is his stuff. He also explains the conceit of the photography, which was all taken with an iPhone 6s. “I’m a bit of a control freak,” Brown writes. As if we didn’t already know that, and as if that was not one of the reasons we’ve loved him all along.
“Appetites: A Cookbook,” by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco, $37.50)
Anthony Bourdain has been busy for the last decade, hosting “No Reservations,” “The Layover” and “Parts Unknown” on television, publishing other people’s books and slurping noodles with President Obama in Vietnam. So he can be forgiven for not doing anything as mundane as writing a cookbook. This is what he’s just done, though: his first since the 2004 “Les Halles Cookbook.” “Appetites,” unsurprisingly, is not a boring book. The cover looks like a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting (it was done by Ralph Steadman, who also did the cover of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”); the last few pages are a graphic pull-out poster describing the perfect hamburger, as written by Nathan Myhrvold. And in between? Actual recipes, for tuna salad, chicken pot pie, and macaroni and cheese. There’s a chapter on Thanksgiving. And if all that sounds disturbingly, well, normal, rest assured that there are also recipes for things that sound more Bourdain-like — halibut poached in duck fat, budae jiggae, or Korean Army stew (shown in an Army helmet) — as well as plenty of pictures of Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert dribbling gravy down his beautiful French chin. It is, of course, a fun and irreverent read — vintage Bourdain, but with a recipe for lasagna.
“The Red Rooster Cookbook,” by Marcus Samuelsson, with Roy Finamore and April Reynolds (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $37.50)
When chef Marcus Samuelsson opened his restaurant Red Rooster in Harlem in 2010, it was as kind of a mission statement. Named for a neighborhood speak-easy where James Baldwin used to drink, staffed with people from the community, serving “cross-cultural soul food,” the restaurant was Samuelsson’s ode to Harlem and its culture. There were many nested ironies in the project, of course, coming from a chef who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden. But the chef was embracing his adopted neighborhood, and the cookbook that comes out of that project is a way to further it: the forward is by Hilton Als, the photography encompasses not only food but the people of the neighborhood, and the pages include other voices as well, from a local jazz pianist, and from a man who’s worked at the Apollo Theater for half a century. But you are here for the food and Samuelsson does not disappoint. There are recipes for brown butter biscuits, jerk bacon and baked beans, whole fried fish with grits, and Red Rooster hot sauce. There’s also food that channels his own roots as well as the neighborhood’s: beef kitfo with awase, and lemon chicken with green harissa. And, lest we forget that Samuelsson has cooked at the White House and that President Obama has made a point of coming to the restaurant, there’s a recipe for Obama’s short ribs. Maybe make Samuelsson’s cocktail, Yes, Chef, named after his memoir, while you make them.
“Taste of Persia,” by Naomi Duguid (Artisan, $35)
Naomi Duguid has won a stack of awards for her cookbooks that’s probably about as high as the stack of cookbooks she’s written: gorgeous volumes that are equal parts food and anthropology. Her books are like travelogues and have covered the cuisines of China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Duguid’s latest book is about the area that was once the Persian Empire, or more specifically: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan. (If you’re feeling embarrassingly under-traveled right now, you’re hardly alone; Duguid, a Canadian, must have a passport as well-worn as Ban Ki-moon’s.) The book helpfully begins with a map of the region in question, textured with the Caucasus Mountains and annotated with place names. And throughout the pages of recipes are photographs, many taken by Duguid, that illustrate the ingredients and techniques, landscapes and peoples, of the region. The recipes are straightforward and adaptive, with enough back story to interest historians but also accessible to fairly novice readers. Thus: emmer mushroom pilaf, Yerevan tongue salad and liver kebabs; but also: herbed yogurt soup, cucumber and tomato salad with sumac and mint, and roast chicken with Persian flavors. After the recipes, Duguid provides pages of travel notes, a note on wines and a pretty cool glossary: the cookbook as Lonely Planet guide.
“Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes From the Culinary Heart of China,” by Fuchsia Dunlop (Norton, $35)
For Fuchsia Dunlop’s fifth book, we are in Jiangnan, in the Lower Yangtze region of China, home to the city of Shanghai and known as “the land of fish and rice” — hence the title of the cookbook. Dunlop, who trained as a chef in China at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine and is based in London, has written a number of lauded books on Chinese cooking, including cookbooks on Sichuan and Hunan cuisine. The recipes here are titled in English, Chinese characters and pinyin, the standard romanization of Mandarin, with lovely accompanying photographs by Yuki Sugiura and plenty of contextual narrative. Dunlop tells us where the recipes come from, the techniques involved, how to source particular ingredients and so on. Threaded throughout the book are useful sections: on regional drinks and useful equipment, on how to make basic recipes and how to plan a Chinese menu. Dunlop’s prose is engaging and informative, and the recipes she chooses encompass the complex and the happily simple: stir-fried lettuce, for example, has four ingredients and two steps. You will learn much about regional Chinese food, and you will want to make these recipes (magical radishes, Monk Wensi’s tofu thread soup) as soon as reasonably possible.
“Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables!,” by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach (Clarkson Potter, $35)
The latest in the series of cookbooks from the Lucky Peach folks, “Power Vegetables!” comes on the heels of “The Wurst of Lucky Peach,” a cookbook devoted to sausages. Consider it a kind of corrective, or at least something to appease the vegetarians among us. This book, written with Lucky Peach editor Peter Meehan on point, divides said vegetable recipes into various camps: starters, salads, pies, soups, etc. That said, this isn’t really about telling us all to cook seasonally or specifically healthfully but rather how to “approach vegetable cookery from a Lucky Peach perspective.” Which is to say, a book that’s “98% fun and 2% stupid.” What does that mean? Lots of brightly colored graphics and photographs that are themselves mostly fun and a bit silly (one shows blue cheese dressing for a wedge salad also being poured over toy trucks and shoes), as well as recipes that one could say the same thing about: daikon with X.O. sauce, foil-wrapped vegetables, Kung Pao celeries, miso butterscotch. There are also Q & A’s from Lucky Peach regulars such as Ivan Orkin and David Chang. This is not a completely vegetarian cookbook — there’s fish here — and there are caveats — no pasta recipes, no grain bowls — that make it less predictable, more idiosyncratic. Because zucchini recipes can be hipsterized too.
“Classic German Baking,” by Luisa Weiss (Ten Speed Press, $35)
If you read food blogs, you may remember that among the first generation of excellent blogs was Luisa Weiss’ the Wednesday Chef, an engaging and informative recipe-driven site. Weiss still writes her blog, which has evolved over the decade or so it’s been around. She’s also evolved herself, having moved to Berlin and become a cookbook author. Weiss’ new book explores the world of traditional German baking, a rich subject indeed. There are 100 recipes, beginning with simple butter cookies and then moving on through cakes, and more cakes, to strudels and tortes and, happily, into the complex realm of German Christmas baked goods (lebkuchen! springerle!). German baking is inventive, technically adept and deeply flavorful, and it’s terrific to have an entire book devoted to the genre, instead of having to sift through various European, cookie or holiday cookbooks to piece it all together. As an expat American, Weiss has a sense of discovery that permeates her book, giving a sense of wonder and appreciation to the sometimes complicated recipes. It’s just the right sensibility, and it makes for a cookbook that’s not only useful and instructive but charming.
“Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking,” by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar (Ten Speed Press, $40)
This is the debut cookbook from Naomi Pomeroy, the James Beard Award-winning chef at Beast in Portland, Ore. It’s a decidedly aspirational cookbook, as you can likely tell from its title. Yes, you’re cooking at home, whoever you are, but Pomeroy is having you cook things such as hazelnut and wild mushroom pâté, lacquered duck confit and duchess potatoes with smoked onion soubise. Lest you be intimidated, Pomeroy tells you that she learned to make soufflé when she was 7, with ingredients bought with food stamps. “Don’t psyche yourself out,” she writes. And there is enough instruction, enough encouragement and enough accompanying photography (by Chris Court) to feel properly hand-held. That said, you’ll enjoy this book more if you’re not a beginner. There is much to learn here, and much great food to make, the sort of classical dishes that deserve aspiration.
