Welcome to the Cookbook Gifts Issue! There's something for every appetite, from Asma Khan's Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul to Prue Leith's salute to her favorite comfort food, Bliss on Toast, to Ina Garten's lessons in going simple during the pandemic in Go-To Dinners to exquisite desserts, French-style, in Aleksandra Crapanzano's Gâteau! Plus a round-up of cookbooks to get kids in the kitchen, including celebrity chef Gaby Melian's family recipes in Gaby's Latin American Kitchen, and vegan recipes from the Caribbean British celebrity chef in Omari McQueen's Best Bites Cookbook.
The Writer's Life spotlights Michael W. Twitty, the man behind The Cooking Gene, as he discusses his research and recipes for Koshersoul, at the intersection of the American South and the Afro Caribbean and Jewish diasporas.
Forever Beirut: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Lebanon
by Barbara Abdeni Massaad
In her fifth cookbook, Forever Beirut, Barbara Abdeni Massaad (Soup for Syria) pays tribute to her roots, showcasing the abundant cultural and culinary heritage of the capital of Lebanon. The 100 easy-to-prepare recipes are introduced with Massaad's personal reminiscences as well as cultural notes, and almost every one of the 256 pages features vibrant and evocative food and location photos. Focusing on seasonal home cooking, Massaad introduces such familiar favorites as tabouleh, a vast array of breads and pastries, and dishes inspired by the ethnic diversity of the city. Forever Beirut will delight both new and more experienced lovers of Lebanese cooking. A portion of proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will be donated to those impacted by the devastating 2020 Port of Beirut explosion. --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer
Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook
by Illyanna Maisonet and Dan Liberti and Erika P. Rodriguez, photographers
Diasporican by Illyanna Maisonet, the country's first Puerto Rican food columnist for a major newspaper (San Francisco Chronicle), is an exquisite collection of recipes for a host of mouthwatering dishes. Despite its subtitle, Maisonet insists "this is not a Puerto Rican cookbook. This book is for the Diasporicans--the 5.5 million people living Stateside who continue to cook the food of our homeland." From her California kitchen, Maisonet gets personal: like her Puerto Rican-born mother and grandmother, she "did not have the privilege of cooking for pleasure or joy." Her recipes are intimately flavored with glimpses of personal history--raw, violent, colonized. Maisonet presents expected recipes--Arroz con Gandules, Lechón, Mofongo, Flan--as well as delicious surprises such as Arroz Chino Boricua (due to the influx of Cuban Chinese immigrants in the 1950s), Coconut Soda-Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (because her grandmother used boxed mixes) and Puerto Rican Laab (because, as a teen, she lived with a Laotian family). Soulful nourishment, indeed. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian Bookdragon
Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul
by Asma Khan
Chef and restaurateur Asma Khan (Asma's Indian Kitchen) takes readers back to her childhood home in Ammu, her delectable second cookbook. Named in honor of Khan's mother, Ammu combines warmhearted essays on Khan's family and her culinary journey with mouthwatering photos and recipes. The cookbook includes a range of recipes and ingredients: simple chutneys and snacks; slow-cooking biryanis and a leg of lamb; fried pakoras and grilled meats. Khan shares childhood comfort foods, celebratory meals to feed a crowd and the Western-infused Indian dishes she makes for her London-born sons. Each chapter includes family photos, memories from Khan's life in India and the U.K., and helpful tips for those new to Indian cooking. Ammu provides a feast for both the eyes and the kitchen table. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams
Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew
by Michael W. Twitty
Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael W. Twitty is an eclectic recipe collection exploring the intersections between food and identity, and showcasing dishes designed for such religious and cultural celebrations as Yom Kippur, Hanukkah and Juneteenth. In his sensational debut, The Cooking Gene,Twitty introduced readers to his American journey as a Black, gay man of Southern heritage who entered Jewish culture and religion through food, his favorite medium. This book, the second entry of a planned trilogy, presents his particular brand of "koshersoul" recipes inspired by Southern Jewish, Afro-Caribbean, West and Central African flavors, including Black-Eyed Pea Hummus; Yam Latkes; Senegalese-Inspired Chicken Soup; Swahili Roast Chicken; and Peach Noodle Kugel. A hearty immersion into Black and Jewish culinary traditions. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer
Homage: Recipes and Stories from an Amish Soul Food Kitchen
by Chris Scott and Sarah Zorn
In Homage, chef Chris Scott dives deep into the roots of his family and their foodways, offering a tribute to Amish soul food, an oft-overlooked cuisine. Through stories and recipes, he explores a food inspired by once-enslaved ancestors who eventually relocated to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, calling Amish soul food not a "newfangled creation" but a cuisine based in a "very real history that my family shares with so many others." It is food that is "about making the best of what you have," a notion apparent in dishes like Neckbone Dumplings; and Pig's Feet and Potatoes. It is also comfort food, hearty and celebratory, laden with affordable and homegrown ingredients: Pimento Cheese Spoonbread; Black-Eyed Pea Donuts; and Pan-Seared Chicken Livers. Homage, which includes handwritten notes, family photos and Brittany Conerly's vibrant photos of Scott's mouthwatering dishes, is an inviting and innovative cookbook that anchors a singular blend of food styles in history and family. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer
Whole Food for Your Family: 100+ Simple, Budget-Friendly Meals
by Autumn Michaelis
Autumn Michaelis builds her deliciously inviting debut cookbook, Whole Food for Your Family, with a showcase of dairy- and gluten-free recipes. These practical recipes, with elevated flavors, are based on her popular website Whole Food for 7. Beginning and experienced cooks alike will savor this collection of inventive, easy-to-follow recipes, including revised time-honored staples that follow Michaelis's approach. Whole Food will also appeal to children interested in cooking and gently challenge novice cooks of all ages who want to expand their skills. Concise recipes, many punctuated by lovely photographs and accompanied by useful tidbits on substitutions and side dishes to serve, are well organized, with categories such as Home-Run Kid Favorites, Classics with a Makeover and Lunch Box 101. Down-to-earth favorites include Italian Toss & Bake Chicken, Carrot Fries with Date Chipotle Sauce and Whole30 Potato Salad. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer
by Ina Garten
Ina Garten (Modern Comfort Food; Barefoot Contessa Foolproof) has long been known for making food beautiful, whether on her cooking show or in her many cookbooks. But, as Garten explains in Go-To Dinners, the pandemic has changed the way she cooks. Due to supply-chain issues and the unpredictability of social occasions, Garten has found herself turning to plainer meals, ones that are simple to prep in advance or that generate leftovers. This cookbook, full of luscious photos of delicious food, reflects this simpler style of cooking. The Breakfast-for-Dinner Board and French Bistro Salad are more about assembly than cooking. A Hasselback Kielbasa is easy to make one night of the week, and the leftovers can be added to Tuscan White Bean Soup the next. Go-To Dinners, with no-nonsense recipes tasty enough for any chef, is the perfect addition to any cookbook library. --Jessica Howard, freelance book reviewer
Mezcla: Recipes to Excite
by Ixta Belfrage
Mezcla, Spanish for "mix," "mixture," "blend" or "fusion," perfectly describes Ixta Belfrage's passion for her Brazilian, Italian and Mexican heritage that inspires "food that crosses cultures and transcends borders." In Mezcla: Recipes to Excite, Belfrage (Ottolenghi Flavor, with Yotam Ottolenghi) divides her inventive recipes into "Everyday" and "Entertaining," urging home cooks to create what matches their mood. More than half of her dishes are "veg," which she perfected while working with renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Jalapeño, habanero, Scotch bonnet and Calabrian chiles appear in many of her recipes, but Belfrage suggests milder substitutions for cooks who "don't like heat." From the Brazilian- and Cuban-influenced Upside Down Plantain Omelet, to a Tomato and Lime Galette with Crunchy Spelt Chipotle Pastry, adventurous cooks will delight in the gustatory travels they take with Ixta Belfrage. --Cheryl McKeon, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.
