9 cookbooks we love
Natural Wine for the People
This was one of my favorite quarantine reads. Is this a cookbook? Definitely not. But for people who love to cook and want to understand how to find great natural wine to go with it, it’s an important addition to your library. Alice Feiring’s concise volume is designed to help you understand everything about natural wine: what it is, how it’s made (and how it isn’t made), how to understand the terminology, and which producers you need to know. – A.R.
Pushpesh Pant’s recipes in this encyclopedic tome are the closest thing to my mom’s home-cooked South Indian dishes. I made his cabbage curry for my mom and aunt, two of the best Indian cooks in the world, and they were impressed. It’s not flashy food but rather authentic dishes meant for home cooks. India is a huge country and Pant’s explanation of regional cooking helps you to understand the flavors of India based on geography. Plus, it comes in a cute bag. – M.N.
The Food of Sichuan
This colorful, in-depth Chinese cookbook is a real treasure to have at home. First, it’ll help you beef up your home pantry and condiment arsenal in a serious way; once you acquire central items like Sichuan peppercorns, black vinegar, chile bean paste and various dry spices, you’ll be ready to dive into Fuchsia Dunlop’s straightforward recipes. If you love tingly, sweat-inducing classic dishes like dandan noodles, mapo tofu and dry-fried chicken, this one’s for you. – A.R.
Claire Saffitz’s detailed recipes range from approachable to advanced, but regardless of what you choose to make, she sets you up for success. With precise instructions, substitution options for when you can’t avoid it and photos for every recipe, Saffitz gently guides you to produce the best desserts you’ve ever made. – M.N.
Meera Sodha’s East comprises vegetarian and vegan recipes that come together fast and include everything from Thai to Korean to Indian to Chinese dishes. Some recipes are classic, like the eggplant pollichattu, which has fiery and sour South Indian flavors, while others take inspiration from different cuisines to create fresh, unique outcomes. What they all have in common is they are low-effort, high-reward dishes that are vegetable focused and bring bright flavor. – M.N.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fact Acid Heat is not so much a traditional cookbook as it is a textbook on how to be a great cook at home. There are technique-driven sections like six ways to cook vegetables or how to chop certain ingredients. There are also deep dives into recipe components like the 40-page section on every kind of fat you can cook with. Watching her companion series on Netflix of the same name will inspire you to page through and experiment with her thoughtfully written recipes; start with the cacio e pepe. – M.N.
A House with a Date Palm Will Never Starve
In this cosmopolitan cookbook, dishes as simple as roasted Brussels sprouts and as complex as fried quail with smoked date syrup sauce showcase the date’s usefulness in dishes of all kinds. I love this collection because it illustrates how a common ingredient can both inspire delicious cooking and provide a simple way to tell complex histories of migration, conflict and community. – L.W.
Everyone had their food obsessions during quarantine; mine was tacos. This book has plenty of taco recipes like the vegetarian tacos de canasta or the tacos al pastor, but I use it for the sides, like the elotes and frijoles refritos, and sauces like the salsa verde. I loved this book for helping me master all the things that support a taco dinner – that, and the fact that it’s designed beautifully with an eye-catching cover. – M.N.
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s latest book features boldly flavorful recipes by a multigenerational group of Black chefs. I really enjoy how each recipe interweaves contributors’ personal stories and Black culinary history with commentary on ingredients and other elements of each dish. This is a great collection to turn to for inspired weeknight meals and impressive dinner party dishes alike. – L.W.
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