We get dozens of cookbooks each week at SAVEUR magzine, and every month we share our favorite new releases—books that, through one avenue of greatness or another, have earned a place on our over-stuffed shelves. This time, those books that piqued our interest came from all over the world—the Middle East, Myanmar, Paris, the American South—and covered a variety of recipes, from Gluten Free cooking to Palestinian mezze.
OLIVES, LEMONS & ZA’ATAR: THE BEST MIDDLE EASTERN HOME COOKING
by Rawia Bishara
I have long been a fan of Tanoreen, Rawia Bishara’s Palestinian restaurant tucked away in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where her inventive mezze, like fried Brussels sprouts drizzled with fresh tahini and pomegranate seeds and eggplant napoleons slathered in babaganoush cream, make the forty-five minute trek from Manhattan well worthwhile. So, I was thrilled when I finally got my hands on her cookbook, and the secrets behind the delectable dishes I’d eaten at her restaurant. The recipes for my favorites turned out to be shockingly easy, 5-ingredient affairs, and as I flipped through the pages of mouthwatering photographs and lovely asides about local culinary folklore and her own food memories, I also discovered simplified recipes for many Palestinian classics. For example, her recipe for Musakhan, a complicated festival dish of sumac-rubbed roast chicken served on rounds of fresh-baked taboon bread, is transformed from weekend project to weeknight meal with a simple pizza-like flatbread recipe and smart substitutions like quick sautéed boneless chicken breast. Bishara’s modern, approachable take on classic Palestinian food makes Olives, Lemons, & Za’atar a book I’m glad to have on my shelf as a source for doable, exciting dishes and tried and true favorites that I will be reaching for again and again. —Felicia Campbell
Available February 13 from Kyle Books; $29.95.
IN THE LAND OF MISFITS, PIRATES AND COOKS
by Chef Michael Bennett
It is akin to cooking and eating with a conscience. Chef Michael Bennett carefully weaves the art of cooking with the science of achieving a healthy body and sane mind. He introduced to his readers an approach in eating that has been inspired by the wisdom of the ages.
As a person who has been making the transition toward a more natural diet, I was naturally drawn to this book. Overall, I would say that it was a helpful book at inspiring readers to eat healthier. I liked the personal introduction that discussed the author’s motivation for writing the book as well. It set the tone of a book as a regular guy who has learned things about Caribbean tropically-inspired healthy cooking while discussing what it is like to travel and work throughout the Caribbean. After reading so many books from “experts”, this was a nice little break. All the Gluten Free recipes like —spiced pecans, crab beignets, silky onion dip, and my favorite, bacon and Parmesan gougères—transformed my kitchen table into a fruit laden maple Butcher’s block sideboard.
The book is just as interesting reading as it is interacting. The author has published this book with interactive QR code links that connect your directly to the Internet’s database of cookery terms and grocery websites where you can find the more rare food novelties.
This book will take you on a 1000 mile journey across the Caribbean in an innovative technological and healthy way.— FoodBrats.com
Available from FoodBrats.com; $35.95
DOWN SOUTH: BOURBON, PORK, GULF SHRIMP & SECOND HELPINGS OF EVERYTHING
by Donald Link and Paula Disbrowe
I grew up in the South, and on cold, blustery days in New York, I long for it. The Gulf Coast holds particular charms for me, and whenever I go to New Orleans a visit to one of Donald Link’s restaurants is a must. So when Link’s latest cookbook, Down South, arrived, I grabbed it off the shelf and headed to the liquor store, inviting a few friends over along the way. Oftentimes, cocktails are relegated to the back of cookbooks, ancillary to the “real” stars of the show. In Down South, however, cocktails proudly set the stage for all of the deliciousness to come. Meyer lemon French 75s were my favorite, but the punch from the famous Flora-Bama bar (whose wallop I have felt on a few youthful road trips down the coast) was the crowd pleaser at my house. Following the initial cocktail section of the book, Link takes you inside an “old-school Southern cocktail party” with dishes—spiced pecans, crab beignets, silky onion dip, and my favorite, bacon and Parmesan gougères—that transformed my Brooklyn kitchen table into a groaning Southern sideboard. The rest of the book is just as inviting, and Link’s enthusiasm for the region is palpable. Cooking from this book took me a thousand miles down south and out of the northeastern cold. —Kaylee Hammonds
Available February 25 from Clarkson Potter; $24.63
UNDER THE SHADE OF OLIVE TREES: RECIPES FROM JERUSALEM TO MARRAKECH AND BEYOND
by Nadia Zerouali & Merijn Tol
This playful romp through Arabia comes from the hosts of a Middle Eastern cooking program in the Netherlands who, through their travels, have come to see the area that stretches from the Mediterranean and North Africa to Iran, as a multicultural tapestry united by an ancient culinary history. In their latest book, Under the Shade of Olive Trees, they incorporate historic dishes such as Iraqimadfuna—a ground lamb-stuffed eggplant dish spiked with rose water that was popular in the Middle Ages—with easy, contemporary riffs on Middle Eastern cuisine, including their two-ingredient tahini-halva ice cream. Informative sidebars provide short histories of ingredients such as sumac and argan oil, along with tips on incorporating them into all manner of cooking. Nadia and Merijn’s inventive energy comes through in recipes like a modified Arabic flatbread, which uses an upside-down wok in place of the traditional rounded metal griddles used by street vendors in Lebanon. They have even included a special section in the back of the book where friends like Kamal Mouzawak, the founder of the first organic market in Lebanon, and Ingmar Neizen, an expert on African cuisine, share their favorite recipes. Though many of the recipes are basic, this book is full of surprises, my favorite of which was Niezen’s Sudanese falafel, a spicy, sesame encrusted version of the ubiquitous Middle Eastern snack served, in her version, with a tart-hot African peanut sauce. This cookbook offers a modern, innovative perspective on an amazing culinary region.—Felicia Campbell
