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Off the Shelf: Books I'm Excited About
I'm eager to dig into this stack of cookbooks, some new, some favorites, some soon-to-be.
I came back from Paris to find a stack of cookbooks at my doorstep — some I’d bought and had mailed to me while I was away; some were sent to me by friends and some by publishers. Some are blockbusters you’ve been hearing about; some might be new to you, and a few are previews of books that will be out soon, but that can be preordered now. It’s a delightful mishmash and in no way comprehensive — it’s just what’s piled up in my kitchen — but I wanted you to hear about them before we’re all onto the great fall cookbook rush.
I'd love to know what you're loving and what books you're looking forward to. Share! Share! Please!
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From Paris With Love
VOILÀ VEGAN by Amanda Bankert
The fabulous Amanda Bankert did the unthinkable: She created Boneshaker, a wildly successful American pastry shop in Paris, but didn’t blast out the news in 2020 that she’d changed all of the recipes everyone adored to be entirely plant-based. All those puffy donuts filled with fruit and cream and surprises — vegan. The brownies, the cakes, the desserts, the candies, even the macarons, that most Parisian of pastries — vegan. And now she’s collected her recipes in VOILÀ VEGAN. The writing is great, the photographs by Joann Pai are terrific and I love the illustrations by Jessie Kanelos Weiner.
Amanda and I will be talking about her book on September 12 at Archestratus Bookstore in Brooklyn. It’ll be great — and there’ll be cookies. Come!
THE FRENCH INGREDIENT by Jane Bertch
I’m counting the days until THE FRENCH INGREDIENT comes into the world (April 2024)! As many of you know, my friend Jane Bertch is the founder of La Cuisine Paris, the most popular cooking school in Paris. She’s also a terrific writer — it’s a happy day when I get an email from Jane or when her newsletter arrives; a great storyteller; a sharp observer of Parisian life; a woman who’ll take you up on any challenge from running a marathon to yes, writing this memoir. Jane’s got close to 20 years’ worth of stories about her life as an American in Paris and I want to hear all of them. I hope she’s included the story about the too-short stove. So far, all we’ve got is this charming cover — another wonderful illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner.
JACQUELINE IN PARIS by Ann Mah
This is not a new book and you’ve heard me talk about JACQUELINE IN PARIS before, but I’m mentioning it again because I love this novel and I’m happy to see that it will be out in paperback in September. I’ve read it twice and I know I’ll read it again. Written by my friend, Ann Mah — you might now her from THE LOST VINTAGE and MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING — it’s based on the story of the young Jacqueline Bouvier’s year as a student in Paris in 1949, when France was still struggling to recover from World War II. The story captures the city at that time, the challenges the Parisians faced and the determination, spirit and charm of the 20-year-old Mademoiselle Bouvier, who would later become Jackie Kennedy. Ann tells the story beautifully.
From Marseille with Love
TASTE THE WORLD IN MARSEILLE by Vérane Frédiani
When I was in Marseille in June, I got to have dinner with Vérane Frédiani, the author of TASTE THE WORLD IN MARSEILLE (which debuts in October), and Alexis Steinman, who translated the book — thank you Stephen Davis for arranging this. (By the best and sweetest kind of coincidence, Michael and I had taken an all-day tour of the city with Alexis — it was one of the great highlights of our travels through the south of France.) Alexis is an ex-pat, Vérane a Marseille native in love with every corner of her city and, most especially, the people who make the city vibrant and as different from Paris as a sole meunière in a multi-starred restaurant is from the sardines that the fishermen hawk along Marseille’s crowded port. While Marseille is a cookbook — my friend Clo Davis made the roasted cauliflower crusted with olives, capers and feta from the book a couple of weeks ago (we both had the French version, which came out this spring) — it is also the stories of the people who make the city such an extraordinary place for food lovers. It’s a beautiful snapshot of the city’s rich mix of cultures and cuisines.
Eat Your Vegetables and Love Them
TENDERHEART by Hetty McKinnon
Full disclosure: I love Hetty McKinnon. I love her as a person. I love her as a writer (if you’re not subscribed to her newsletter, you should be!). I love her recipes for NYT Cooking. I love her recipes and stories in TO ASIA, WITH LOVE And I’m so very in love with her new book, TENDERHEART: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Bonds. It’s beautiful in every way: the recipes are hallmark Hetty — you want to make each one immediately; the photographs, which Hetty took, are warm and inviting; and the design is thoughtful and lovely. And then there’s the writing and the story. The book is a deeply moving memoir, a look into her childhood and a love letter to her father, whom she lost when she was just 15. Hetty is a treasure, and this book is glorious. If you’d like to hear Hetty talk about her book, listen to her on podcasts from Cherry Bombe, Splendid Table, Everything Cookbooks and Taste.
SIMPLY TOMATO by Martha Holmberg
To quote Molly Stevens, of the podcast Everything Cookbooks, and the author of books I consider bibles: Martha Holmberg’s gone deep and broad in this book. It’s one of the joys of a single-subject cookbook as she, Martha and co-host Kate Leahy discuss. SIMPLY TOMATO is the book for right now, when farmstands and maybe your own garden have bushels of gorgeous tomatoes, but it’s also the book for the rest of the year, because Martha includes recipes that use canned tomatoes as well. There are recipes for tomato snacks and salads, pastas, mains, side dishes and tomato tarts. I loved the book from the start, but I loved it even when I saw that there was a chapter called Tomato Tarts and Pastries. The photos in the book were shot by Ellen Silverman (I was so lucky to have Ellen shoot my book, EVERYDAY DORIE) and they’re stunning.
