Our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: The Cookbooks



For what it’s worth, 2016 blessed us with many great cookbooks. In fact we might be reaching “peak cookbook” as it seems like nearly every favorite neighborhood restaurant, hip chef, region, technique and ingredient has its own title, but being in the business of making print editions, we understand the appeal of the physical object. Keep ’em coming as far as we’re concerned.

As an addendum to our holiday gift guide, we assumed the arduous task of wading through recent editions and settled on a handful of stunners that have some sort of a New York connection. Here’s something for everyone on your list:


Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas, Brad Thomas Parsons
Amaro is having a moment, and what better way to school yourself on it than a tome dedicated to the liqueur? Learn about the Italian digestifs that have been moving more and more to the forefront, and appearing in more and more cocktails. Winter, especially, is the right season for sipping something deeply herbaceous.  —Alicia Kennedy

Appetites: A CookbookAnthony Bourdain
He is back for more, as if the man didn’t have enough on his, um, plate. This time Bourdain goes at it a little more rough than usual and it feels wondrous. What works well is to read Bourdain’s autobiographical masterpiece Kitchen Confidential and then to satisfy yourself with his latest. The visuals feel inspirational (everyone who loves to cook should have a fridge resembling Bourdain’s), and the food itself unlike anything you’ve had this month.  —Daniel Scheffler


Butter & Scotch: Recipes from Brooklyn’s Favorite Bar and BakeryAllison Kave and Keavy Landreth
From Brooklyn’s only bakery plus bar, this book is a celebration of modern Brooklyn tastes. Kave taught at the French Culinary Institute and the James Beard Foundation, so be prepared to be schooled in pastry and especially pie. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, making Magic Buns with a love interest is an excellent plan for a snow day. Add the boozy shakes, too, of course.  —DS


Dinner at the Long TableAndrew Tarlow and Anna Dunn with Scarlett Lindeman
Andrew Tarlow is undoubtedly one of the most influential tastemakers of the past decade. As we’ve chronicled, he’s responsible for a certain modern “Brooklyn” aesthetic that first bubbled up at Williamsburg’s Diner and has since trickled down to just about any hip dining scene anywhere. Most importantly, though, his simultaneously elegant and unkempt aesthetic has substance; his establishments are consistently and deliciously innovative. This much-anticipated cookbook with longtime collaborator and Diner Journal editor in chief Anna Dunn captures some of his restaurants’ definitive flavors, like oysters with sherry butter, rabbit and chorizo paella, eggplant with bone marrow agrodolce and honey-poached chestnuts.  —Ariel Lauren Wilson

Dorie’s Cookies, Dorie Greenspan
Yes, I do have a go-to cookie recipe and, yes, it is one of Dorie Greenspan’s. I memorized her “World Peace Cookie” recipe while in college and have since made it for a range of circumstances (hosting in-laws, seducing a love interest, apologizing to a friend) where a home-baked gift has seemed appropriate. This peerless chocolate sablé graces the cover of the beloved baker’s latest book that compiles 300 of her original recipes. My gut tells me I’ll rely on this collection for years to come.  —ALW

Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking
There really is nowhere else in the world where peasant dining and the most sophisticated flavors are equally valued. Here, with yet another look at the refresh of Italian cuisine, the beloved Italian grocery revisits classics with a modern cook in mind. No matter how many times Italian cuisine gets revamped, it always insists on fresh, quality ingredients, and this book is a glorious reminder.  —DS

Food City: Four Centuries of Food-Making in New York, Joy Santlofer
It was later in Joy Santlofer’s life that she began to take an interest in food. Diving in deep, she studied for her Master’s in Food Studies at NYU and began a massive undertaking: documenting the history of food in New York City. She passed before she could finish the book that she’d spent five years researching, sadly, but her daughter, Doria, took up the mantle of finishing it. Food City tells a story that proves the current boom in artisanal food-making isn’t a trendy part of the city’s history, but a return to its roots.  —AK


Freemans, Taavo Somer
It’s takes a creative genius like the one behind the Freemans’s world to deliver a gorgeous book that will leave you equally captivated and ready to start your own lifestyle empire. From his iconic Lower East Side restaurant, to the barber shop, menswear store, tailor and his upstate home, Somer has a taste level you can both appreciate and emulate.  —DS

