The 14 best cookbooks of the year will make the foodie in your life a very happy cook
By Mardi Michels; Appetite by Random House; 192 pp; $29.95
Pint-sized cooks will love learning how to make impressive French classics, and Mardi Michels is uniquely qualified to instruct them. For nearly a decade, the Toronto-based French teacher has led a cooking club for boys aged 7 to 14. Michels knows what kids can cook when given the opportunity. From a classic omelette to croissants and ratatouille three ways (each accommodating different skill levels), In the French Kitchen with Kids is filled with recipes that cooks of all ages will adore.
By Nik Sharma; Chronicle Books; 288 pp; $50
In Season, acclaimed writer and photographer Nik Sharma chronicles his journey from Mumbai, India to Oakland, Calif. using cuisine as the lens. “Mine is the story of a gay immigrant, told through food,” he writes in the book’s introduction. Sharma’s distinctive photography style – instructional and inky with his food, and his hands, front and centre – and impeccable sense of flavour composition make this book a must for cookbook lovers.
Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories In her debut cookbook, Bottom of the Pot, former Vancouverite Naz Deravian invites readers to gather around her Persian table. The IACP Award-winning writer and actor interweaves alluring essays based on memories of home with more than 100 recipes. Deravian’s family left Tehran, Iran for Rome, Italy at the height of the Iranian Revolution; a few years later, they departed for their new Canadian home. Now based in L.A., Calif., she describes her cooking style as “accented food”: reflective of a life lived largely outside of Iran but with Persian home cooking at its heart.
By Yotam Ottolenghi; Appetite by Random House; 320 pp; $42
Yotam Ottolenghi is renowned for his flavourful, fresh and exciting cuisine. With Ottolenghi Simple, the London, U.K.-based chef proves that streamlined doesn’t necessitate compromise. Since the definition of “simple” can vary so widely cook-tocook, each of the 130 recipes in the book is pared-back in one or more ways. Whether you’re short on time or set on turning out a moreish meal using 10 ingredients or fewer, Ottolenghi’s brand of simplicity satisfies.
Now & Again: Go-to Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers Julia Turshen’s ode to leftovers will have you hoarding a few slices of meatloaf just so you can make her open-faced meatloaf melts the next day… and maybe the day after that (they’re that good). In Now & Again, the bestselling author demonstrates that leftovers are deserving of reinvention. Presented as seasonal menus, she provides a 125-recipe starting point interspersed with advice for spinning your leftovers to save time and resources.
Recipes from the Garden of Contentment: Yuan Mei’s Manual of Gastronomy Toronto-based research scientist Sean J.S. Chen found an unusual but extraordinarily impressive way to unwind while completing his PhD in biomedical engineering: teaching himself classical Chinese in order to translate a 225-year-old gastronomic masterwork. Recipes from the Garden of Contentment is the first English translation of the Suiyuan Shidan, a hugely influential Chinese cookbook written by famed poet Yuan Mei in the late 18th century. Thanks to Chen’s dedication to stress relief, we now have a unique glimpse into Chinese food culture with recipes for both elaborate imperial cuisine and humble dishes from the era.
Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day Award-winning British food writer Meera Sodha finds joy in cooking vegetables, and her delight is contagious. Stemming from traditional Indian home cooking, her second cookbook, Fresh India, is packed with vibrant food. Whether a showstopping dish like grand vegetable biryani (mast biryani) or an any-day snack such as chestnut mushroom and walnut samosas, Sodha’s vegetable-led recipes are always worthy of celebration.
Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts There are instructions for making soap and growing endives. Preservation techniques like smothering fresh herbs in salt and burying potatoes in sand. Advice on brewing beer from bark, roots and twigs, and baking canned bread. Recipes for Mohawk corn soup and a savoury Saint Honoré cake crowned with whitefish-filled choux swans. Suffice it to say, the latest from Joe Beef, Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts, is as singular as the Montreal institution itself. “This book is about how to build things for yourself,” Erickson writes, “about how to make it on your own.” It’s hard to imagine a more perfect book for the prepper with panache.
By Anissa Helou; Ecco; 544 pp; $75
Anissa Helou – one of the world’s authorities on the cuisines of North Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean – is just the chef to guide readers on a journey throughout the Islamic world. She conducted extensive fieldwork while writing Feast, travelling from India to Indonesia and Senegal to Zanzibar, collecting dishes along the way. Helou’s tales of continentspanning journeys, historical background and recipes ranging from multilayered Yemeni bread to Azerbaijani yogurt soup make for a captivating read and colourful cooking experience.
By Magnus Nilsson; Phaidon; 576 pp; $59.95
If the Nordic people cook or bake it using grains, it’s within the covers of Magnus Nilsson’s impressive 450-recipe tome. The chef, famous for his work at two-Michelin-starred Swedish restaurant Fäviken, refers to The Nordic Baking Book as a documentary cookbook. He set out to collect and compile recipes from the entirety of the region, as well as explain why baking remains so vital to the cuisine today. As with his previous 700-recipe book, The Nordic Cookbook (Phaidon, 2015), one of Nilsson’s main motivations was to take readers beyond iconic dishes like Swedish meatballs and gravlax, and the exemplary restaurants that defined New Nordic Cuisine. These bakes, encompassing the traditional and the contemporary, reflect what the people of the region actually make in the comfort of their own homes.
How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places This book even feels like a peach, with its invitingly fuzzy cover. Dive in, and Diana Henry will tell you the best way to enjoy one: unhurriedly dunking the slices into a glass of chilled Moscato on a summer’s night, preferably somewhere in Italy. Henry is one of the U.K.’s best-loved food writers and if you’re new to her work, this collection will explain why. In her eleventh cookbook, How to Eat a Peach, she explores the connection between food and place in 24 seasonally inspired menus and accompanying essays. From falling in love with the food of Brittany to missing New York in the winter, this beautiful book is ideal for those prone to culinary wanderlust.
By Brooks Headley; W.W. Norton & Company; 320 pp; $39.95
In his second cookbook, James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Brooks Headley shares the secrets behind the tiny, allvegetarian Superiority Burger in NYC’s East Village, including the recipe for its namesake hamburger. But the sought-after menu item, which GQ named “year’s best burger” in 2015, is literally just the beginning. It’s the first recipe in the book, and it is indeed delicious, but what follows is supremely exciting food… without caveats.
Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food Changing your perspective on the bits and pieces many of us habitually throw away – stems and scales, tops and tails – can be a creative and tasty exercise. Canadian households produce a monumental amount of food waste (amounting to $17 billion nationwide each year), but doing your bit to mitigate the global issue needn’t feel like a burden. In Waste Not, the James Beard Foundation stylishly illustrates how to take your cooking in new directions using oft undervalued or ignored ingredients and innovative, achievable recipes from some of the U.S.’s best chefs.