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“Bon Appétit”: The Best Cookbooks of 2023

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“Bon Appétit”: The Best Cookbooks of 2023

best cookbooks of 2023

Despite the ease of finding cooking recipes online and on social media, printed cookbooks are still hugely popular.  Hundreds of new titles are published each year and consulted by home cooks avidly.

Here are the best 18 cookbooks of the year as determined by the editors of NYTimes Cooking and the Food Desk after reading and testing dozens of them.  They represent cuisines from different parts of the world and are all available in the Livingston Public Library collection, so make sure to borrow them and get inspired to try out a new cuisine, or elevate your culinary skills in the New Year.

asada

Asada : The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling by Bricia Lopez

In millions of backyards across Southern California, an Asada means a gathering of family, friends, great music, cold drinks, good times, and community–all centered around the primal allure of juicy, smoky grilled meat with flavors and spices traditional to Mexico. The smell of Asada is a cloud of joy that lingers in the streets of Los Angeles. Here, Mexican food authorities and the authors of Oaxaca, Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral, are back with more than 100 recipes that show you how to prepare the right dishes and drinks for your next Carne Asada gathering. This book will both guide you in crafting mouthwatering food and inspire the right laid back atmosphere.

Bake Smart : Sweets and Secrets From My Oven to Yours by Samantha Seneviratne

Star baker Seneviratne wants to tell you the baking secrets of industry pros: You can soften butter in a microwave in seconds, without melting it. Don’t bother sifting flour. No stand mixer? No problem-you can mix it by hand. Test the doneness of a cake without toothpicks (who actually has those?). Make a custard with a dump and stir method. Break free from common baking myths, fears, and fussy procedures, with this book filled with Sam’s tips and warm reassurances plus 100 achievable, mouthwatering recipes that are surprisingly effortless to put together for any home baker. Chapters are organized by main baking ingredient (Butter; Sugar; Eggs; Flour, Nuts & Cocoa; and Yeast), each starting with a quick intro to break down the fundamentals of baking, as well as core recipes-like Basic Custard, Any-Nut Frangipane, and Rough Puff Pastry-that are easy to master and return to again and again.

A Very Chinese Cookbook : 100 Recipes From China & Not China (But Still Really Chinese) by Kevi Pang

James Beard Award winner Kevin Pang and his dad Jeffrey, hosts of the hit America’s Test Kitchen series Hunger Pangs, show you the way to delicious Chinese cooking in this accessible, funny, heartfelt cookbook. From American Chinese classics (General Tso’s Chicken) to Sichuan street foods (Dan Dan Mian) and Hong Kong dim sum favorites (Shu Mai), this cookbook is ideal for both the Chinese food-curious and experienced cooks seeking a weekend soup dumpling project. Chock full of tips, techniques, stories, and friendly ingredient guides, with over 100 of ATK’s trademark rigorous recipes–and even a magic trick with fortune cookies.

Ever-Green Vietnamese : Super-Fresh Recipes, Starring Plants From Land and Sea by Andrea Quynhgiao Nguyen

Plant-based cooking meets the dynamic flavors of Vietnamese cuisine in these 125+ recipes and variations–from the James Beard Award-winning author of Vietnamese Food Every Day. Although many people think of Vietnamese cooking as beefy pho and meat-filled sandwiches, traditional Vietnamese cooking has always involved a lot of plants and seafood and a little meat. Nguyen details how cooks in her home country draw on their natural resourcefulness and Buddhist traditions to showcase a wide array of herbs and vegetables in flavorful, comforting recipes.

For the Culture : Phenomenal Black Women and Femmes in Food : Interviews, Inspiration, and Recipes by Klancy Miller

Chef and writer Miller found her own way by trial and error-as a pastry chef, recipe developer, author, and founder of For the Culture magazine-but what if she had known then what she knows now? What if she had known the extraordinary women profiled within these pages-entrepreneurs, chefs, food stylists, mixologists, historians, influencers, hoteliers, and more-and learned from their stories? Like Leah Penniman, a farmer using Afro-Indigenous methods to restore the land and feed her community; Ashtin Berry, an activist, sommelier, and mixologist creating radical change in the hospitality industry and beyond; or Sophia Roe, a TV host and producer showcasing the inside stories behind today’s food systems. Toni Tipton-Martin, Mashama Bailey, Carla Hall, Nicole Taylor, Dr. Jessica B. Harris . . . In this gorgeous volume these luminaries and more share the vision that drives them, the mistakes they made along the way, advice for the next generation, and treasured recipes-all accompanied by stunning original illustrated portraits and vibrant food photography.