“Poole’s: Recipes and Stories From a Modern Diner,” by Ashley Christensen with Kaitlyn Goalen (Ten Speed Press, $35)
Ashley Christensen is the chef-owner of seven restaurants, all in Raleigh, N.C., which cumulatively won her the James Beard Award for best chef Southeast in 2014. Her first book pulls the cooking and ethos of Christensen’s diner, providing recipe after recipe for Southern comfort food. The book presents at a much higher level than you might expect, with the gorgeous photography and glossy pages of a fine dining restaurant cookbook. The incommensurateness works well: We quickly understand that though this is a diner in the South, the techniques and ingredients are first-rate, that Christensen’s recipe for cornmeal-fried okra with Tabasco mayo, say, or pork ribs with mustard sorghum sauce, requires the same honesty and care as any dish coming out of any classic French kitchen, New York bistro or L.A. farm-to-table restaurant. So there’s a recipe for pimento cheese and also, six pages later, one for duck rillettes. Make ’em both.
“Food52: A New Way to Dinner,” by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (Ten Speed Press, $35)
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs began their cooking site Food52 in 2009, a thousand years ago as far as online cooking goes, and their site has become a mainstay, with terrific recipes and gorgeous art. Food52 has grown exponentially since then, adding a marketplace, contests, a cookbook tournament, even a wedding registry. Now Hesser, a former New York Times food columnist, and Stubbs, a writer who also worked at Cook’s Illustrated, have written another Food52 cookbook. That their book showcases terrific recipes and art is hardly surprising; the methodology might not surprise Food52 readers either. The book is organized by seasons: each author gives a list of menus, game plans, grocery lists and recipes for fall, winter, etc. The idea is that certain recipes act as building blocks for others; that you cook the time-intensive components over the weekend and then jigsaw the shopping, preparing, cooking and assembling in such a way that you’ve got meals for the week. Some readers will appreciate all this organization; others can skip the lessons and jump straight to the many lovely, market-driven recipes: slow-cooked pork tacos, rhubarb galette, orecchiette with merguez and ramps, black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream. Throughout the book are more embedded tips (how to avoid dirty dishes, how to buy certain cuts of meat) that will keep you cooking smartly and happily.
“Deep South: New Southern Cooking,” by Brad McDonald (Quadrille, $35)
Although he’s cooked at restaurants in Brooklyn and London and worked with chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller, Brad McDonald is from Mississippi, and his new book goes back to those roots. “Deep South,” as you can probably tell by the title, is a cookbook filled with 100 recipes for things such as dirty rice with smoked oysters and brown crab; pickled shrimp and barbecued chicken with yellow mustard sauce. There is much pickling, canning and preserving; much curing of meats, frying of chicken and even the requisite chapter on hunting for your own food. There are also informative detours: a short discussion about Anson Mills and the importance of heritage seeds; a treatise on roasting whole hogs; a consideration of “porch culture.” It is, in other words, a fun read. Is there a recipe for pimento cheese? Do you need to ask?
“Mario Batali: Big American Cookbook,” by Mario Batali with Jim Webster (Grand Central Publishing, $40)
Sometimes it’s nice to turn off the television and read Mario Batali instead. The chef’s latest cookbook is a big one, featuring 250 recipes that he’s culled from across the country: a sugar cream pie from Indiana, blackened catfish from New Orleans, pork barbecue from the Carolinas (there’s a version for North, another for South), a dish called funeral potatoes from Utah. If this feels like the result of a random and possibly drunken road trip, there’s an appeal to that: You will certainly find dishes you like somewhere here. The recipes are all straightforward, with bright and pretty pictures from Quentin Bacon; the book is divided into regional sections, each with graphic maps that look like diner place mats or tourist booklets; and it’s filled with Batali’s trademark joviality: “The more layers you do, the more icing you get!” Or: “In Cincinnati, it’s perfectly acceptable to go into a chili joint and ask for a three-way (spaghetti, chili and cheese. It’s every bit as sexy as it sounds.”) And yes, Batali is on the cover wearing shorts and orange Crocs.
“Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking,” by Uri Scheft with Raquel Pelzel (Artisan, $35)
Uri Scheft’s new cookbook falls midway between two trends — Old World baking and Israeli cuisine — and the results are deeply satisfying. Scheft, who was born in Israel to Danish parents, owns two bakeries, one in New York City and the other in Tel Aviv. This book is the synthesis of these locations and traditions, over 100 recipes for flatbreads and challahs, cookies and babkas, and popular pastries from his bakeries, such as shakshuka focaccia and a babka stuffed with Nutella. (Reason enough to get the book.) Scheft’s recipes are fairly simple for a baking book, without the torturously long instructions many traditional methods can include. And there are plenty of sidebars, with tips for things such as how to knead soft doughs and why crumbs are so much fun to play with. The photographs (by Con Poulos) are both black-and-white and color, and include many step-by-steps, which can be critical for bread recipes. As a bonus, there’s a chapter at the end with recipes for the hummus, labneh and spice pastes that you’ll invariably want to make with all the baked goods. Nice.
“All Under Heaven: Recipes From the 35 Cuisines of China,” by Carolyn Phillips (Ten Speed Press, $40)
This cookbook is as ambitious and comprehensive as it sounds: a compendium of over 300 recipes from all 35 cuisines of the vast and culinarily complex country of China. Carolyn Phillips, a food writer and professional Mandarin interpreter who married into a Chinese family decades ago, not only wrote the over-500-page book but illustrated it as well. So we get a recipe for a Jiangsu dish of sweet stuffed lotus roots that not only includes the back story and instructions, but a hand-drawn how-to that demonstrates stuffing sticky rice into the cavities of the roots with chopsticks. Drawings of maps, animals and noodle methodologies accompany the text, making it feel like an illuminated manuscript. In spite of its length and scope, this is a surprisingly accessible book; because although there are plenty of suitably difficult recipes (how to stretch your own biang biang noodles, etc.), there are also recipes like the “mouthwatering chicken,” which has all of three steps. (Bonus: Phillips’ has also written “The Dim Sum Field Guide,” a little illustrated primer to the dumplings and buns and other treats found in Chinese teahouses.)
“Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes From Sofra Bakery and Cafe,” by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick (Ten Speed Press, $35)
Ana Sortun, the chef who opened Oleana in Cambridge, Mass., who won the James Beard Award for best chef Northeast in 2005, and whose previous cookbook was the terrific “Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean,” has come out with another cookbook with her longtime pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick. “Soframiz” is named for their bakery and cafe, Sofra, also in Cambridge, and it’s a collection of 100 Middle Eastern-style recipes from the restaurant. The book starts with shots of a barista pouring coffee, the chefs whisking things in giant bowls, sheet racks loaded with breads and pastries, plates of cookies and cakes tagged like Christmas presents — so you feel like you’re right there, in the crowded, bustling cafe, flour on the floor, espresso machine revving. So by the time you get to the first recipe, of course for shakshuka, you’re in: You want to make the dish for breakfast as quickly as you possibly can. And the momentum doesn’t really let up, as Sortun and Kirkpatrick discuss their travels around Turkey and the Middle East doing research and eating, in between giving us recipes for Syrian shortbreads, za’atar bread, olive oil granola, milk pie, and lamb and grape leaf tarts with orzo and spicy feta. Are you hungry yet? Thought so.
