Mmmm…..It’s time for our annual cookbook column, where we highlight some of the most exciting new tomes of the year. And while it’s a safe bet that none of us needs another cookbook, how can we resist? Between updated versions of our favorites (The New York Times Cookbook) and hip newbies (Food Porn Daily), there are bound to be a few we want to take home and try out immediately!
SOUTHERN LIVING FARMERS MARKET COOKBOOK by Scott Jones
(Oxmoor House, $29.95)
This is a manageable book with beautiful, full-page photos. The recipes, which are based in Southern flavors and traditions, are tempting. Sweet and Salty Honey-Cheese Spread, anyone? How about Cornmeal-Fried Artichokes or Salted Caramel Strawberries? As the title suggests, the 200 recipes (with 150 photos) promote locally grown, seasonal foods.
CAKE BOSS by Buddy Valastro
(Simon & Schuster, $25.99)
The TLC hit show baker has penned an autobiography, with emphasis on the origins of his Carlo’s Bakery. Of course there are also plenty of old country recipes from ‘mia famiglia,’ like biscotti, tarelles (vanilla cookies), cannoli, etc. Valastro also offers tips on cake making, giving us hope that we might somehow be able to tackle one or two of his more doable creations—Groovy Girl cake? The book doesn’t include many color plates, but there are several vintage photos of the Valastro family.
COOKING WITH ITALIAN GRANDMOTHERS by Jessica Theroux
(Welcome Books, $40)
Based on her yearlong travels throughout Italy, this book culls recipes Theroux recorded after talking to Italian ‘nonnas’ (grandmothers). She shares their stories about and techniques for traditional Italian dishes like Bread and Kale Soup, White Wine Braised Rabbit and Plum-Almond Tart. The book is peppered with full-plate food photos and images from Italy.
FOOD PORN DAILY THE COOKBOOK by Amanda Simpson
(Sweetwater Books, $34.99)
Straight from FoodPornDaily.com, this book maximizes on the site’s strength: tantalizing close-ups of luscious food. Just about every two-page spread includes a color plate of something so cheesy, sauce-y, sugary, creamy or meaty, your mouth starts salivating. Among the beauties pictured (with their recipes): Uber-Creamy Salami and Chevre Macaroni and Cheese, Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Cheese Grits, Soft Shell Crab BLT and White Chocolate Blueberry Bread Pudding.
RECIPE RECORDS by Lanea Stagg and Maggie McHugh
(Recipe Records, $19.95)
Perfect for a rock ’n’ roll-loving foodie, this book was co-written by former radio personality and local Maggie McHugh and Lanea Stagg. The recipes are simple for the most part, and although there are no pictures, the writers suggest a playlist for each recipe. Blue Suede Stew, Rock Me Like A Hurricane Smoothie and Stairway to Hazelnut Heaven are among the musical selections. If this book doesn’t rock your taste buds, at least it will have your toes tapping!
THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK by Amanda Hesser
(W.W. Norton & Company, $40)
The updated classic includes the paper’s best recipes, as well as dishes from some of today’s most popular chefs: Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Maida Heatter and many others. It has a more 21st century esthetic than its precursor, the Craig Claiborne version that debuted decades ago. But it still teaches the basics (perfect rice, choosing fresh fish, preserving tomatoes, etc.). There are some artsy black and white photos, but this is not a photo book and recipes are not illustrated.
FARMERS’ MARKET DESSERTS by Jennie Schacht
(Chronicle Books, $24.95)
As the title suggests, this is about baking with fruit. The recipes look very good—things like Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes and Ginger-Pear Skillet Cake—and ‘Farm Journal’ entries every few pages offer tips. Did you know that the Palm Springs area grows the lion’s share of U.S. Medjool dates? Or that the much-heralded Meyer lemon is an orange-lemon hybrid? How about that industrious American beekeepers produce more than 300 varieties of honey, each coming from a different floral source!
THE GOURMET COOKIE COOKBOOK
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18)
This may be the best buy of the season. Who wouldn’t want the best, most-coveted recipe from each of Gourmet magazine’s 68 years in print? The recipes are reprinted exactly as they appeared, giving us a glimpse of how food language has changed over the decades, not to mention eating habits! Recipes are organized by decade, and each appears with a luscious, full-page photo. Yum.
DOUBLE DELICIOUS by Jessica Seinfeld
(William Morrow, $28.99)
This is a follow-up to Jessica Seinfeld’s popular first book of recipes that sneak healthy ingredients into food that kids (of all ages) will eat. She mixes things like skim milk, whole grains, bran, yogurt and carrot puree into her concoctions to make them more nutritious (on the Q.T.).
100 UNIQUE EATS AND EATERIES IN MISSOURI by Ann Hazelwood
(Reedy Press, $14.95)
If you’ve ever considered an eating tour of the Show-Me State, this is your bible. Single-page descriptions reveal quaint little eateries all over the state, from bakeries in Glascow to diners in St. James. Even if you’re not planning to hit the road, it’s pretty interesting to read about all these little, out-of-the-way spots that specialize in things like Triple Berry Pancakes (Broadway Diner in Columbia), Blackberry Wine Cake (Maggie Mae’s Tea Room in Miller) and Black Walnut Ice Cream (Hammons Black Walnut Emporium in Stockton).
MARY ENGELBREIT’S FANFARE COOKBOOK
(Andrews McMeel, $16.99)
This is a ‘slow cooker’ recipe book, designed for those old crock pots we’re sorry we gave away in the ‘80s. Native daughter Engelbreit gathered favorite recipes from across the country and tested them. She admits she’s no cook, but if the recipes don’t live up to your expectations, the illustrations will.