Add these cookbooks to your fall, winter reading list – The Philadelphia Inquirer

12 must-read cookbooks to get lost in this fall.
Every year as crunchy leaves pile on sidewalks and the weather dips to a chill, we seek comforts of home. We opt for homemade soups, baked goods, and dishes that soothe our bodies and souls.
Dependably, cookbooks nourish beginner and seasoned home cooks with stories that inspire you to reflect and learn more of the world while encouraging you to try a new recipe. This year’s new crop is no different. Whether you’re cooking for your family, your friends, or yourself, there is a book for everyone to curl up with.
Illyanna Maisonet, Ten Speed Press, $30,
Illyanna Maisonet doesn’t have a single word to define Puerto Rican food — maybe sofrito, the herb paste that’s “the bedrock of our cuisine,” if forced to choose one. That’s because it can’t be simplified into a neat little box. The cuisine reflects the colonialism that led to its diversity.
In this conversational cookbook, you will find a love letter to the Island’s culinary traditions. Maisonet beautifully weaves in family history, values, and memories to bring readers a Diasporican cookbook — referring to “the 5.5 million people living Stateside who continue to cook the food of our homeland,” according to the author. The cookbook is a tribute to the tribe of Ni De Aquí Ni De Allá — “not from here, not from there” to your kitchen.
Ali Slagle, Clarkson Potter Publishers, $28,
While some count sheep to help them sleep, Ali Slagle catalogs efficient, enjoyable ways to use ingredients. She daydreams of a bok choy gochujang omelet; pastrami-spiced tempeh on rye; green curry meatball soup; citrus salmon with black olive bread crumbs, and more — the book is bursting with a whopping 150 recipes.
Her recipes “meet you wherever you are,” offering meals that take less than 10 ingredients and 45 minutes to prepare, and promise an “effort-to-reward ratio engineered by your favor.” For most cooks, it’s a no brainer to keep olive oil, neutral oil, butter, sugar, red pepper flakes, water, and salt and pepper close. But for novice cooks, Slagle doesn’t gatekeep; she notes these ingredients as indispensables.
Nadiya Hussain, Clarkson Potter Publishers, $28,
Nadiya Hussain’s cheerful cookbook will have you baking every single day — whether you’re looking for a quick batch of snickerdoodle cookies or a decadent meringue cake for a party. As a first-generation British kid growing up in a vibrant Bangladeshi home, the winner of season six of BBC’s The Great British Bake Off cooked everything but cake. Stovetop cooking was the household staple — the oven was just for extra storage. In her book, Hussain illustrates that anyone can bake even if you don’t love it.
Sarah Grueneberg with Kate Heddings, Harvest Publications, $42,
Are you listening to your veggies? James Beard Award-winning chef Sarah Grueneberg (with the help of coauthor Kate Heddings) urges you to perk up your ears. From a love sprouting in Grueneberg’s grandparents’ garden in rural Texas to honoring Italian food as chef/owner of Chicago’s Monteverde restaurant, her earthy, fresh cookbook encourages you to take “a deep dive into the produce aisle” and “make vegetables shine.” You’ll find tips and tricks sprinkled throughout in sections called Get It, Get It — following her motto of cooking outside the box.
Greg Wade with Rachel Holtzman, W. W. Norton & Company, $42,
Greg Wade is always thinking about bread — how to make and make it better. He’s a “bread head,” after all, someone who produces bread for the Chicagoland area and surrounded himself with other bread heads at Girl and the Goat and Paul Kahan’s One Off Hospitality.
With his focus on local grains and farmers, the James Beard award-winning baker wrote Bread Head to offer a resource to the pandemic bread makers’ questions. It’s a guide on the process and how to “connect with bread baking on an intuitive level.” Wade helps explain the what, why, and after of the baking process. Mistakes are in encouraged — you’ll be another step closer to becoming a bread head, yourself.
Vishwesh Bhatt, W. W. Norton & Company, $35,
Vishwesh Bhatt is an immigrant, a son of immigrants, and a Southern chef — and I Am Here is his story. The cookbook is filled with recipes that demonstrate how a modern Southern pantry parallels the ingredients of his mother’s. With influences of his childhood in India, Bhatt’s food is his interpretation of eating in the South. From dirty rice grits that pair with redfish to peanut masala-stuffed baby eggplant as main or side dish, Bhatt will give you a look at what it means to be a Southern chef who has made the American South his home.
Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, Lester Walker with Osayi Endolyn, Artisan Publishers, $37,
Ghetto Gastro reframes the idea of ghetto as a reclamation of everything good in the Black community. The collective, started in the fashion world and then began popping up in cookware lines, details this manifesto in its first cookbook, Black Power Kitchen. An awakening and celebration of Black culture and food, the book features 75 mostly plant-based recipes, more than 150 photographs and contributions that inspire discussions of race, history, inclusion, and the freedom and power that is served with food. Waves of crunch, heat, flavor, and umami come through with coconut ice cream inspired by childhood memories, watermelon granita with the colors of the Pan-African flag symbolic of Black liberation, and more.
Chris Scott with Sarah Zorn, Chronicle Books, $33,
From the day Chris Scott was born, he was introduced to Amish food, despite the lack of intersection between the Black and Amish communities in his hometown of Coatesville. The dishes created in Nana’s kitchen were an extension of Amish influence. In his culinary journey, Scott found Black pantries resembled Amish ones — “they came up with the same things.”
In this tribute to the ones who came before him, Scott invites you to learn his family’s story — one that spans seven generations stretching from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Brooklyn and beyond. Recipes of yam molasses, neck bone dumplings, and Aunt Sara Mae’s buttermilk cake shine a light “on a cuisine that embodies the passage between slavery and present day.”
Heifa Odeh, Page Street Publishing, $22,
Heifa Odeh is a proud Palestinian. She did not grow up in her parents’ home country, where generosity is served as often as the bread made on the taboon in each meal. But her summers were filled with hugs, kisses, and plates of musakhan and dajaj mahshi bil freekeh shared among family in Palestine. That pride for her heritage bloomed with her parents’ cooking — diwali and qalayet bandura were household staples. To shine a light on Palestine’s resilience, Odeh’s cookbook shares her roots with dishes inspired by Palestinian flavors along with family recipes passed down for generations.
Ben Mervis, Phaidon Press, $51,
Ready for a culinary tour of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland? Author and food historian Ben Mervis is your guide answering your questions on British cooking. The massive red book contains a collection of 550 deeply researched recipes. You’ll learn about classics like shepherd’s pie, lesser-known dishes like Dublin Bay prawns, British histories like haggis, and icons like curry goat. Notes provide guide through ingredients and techniques while thorough descriptions of dishes share their origins.
Ariel Fox, Kingston Imperial, $33,
Hell’s Kitchen champ Ariel Fox has 100 recipes for you — chef Gordon Ramsay-approved. She offers a wellness-oriented approach to Latin and Caribbean cuisine from arepas with jackfruit “carnitas” to breakfast salsa, while still celebrating the bold and varied flavors and textures of the original cuisines. Maximize your pantry and adapt dishes to fit your diet with Fox’s tips.
Camille Wilson, Chronicle Books, $19,
You don’t need alcohol to have a good time, especially when you’re armed with Camille Wilson’s collection of 40 zero-alcohol recipes. She’s got spirit-free cocktails, sparkling drinks, three-ingredients or less concoctions, holiday creations, and sophisticated sips. Unwind with a Faux Swizzle, party with pitchers of Life’s a Peach, or raise a glass of Be My Honey.


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