Once again, I stand open-mouthed in the cookbook section of my favorite bookstore.
Just in time for the holidays—both for gift-giving and feast-making purposes—the shelves are filled to bursting with gorgeously photographed, brilliantly written books, each of which I wish I were the author. I might not have written a cookbook this year (again!), but I know what I like. Here’s this year’s list of faves, guaranteed to please someone on your list. Or you. Your call!
“American Flavor” by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman (HarperCollins Publishers, $34.99) Carmellini, a two-time James Beard Award winner, owns two wonderful NYC restaurants, Locanda Verde and The Dutch. He’s also an anthropologist of American food, mining the local and ethnic gems around the country. Straightforward recipes and great photos.
“Dolci: Italy’s Sweets” by Francine Segan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35) Maybe it’s my state of mind, just back from a soul-enriching culinary tour of Italy, but I’m digging this book. Ricotta-Pear Tart and Cocoa Nib Jam Tart? Semifreddo al Torrone? I am so there.
“Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook” edited by Rachel Wharton (Sterling Epicure, $18.95)
Brooklyn is so SO SO hot right now. This book captures the diverse culinary vibe of movers and shakers in the culinary community, with charming profiles of the people who make it all happen.
“The Food52 Cookbook” by Amanda Hesser, Merrill Stubbs and the Food52 Community (William Morrow, $35)
This compilation of winning recipes from one of my favorite food websites has me hot and bothered. It’s really the best of home cooking and seasonal favorites, filled with creative ideas and solutions. You’ll love it.
“Food of Morocco” by Paula Wolfert (Ecco, $45) The doyenne of all Mediterranean food has done it again, this time with Morocco, land of fragrant spices and preserved lemons, couscous and tagines. I want to go to there.
“Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris” by Lauren Shockey (Grand Central Publishing, $24.99)
A memoir with recipes, this is Shockey’s story of her whirlwind, year-long tour through four high-end restaurants in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris. Funny and fascinating.
“Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats & Drinks” by Stephanie Izard (Chronicle Books, $29.95)
If you just crawled out from under a rock, Izard is the winner of Top Chef Season Four, and the award-winning chef-owner of Chicago’s Girl and the Goat. Amazingly, the book captures her sunny, creative and spontaneous style. Seemingly wacky combinations present spot-on flavor profiles.
“The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food without Gluten and Lactose” by Barbara Kafka (Artisan, $29.95)
You know that a cooking method is in the zeitgeist when Kafka tackles it. Diagnosed with gluten and lactose intolerance in recent years, the recipe maven finds the texture and flavor in foods that go without. A must for all with food allergies.
“Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks” by Kathleen Flinn (Viking, $26.95) I was a big fan of her first book, an often hilarious chronicle of her Cordon Bleu experience. This one follows her as she teaches nine “regular” women how to cook.
“Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations” by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter, $75) Martha took the North Shore by storm recently with a fundraiser appearance. The woman has a legion of fans for a reason… and it ain’t her personality. Her books are beautiful, and this one is no different, inspiring mad jealousy when seeing the different parties staged in La Martha’s many real estate properties.
“Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi (Clarkson Potter, $35) Crack Pie. Compost Cookie. Cereal Milk Panna Cotta. Red Velvet Ice Cream. I love this book and anyone who can create a recipe around Fruity Pebbles. That is all.
“The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles’s Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria” by Nancy Silverton (Alfred A. Knopf, $35) If you’ve eaten at Silverton’s Osteria or Pizzeria Mozza in L.A., I wouldn’t have to do the hard sell. But here it is. You need this cookbook. It’s everything that modern Italian food is about. From aperitivi to dolci, it will inspire you to cook.
“Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants” by Marissa Guggiana (Welcome Books, $40) A behind-the-scenes look into what the people who cook for you cook for themselves. Intimate and approachable at the same time.
“Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride: And Other Sephardic Kosher Recipes You Will Love” by Reyna Simnegar (Feldheim, $34.99) A different kind of Kosher cookbook, chockfull of tempting recipes inspired by the Persian-Jewish husband of this Venezuelan-born, now American author. Are you following me still? Full-flavored, relatively easy recipes with magnificent photographs.
“Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi” by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books, $35) These “vibrant vegetable recipes” from London’s top take-away gourmet shop, Ottolenghi, will inspire you to cook with vegetables like never before.