Here’s to the Home Cooks! Ten Cookbooks Fit for the Home Chef

Bastianich, Lidia & Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party. Knopf. Oct. 2017. 416p. photos. index. ISBN 9780385349482. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780385349499. COOKING
This latest collaboration between celebrity chef Bastianich and daughter Tanya takes a festive approach to Italian cooking, offering recipes (e.g., prosecco punch, grilled calamari salad with tomato coulis, pear and pecorino ravioli, almond torte with chocolate chips) and tips for effortless entertaining. Appetizers, sides, mains, desserts, and other dishes are portioned on the larger side, often serving eight guests or more. The authors pass on plenty of party planning know-how, suggesting dishes and presentation strategies for occasions such as self-serve cocktail parties, New Year’s celebrations, engagements, weddings, and birthdays. VERDICT These inviting recipes will easily set the table for a stylish gathering.

Bertinelli, Valerie. Valerie’s Home Cooking: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes To Share with Friends and Family. Oxmoor. Oct. 2017. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9780848752286. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780848755447. COOKING
Actress Bertinelli (One Dish at a Time), the host of the Food Network’s Valerie’s Home Cooking and cohost of Kids Baking Championship, presents recipes she’s gleaned from friends, coworkers, handwritten recipe cards, and other personally significant sources. There’s a substantial selection of American comfort foods (e.g., lobster BLTs, chicken potpie, slow-cooker sloppy joes, homemade baked potato tots), along with a scattering of Italian, Asian, and Mexican dishes. Home cooks who want time to enjoy watermelon margaritas and key lime martinis will be glad for Bertinelli’s occasional store-bought shortcuts; for instance, she hastens to produce breakfast biscuit sammies by using all-purpose baking mix and fills a lemon icebox cake with packaged vanilla wafers and jarred lemon curd. VERDICT Brimming with chatty anecdotes, this celebrity chef cookbook will satisfy readers seeking foods for everyday occasions and casual entertaining.

DeMent, Jamie. The Farmhouse Chef: Recipes and Stories from My Carolina Farm. Univ. of North Carolina. Sept. 2017. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781469635064. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781469635071. COOKING
DeMent and her family operate Coon Rock Farm (, a North Carolina farmland committed to sustainably raised produce and livestock. Here, DeMent brings together 150 foods from her life on the farm, including grilled rib eye with soy ginger marinade, sage-rubbed pork chops, creamy kale spinach dip, and warm rice pudding with cane syrup caramel. Acknowledging that many people care about eating well but don’t have much time to cook, she emphasizes uncomplicated preparations and basic foods that can be canned or frozen. It’s slightly cumbersome to locate a particular course or recipe category within this book’s seasonal sections; however, a leisurely browse will reveal enough enticing fare to draw readers toward the kitchen. VERDICT A tempting selection of seasonal foods that won’t take an entire weekend to cook. Recommended for readers who love grilled meats and fresh vegetable salads.

redstarJennings, Matt. Homegrown: Cooking from My New England Roots. Artisan. Oct. 2017. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9781579656744; ebk. ISBN 9781579658144. COOKING
Jennings’s host of accolades includes four James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef: Northeast. His debut cookbook is a treasury of ingenious takes on New England and American classics, with some challenging but most well within reach. Gorgeous, flavorful dishes (e.g., sweet pea and ricotta pancakes, little gem salad with cheddar vinaigrette and pistachio granola, butter-roasted chicken with Asian pears and winter greens) all inventively incorporate accompaniments or garnishes. Desserts aren’t an afterthought either—treats such as Boston cream whoopie pies, blueberry cobbler bars with grilled lemon curd, and roasted strawberries with elderflower liqueur will end meals on a high note. VERDICT Jennings’s exciting recipes will inspire readers to get more creative with their cooking. They’ll also attract fans of Barton Seaver’s cookbooks.

Kimball, Christopher. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking. Little, Brown. Sept. 2017. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9780316437288. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780316437271. COOKING
Following a controversial departure from America’s Test Kitchen with pending litigation, cooking instructor Kimball (Fannie’s Last Supper) launched Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, a food multimedia company and cooking school based in Boston, offering a website (, bimonthly magazine, and TV and radio shows. This first cookbook promises reliable, boldly flavored dishes “that will change how you cook forever.” Its 125 recipes, however, often fall short. A chocolate cake steamed inside of a Dutch oven introduces an intriguing method but cooks up surprisingly bland. An avocado salad asks for spending upwards of 20 minutes pickling mustard seeds, only two tablespoons of which are needed for the dressing. Many other recipes feel more overly simplified than memorable, and they’ll underwhelm cooks expecting revelatory tastes and techniques. VERDICT Milk Street’s debut shows promise but ultimately disappoints. Buy for demand. [See “Editors’ Fall Picks,” LJ 9/1/17, p. 33.—Ed.].