“Martha Stewart’s Vegetables,” by the editors Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, $29.50)
Does Martha Stewart have another cookbook out? Do you have to ask? This one is, if you’ve lost count — and who hasn’t? — the 87th book from Stewart and/or her editing team. Perhaps because she’s done the more intricate subjects already, the cooking school tomes and hors d’oeuvres how-tos, the treatises on entertaining and baking and holidays, she’s opted for something almost minimalist: vegetables. Thus there are a mere 150 recipes here, all devoted to the bulbs and pods, shoots and roots — those are chapter headings — that comprise the contents of Stewart’s garden. There are many lovely pictures, plus the kind of guidance and handy tips that we’ve come to expect from Stewart. And the recipes are also what we’d anticipate: supremely competent, flavorful and appetizing. They’re what most of us want to eat too: from a dish of white beans with dandelion greens and crostini to mustard-green pesto to lacquered short ribs with celery root purée.
“The Rye Baker: Classic Breads From Europe and America,” by Stanley Ginsberg (W.W. Norton & Co., $35)
If you’re an accomplished home baker or like to spend an inordinate amount of time in Old World bakeries or the more artisan-friendly restaurants, then you’ll know that rye bread has been having a moment. It’s about time. Stanley Ginsberg, a San Diego-based author who runs a baking supply company and is a gifted baker, has written a whole book about the grain, loaded with bread recipes and enough technical information for you to consider (briefly) opening your own Old World bakery. Rye has long gotten a bad rap: It has a reputation as being difficult to work with, and as being part of peasant food culture, back when that was a pejorative thing. Ginsberg is part of a contemporary group of bakers and farmers who are working to revive the grain, its flour and its loaves. Rye is deeply flavorful stuff and when you know how to work with it, the results can be astonishing. Ginsberg’s book is probably not for the bread neophyte, but it’s informative rather than intimidating, filled with history, technique and instruction. There are recipes that are as complex as a good rye loaf is — from the making of the sourdough starter to the soakers and sponges and multiple-day proofs that such bread can require. But there are also less complicated recipes for bakers who are just beginning their journey.
“The Saffron Tales: Recipes From the Persian Kitchen,” by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury, $27)
The cuisines of the Middle East have gotten deserved attention lately, maybe because of the popularity of Yotam Ottolenghi, maybe just because it’s time. But attention seems to concentrate on the food of Israel and Turkey more than it does Iran, which is something that London-based food writer Yasmin Khan hopes to correct with her new book, which focuses on the food of her mother’s homeland. There is the requisite map of the country, the discussion of nomenclature (Iran or Persia), the catalog of ingredients. Then we get the recipes, seriously appetizing dishes for things such as butternut squash and dried lime soup; prawn, coriander and tamarind stew; lamb meatballs stuffed with barberries and walnuts; roast chicken with pomegranate and za’atar. So this is food that’s tied to its source yet user-friendly enough for those unfamiliar with true Iranian cooking but well-versed in the flavors of contemporary world cuisine. Good stuff, in other words. There are also a few noteworthy sections, like the pages that give a how-to for the Persian rice dish tahdig, saffron-scented rice cooked so that there’s a crust on the bottom, one of Iran’s most classic dishes.
“The Adventures of Fat Rice: Recipes From the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau,” by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo and Hugh Amano (Ten Speed Press, $35)
If you’ve spent much time eating in Chicago since 2011, you’ve likely braved the lines to eat at Fat Rice, an insanely popular restaurant that specializes in the food of Macao. Macanese food is intensely flavorful mash-up food, a hybrid of Southern Chinese and Portuguese dishes, with influences also from Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Which is to say, this is fun food, so it is only fitting that the cookbook to come out of that restaurant should be equally fun. Fat Rice chef-owners Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, and their former sous chef Hugh Amano, have written a book that reads a little like a Lucky Peach issue crossed with a graphic novel: Yes, there are conventional recipes and lovely photography (by Dan Goldberg), but there’s also pages of graphics (by Sarah Becan) woven throughout that drive the book. A recipe for chili clam thus provides a fairly traditional recipe, albeit one with a talking Buddha, then adds a graphic series called Butchering the Surf Clam, then segues into a short account, with graphics, called “Attack of the Chili Clam!” Yes, this is all as fun — and as appetizing — as it sounds.