indian flavor

Indian Flavor Every Day : Simple Recipes and Smart Techniques to Inspire by Maya Kaimal

Introduce rich, complex Indian flavors to your everyday cooking with 80 easy recipes and ingenious guidance from Julia Child Best First Book Award winner Kaimal.  She distills essential flavor-building methods, like blending spices and tempering them in oil to release their essence, and applies these techniques to accessible, flexible ingredients any home cook has on hand. With many vegetarian, gluten-free, and wholesome, hearty offerings, the book includes both simplified classic dishes and new twists.

Love is a Pink Cake by Claire Ptak

Renowned for the wedding cake she created for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Claire Ptak knows there’s nothing like a cake when it comes to expressions and celebrations of love. A Chez Panisse alum, Ptak is a Northern California native who now runs the wildly successful Violet Bakery in London. Reflecting on her upbringing and love of in-season produce, she shares seventy-five sweet and savory creations, including huckleberry basil sugar scones, peaches and cream angel food cake, and a strawberry-coconut meringue cake. Her bakes are homey yet elevated, made with the best possible ingredients, so as to extract the best possible flavors. Included are gluten-free, refined sugar-free and vegan bakes, as well as the sought-after recipe for the Duke and Duchess’s lemon elderflower cake.

Made in Taiwan : Recipes and Stories From the Island Nation by Clarissa Wei

Taipei-based food journalistWei presents, a cookbook that celebrates the island nation’s unique culinary identity–despite a refusal by the Chinese government to recognize its sovereignty. The expansive book contains deeply researched essays and more than 100 recipes inspired by the people who live in Taiwan today.  For generations, Taiwanese cuisine has been miscategorized under the broad umbrella term of Chinese food. Backed with historical evidence and interviews, Wei makes a case for why Taiwanese food should get its own spotlight.

Mayumu : Filipino American Desserts Remixed by Abi Balingit

A sweet baking book of fantastically imaginative remixed Filipinx American dessert recipes, plus stories of the Filipinx American experience by baker-activist, Balingit. When the pandemic started her lonely work-from-home life in 2020, Abi channeled all her energy into the one thing that brought her joy: baking. She started to produce Pasalubong boxes filled with novel treats that blended the Filipino and Asian flavors Abi grew up with and her favorite Western style baked goods, each time selling out within hours and donating the proceeds to support her community in need. Now, Abi shares these cult-favorite desserts with Mayumu (which means “sweet” in one of the 8 major languages in Philippines), an incredibly fresh baking book of 75 recipes for sweet treats, organized in chapters tied to where she discovered these flavors growing up as child of immigrants in a cultural melting pot, from the Philippines, to all around California, to her now home Brooklyn, NY. And she bakes all of these in her tiny, dimly lit, urban kitchen, meaning anyone can do it, too.

More than Cake : 100 Baking Recipes Built for Pleasure and Community by Natasha Pickowicz

From her award-nominated work at Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar to her powerful community bake sales that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Planned Parenthood, Natasha Pickowicz is one of the most important bakers working today. Her creations are unique and whimsical but never fussy (she taught the New York Times how to make chocolate mousse in a blender); her flavors take baked goods beyond the ordinary. Pickowicz’s first cookbook includes her singular recipes, reflecting her Chinese heritage, California childhood, and community bake sale experience. From Red Bean and Brown Butter Pie to Scallion Pancake Biscuits and from Black Sesame Fortune Cookies to Sour Glaze Maple Gingerbread, she shares 100 recipes punctuated with enlightening pop-out tips. The book provides readers with even more ways to delight and honor others, no matter how big or small the occasion: from baking for your partner or for your entire office, from once-in-a-lifetime celebrations to more ordinary, small moments. 

on the curry trail

On the Curry Trail : Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World : In 50 Recipes by Raghavan Iyer

An enlightening journey across Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas to explore the origins of curry and the signature, essential curries of each region. This diaspora of curry brings alive not only the most iconic, category-defining recipes from these continents, but also the history, lore, anecdotes, and familial remembrances that fashion each dish. It delves into the story of curry: What it was and what it is, the places to which it has traveled and the ways it has evolved (whether because of local ingredients, cultural tastes, or other factors). And the book embraces the many interpretations and definitions of this beloved dish. It makes the flavors of these scintillating curries accessible to the everyday home cook in 50 irresistible recipes.

