Best Cookbooks June 2016

Best Cookbooks June 2016

As befits any best cookbooks list, there was quite a lot of hooting and hollering happening as we cooked our way through these latest and greatest releases. So much so that we sorta feel like cookbook groupies given how shamelessly we gush about the books below. Our rather eccentric set list includes approachable artisanal fare out of Brooklyn. Easy everyday things that taste so mind-bogglingly lovely most folks don’t even realize they’re healthful. Vegan ice cream that doesn’t make you weep for the real deal. And did someone say “naked”?! Your admission is the time it takes you to peruse the below—and, natch, the price of the book, although in each instance below, given the hours of entertaining you’ll experience, it’s a bargain. Don’t forget, there’s also no ridiculously outrageous Ticketmaster fees when you’re our kind of groupie.—Renee Schettler Rossi, Editor in Chief


Summer Berries and Autumn Fruits CookbookThose familiar with the recipes of Annie Rigg, if you haven’t already heard, Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits: 120 Sensational, Sweet & Savory Recipes is her latest collection of kitchen inspirations. That alone ought to be sufficient recommendation to head straight to your local bookseller and grab your copy. Those not yet familiar with Annie Rigg, you’re going to want to be acquainted with her. She’s a British cook with a lovely touch that extends not just to her recipes but to her casual writing style as well as the stunning food styling and photography that grace the pages of her most recent book. The theme is pretty self explanatory, although kindly note that, despite being omitted from the title, winter and spring are also duly addressed. These are out-of-the-ordinary inspirations for what to do with seemingly ordinary ingredients. Quite frankly, these are not everyday recipes. Sticky Spiced Pork Belly and Watermelon. Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder With Orange. Roasted Plum Sorbet. Streuselkuchen. But they are the sort of recipes that remind you to go out of your way to make the everyday special once in a while.—Renee Schettler Rossi, Editor in Chief


The Mediterranean Table CookbookWe’ve all heard the hubbub about how the Mediterranean diet makes us healthier and happier and all-together fabulous-er. I can count seven Mediterranean cookbooks on my bookshelf and I really didn’t think another one could flip my flapjacks. I was mistaken. The Mediterranean Table: Simple Recipes For Healthy Living on the Mediterranean Diet takes a different approach than the others. It’s not just a cookbook, it’s a story about a way of life, with reasons why certain foods are prepared in the manner in which they are and why they’re eaten when they are. The science behind this way of eating and why it’s so beneficial is discussed in detail, yet it’s sufficiently simplified as to actually make it seem possible to pull it off, even in this donut wonderland we call the U.S. There’s Greek salad (to be expected, I know). And a Caprese salad with pesto. Spanakopita (super yum!). Chicken gyros. Lemon rice soup (a HUGE hit). Spiced beef on whole-grain flatbread (folks are still raving). I could go on.The recipes are written clearly, including prep time as well as nutrition information for those of us who may want to keep track, and not only introduce us to the Mediterranean way of eating but make it easy to sustain it. I’d rather not refer to this way of eating as a “diet” as that word has such a negative connotation. It’s just a different way to consider what we put on our plates. You can do it. Heck, I can do it. So can my husband. Although in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been making recipes from this book for a few weeks and my husband has no idea he’s even on a “diet.” The recipes are that good.—Diana Fijalkowski, Editorial Intern


Brooklyn Rustic CookbookBrooklyn foodways have always been about the merging of cultures. Bryan Calvert’s Brooklyn Rustic: Simple Food for Sophisticated Palates  is true to this spirit with his manner of melding old world sensibilities with contemporary pantries. What results is sophisticated, intriguing, approachable fare. A golden beet broth is a clever nod to the traditional Russian borscht of nearby Brighton Beach while corncob soup with pickled corn embodies an immigrant’s resourcefulness. The book progresses in six parts. “Vegetables” is the largest. In “Cocktails,” I happily discovered a boozy love note to my beloved childhood Brooklyn egg cream. There are also recipes for vinaigrettes, sauces, and broths as well as an easy yet ingenius way to grill asparagus. As befits a Brooklyn chef with a fondness for literature, Calvert inspires introspection with essays and musings from author Wendell Berry as well as the poet Rumi, clearly a message to readers to share what they create with love. This is a book many will find indispensable in their continually evolving journey to eat simply and creatively. —Jo Ann Brown, Recipe Tester


The Naked CookbookMy inner-Californian started turning cartwheels as I flipped through The Naked Cookbook. The premise behind the book is recipes that are stripped down so as to truly nourish your body. ( My hubby was a bit disappointed that it featured only naked food .)  Although clean eating cookbooks seem to be the flavor of the month, Tess Ward sets herself apart with simple, unfussy recipes with a West Coast sort of flair. For anyone looking to add some healthy and delicious recipes to their arsenal, this is a fantastic place to start. Ward takes the time to explain why each recipe is beneficial and also provides a section on how specific ingredients help support health. Although the rest of my people didn’t inherit my love-of-clean-eating gene, with recipes like Molasses and Ginger Porkballs with Bok Choy, Ribboned Kale and Nectarine Salad, and Plum and Amaretto Sorbet, this is definitely a place where we can find some common ground.—Angie Zoobkoff, Editorial Intern


N'Ice Cream CookbookIf your family is anything like mine, planning the menu for a summer barbecue can be a minefield. One person (me) is lactose intolerant, some are vegan, others don’t eat refined sugar, and, well, just about everyone has some sort of food taboo. Enter N’Ice Cream: 80+ Recipes for Healthy Homemade Vegan Ice Creams by Virpi Mikkonen and Tuulia Talvio. Problem solved. These creative recipes for “ice cream,” ice pops, and milkshakes require only a handful of easy-to-find ingredients and no special equipment (an ice cream maker is handy but not necessary). The creations offer a wide variety of vegan bases, including nuts, coconut milk, avocado, and banana and are modestly enhanced with natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup or dates. The authors offer a multitude of tips on how to tweak the sweetness (and richness) to your taste. Among our favorites? Blueberry Pie Ice Pops feature an unexpected hint of cardamom. Coconut Stracciatella Ice Cream is a dreamy cloud of cashew cream and dark chocolate. Strawberry “Froyo” is simplicity itself. And my five-year-old niece was delighted by the stained-glass effect of strawberries, blueberries and kiwis suspended in Coconut Water Coolers. While you can’t expect vegan ice creams to taste just like the dairy model, they can be just as lovely—and for everybody.—Suzanne Fortier, Recipe Tester

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