McDowell, Erin Jeanne. The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro. Rux Martin: Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2017. 384p. photos. index. ISBN 9780544791435. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780544791442. COOKING
In her debut cookbook, McDowell, a veteran food stylist who writes a biweekly baking column for, warmly relays key concepts and techniques, referencing just enough food science to inspire confidence. Her easygoing approach will persuade readers to try her recipes, even daunting ones like puff pastry and croissants. With three levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard), recipes include such seductive offerings as peachy coconut macaroons, chocolate cream pie with whipped peanut butter cream, lemon ricotta turnovers, and frozen pomegranate souffles. The book is packed with useful features, including decorating guides, pan-size conversion charts, make-ahead and storage instructions, and presentation tips. While the recipe instructions and weight/volume measurement conversions are occasionally unclear, McDowell’s professional tips are indispensable. VERDICT This all-purpose baking collection will help anyone improve both the taste and appearance of their baked goods.

Morales, Bonnie Frumkin & Deena Prichep. Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking. Flatiron: Macmillan. Nov. 2017. 400p. photos. index. ISBN 9781250087607. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781250089205. COOKING
Chef Morales and her husband co-own Kachka, a much-lauded restaurant in Portland, OR. Kachka’s cuisine is labeled as Russian, but, as Morales and journalist Prichep explain here, it’s more complicated. With stories and recipes, they dig into the geographic, historical, cultural, and culinary complexities of Russia and the Soviet Union, shedding light on Morales’s background and influences. In addition to an impressive lineup of foods and beverages (e.g., infused vodkas, hot and cold appetizers, dumplings, soups, homestyle dishes, desserts), their cookbook includes menu ideas, an ingredient glossary, and eclectic guides on everything from building a Russian-style grill to selecting packaged candies and caviar. VERDICT Home cooks looking to break out of a rut will find plenty to explore. The subject matter will attract attention, as titles such as Olia Hercules’s Mamushka and Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford’s Samarkand have reinvigorated interest in eastern European and Central Asian cooking.

redstarPerelman, Deb. Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. Knopf. Oct. 2017. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9781101874813. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781101874820. COOKING
Home cooks can rely on Perelman, the award-winning blogger behind Smitten Kitchen, to deliver winning recipes for whatever mood strikes. Her latest cookbook collects 100-plus dishes that have brought joy to her growing family, including everything drop biscuits with cream cheese, roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar, smoky sheet pan chicken with cauliflower, and toasted marshmallow milkshake. The recipes are clever yet practical, often containing humorous headnotes and using both weight and volume measurements. A guide in the back of the book identifies dishes appropriate for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets. VERDICT Whether you’re seeking an indulgent, impromptu breakfast, a speedy dinner culled from pantry staples and canned goods, or a bake sale best seller, you’ll find something to love within this follow-up to The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Expect demand. [See “Editors’ Fall Picks,” LJ 9/1/17, p. 32.—Ed.]

Stovel, Edith. The Pumpkin Cookbook: 139 Recipes Celebrating the Versatility of Pumpkin and Other Winter Squash. 2d ed. Storey. Jul. 2017. 248p. photos. ISBN 9781612128337. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612128344. COOKING
The revised second edition of this title, originally published as Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year, benefits from a refreshed design and stylish new photographs. Caterer and teacher Stovel covers the basics of raw and cooked pumpkin preparation, focusing on several methods (e.g., roasting, microwaving, steaming, grating), and then shares 139 easy recipes for starters, salads, mains, desserts, and other courses. No-nonsense dishes such as pumpkin seed GORP, roasted pumpkin Parmesan polenta, pork stew with pumpkin and prunes, and meringue pumpkin pie may not excite gourmets, but they’ll satisfy pumpkin lovers wishing to expand their repertoire as summer turns to fall. VERDICT If you don’t already own the first edition, this title will be useful to have on hand when pumpkin spice cravings start to strike. Consider also Allison Day’s Purely Pumpkin and Eliza Cross’s Pumpkin It Up!

Tanis, David. David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient. Artisan. Oct. 2017. 480p. notes. index. ISBN 9781579656287. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781579658205. COOKING
With this elegant collection of vegetable-based dishes, chef and New York Times columnist Tanis (One Good Dish) makes the task of meal planning a little easier. In sections organized by main ingredient (e.g., “shallots,” “lettuce & leaves,” “winter squash”), he shares a multitude of recipes such as perfectly steamed asparagus, stewed zucchini pasta with ricotta and basil, and kimchi soup with pork belly. These beautifully simple preparations allow market-fresh vegetables and herbs to shine. The book concludes with pantry essentials, such as homemade broths and yogurt as well as a handful of desserts. ­VERDICT An inviting entry to the fundamentals of market cooking. Tanis’s reverence for home cooking will engage readers who reliably reach for titles by Deborah Madison, Cal Peternell, and the Canal House. Highly recommended. [See “Editors’ Fall Picks,” LJ 9/1/17, p. 33.—Ed.]

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