10 Crave-Worthy Cookbooks

redstarAmerica’s Test Kitchen, Eds. The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies, and Bars. America’s Test Kitchen. Aug. 2017. 448p. photos. index. ISBN 9781940352954. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781940352961. COOKING
The editors at America’s Test Kitchen pack decades of baking experience into this impressive volume of 250 recipes for cookies, brownies, bars, and no-bake confections. Here you’ll find only the best, as chocolate crinkle cookies, ultranutty pecan bars, rocky road bark, and other treats have all survived scrupulous testing. American favorites are predominantly represented, but there are plenty of international cookies to enliven everyday and holiday cookie plates. It’s wonderfully convenient to have these recipes in one place, though there is some overlap with The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. Supplement this workhorse collection with Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies and you’ll be set for years. VERDICT Whether you’re a fan of crisp or chewy cookies (or crisp-chewy cookies), you’ll find a wealth of keeper recipes within these pages.

Brioza, Stuart & others. State Bird Provisions. Ten Speed: Crown. Oct. 2017. 368p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607748441. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781607748458. COOKING
This earnest debut book from the chefs and owners of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, with food writer JJ Goode, has all the elements of a great restaurant cookbook: artful photographs, enlightening recipes, and a compelling story of triumph in the face of hardship. The dishes within (e.g., ginger-scallion pancakes with sea urchin and soy-lime glaze, saffron-raspberry ice cream sandwiches with peaches and hazelnuts) are the sort that require formidable skill and a willingness to procure a fermenting crock and electric smoker. While this title is unlikely to end up dog-eared on the average kitchen counter, it will inspire and motivate home cooks to explore new ways of combining flavors and textures. Like Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns’s Bar Tartine, it includes a wide selection of recipes for foundational components such as stocks, dressings, powders, and pickles. VERDICT Highly recommended for aspiring chefs and readers interested in contemporary fine dining.

Corcos, Gabriele & Debi Mazar. Super Tuscan: Heritage Recipes and Simple Pleasures from Our Kitchen to Your Table. Touchstone. Oct. 2017. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781501143595. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781501143618. COOKING
This second cookbook from the husband-and-wife team behind the Cooking Channel’s popular series Extra Virgin celebrates “super Tuscan” foods and beverages that meld Italian traditions with American influences. Easily replicated recipes such as marinated lentils and burrata, brined pork chops with sage-almond pesto, Italian carrot cake, and the Bitter Southerner (amaro and bourbon cocktail) will delight cooks who wish to create a luxurious meal without expending too much effort. Apart from the easiest pastas and brunch dishes, all of these recipes, especially the roasts and antipasti, are impressive enough for holidays and special occasions. VERDICT Corcos and Mazar’s earlier work, Extra Virgin, was wildly popular; expect demand for its successor.

redstarEckhardt, Robyn . Istanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey. Rux Martin: Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2017. 352p. photos by David Hagerman. index. ISBN 9780544444317. $35. COOKING
During regular travels to Turkey, journalist Eckhardt and her photographer husband, Hagerman, encountered a wealth of regional cuisines that left a lasting impression. Their exquisite cookbook richly captures the more than 15,000 miles they journeyed, bringing together unexpected and flavorful dishes for breakfasts, appetizers, salads, mains, pickles, beverages, and much more. Ordered by region, beginning with Istanbul and ending with North Central Anatolia, this book includes recipes by category to help readers quickly locate specific dishes. All of the recipes are easily reproduced at home, often with conventional ingredients, and include suggestions for sources and substitutions for spices and pantry items that are harder to find. VERDICT Get ready to savor this evocative collection, which will seduce fans of food/travel titles such as Naomi Duguid’s Taste of Persia or Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford’s Samarkand.

Esparza, Bill . L.A. Mexicano. Prospect Park. Jun. 2017. 240p. photos by Staci Valentine. index. ISBN 9781945551000. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781945551017. COOKING
Take a tour of Los Angeles’s Mexican cuisine with expert and James Beard Award–winning writer Esparza, who deftly covers the topic with passion and sensitivity. After introducing kitchen equipment, techniques, ingredients, and Mexico’s culinary regions, he begins with simple recipes for beans, rice, and various kinds of salsa. He then guides readers through three distinct styles of Mexican food, ­sharing ­wide-ranging recipes (e.g., ­taquitos with avocado sauce, chicken relleno negro, squash tacos with pumpkin seeds & avocado-tomatillo salsa) from notable individuals, restaurants, food trucks, and other vendors. Lengthy profiles highlight community figures and add context, and a concluding list of neighborhood resources recommends places to visit. VERDICT A fascinating read, this informative cookbook will thrill Mexican food lovers who value variety and authenticity. Highly recommended.

