In our humble opinion, you can never have too many cookbooks. Not only do they teach you how to master a new cuisine or cooking style, many of them dive deep into the culture and techniques behind your favorite dishes. Of course, not all cookbooks are great. Sometimes the instructions aren’t clear or the recipes aren’t quite right, and it takes a couple of failed dishes to finally figure that out.
But tons of cookbooks these days are true masterpieces. There were so many great ones that came out this year, so we combed through a lot of them, tested some recipes, and found volumes with the most beautiful photography and clearest cooking instructions we could find. Whether you want to eat more vegan meals this year or master your favorite Japanese dishes, these 10 cookbooks are the best new releases from 2018.
‘I Am A Filipino: And This is How We Cook’
Nicole Ponseca was always able to find authentic Filipino food. But all of the cafeteria-style eateries back then were super casual — no one was elevating the cuisine’s bright, bold flavors in fancy restaurants or putting a modern spin on classic dishes. So she, along with chef Miguel Trinidad, decided to do something about it by opening Maharlika and Jeepney in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. Their new book, I Am A Filipino: And This is How We Cook, celebrates this journey with recipes from their restaurants, stories about the towns and regions where specific dishes originated, and lessons about Filipino culture and how food plays such a big role. Adobo fans (aren’t we all?) can get their fix with a classic pork and chicken recipe, Adobong Puti (white adobo with duck), Adobong Pula Achuete (red adobo with lamb shanks and annatto), and more. There is a chapter on warming soups and stews and one to highlight veggies both raw and cooked — think flavorful recipes like Pinakbet Tagalog (simmered vegetables with shrimp paste). Piaparan Manok (chicken wing stew with ginger, scallions, and chiles) highlights coconut and spice while Dampa Fry Na Escabeche (whole fried fish with sweet-and-sour sauce) is the perfect party dish to impress a crowd. Complete your journey by mastering Halo-Halo, the famous shaved ice sundae that includes ingredients like coconut jelly, sweet red beans, and ube ice cream.
‘Cooking South of the Clouds: Recipes and Stories From China’s Yunnan Province’
If you’re not familiar with how diverse Chinese cuisine actually is, Yunnan province is a great example of the unique flavor profiles and ingredients present with each region. Yunnan province stretches from the Himalayan plateau to the subtropics, so it’s home to thousands of plant and animal species, along with 24 Chinese minority groups. Basically, it’s one of the most geographically, ethnically, and biologically diverse regions in the country (and probably the world). Food and travel journalist Georgia Freedman brings Yunnan’s vibrant culture and cuisine to life in her new book Cooking South of the Clouds: Recipes and Stories From China’s Yunnan Province. These aren’t the kind of dishes you’ll find in your hometown Chinese restaurant. Crossing the Bridge Rice Noodles — which are said to be the city of Mengzi’s most famous dish — are made by cooking roast pork, ham, chicken, and noodles in a rich, meaty broth. A spiced chicken grilled in banana leaves will give you a taste of the province’s hotter regions. Babao-Style Duck Stewed in Beer shows how food made on the eastern edge of the province resembles dishes from neighboring Guizhou with ingredients like oyster sauce and Shaoxing cooking wine. Along with recipes, Cooking South of the Clouds includes profiles of local cooks, artisans, and farmers, as well as stunning photography that will transport you from your kitchen to Yunnan.
‘Honey Salt: A Culinary Scrapbook’
Named after their farm-to-table Las Vegas restaurant, Honey Salt: A Culinary Scrapbook is so much more than a cookbook. Think of it as a vast food journey from restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and chef Kim Canteenwalla, who not only share recipes from the restaurant but also the inspirations from their journeys around the world. A clamming adventure in Cape Cod schools the reader on the different types of mollusks and yields a delicious linguine & clams recipe. A trip to Italy inspired dishes like porchetta and panettone bread pudding. Both Blau and Canteenwalla have their own chapters to highlight their favorite recipes, and there is even a section for their son Cole that includes kid-friendly treats like buttermilk fried chicken fingers and a ridiculously good chocolate chip cookie recipe. Honey Salt also groups recipes into occasions, so you can plan the perfect brunch (such as a veggie frittata and smoked salmon scrambled eggs) or a festive Sunday barbecue with dishes like shrimp tacos and roasted cauliflower with kale and pine nuts. The “Behind the Bar” chapter offers recipes for easy cocktails to please a crowd.