“French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments From a Village in the Vineyards,” by Mimi Thorisson (Clarkson Potter, $40)
If you’re the sort of person whose idea of fun is watching “Chocolat” for the hundredth time and fantasizing about renting Julia Child’s Provençal farmhouse to cook madelines and cassoulet for your family, then Mimi Thorisson’s cookbook, “French Country Cooking,” is perfect for you. This is the cookbook as daydream, with terribly pretty pictures of women fluttering tablecloths in rustic kitchens, of little girls lugging baskets of produce, of baguettes and Citroëns and vineyards and pans of broiled oysters. Thorisson has written books and a blog about French cooking, hosts French cooking shows and lives with her family in an old château in the Médoc region of France, the setting of her book. In between all the lovely art (the photography is by Thorisson’s husband Oddur), there are 100 recipes for the things you would hope to find in such a setting: white asparagus soufflé, eggs piperade, plum pan perdu, quail stuffed with foie gras, croque-madame and, yes, cassoulet. Is this a bit overwrought? Sure it is, but just open a bottle of Gevrey-Chambertin, put on an Edith Piaf record and start cooking.
“Rao’s Classics,” by Frank Pellegrino Sr. and Frank Pelligrino Jr. with Joseph Ricobene (St. Martin’s Press, $35)
If you spend an inordinate amount of time eating plates of risotto Milanese and pasta with marinara sauce at Rao’s, either the original restaurant that opened in 1896 (yes, 120 years ago) in East Harlem or the outposts in Las Vegas and Hollywood, then here’s a cookbook for you. “Rao’s Classics” is exactly that, a cookbook of more than 140 recipes for the Italian dishes that made the restaurant a legend. The book is written by Frank Pellegrino, the proprietor and host at the New York restaurant, and his son, who also wrote the previous Rao’s cookbooks — and played an FBI agent on “The Sopranos” — and includes the requisite stories, plus wine pairings and celebrity name-dropping (actors, sports stars, politicians). And then there’s the food, which is why you’re here: chicken parmigiano, steak pizzaiola, spaghetti alla carbonara, manicotti, red velvet shortcake — one could go on, but why not just start cooking?
“Cooking for Jeffrey,” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, $35)
The Barefoot Contessa’s latest book, her 10th, is a personal cookbook, written for her husband, Jeffrey, and composed of the recipes that the Emmy Award-winning cook makes at home for him. Lucky Jeffrey. These are, unsurprisingly, homey and comforting dishes, for things such as skillet-roasted lemon chicken, root vegetable gratin, roasted vegetable paella and zucchini and leek frittata. There are many photographs (by Quentin Bacon), as well as old pictures from Garten’s family album (wedding photos, a camping trip to Rome). So yes: a deeply personal cookbook, but also one that will fit nicely into her fans’ personal repertoire. There are plenty of anecdotes laced through the pages of recipes, which makes it seem as if Garten and her husband were about to pull up chairs in your own kitchen. Which is maybe why you might want to get started on that prune armagnac clafoutis.
“Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge” by Trine Hahnemann (Quadrille, $35)
Hygge, if you’re not familiar with the term, is the Danish word for comfort or coziness or general well-being. How you achieve that feeling is, of course, contingent upon many things — but good food and drink can be a big part of it. Trine Hahnemann’s latest book — she’s written 10 in Danish; this is her fifth in English — attempts to translate hygge into the kitchen through 130 or so recipes for Scandinavian comfort food. If your idea of fun is making a pot of root vegetable stew, roasting a duck or whipping up a plate of waffles with gooseberry jam, then you’ll soon be feeling cozy indeed. There are sections on holiday food (a yule log), requisite recipes for rye bread, kringle, Danishes and even marzipan-filled Easter eggs. The photography (by Columbus Leth) is lovely, which helps the whole hygge thing quite a bit too. In other words, it’s a very cozy book, with very cozy recipes. Hygge achieved.
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