The Good Fork Cookbook, Sohui Kim with Rachel Wharton
It’s hard to believe that Red Hook’s Good Fork is already a decade old, but this neighborhood favorite has long proved its staying power. Chef Sohui Kim of Blue Hill and Savoy pedigree opened the restaurant to serve globally inspired comfort food well before every “it” Brooklyn neighborhood had it’s own variation on the theme. Former Edible editor Rachel Wharton helped write this lovely homage to their classic dishes like kimchi rice with bacon and eggs (recipe here), buttermilk fried chicken with waffles, pork dumplings and more.  —ALW

Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, Masaharu Morimoto
Cooks know that Japanese cooking is a real challenge without some expert guidance. The world has luckily woken up to the fact that Japan is so much more than sushi, and so Morimoto (from his namesake restaurant fame) shows you exactly how to showcase it. Nitsuke (fish simmered with sake, soy sauce and sugar) is idyllic, but so is miso soup when you do it exactly right.  —DS


A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
Cookbooks are fodder for inspiration, but how often do you encounter one that actually changes your behavior? The last Food52 cookbook release sure tries its darnedest by taking pragmatic stabs at getting you to eat more home-cooked meals than not. Hardworking moms Hesser and Stubbs want you to prepare their seasonal recipes on the weekends so that you only have to do some minimal prep Monday through Friday. They have a refreshing self-awareness that some of these plans might be more aspirational than practical, winning me over to think that I, too, can follow their weekly “game plans” and grocery lists to, over the course of one week, feast on homemade turbo jook with mustard greens, oxtail stew, jook with a fried egg, a faro salad and oxtail hash over toast. An ambitious New Year’s resolution, perhaps? I’m game.  ALW

A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World, Robert Simonson
In this surprisingly riveting read, the New York Times cocktail writer takes us through the sad, vodka-fueled bars of the ’80s and ’90s and into the renaissance we’ve been experiencing since the early aughts. The major players you’d expect to read about in such a book (Dale DeGroff, Sasha Petraske, Julie Reiner) are discussed alongside many folks you’ve probably never heard about but who’ve made a huge impact on what, how and where you drink. It’s an essential, fun book for all cocktail nerds.  —AK

Regarding Cocktails, Sasha Petraske with Georgette Moder-Petraske
Speaking of cocktail nerds, the late Sasha Petraske’s—who is credited with making cocktails civilized again with his bar Milk & Honey—book of recipes and etiquette is another must-have for all those who tend bar or like to stir a drink at home. His wife, writer Georgette Moder-Petraske, completed the book following his untimely death last year, and this beautiful edition from Phaidon makes an incredible gift.  —AK


The Short STACK Cookbook: Ingredients That Speak Volumes, Nick Fauchald and Kaitlyn Goalen
The ethos behind Short Stack Editions is simple: Pair honest, common ingredients with trusted voices in the culinary world for inspired recipes home cooks can actually use. And this is no exception. It’s all useful and homemade and it creates the type of atmosphere that any home could benefit from. Invite over some friends and indulge in everything from page to page. Butter poached scallops with a grapefruit (plus more butter) sauce is a crowd pleaser that involves everyone’s hands.  —DS

Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs, Julia Turshen
“Truly, if you can boil water, you can make just about anything,” Julia Turshen writes in the introduction of her latest cookbook. An ode to relaxed, spontaneous cooking (because “stress makes food taste bad”), the collection features over 400 recipes and creative spin-offs. Among Small Victories’ greatest successes is its emphasis on bright flavors and down-to-earth, totally unpretentious ingredients. Dishes like “Turkey + Ricotta Meatballs” and “Julia’s Caesar” are transformed with simple tricks like using ricotta instead of bread crumbs and egg in meatballs or substituting mayonnaise for raw eggs in salad dressing.  —Christine Huang


The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices, Lior Lev Sercarz
As the title of this book says, spices are a world unto themselves. Understanding the breadth of their possibilities requires an encyclopedic knowledge like Sercarz’s. He’s the chef, spice blender and owner of La Boîte: a celebrated biscuit and spice shop in Hell’s Kitchen. This hefty title showcases 102 spices of his choosing and details each pick’s history as well as buying tips, storage instructions, traditional pairings, suggested uses and a spice blend recipe. The large format and striking photography make it guaranteed eye candy for any curious cook.  —ALW

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Updated and Revised Edition), Sandor Katz
Brooklyn native Sandor Katz is the modern fermentation fairy godfather. His Art of Fermentation tome might have earned him his much-deserved James Beard and IACP awards, but Wild Fermentation is his seminal text. First published in 2003, the book helped inspire a new generation of fermentation enthusiasts with cultural (pun intended) commentary and playful recipes. From fruit kimchi and ginger Champagne to injera and miso soup, Katz demystifies microbial process for good. We recommend his kraut for starters, and he does, tooALW