Boqueria has been serving authentic Spanish tapas to New Yorkers for a decade. This year, the team decided to celebrate their 10th anniversary by opening a fifth restaurant and releasing the namesake cookbook, Boqueria. Each mouthwatering recipe evokes the lively flavor of the restaurants, which transport the diner straight to Barcelona with their energy and flavors. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to “The Classics,” so you can learn to master favorites like Pan Con Tomate and Croquetas de Jamon Iberico. Bright salad shine in their own section, and you’ll find recipes for Tortilla Espanola (potato and onion omelet) and Huevos con Pisto (eggs baked in sauteed summer vegetables) in the “Eggs” chapter. The vegetable dishes at Boqueria are some of our favorites, so we’re all about the recipes for Calabaza con Sobrasada (roasted acorn squash with crumbled pork sausage) and Lentejas Estofadas con Pimenton (braised lentils with smoked paprika dressing). Of course, there are three delicious paella recipes, and plenty of seafood options like Suquet de Pescadores (monkfish, shrimp, and clam stew) and Raya a la Plancha (seared skate wings). One of our favorite dishes in the book is a simple grilled steak that’s topped with Mojo Verde, a garlicky, herbal sauce you’ll want to eat by the spoonful. Wash it all down with one of the book’s refreshing Sangria recipes.
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi is a cookbook pro. In the last decade, he’s published six that highlight the flavors of his Israeli roots and London restaurants, from the fundamental Ottolenghi to vegetable-focused Plenty. Now he’s back with his latest title, Ottolenghi Simple, to show that memorable dishes don’t have to be difficult to make. All 130 recipes are meant to take 30 minutes or less, and many of them call for fewer than 10 ingredients. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to brunch, so you can start your day with dishes like Harissa and Manchego Omelets or Pea, Za’atar, and Feta Fritters. Raw vegetables and cooked vegetables each get their own chapters, and in true Ottolenghi style, they’re as thoughtful as any meat dish. We’re most excited about Tomatoes with Sumac Shallots and Pine Nuts; Pumpkin, Saffron, and Orange Soup; and Roasted Eggplant with Anchovies and Oregano. The “Rice, Grains, and Pulses” chapter features hearty dishes like Bulgur with Mushrooms and Feta, and “Noodles and Pasta” gives familiar shapes exotic makeovers (like Pappardelle with Rose Harissa, Black Olives, and Capers). There are plenty of protein options, too, whether you’re prepping for a party or simply preparing a weeknight meal. Lamb and Feta Meatballs are a must-try, and Trout Tartare with Browned Butter and Pistachios is a gorgeous dish that takes less effort than you think. Save room for beautiful desserts like Vanilla Custard with Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb, and Honey and Yogurt cheesecake.
‘Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan’
It’s never a bad thing to eat a little less meat, especially when there are so many great alternatives on the market these days. Chef Chloe Coscarelli is the vegan queen, and she proves that cooking without animal products can be zesty and exciting in her latest cookbook, Chloe Flavor. Coscarelli became a vegan when bland veggie burgers ruled the frozen aisle, but she was determined to cook bright, flavorful, plant-based food that everyone would love. Her latest book is a testament to her success — every recipe is colorful, boldly flavored, and simple to make. Filling salads like the Fiesta Taco Bowl and Rainbow Quinoa Salad will help replace your sad desk lunch. Butternut Mac with Smokey Shiitake Bacon and Firehouse Chili with Cornbread Muffins are comfort foods of the highest order. The dessert section will make you wonder why you ever needed to bake with milk and eggs at all. Cookie Dough Truffles and Raspberry Shortbread Bars will make you believe in the power of vegan sweets. For anyone who is trying to make the transition to a more plant-based diet, Chloe Flavor is your new bible.
‘Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers‘
Leftovers aren’t often considered luxurious, but author Julia Turshen is here to change that misconception with her latest cookbook Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers. Turshen has a writing style that will make even the most amateur cook feel comfortable in the kitchen, which makes this book perfect for all skill levels. It’s first divided into sections by season, and then recipes are placed into a menu like “No Stress Thanksgiving” and “Simple Backpack Picnic Lunch.” Tursen lays out the meal plan before diving into each recipe, so you know what you can prep ahead of time and what needs to be cooked right before serving. After each set of recipes, she offers suggestions for how to turn the leftovers from your meal into a few fresh dishes that will feel good as new. For example, leftovers from Garlicky Shrimp with Tequila and Lime are transformed into Shrimp and Kimchi Pancakes the next day. Oven-Steamed Fish with Crispy Garlic and Red Chile Oil (from a menu titled “A Not-Kosher Jewish Christmas”) becomes a satisfying meal of Fish and Crispy Garlic Fried Rice. Grandma’s Cucumber Salad is blended into something brand new: a Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup to battle even the hottest summer day. The book concludes with “Seven Lists,” which are super helpful suggestions based on a theme. For example, “Seven Things to Do With Cooked Rice” transforms the pillowy grains into Avocado Hand Rolls and Brown Sugar Rice Pudding. “Seven Things to Bring When You’re Invited to Dinner” forgoes the standard bottle of vino and opts for gifts like good olive oil and granola and freshly squeezed orange juice, an offering that ensures your host will have a solid breakfast the next day.
