Best Cookbooks March 2016


Ah, spring. Those weeks when the weather vacillates so wildly one day you’re huddled over a bowl of chili and the next you’re contemplating what to do with snow pea shoots. We understand. And we chose our best cookbooks for this month accordingly, ensuring that there’s something to satisfy your every climate-induced food craving.—Renee Schettler Rossi, Editor in Chief


The Love & Lemons CookbookThere are a bazillion food blogs these days, so finding one that’s unique and different than any other is really something to write about. In the case of The Love & Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking by Jeanine Donofrio, it was something to write a cookbook about. The pages practically overflow with vegetarian recipes organized not by course but by main ingredient. Donofrio calls it “cooking backwards,” and the concept makes sense. Stumble across some stunning spring asparagus at the farmers’ market? Lucky enough to have a garden glut of eggplant and tomatoes? Find your desired vegetable in the index or simply flip through the book and you’ll find creative inspiration galore, from simple, straightforward recipes such as Brussels sprouts and red onion pizza to more elaborate dishes like butternut squash risotto and arancini (which, by the way, were both fantastic). Each recipe is accompanied by a tantalizing color photo and includes handy vegan and gluten-free variations. There’s also a super convenient section with quick and easy variations on everyday pestos, salsas, guacamole, hummus, and smoothies. While it’s a terrific resource for strict vegetarians, the book is also a really awesome collection of recipes that may get even carnivores to eat their veggies. There’s so much to love within these pages. Donofrio has made clean, healthy eating seem so simple, so enticing, and so very doable.—Diana Mencel, Social Media Intern


Florentine CookbookLet the beautiful collection of images and recipes known, quite simply, as Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence, take you on a photographic and culinary journey through the winding streets of this ancient city. You’ll stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, chance upon a secret nighttime bakery, peek through the windows of a bustling enoteche. You’ll have as destinations (and also as chapters) la pasticceria (the pastry shop), il forno (the bakery), il mercato (the market), la trattoria (the restaurant), and il maccelaio (the butcher).The corresponding recipes put to lovely and traditional use the region’s crusty bread, incredible olive oil, and local produce, and, true to Tuscan custom, nothing is left to waste. Witness the recipe for fagiolo all’olio, which is white beans traditionally cooked in the dying embers of a fire throughout the night, although here it’s adapted to the more modern method of a slow stovetop simmer (along with the admonishment to save the bean cooking liquid for use in soup or polenta). Seasonal schiacciata allu’via turns the abundant grape harvest into sweet autumnal focaccia. Cecina, or torta di ceci, elevates simple chickpea flour into a warm crêpe-like treat that can be topped with fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables. And for a truly Florentine experience (though not for the faint of heart), try the lampredotto panino, a beloved tripe sandwich sold on street corners and stalls at the mercato.—Beth Price, Recipe Testing Director


Cravings CookbookI slid Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat across the check-out desk and averted my eyes, hoping that the librarian wouldn’t say anything. “Wow, she doesn’t look like she’s a chef,” was her inevitable comment. It’s fair. Chrissy Teigen isn’t a chef. She’s a supermodel. She’s also a TV show host and sidekick, wife of singer John Legend, and the focal point of a busty cover shot—and many, many more inside—that lends another meaning to food porn. Revealing photos aside, Cravings actually contains several recipes indicating that Teigen does indeed know her way around the kitchen. Her chipotle honey chicken and balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts were seemingly conceived with weeknights in mind. Her biscuits brushed with maple cream were like eating the pillowiest of pancakes. Her pie crust crackers, well, let’s just say I intend to make them a must alongside all future puddings. And her super tuna melts brought back lunch memories of my childhood (note to self: omit the pickle relish next time). It was at times worrisome to cook from a book in which the author has so many photos with exposed skin. I mean, doesn’t she worry about oil splatters? But if this is actually how to eat like a supermodel, maybe my modeling career is off to a promising start.—Tracey Gertler, Marketing Manager


The Chili CookbookI thought I knew chili. I thought, like so many others, that all things chili were inherently American. Boy, was I wrong! My narrow view was turned on its ear in very short order by Robb Walsh’s The Chili Cookbook: A History of the One-Pot Classic, with Cook-Off Worthy Recipes from Three-Bean to Four-Alarm and Con Carne to Vegetarian. Walsh shows us that many, if not all, of our local chili concoctions began as an homage to old world traditions. Detroit and Cincinnati chili actually take a nod from the flavors of Greece thanks to immigrants attempting to recreate the flavors of their homeland and Southwestern-style chili obviously borrows from Aztec cuisine. So much more than an ordinary cookbook, The Chili Cookbook also contains lessons in history and socio-anthropology and boasts myriad spectacular approaches to chili, from Moroccan lamb tagine to modern vegetarian chili. There are celebrity recipes, like Miles Davis’ chili mac. There are also a few familiar chilis conjured from Walsh’s childhood memories as well as recipes for Short Rib Chili, Chili con Carne, some pretty convincing Vegetarian Chili, even a game-changing Homemade Chili Powder—Larry Noak, Recipe Tester


The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime CookbookReal food. That’s what I crave each time I flip through The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper!. Not my usual mâche or sweet baby white turnips or any of the other delicate darlings of chefs that I’ve come to appreciate via the Union Square Greenmarket. I’m talking breakfast quesadillas. Huevos rancheros. Freezer chili. Pot roast. Tortilla soup. Sweet potato fries. Chili dogs. Stuff with a Midwestern vibe and a Southwestern slant. Stuff that you can make everyday and that’s enticing to just about everyone in the family—and let’s face it, that’s not that easy to come by. There’s also an inescapable realism to the cookbook’s chapters, not just its recipes, starting with the manner in which it’s divvied up into practical ways in which you approach dinner, including food to freeze and thaw at the last moment, food that’s on the table in 16 minutes flat, food that’s breakfast for dinner, food that’s comforting as heck, starchy sides, and other realistic ways of seeing your pantry options. The how-to photos and beauty shots for each recipe as well as the reliable results of each recipe we’ve tried make it a godsend. Author Ree Drummond has her detractors. Say what you will about her, just not within earshot of me, because these recipes work. Spectacularly well.—Renee Schettler Rossi, Editor in Chief

Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.


Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail