It’s been a fruitful year in the cookbook world and I’ve been delighted with many of the hundreds that have crossed my desk and found a place in my kitchen. Some stand out, including these.
“Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry/ Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving,” by Cathy Barrow (W.W. Norton Co., 429 pages, $35). Attention, all culinary DIYers: This book is a must-have. Cathy Barrow learned to preserve jams and jellies as a child in the kitchen with her great-grandmother and mother, an effort she continued as an adult. Then she read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” with its focus on local food, and her culinary life changed as she explored the connection between home canning and local eating. By 2009 she was blogging about her adventures in preserving (www.mrswheelbarrow.com) and writing in national publications. The more she preserved, the more she wanted to know, and her curiosity led her to meat curing and fresh cheesemaking. Today she and her husband eat mostly local food, with the cold months covered by food she has preserved. Her carefully written book with stunning photos from Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton allows anyone to be a DIYer (though you must follow food-safety rules, she points out, reminding readers they need “a healthy dose of fear” when preserving foods). Four types of preserving are included in her book: waterbath canning, pressure cooker canning, meat and fish preservation (salt curing, brining, smoking and air-curing) and fresh cheesemaking.
“Marcus Off Duty/ The Recipes I Cook at Home,” by Marcus Samuelsson (Rux Martin, 352 pages, $35). It was a sold-out crowd at both the American Swedish Institute and Cooks of Crocus Hill when Marcus Samuelsson was in town this fall. And no surprise. Samuelsson is an approachable cook, who these days happens to be an international celebrity. But for those in the audience at either location, it was just our friend Marcus back in town to talk food. We first got to know him as the young chef of Aquavit restaurant in Minneapolis, which was open for almost five years. Today Samuelsson has his hands in multiple restaurants and TV programs, both here and in Sweden, and in community projects in Harlem, where he lives. But even he needs to eat dinner, which is the focus of his new cookbook, a charmer of a volume that offers a peek into his life and travels. He offers approachable recipes that bump up the flavor and technique that might be overlooked at family meals.
“Plenty More,” by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ten Speed Press, 340 pages, $35). Page through this vegetable cookbook and you’re likely to come to a simple conclusion: Who needs meat? The photos alone will make you hungry, from Slow-Cooked Chickpeas on Toast With Poached Egg to Root Mash With Wine-Braised Shallots. Many of us will cook our way from the first recipe to the last. The author, a London chef with many restaurants, is the author of two earlier works, “Plenty” and “Jerusalem,” which had already received high praise from cooks. This new volume looks at vegetables from the perspective of cooking methods that make the most of each component, with chapters on “tossed,” “braised,” “mashed” and more. Vegetables never looked — or tasted — better.
“Cooking Light: Mad Delicious/ The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing,” by Keith Schroeder (Oxmoor House, 384 pages, $35). Are you ready for fun in the kitchen? If so, this is your book. Keith Schroeder comes to this first writing effort with years of cooking in restaurants and the skills and patience of a longtime cooking instructor with a sense of humor. Paired with the delightful illustrations of Heather Diane Hardison, this book will assure that you have confidence in the kitchen. “I want you to understand the recipe you’re cooking, not just survive the process,” he writes. Whether it’s preparing beets or debearding a mussel, preparing parchment for steaming or peeling tomatoes, Schroeder has the how-to and the recipes ready for you.
“Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook,” by the editors of Saveur (Weldon Owen, 624 pages, $40). Saveur the magazine has been around for 20 years. With more than 1,000 recipes, this volume dips into those decades of excellence to offer the iconic recipes from the world’s dinner tables. Whether it’s Fish and Coconut Stew from Honduras or Tagliarini Del Magnifico from Florence, Italy, to Braised Kale or Creamy Chicken Curry from India, these are the global recipes that not only keep us well-fed, but expand our repertoire.
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