Available March 18 from Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $31.50
LA MERE BRAZIER: THE MOTHER OF MODERN FRENCH COOKING
by Eugenie Brazier
Simple French fare is my preferred comfort food: an omelet with salad, a slice of pâté, perfectly-executed moules marinières—for me, these simple bites can transform a drab day into something else entirely. My collection of French cookery books has swallowed my bookshelf to the degree that I’ve had to enforce an “only if it’s extraordinary” rule on my purchases, but La Mère Brazier: The Mother of Modern French Cooking is just that. Available in English for the first time this month, La Mère Brazier brings the life, voice, and recipes of an iconic French chef to an Anglophone audience at long last. Paul Bocuse, who apprenticed in Brazier’s kitchen, wrote the highly respectful and nostalgic forward to this book. Care has been taken to retain the historical accuracy of the recipes while making them accessible to modern home cooks. And the stories of Brazier’s rise from farm-hand to fêted, decorated chef—she was the first woman to receive six Michelin stars—is told with such charm and simplicity, and with such emphasis on the humble roots of much of her food, that I could not help but hear her voice as I stood in my kitchen recently, whipping up a batch of her Parisian gnocchi, feeling grateful that there was room on my shelf for at least one more book. —Kaylee Hammonds
Available March 25 from Rizzoli, $24.92
YUCATÁN: RECIPES FROM A CULINARY EXPEDITION
by David Sterling
Before I picked up this book, I knew little about the Yucatán, apart from what I had read in the story The Queen of Yucatán from our Mexico issue. With that meager knowledge in mind, I approached David Sterling’s tome not without apprehension. The book runs through all the sub-regions of the Yucatán, almost a food-driven road trip in text. And beyond Sterling’s encyclopedic and meticulously-researched knowledge of Yucatecan food, his love for and connection to the region and its fare are evident on every page; it is rare to find such humble passion and vigor in a volume that is so comprehensive and informational. The photographs capture scenes from the streets, food stalls, and home kitchens, as well as landscapes from the region. Nothing feels staged; the images of the recipes are mouth-watering, yet homey, imperfect, and entirely in tune with the rest of the book.
The recipes, too, are surprisingly accessible. On a snowy night in New York City, I set out to make Ajiaca, a deeply garlicky stew with a strong orange color. After roasting six heads of garlic and squeezing out the slightly sweet, liquified cloves, I started adding vegetables to a stock pot. By the end of a long stew, large hunks of pork tore apart under the tines of my fork. An entire diced potato had disintegrated into the stew, giving it a comforting thickness and satisfying texture. I spooned out bowls of pork and vegetables, topped them with the orange broth, and finished with plantains I had twice fried into tostones, putting together a bowl of the Yucatán. I couldn’t imagine eating anything better on a cold winter night. —Oliver Erteman
Available March 30 from University of Texas Press, $40.65
LODGE CAST IRON NATION: GREAT AMERICAN COOKING FROM COAST TO COAST
By The Lodge Company
It was my mother-in-law—an exemplary cook—who gifted me with a Lodge cast iron skillet when I was just a newlywed. That was a decade ago, and it’s since been U-Hauled across the country and moved in and out of countless New York City apartments. But no matter how tiny the stove (and there have been some Easy Bake Oven-style varieties in past kitchens), I always find a home for my trusty skillet on the back left burner. In Cast Iron Nation, Lodge celebrates the deep ties Americans have to this well-seasoned cookware, with recipes that span the nation. A few classics make an appearance: center-cut, bone-in pork chops that become sweet with a quick sear; a buttermilk-brined fried chicken; and a handful of trusty cornbreads, cooked in the vessel that gives the requisite cracking crust. But there are plenty of rather sophisticated recipes represented here, too, and I fell hard for the squash bisque with mascarpone and apple-cheese crostini. I could never have imagined making soup in my skillet, yet the flavors roast and melt down to a wintery perfection. The North Carolina clam chowder, a warm-your-belly kind of dish, ditches the thick base, and allows plump clams to steal the thunder. Since I’ve found this cookbook, now thoroughly dog-eared, it seems that my beloved skillet has made its way to the front burner on a near-daily basis. —Anne Roderique-Jones
Available March 18 from Oxmoor House, $25
Buy Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast
SLICES OF LIFE: A FOOD WRITER COOKS THROUGH MANY A CONUNDRUM
by Leah Eskin
For charm, you can’t beat Leah Eskin’s memoir and cookbook, Slices of Life (Running Press, 2014). The long-time SAVEUR contributor and Chicago Tribune columnist brings an irreverent humor, cool precision, and gustatory gusto to her accounts of American family life. Each small, resonant moment is occasion to cook something delicious: a child’s obsession with dinosaurs leads to batches of stegosaurus-shaped pumpkin muffins; an audiophile husband’s grudging surrender of the aubergine-colored mega-speakers that hogged the living room inspires a bout of eggplant cookery; a sulking pre-teen gets Mom’s love in the form of an Asian chicken salad. So much domesticity necessarily inspires nostalgia, but Eskin is such a versatile cook that such reveries offer pithy surprises: college memories come attached to a recipe for lobster rolls; tax day merits its own dessert, an almond and popcorn brittle. Readers with a more categorical sensibility might be disconcerted by Eskin’s haphazard organization—ice cream recipes up against a granola recipe up against a tarragon chicken recipe—but the book simply mirrors life, which is brimming with episodes either happy or sad but always punctuated by a meal. —Betsy Andrews