Do you need another cookbook? Of course you do, especially when 2023 was a bumper year for food writing. We’ve picked some of our favorite and best 2023 cookbooks — writing that challenges, nourishes, as well as helps put dinner on the table. Bon appétit!
Best for the Vegetarian (or Omnivore)
By Hetty Lui McKinnon
Yes, this is a book about vegetables but it’s also a story of the author’s father – the tenderheart of the title – who rose every morning to go to Sydney’s wholesale fruit and veg market. Divided by vegetable – everything from cabbage to turnips – this is food for both the heart and soul.
By Nik Sharma
Another buy-me-now, veg-centric book is Veg-Table by one of our favorite food writers, Nik Sharma. Sharma trained as a molecular biologist and he shows as it takes a deep dive into the science of vegetables and how you can tease the most flavor from them. Not only are the recipes stellar (try his Acorn Squash, Kale, and Chilli Miso Sauce recipe), but Sharma also does the sumptuous photography himself. Worthy of a place on your bookshelf.
By Ravinder Bhogal
Born in Kenya to Indian parents, Bhogal is chef/owner of Jikoni in London’s Marylebone. In this, her second cookbook, she turns her eye to vegan and vegetarian fare, taking vegetables from side dishes to pride of plate. Recipes like Roasted Muscat Grapes and Figs with Burrata and Bitter Leaves or Whipped Feta with Confit Tomatoes (which she shares with us here) are a riot of color and favor.
Best for the (Armchair) Traveller
By Fuchsia Dunlop
James Beard Award-winning writer Fuchsia Dunlop, was the first Westerner to train as a chef at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, and has made China her second home for over thirty years. Not a recipe book but a history of Chinese food told by dish – everything from deceptively simple steamed rice, to the intriguingly-named ‘Catfish Basking in Honors’ – this is the perfect book to tuck into on a cold winter’s day.
By Nasim Alikhani with Theresa Gambacorta
In Farsi, sofreh is the word for the bold, colorful table coverings that serve as a backdrop for Persian feasts. Nasim Alikhani – owner of Sofreh restaurant in Brooklyn – says it also means to ‘sit at the sofreh’ with a table heavily laden with wonderful things to eat and drink. And this, her first cookbook, is filled with just such things from Sour Cherry Rice to Saffron-Marinated Cornish Hens. Food that is as warm and welcoming as the restaurant itself.
By Homa Dashtaki
Unemployed and mourning the death of her uncle, Dashtaki started making and selling yogurt at her local farmer’s market. What she found was much more: “Yogurt forces you to slow down. It takes a long time for the milk to boil – and even longer time for the milk to cool. And in that time, everything feels better.” A beautifully written ode to Iran where she was born and a guide for readers on how to turn something as simple as milk into something as magical as yogurt.
Best for the Baker
By Nancy Silverton with Carolynn Carreño
What Nancy Silverton doesn’t know about baking – she was original pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and went on to open and run La Brea Bakery – can be measured in teaspoons. Now she’s taken a deep dive into how to create the best of everything baked, from the ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie (the holy grail of the title), to Key Lime Pie.
By Erika Council
If it’s biscuits you’re baking, then Still We Rise is the bible. Council – chef/owner of the Bomb Biscuit Co. in Atlanta, named by the New York Times as one of the top 50 restaurants in the U.S. – knows a thing or two about biscuits. The recipes are as Council says ‘a love letter to the Southern biscuit’. It’s a letter we’d gladly receive. Check out Erika’s recipe for Pull-Apart Biscuits to get a taste.
Best for the Curious Cook
By Niki Segnit
Sorrel? It’s lovely paired with eggs, cheese, gooseberries and leeks not to mention white beans and of course spinach. How do we know? Because Niki Segnit’s latest is full of plant-led pairings of foods like sorrel, with recipes and ideas for cooks. Not a traditional cookbook but all the better for it. She’s created a color wheel of flavors from ‘sweet woody’ to ‘sour fruity’, then tells you what foods fall in each category, and what they pair with well. The writing is sublime and whether you read it from cover-to-cover or dip in and out, you’re sure to be inspired.
By Bee Wilson
The secret to cooking isn’t equipment or even ingredients, it’s the cook. Wilson gently takes the reader-cook in hand to share what’s she has learned, including sage advice such as thinking of time in the kitchen as an ingredient, followed by a host of ‘universal cooking sauces’ that can be made and stashed in the fridge or freezer. A book that will transform not only how you cook, but how you think about cooking itself. Try her Magic Pasta recipe to see for yourself.
By Sohla El-Waylly
Cooking with confidence is what Start Here is all about whether you’re after the perfect poached egg, puffy pitas, or pot of steamed rice. We love the ‘What the Hell Happened’ so you can find out why your shortbread was less than stellar. Lots of good recipes to test your new found skills with like Chili-Blistered Egg over Brothy Beans or Creamy Lemon Squares with Brown Butter Crust.
Story by Julia Platt Leonard
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