A Dish for All Seasons: 125+ Recipe Variations for Delicious Meals All Year Round
by Kathryn Pauline
With the rise of farmers' markets has come a slew of cookbooks designed to help home cooks embrace seasonal eating. Although most of these books categorize recipes by season, food blogger Kathryn Pauline's debut, A Dish for All Seasons, takes a different approach, inviting readers to use the cookbook throughout a year. In this collection, Pauline gathers 25 foundational recipes and provides adaptations for each season of the year. This book, perfect for beginning cooks, will empower users to perfect a simple base (pancakes, roast chicken, frittata) while inspiring them to incorporate seasonal produce in creative and flavorful ways. With beautiful, full-color photographs to enhance each section, A Dish for All Seasons makes a gorgeous gift--with tasty meals guaranteed to follow. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian
The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition
by Hannah Che
Hannah Che, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, connected with her culture through cooking but faced resistance when she went vegan. Though her parents scorned "hippie types," she discovered that plant-based eating has an ancient heritage in China and was reinforced by Buddhism and mid-20th-century food shortages. In fact, the Chinese word for "vegan" connotes simplicity. Che's appealing, close-up photographs in The Vegan Chinese Kitchen showcase fresh and colorful plates: Napa cabbage and vermicelli salad, steamed buns and mock meat dishes such as "vegetarian roast goose" (shiitake mushrooms and ginger and bamboo shoots wrapped in tofu skin). Along with historical information and personal anecdotes, Che gives advice for preparing ingredients and making effective knife cuts. In this cookbook, a sliced pickled radish is a work of art, and there are more mouth-watering uses for tofu than you ever imagined. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck
The Good LFE Cookbook: Low Fermentation Eating for SIBO, Gut Health, and Microbiome Balance
by Krystyna Houser and Robin Berlin
Some 10-15% of Americans suffer from SIBO/IBS (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth/Irritable Bowl Syndrome), and many have learned to live with it by avoiding certain foods. Scientists suggest adopting a low-fermentation eating (LFE) lifestyle to alleviate the problem, but it can be a restrictive and often bland solution. The Good LFE Cookbook from Krystyna Houser and Robin Berlin presents more than 150 recipes to combat these issues while also entertaining tastebuds. Afflicted with poor gut health or not, anyone can enjoy the healthy dishes in this well-organized collection with recipes that are easy to assemble, such as Roasted Tomato and Chard Frittata; Cast Iron Chicken with Caper Lemon Croutons; and Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Torte. Tangy additions to holiday festivities include a Blood Orange and Rosemary Vodka Cocktail; Chocolate Coconut Cashew Mousse; and Pistachio Baklava Rolls. Cheers to year-round good tidings of intestinal comfort and joy. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer
Bliss on Toast: 75 Simple Recipes
by Prue Leith
Prue Leith (The Vegetarian Kitchen) is best known for judging The Great British Bake Off. Bliss on Toast is a salute to her favorite Sunday night comfort food--hot food served on toasted bread. Novice cooks will love her laid-back attitude about using bottled, canned and ready-made ingredients in her recipes. Her tasty recipes are divided into chapters for dishes that include cheese and eggs; vegetarian and vegan ingredients; fish; meat and poultry; and desserts. The cookbook's simple but stylish layout presents one full-page photo of the dish opposite a one-page recipe with tips. Particularly mouthwatering and tempting are scrambled eggs with fried prosciutto on sourdough; fried halloumi cheese in pita pockets; ham and burrata on toasted croissants; and bananas and ice cream with brandy syrup on panettone. Delicious! --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant
Send Noods: 50 Amazing Noodle Recipes that You Want Right Now
by Chloe Godot, illus. by Alice Potter
Cookbook editor Chloe Godot will seduce lovers of fettuccini, ramen and even humble macaroni with Send Noods, a gleeful, eclectic pasta roster with a modern-dating theme that invites cooks to "swipe right on some hot dishes that are exactly who they say they are." The cookbook kicks off with Red Flag Red Sauce marinara and other simple base sauces and broths. Godot then shows readers how to take them to the next level in dishes such as Wife Me Vegan Minestrone; Beefcake Beef Stroganoff; and Swipe Right Ramen, each with an emoticon to indicate spice level. Adorably illustrated by children's book artist Alice Potter, this noodle-intensive repertoire of comfort dishes, nurturing soups and lighter fare will have readers deleting their dating apps and curling up with something hot. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads
Nadiya's Everyday Baking: From Weeknight Dinners to Celebration Cakes, Let Your Oven Do the Work
by Nadiya Hussain
Fans of The Great British Bake Off will remember Nadiya Hussain (Nadiya Bakes; Time to Eat), season-six winner, who charmed viewers with her effortless competence and flavorful creations. She brings the same joyful flair for unexpectedly delicious dishes to Nadiya's Everyday Baking, a welcoming and accessible cookbook. As a busy mother of three, Hussain understands that some days demand a quick and nourishing meal that kids will actually eat, such as her Breakfast Pizza or Crispy Tofu Lettuce Wraps. Other occasions, however, require savory seafood or decadent desserts such as a Sprinkle Butter Babka Loaf or Chocolate Cookie Pie. Most recipes are paired with vibrant photographs of Hussain preparing and enjoying her creations. This user-friendly culinary celebration will inspire even the most hesitant home bakers to fire up their ovens. No special occasion needed. --Angela Lutz, freelance reviewer