Pasta Every Day : Make it, Shape It, Sauce It, Eat It by Meryl Feinstein

Pasta enthusiast and founder of the Pasta Social Club Feinstein insists that “the real key to pasta dough isn’t technique, it’s confidence.” This book’s step-by-step photographic instruction in pasta making inspires just that. Feinstein encourages creativity with mix-and-match offerings of doughs, shapes, fillings, and sauces, inviting readers to customize their pasta. Some of the most fun, chewy fresh pasta shapes are featured, from cavatelli and orecchiette, to more obscure Sardinian pastas like malloreddus and spizzulus. A section on stuffed pastas turns up mouthwatering recipes from central and northern Italy: egg yolk ravioli, scarpinocc, cappelletti, agnoletti. 

Rintaro : Food and Stories from a Japanese Izakaya in California by Sylvan Mishima Brackett

Rintaro, the debut cookbook from this groundbreaking restaurant, translates the experience of a Tokyo izakaya to the home kitchen. It is both a master class in making homemade udon noodles, and plumbs the depths of true comfort in food, with recipes like its curry rice. With over 70 recipes showcasing inspiration and detailed instruction in equal measure, this is a book for anyone who loves Japanese food, from the curious novice to expats craving the tastes of home.

The Secret of Cooking:Recipes for an Easier Life in the Kitchen by Bee Wilson

Packed with solutions for how to make life in the kitchen work better for you, whether you’re cooking for yourself or for a crowd. Do you wish you could cook more, but don’t know where to start? Wilson has spent years collecting cooking “secrets”: ways of speeding cooking up or slowing it down, strategies for days when you are stretched for time, and other ideas for when you can luxuriate in kitchen therapy. Bee holds out a hand to anyone who wants doable, delicious recipes, the kind of unfussy food that makes every day taste better: quick feasts from a can of beans; fast, medium, and slow ragus; and seven ways to cook a carrot.

The Simple Art of Rice : Recipes from Around the World for the Heart of Your Table by J. J. Johnson

This book is a celebration of rice and the many cultures in which this life-giving grain takes pride of place at the center of every table. The recipes are influenced by these global flavors from Asia to Europe, Africa to the Americas, and feature many of the world’s favorite dishes. From iconic savory dishes like Liberian Jollof and New Orleans Red Rice and Beans to sweet finishes and drinks like Hibiscus Raspberry Rice Ice Milk and Champorado,  it has a rice dish for every kind of meal and occasion, including nourishing comfort foods and dishes that can be made quickly to turn a weeknight dinner into a feast. The book also features a fool-proof method for turning out perfect rice every time, as well as fascinating information on the role that rice has played in culture and history.

snacking

Snacking Bakes : Simple Recipes for Cookies, Bars, Brownies, Cakes & More by Yossy Arefi

The award-winning author of Snacking Cakes presents sixty simple recipes that require minimal effort yet result in maximum flavor as you create delectable delights perfect for snacking, including cookies, bars, brownies, cakes and loaves.

Start Here : Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook by Sohla El-Waylly

A practical, information-packed, and transformative guide to becoming a better cook and conquering the kitchen,  this is a must-have master class in leveling up your cooking. Across a dozen technique-themed chapters–from “Temperature Management 101” and “Break it Down & Get Saucy” to “Go to Brown Town,” “All About Butter,” and “Getting to Know Dough”- El-Waylly explains the hows and whys of cooking, introducing the fundamental skills that you need to become a more intuitive, inventive cook.

Tenderheart : A Book About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds by Hetty McKinnon

 Heritage and food have always been linked for McKinnon. Growing up as part of a Chinese family in Australia, McKinnon formed a deep appreciation for her bi-cultural identity, and for her father, who moved to Sydney as a teenager and learned English by selling bananas at a local market. As he brought home crates full of produce after work, McKinnon learned about the beauty and versatility of fruits and vegetables. This book is the happy outcome of McKinnon’s love of vegetables. From Miso Mushroom Ragu with Oven-Baked Polenta to Celery and Vermicelli Spring Rolls and Sweet Potato and Black Sesame Marble Cake, it features 21 essential fruits and vegetables that become the basis for 150 recipes. A tender tribute to her father and his experience as an immigrant, McKinnon explores how food connects us to our loved ones, even when they are no longer with us – and gives us the tools to make recipes that are healthful, economical, and bursting with flavor.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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