‘Feast: Food of the Islamic World’
It would be trite to say that Feast: Food of the Islamic World is simply a cookbook. Anissa Helou’s 529-page tome is more like an encyclopedia of food and culture with some 300 recipes, history lessons, and ethnic narratives that will open your eyes to the rich, diverse cuisine of the Islamic world. Her collection of recipes spans west from Morocco and Senegal, travels across the Middle East, and reaches the eastern corners of Islam in India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The chapter on bread could be a book alone and covers 87 pages — which makes sense considering that bread is so essential to Islamic cooking, God is asked for forgiveness if a piece falls to the floor. Inside you’ll find everything from classic pita bread to Moroccan Pigeon Pie to Savory Pancakes (called Chila) from Zanzibar. “The Whole Beast” focuses on whole animal cooking to celebrate holidays like Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of Ramadan, but you’ll find simpler meaty preparations if you don’t have the space or stomach for the former. Expect dishes like Chicken Satay from Indonesia, Grilled Lamb’s Liver from Morocco, and Meatballs in Sour Cherry Sauce from Syria to fill your kitchen with rich, nutty, spiced aromas. “Rice, Grains, Pasta & Legumes” offers hearty, flavorful meals like Slow-Cooked Biryani from India, and a Baked Rice Cake with Lamb from Iran that would be the gorgeous centerpiece of any dinner party. There’s a chapter dedicated to fish and another to teach you all about spice mixtures and spice pastes. “Fresh Produce” is full of veggie delights like Tabbouleh and Turkish Eggplant in Tomato Sauce. The book wouldn’t be complete without “A Sweet Tooth,” which includes some well-known pastries like Baklava alongside those that are bound to become new favorites like Malaysian Pandan Balls.
Estela exudes a cool, understated elegance that so many New York City restaurants strive for and fail to achieve. Maybe it’s the relaxed atmosphere, impeccable service, and outstanding menu. Or perhaps it’s the chance to see people like the Obamas or Clintons dining next to you. Whatever the draw, chef Ignacio Mattos captures it perfectly in his debut cookbook Estela. Co-written by Gabe Ulla with beautiful photography from Marcus Nilsson, the book brings the downtown Manhattan restaurant to life in one vibrant volume. Estela’s cuisine is influenced from Mattos’ travels around the world, and you’ll find techniques and flavor profiles from places like California, Spain, South America, and Italy throughout the book. Each of the 100 recipes is elegant, but nothing is overly precious or difficult, which makes this the perfect book for an intermediate home cook who doesn’t have the patience for too much fuss. Estela favorites like Lamb Ribs with Chermoula and Honey and Endive Salad with Walnuts and Ubriaco Rosso will impress even the most discerning dinner guest. Ricotta Dumplings with Mushrooms and Pecorino Sardo take some extra effort but are well worth the delicious outcome.
‘Japan: The Cookbook’
Japanese cuisine isn’t particularly spicy, and it doesn’t often look complicated on the outside. But the precision, care, and tradition that goes into Japanese cooking is what makes it so special. One slurp of a ramen broth that’s been cooking for days or a bite of perfectly fresh sushi will let your palate know immediately that you’re tucking into some special. Nancy Singleton Hachisu captures the cuisine beautifully in her new bamboo-bound book Japan: The Cookbook. Though Singleton Hachisu was born in California, she’s spent the last 30 years living on an organic farm in Japan and traveling the country researching its native cuisine. The book is divided into 15 chapters by course and features 400 recipes to help you dive deeper into the country’s foodways. She looks back at the history of the cuisine (the first recipe for tofu was printed in 1183!) to help break it down and make it easier for home cooks to master. There’s an entire chapter on pickles, and the section on soups explores everything from a simple Miso Soup with Poached Egg to rich ramen. You’ll find proper techniques for tempura and teppanyaki, as well as one-pot meals that highlight only the freshest ingredients. Gorgeous photos accompany the recipes to make this cookbook a true keepsake.
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