Gâteau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes
by Aleksandra Crapanzano
Aleksandra Crapanzano (Eat. Cook. L.A.) reveals the secret to delicious, adaptable cakes in Gâteau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes. Elaborate, time-intensive confections may be the hallmark of French baking, but French home cooks rely on simple recipes and trusted techniques, adding variations to suit the season and pantry. Crapanzano fills Gâteau with more than 100 recipes, accompanied by Cassandre Montoriol's soft, almost whimsical illustrations and short narratives that invite readers into the author's life. Classics such as Bûche de Noël au Chocolat (Chocolate Yule Log) tempt those with a sweet tooth, but these gâteaux encourage broader thinking with nuts, fruits and even savory options such as Madeleines aux Noix, Poire et Roquefort (Walnut, Pear and Roquefort Madeleines). Gâteau is perfect for bakers looking to elegantly sweeten their days without special tools or fussy ingredients. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer
Simply Vegan Baking: Taking the Fuss Out of Vegan Cakes, Cookies, Breads, and Desserts
by Freya Cox
When she appeared on the 12th series of The Great British Bake Off, 19-year-old Freya Cox was the program's first-ever vegan contestant. Her chirpy personality pervades Simply Vegan Baking, which features 70 no-drama recipes for baked goods that suffer not a farthing for their lack of animal products--plus they actually resemble what's pictured in Clare Winfield's mouthwatering photos. Cox's substitutions for such seemingly irreplaceable ingredients as eggs and dairy range from standard (her carrot cake's frosting requires vegan butter and vegan cream cheese) to inspired: her "Notella"-Filled Muffins call for applesauce and apple cider vinegar, and her Vanilla Custard Slices incorporate soy milk and "the thick part" of canned coconut milk. Cox may not have won The Great British Bake Off, but with Simply Vegan Baking she prevails. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer
(photo: Brett Hartman)
Culinary and cultural historian Michael W. Twitty's outstanding debut, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, was the recipient of two James Beard Foundation awards in 2018, for Best Food Writing and Book of the Year. He has appeared on NPR's The Splendid Table and Morning Edition, and has written for the Guardian, Ebony, Local Palate and the Washington Post. Twitty is creator of the award-winning blog Afroculinaria, the first food blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacy. A gay Jewish man of African American heritage, Twitty proudly straddles a constellation of overlapping identities, as explored and celebrated through the medium of cooking, food history and food culture in his second book, Koshersoul (Amistad; reviewed in this issue).
Koshersoul opens many doors for readers interested in the cuisines of the American South, as well as Afro Caribbean and Jewish diasporas. What ingredients, if any, work across the different cuisines you explore?
Onions! Garlic! Chicken! It's braising and grilling and baking and all the comfort foods.
You use the braiding of challah bread as symbolic of these intersectional cuisines. Do you bake challah often, and if you had to recommend your favorite bakery version, which would it be?
I bake challah at least twice a month. I don't really live next to a kosher bakery but even if I did, the Beigel family challah from Joan Nathan's Foods of Israel Today is the best I've ever had.
One the many difficulties for people fleeing their homes, whether because of floods, storms or political unrest, is leaving behind their treasured belongings. What is the one kitchen utensil you will never part with and why?
Hmm. I'd have to say it would be my cook pot from Africa. It's my roots; with your roots you can do anything and go anywhere and it makes the best jollof rice.
One of your goals in writing Koshersoul is to remove labels and just be who you are. Why do you think people are more comfortable within the defined lines and labels of identity, instead of seeing it as something fluid, as you do?
It's because they can't face that we are all happily contaminated with each other's cultures and cuisines and that's always been America.
There are many different types of blessings in Judaism, you write. If you were to create a new blessing, what would that be?
Blessed are you Lord our G-d Master of the flame and the wood. A blessing on barbecue.
With the vast spectrum of cultures represented in different foods, and food's ability to blur cultural lines, should cooking be taught in schools as one more tool towards promoting cultural tolerance?
Absolutely. It's necessary for us to be an informed multicultural society and understand how much we have borrowed from each other. We have to constantly affirm we are not a monolithic people in any way and children have the ability to pick things up.
Would you be interested in teaching a cooking class for elementary school children? How early should children learn how to cook?
No, lol! But I'd say 6 or 7 years old, just like it was for me.
As we head into fall, what does your idea of a perfectly cozy day look like beyond the kitchen?
Sitting on my porch with hot apple cider is magic. --Shahina Piyarali
Joyfully, cookbooks aren't only for adults. Whether young people are novice cooks or aspiring chefs, 2022 gave them tons of fabulous options for expanding their collection of recipes. Here we have books for a range of ages in a variety of different formats, including traditional cookbooks, nonfiction explorations of food and picture book stories with bonus recipes.
Omari McQueen's Best Bites Cookbook by Omari McQueen (BuzzPop/Little Bee, $16.99, ages 8-14)
Thirteen-year-old Caribbean British celebrity chef Omari McQueen offers upbeat guidance to beginner cooks interested in vegan recipes "that will blow your parents' minds" in the breezy, candy-colored Omari McQueen's Best Bites Cookbook.