Baking Books to Love
LOVE IS A PINK CAKE by Claire Ptak
Claire Ptak is a Californian by birth, but she’s lived in London for almost 20 years. While she was a pastry chef for Alice Waters and worked with Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver, most people know her as the founder of Violet Bakery and the chef who made Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding cake. I’m sure the wedding cake was terrific, but for me, the joy is having LOVE IS A PINK CAKE, the book in which Claire shares recipes for everything from blueberry muffins and vegan chocolate chip cookies to how to make caramel the English way (an easy process), from Late Summer Peach Tarte Tatin with Peach Leaf Custard (I want to dive into the pictures of this) to yes, a version of THE wedding cake, which is flavored with lemons and elderflower, finished with elderflower buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. There’s so much to love here. (If you’d like to hear Claire talk about her work and her book, catch her with Christopher Kimball on his Milk Street podcast.)
MORE THAN CAKE by Natasha Pickowicz
MORE THAN CAKE is more than a cookbook, and its author, Natasha Pickowicz, is more than a pastry chef: she’s a force for good. Natasha has found a way to use her work to create communities and to make communities stronger. The title of her book comes from a thank-you note a high school student wrote to her after she’d talked to his class about what it means to be a pastry chef. He wrote that Natasha taught him that being a pastry chef is “so much more than cake.” And so is this dreamy book. Each page sparkles with Natasha’s generosity and her joie de vivre, with her singular style and her exceedingly personal take on everything. She’s truly original. So are her recipes — wait until you see her gorgeous layer cake topped with lettuce and radicchio leaves and taste her Shoyu Peanut Cookies. Everything about this book is fresh and exciting. To get to know the fabulous Natasha a bit better, listen to her in conversation with Jessie Sheehan on the podcast, “She’s My Cherry Pie.”
MARY BERRY’S BAKING BIBLE by Mary Berry
Mary Berry, the queen of British baking and the darling of the Great British Bake Off, has revised and updated her classic, MARY BERRY’S BAKING BIBLE, and it’s a treat. There are 250 recipes for everything from familiar cakes to fancy cookies, buns, puddings, cheesecakes and a chapter on Baking for Children. The instructions are precise and straightforward, the headnotes informative and the tips useful. And there are “Americanized” measurements as well as metric weights. Truly a book for bakers.
And Wait, Did I Not Tell You About These Books?
LOVE JAPAN by Sawako Okochi, Aaron Israel and Gabriella Gershenson
If I didn’t tell you about LOVE JAPAN, by Sawako Okochi, Aaron Israel and my friend, the writer Gabriella Gershenson, I certainly meant to — it’s a one-of-a-kind. I’m going to lift a few lines from the first page to give you a little background about the couple Sawa and Aaron, who are both chefs, she from Hiroshima and he from New York. Together, they opened their Japanese-Jewish restaurant, Shalom Japan, in Brooklyn. They write: “To some, the concept may seem like a novelty, but for us, it’s a reflection of the life we built together, one in which matzoh ball ramen and lox rice bowls are as commonplace as spaghetti and meatballs are in other families.” And this is a family — not a restaurant — cookbook. Think about Veggie Deluxe Sando with Shiso Pesto, Miso-Honey Broiled Chicken or Rolled Cabbage (a standard Ashkenazi Jewish dish) in Dashi.
BUDMO! RECIPES FROM A UKRAINIAN KITCHEN by Anna Voloshyna
I met Anna at a Cherry Bombe Jubilee (I love Cherry Bombe!) and fell under her spell immediately — she is charming and elegant and so is her cookbook, BUDMO! Of course I want to make Anna’s khachapuri, the famous cheese and egg filled flatbread — actually, I want to make all of the breads. And the soup with buckwheat dumplings, that reminds me of my grandmother. And the Georgian beet and walnut spread — that color! And the roasted whole cabbage. And so much more. You will too. But before you cook from the book, please read Anna’s introduction — it tells us so much about Ukraine, its rich culture, its food and Anna. Budmo! (It’s the most popular toast in Ukraine, like “Cheers.” It can be translated to mean “let us be” — perhaps that’s the toast we all want to give.) You can listen to Anna talk about Ukraine, its food and culture here.
MAYUMU: FILIPINO AMERICAN DESSERTS REMIXED by Abi Balingit
Abi Balingit is brilliant! She is also someone who makes me smile from my heart out every time I see her. If you don’t know Abi, you’ll meet her full on in MAYUMU, and you’ll come to love her as much as I do. You may already love her because of her Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookies (here’s the recipe), which have caused such a stir, but MAYUMU is chockablock with other stir-worthy recipes, among them Lychee Madeleines with Hibiscus Tea Glaze and Dried Rose Petals, her version of the North Carolinian Atlantic Beach Pie, Pacific Beach Pie made with SkyFlakes Crackers, frozen calamansi juice and three different kinds of candied citrus, or Ube Skillet Crinkle Cookies. For some fun, listen to Abi and the remarkable Kerry Diamond chat together.
And This Just In
SHABBAT: RITUALS AND RECIPES FROM MY TABLE TO YOURS by Adeena Sussman
As I was proofreading this edition of the newsletter, there was a thud on my doorstep and SHABBAT, by the amazing Adeena Sussman landed. There is nothing that Adeena does that I don’t love — her recipes are heartwarming and foolproof. Although she lives in Tel Aviv now, she’s back and forth to her native America, often to collaborate with others on cookbooks, just as she did with Chrissy Teigen on their three NY Times Bestselling books. I’ve had the book for 20 minutes and I’ve already bookmarked a bunch of recipes, including the Halvah Berry Bread Pudding with Tahini Dressing (Michael will love it!), Sweet & Sour South African Curried Fish, Sumac-Roasted Corn Salad with Smoky Dressing, and the cover recipe, Chicken Thighs with Roasted Figs and Grapes.
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