Don’t get us wrong. There are all manner of crap cookbooks out there. There are more than ever before but also more really, really good ones. Books that do what books do best: lush photography, gorgeous layout, fluffy padded or fabric covers (for serious, some of these books you just want to cuddle with). These are serious bricks of books, and some with price tags to match, but that makes them perfect for gifting (or for treating yo’self).
A Roundup of Recent Offerings
Herewith, our choices to help you wade through the aisles of new and recent cookbooks:
Fuck, That’s Delicious
An Annotated Guide to Eating Well
Action Bronson with Rachel Warton
Harry N. Abrams, $27.50
This book, let’s say inspired by Queens’s based rapper/culinary school-dropout Action Bronson’s TV show (because it’s very different), is fucking awesome. Formatted into a list of 100 items Bronson thinks are bomb is as Mario Batali put it, “A map to the inside of Bronson’s brain.” It’s a scary and fascinating place paved with THC and melted cheese.
Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu
Clarkson Potter, $35
Another multimedia food entry, Cherry Bombe is a website, magazine, and podcast, and now a very good cookbook full of more than 100 recipes contributed by women on the food scene. It’s dedicated to April Bloomfield, which we like to think is kind of like Hunter S. Thompson dedicating Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Bob Dylan for “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
Anthony Bourdain with Laurie Woolever
Harper Collins, $37.50
Speaking of Hunter S. Thompson, this book barrows his in-house artist Ralph Steadman for its design, which is appropriate, since Bourdain is certainly heir to a certain aspect of Mr. Thompson’s legacy. (After all, if HST were alive today he’d probably, like Bourdain and Bronson, have a food show.) is there much more we need to say about this book? It’s basically Bourdain’s first cookbook since the Led Halles Cookbook, but it’s the kind of shit he cooks at home with his daughter while teaching her the proper way to smash a garlic clove with a knife edge.
The Nomad Cookbook
Daniel Humm and Will Guidara
Ten Speed Press, $100
You’ll know Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad. But this is no ordinary superstar chef endeavor. The book is designed like a book safe from back in the day. Which is weighs about 500 lbs. But hidden in the pages in a cutout is a second book of cocktail recipes. It’s like having a speakeasy in your book.
Making Dinner at Fish & Game
University of Texas Press, $50
Remember when Zak Pelaccio walked among you, making food at Fatty Crab and Fatty Cue, but then he transcended to a higher plane. Possibly driven mad by the ego, hubris and insanity of trying to run restaurants in NYC, Pelaccio retreated to the wilds of Hudson, NY. That’s one story. or you can call Hudson the new Brooklyn. Either way, fuck, his food was/is delicious. You can buy this book and dream that you could cook his way by following his direction. And you’ll come close—for a mere mortal.
The Del Posto Cookbook
Mark Ladner with Michael Wilson
Mark Ladner set out to create a real cookbook. So many of the chef-driven books you see are little more than vanity projects there to display at the entrance of the chef’s restaurants, more thumbed through by hostesses than actual cooks. The Del Posto Cookbook is full of lengthy, extremely detailed recipes, the sort a chef might see in an academic book in culinary school. Unlike those texts this book is full of lush photography that recalls Caravaggio.
A New Way With Vegetables
Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg
Workman Publishing, $35
Joshua McFadden is what happens what you start at Lupa, Momofuku, and Blue Hill, detour through coastal Maine and end up in Portland. That might sound like a dig, but it’s not. This book has got a ton of recipes (more than 200) that are easy to follow, and answer the question you might often have when you come back from the farmers market: What the fuck do I do with this? It also takes a fresh approach, breaking the growing seasons down into their more nuanced parts, the way a farmer/chef paying careful attention would.
Artisanal Recipes for Brightening Dishes and Drinks with Homemade Vinegars
Clarkson Potter, $35
Harry Rosenblum is a co-founder of the Meat Hook and owner of the Brooklyn Kitchen, and he’s created a wonderful cookbook focused on a single ingredient that you need in your kitchen. In western kitchens the ingredient is way too often overlooked—for it adds nuance and elevates your cooking past the point of “I made something hot” to real craft. Whether you spill some of the liquid from the cornichons in the back of your fridge into the pan or use the recipe in this book to make your own, this is an indispensable guide to slinging the zing.
And for Dessert…
Recipes and techniques for making great cocktails, anywhere
W&P Design, $20
If there’s anything there is more of than cookbooks over the past year or two, it’s cocktail books. Bookstore shelves are heavy with (many worthy) faux-leather-bound barman’s takes on classic cocktails and pre-prohibition recipe revivals. That’s why Road Soda, an entirely new take on cocktailing is so refreshing. It harkens back to the days of travel-cocktail kits, but is a thoroughly modern take on making the most of any drinking situation. Fancier than a flask (but not fussy), and chock full of ingredients you can pull together from a rest-stop and a motel lobby, it’s one to throw in the glovebox.
The Book and Special Edition Cocktail Canteen
This is the ultimate tool set for on-the-go cocktailing (including the Road Soda book). It’s like what Don Draper would bring with him on a backpacking trip. Everything someone would need to become an unstoppable roving cocktail-making machine.