Hossack, Izy. The Savvy Cook. Mitchell Beazley: Octopus. Jun. 2017. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781784722708. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781784723644. COOKING
Hossack (Everyday Delicious) is a London-based food writer, photographer, and recipe developer whose blog (izyhossack.com) and Instagram account (@izyhossack) enjoy a large following. The U.S. edition of her second cookbook gathers easy vegetarian dishes that won’t break the bank, from veggie-packed salads and pastas to whole grain–enriched desserts. Flexible recipes such as scrambled chickpea tacos with peach salsa, Thai green curry pea soup, and Earl Grey cupcakes with lemon glaze lend themselves to spur-of-the-moment ingredient swaps and can easily be modified to suit vegan and gluten-free diets. Throughout, Hossack shares tips on shopping, meal planning, and using up leftovers. VERDICT Choose this book for its appealing and nonpreachy vegetarian recipes. Highly recommended for young chefs, harried cooks, and students.

Makan, Chetna. Chai, Chaat & Chutney. Mitchell Beazley: Octopus. Sept. 2017. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781784722876. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781784723033. COOKING
After appearing on The Great British Baking Show and debuting a baking book (The Cardamom Trail), Makan acquaints readers with another of her passions: India’s street food. Sharing recipes from the country’s four biggest cities—Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Delhi—she takes readers on a culinary excursion marked by vibrant flavors and colors. Spicy dishes such as tamarind-stuffed chilies, hot-and-spicy chili chicken, and simple fish curry will tickle your tastebuds; cool them off with one of the book’s many flatbreads, beverages, and chilled desserts. U.S. readers should expect some weight-based measurements and will find it helpful to have a blender. VERDICT Many cooks will enjoy Makan’s easy-to-follow recipes for craveable snacks and small plates. Also recommend Denise D’silva Sankhé’s Beyond Curry Indian Cookbook or Susan Feniger’s Street Food.

redstarThe Moosewood Collective. The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes from the Natural Foods Restaurant That Revolutionized Eating in America. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2017. 416p. photos. index. ISBN 9781250074331. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781466885974. COOKING
Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, NY, has been serving up influential vegetarian cuisine since 1973. It has also given rise to more than a dozen acclaimed cookbooks, many of which are mainstays of library cooking collections. Following Moosewood Restaurant Favorites, this new title features 250 recipes for globally influenced and liberally spiced dishes, including roasted carrot hummus, Italian cannellini burgers, Japanese curry, and coconut rice pudding with mangos. While its predecessor contained fish dishes, this volume has only vegan and vegetarian foods and also highlights lesser-known fruits and vegetables. There are more choices for gluten-free eaters than in some of the older Moosewood cookbooks. VERDICT The Moosewood editors dependably deliver even more enticing recipes, all of them useful to home cooks and pantry-friendly.

Parks, Stella. BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. Norton. Aug. 2017. 400p. photos. bibliog. index. ebk. ISBN 9780393239867. $35; ISBN 9780393634273. COOKING
Parks, an award-winning pastry chef and longtime writer for the popular food blog Serious Eats (SeriousEats.com), has attracted attention for her playful, scratch-made versions of classic American desserts and packaged foods. After ­illuminating the history of snickerdoodles, Pop-Tarts®, Twinkies, and dozens of other sweets, she shares meticulous instructions for re-creating them at home. Parks’s measurements and directions are fabulously unambiguous—you’ll never wonder if eggs should be fridge cold or if leftovers can be stored. Her multicomponent recipes for Milky Way bars, Thin Mints, and Fig Newtons will delight ambitious bakers. Novices, however, may prefer to start with the easier and less costly cookies and brownies near the front of the book. ­VERDICT A treat for history buffs and bakers looking to grow their technical skill via copycat recipes. Though innovative and well-researched, this book is too exacting for everyday use and makes widely loved everyday treats less accessible.

Pepin, Jacques . A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey. Rux Martin: Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2017. 208p. photos by Tom Hopkins. index. ISBN 9780544824393. $30. COOKING
Revered chef Pepin and his granddaughter Shorey recently appeared together on the KQED network television series Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul. Their time cooking together inspired this collection, which aims to bring families closer and to maximize fun for young children. Recipes include ultrasimple crowd-pleasers (curly dogs with pickle relish, meringues) as well as palate-expanding gourmet foods (Chinese mushroom salad, sushi salmon cubes), and while a touch more refined than those in other cookbooks for kids, they’re perfect for parents who want to jump-start their child’s gastronomic education. Retailer Sur La Table has sponsored a series of online videos to accompany this book, which will help readers to visualize various cooking and garnishing techniques. VERDICT Easy enough to prepare every day, these kid-friendly recipes will also satisfy adults.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Share
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*