McQueen gives simple, encouraging instructions on creating delicious plant-based dishes inspired by his Jamaican and Antiguan heritage. Snacks like "Nicely Cheesy Dip" and heartier fare such as Jamaican patty hand pies and sweet treats, including "Plum & Blackberry Crumble," are each accompanied by a beautifully styled example photographed by Xavier D. Buendi. McQueen encourages cooks to be creative but to go at their own pace when experimenting with flavors, especially the abundance of peppers and spices in Caribbean cuisine. Young readers will broaden their culinary horizons with this collection from an inspiring role model who proves following a passion can lead to a fulfilling path. --Jaclyn Fulwood
Granny's Kitchen by Sadé Smith, illus. by Ken Daley (Feiwel & Friends, $18.99, ages 3-6)
Debut Canadian author Sadé Smith and illustrator Ken Daley celebrate their shared Caribbean heritage in the vibrant Granny's Kitchen. "Shelly-Ann lived on the beautiful island of Jamaica" with her Granny, who is quite the chef. Whenever Shelly-Ann asks Granny for something to eat, Granny replies with "GYAL, YOU BETTA CAN COOK!" and begins a lesson. Shelly-Ann experiences a few stumbles: her "dumplins burn," her ackee's too soft, her fish too salty. One morning when Granny is tired, Shelly-Ann surprises Granny with breakfast in bed--the food (almost) perfect because it was made with love. Smith appends Granny's recipes at book's end, with a reminder for aspirational young audiences to always cook with an adult. --Terry Hong
Gaby's Latin American Kitchen by Gaby Melian (America's Test Kitchen, $22.99, ages 8-12)
Celebrity chef Gaby Melian dishes out family recipes in Gaby's Latin American Kitchen, a confidence-building cookbook for young chefs that offers a dash of history alongside 70 recipes. Chapters offer options to be enjoyed throughout the day including meriendas y bebidas (snacks and drinks) and guarniciones y salsas (sides and sauces). The beginner through advanced recipes span Latin America; each recipe includes the country of origin, shown on a map at the cookbook's start. Clear instructions encourage cooks to build skills by moving methodically through the steps of food preparation, and each recipe is broken into three sections: ¡En sus marcas!, ¡Listos!, ¡Fuera! (Ready! Set! Go!) Frequent sidebars offer Melian's personal connections to the dishes, cultural details or quotes from some of the cookbook's 15,000 young testers and appetizing photographs accompany every recipe. An upbeat and informative bilingual resource that equips young cooks for delicious success. --Kit Ballenger
Where Does My Food Come From? by Annabel Karmel (Welbeck Children's, $16.95, ages 4-6)
In Where Does My Food Come From? Britain's Annabel Karmel, a luminary in the field of children's nutrition, takes a multifaceted approach to piquing kids' interest in the food they eat. She tells the where-it-comes-from story for eggs, cheese, tomatoes, pasta, strawberries, honey and chocolate, and supplies corresponding simple recipes and food-based activities (Cheesy Robots, Pasta Mosaic). Chapters are packed with puns (readers can make Eggs-tra Special Frittata Muffins) and exclamation-pointed fun facts ("The strawberry isn't a true berry! On the other hand, avocadoes and bananas ARE actually berries!"). Alex Willmore (The Runaway Pea) makes everything even more appetizing with his garden-bright illustrations of food workers on the job and kids chowing down. --Nell Beram
Michael's Desserts by Michael Platt (Get Creative 6/Union Square, $17.99, ages 8-12)
Sixteen-year-old Michael Platt inspires readers to bake and affect change in Michael's Desserts, a scrumptious cookbook of sugary goodness and social activism. Young culinary enthusiasts can find a dessert for any occasion in the teen's debut kitchen reference: cakes, pies, snacks and his signature cupcakes grace the pages.
Platt offers a primer explaining necessary tools that may not be readily available in every kitchen and includes insight on recipes where extra adult help may be needed (frying beignets) or where beginners are likely to have better luck starting (jam tarts). But the real prize in this gem is Platt's narrative. He shares personal connections to recipes that have been passed down in his family and provides background on the themes of his signature Freedom Fighter Cupcakes. His own story of determination and social consciousness puts the icing on this cake. --Jen Forbus
Lit Hub featured "7 stone-faced writers accompanied by perfect cuties."
Open Culture explored "what the Rosetta Stone actually says."
Author Simon Crook chose his top 10 horror short stories for the Guardian.
" 'Forgotten archive' of medieval books and manuscripts discovered in Romanian church," Medievalist.net reported.