I spend a good part of my summer cooking for friends and family, and am always looking for new ideas, which means it’s cookbook prime time. As someone who loves cookbooks (I used to take them to bed and read them like you would a novel) and is primarily self taught from the old greats, I still derive plenty of inspiration from the books that come out every year. Here are some of the standouts that I will be delving into all summer. Among them is Amy Pennington’s book, Urban Pantry full of clever recipes for using your kitchen to the max.
Cookbooks and Books about Food:
For new cooks and old hands in the kitchen, this book is a must-have and a must-read. Not only are the flavor combinations and recipes offered useful, but Niki Segnit’s descriptions of each and every one are delightful to read. It’s a combination between a bedtime read and a kitchen companion. The American version will be available from Bloomsbury USA in November.
Filled to the brim with lush, hearty recipes for each season, Sophie Dahl’s book is also a delightful, captivating read, sprinkled with stories about her love affair with food and the ups and downs that it entails. She tells about childhood teas in London, meals with her grandmother Gee Gee, the horrors of eating at Boarding School, becoming a model and eating around the world, a raw food stint which turned out to be surprisingly fattening, and much, much more. Her stories, and the recipes that come along with them are written with loads of charm and a great sense of humor. There are also plenty of vegetarian-friendly recipes here.
The summer season’s hippest cookbook is from Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, the dons of the old-school and hip scene in the Lower East side and Brooklyn. Their restaurants serve up laid back and delicious southern Italian meals for masses of foodies that flock to their doors. The cookbook satisfies with easy recipes that recreate the Franks’ cooking style.
The author’s extended trip to Japan took her into the home kitchens of friends living across Japan, from the big cities to small towns and fishing villages. Her book presents the rather overlooked side of Japanese cooking – home cooking for the family. Each recipe has step-by-step photographs, which make the whole process much less intimidating, and even, easy.
With so many diets, trends and food strictures being thrown at us at every step of the way, what was once a simple question, is now truly a daily riddle: What to eat? Michael Pollan breaks it down in the simplest of ways, making unexpectedly enjoyable read out of a rule book.
This book is written with an understanding for the home-chef who wants a lush tasty meal without spending hours prepping for it. This is where the cans of beans, pre-cut potatoes, the pre-washed greens, the chilli-paste, sliced chorizo, marinated anchovies and more come in. The founder of La Brea Bakery, Nancy Silverton is one of the best chefs today. The book not only includes her recipes, but those of the big-time chefs she’s worked with along the way.
Charmain Ponnutharai’s book is a compilation of notable foodies’ and chefs late night weakness recipes, ranging from cereal, to sandwiches, to spaghetti, to seafood. The book drips in charm with its midnight blue cover and simple pen and ink illustrations by Laurie Bellanca. Published in the UK, for now it’s available online with all proceeds going to the charity “Springboard for Children.”
Judith Jones is the legendary senior editor at Knopf who brought us the classic books by legendary cooks like Julia Child, Claudia Roden and James Beard, among many others. Years of wisdom acquired in the kitchen are condensed into this small volume that teaches the ever so difficult task of cooking good, real meals, for one.
Brought to you by the authors of the Silver Spoon, this gorgeous volume is full of simple summer salads, pastas, and best of all, an entire section dedicated to grilling. The layout and photographs are gorgeous, and the recipes easy to prepare for a family dinner or better, an all-day lazy summer party.