Looking to evolve dinner into something new, inventive, and delicious? We asked Dwell staff members to name some of their favorite cookbooks to get out of any culinary rut.
Mike Chino, Senior Editor:
“We, the People cannot live on sourdough alone! In order to form a more perfect lunch, we elect to eat healthier and secure the blessings that crisp veggies and fruits bestow.”
The creator of the immensely popular Salad for President blog presents a visually rich collection of more than 75 salad recipes, with contributions and interviews by artists/creative professionals like William Wegman, Tauba Auerbach, Laurie Anderson, and Alice Waters. Julia Sherman loves salad. In the book named after her popular blog, Sherman encourages her readers to consider salad an everyday indulgence that can include cocktails, soups, family style brunch dishes, and dinner-party entrées. Every part of the meal is reimagined with a fresh, vegetable obsessed perspective. This compendium of savory recipes will tempt readers in search of diverse offerings from light to hearty: Collard Chiffonade Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing and Crouton Crumble, Heirloom Tomatoes with Crunchy Polenta Croutons, or Flank Steak and Bean Sprouts with Miso-Kimchi Dressing. On the lighter end there are Grilled Hearts of Palm with Mint and Triple Citrus, Persimmon Caprese, and fresh Blood Marys. The recipes, while not exclusively vegetarian, are vegetable-forward and focused on high-quality seasonal produce. Sherman also includes insider tips on pantry staples and growing your own salad garden of herbs and greens. Salad—with its infinite possibilities—is a game of endless combinations, not stifling rules. And with that in mind, Salad for President offers a window into how artists approach preparing their favorite dishes. She visits sculptors, painters, photographers, and musicians in their homes and gardens, interviewing and photographing them as they cook. Utterly unique in its look into the worlds of food, art, and everyday practices, Salad for President is at once a practical resource for healthy, satisfying recipes and an inspiring look at creativity.
Anna Gibertini, Articles Editor:
“The OG hippy-dippy cookbook. If you’re considering going vegetarian, you won’t do better than Mollie Katzen’s collection of seminal recipes for plant-based cooking. If you find yourself in Ithaca, NY, I highly recommend going to the Moosewood co-op, too!”
The Moosewood Cookbook has inspired generations to cook simple, healthy, and seasonal food. A classic listed as one of the top ten best-selling cookbooks of all time by the New York Times, this 40th anniversary edition of Mollie Katzen’s seminal book will be a treasured addition to the cookbook libraries of fans young and old. In 1974, Mollie Katzen hand-wrote, illustrated, and locally published a spiral-bound notebook of recipes for vegetarian dishes inspired by those she and fellow cooks served at their small restaurant co-op in Ithaca, NY. Several iterations and millions of copies later, the Moosewood Cookbook has become one of the most influential and beloved cookbooks of all time—inducted into the James Beard Award Cookbook Hall of Fame, and coined a Cookbook Classic by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Mollie’s Moosewood Cookbook has inspired generations to fall in love with plant-based home cooking, and, on the fortieth anniversary of that initial booklet, continues to be a seminal, timely, and wholly personal work. With a new introduction by Mollie, this commemorative edition will be a cornerstone for any cookbook collection that long-time fans and those just discovering Moosewood will treasure.
Sam Daly, Associate Editor:
“When he says easy, he means it! I’ve been cooking my way through this for the last month—each recipe is more delicious than the last. My personal favorite: onigiri stuffed with tofu and kimchi.”
Japanese cuisine: Fatty tuna! Wagyu beef! Pork broth! Fried chicken! Squid guts! It’s a MINEFIELD for mindful vegans. OR SO IT SEEMS. In reality, there’s an enormous amount of Japanese food that is inherently vegan or can be made vegan with just a few simple substitutions. And it’s not just abstemious vegan Buddhist temple fare (although that is very lovely) – you can enjoy the same big, bold, salty-sweet-spicy-rich-umami flavours of Japanese soul food without so much as glancing down the meat and dairy aisles. Because Japanese cooking is often inherently plant-based, it’s uniquely vegan-friendly. The oh-so satisfying flavours of Japanese cuisine are usually based in fermented soybean and rice products, and animal products were seldom used in cooking throughout much of Japanese history. Yes, there is fish in everything, in the form of dashi, but you can easily substitute this with a seaweed and mushroom-based version that’s every bit as delicious. This book won’t so much teach you how to make dubious ‘vegan versions’ of Japanese meat and fish dishes – because it wouldn’t be good, and there’s no need! Instead, Vegan JapanEasywill tap into Japan’s wealth of recipes that are already vegan or very nearly vegan – so there are no sad substitutions and no shortcomings of flavor.
“So many sauces! So many vegetarian dishes! I’m in love and in awe of this wonderbook.”
Indian food is everyday food! This colorful, lively book is food writer Priya Krishna’s loving tribute to her mom’s “Indian-ish” cooking—a trove of one-of-a-kind Indian-American hybrids that are easy to make, clever, practical, and packed with flavor. Think Roti Pizza, Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Pea Chutney, and Malaysian Ramen. Priya’s mom, Ritu, taught herself to cook after moving to the U.S. while also working as a software programmer—her unique creations merging the Indian flavors of her childhood with her global travels and inspiration from cooking shows as well as her kids’ requests for American favorites like spaghetti and PB&Js. The results are approachable and unfailingly delightful, like spiced, yogurt-filled sandwiches crusted with curry leaves, or “Indian Gatorade” (a thirst-quenching salty-sweet limeade)—including plenty of simple dinners you can whip up in minutes at the end of a long work day. Throughout, Priya’s funny and relatable stories—punctuated with candid portraits and original illustrations by acclaimed Desi pop artist Maria Qamar (also known as Hatecopy)—will bring you up close and personal with the Krishna family and its many quirks.
“Another title with a beginner attitude—maybe I need to check my kitchen confidence level? Either way, Ottolenghi’s approachable recipes make dinner a breeze.”
The New York Times bestselling collection of 130 easy, flavor-forward recipes from beloved chef Yotam Ottolenghi. In Ottolenghi Simple, powerhouse author and chef Yotam Ottolenghi presents 130 streamlined recipes packed with his signature Middle Eastern–inspired flavors, all simple in at least (and often more than) one way: made in 30 minutes or less, with 10 or fewer ingredients, in a single pot, using pantry staples, or prepared ahead of time for brilliantly, deliciously simple meals. Brunch gets a make-over with Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar; Cauliflower, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad refreshes the side-dish rotation; Lamb and Feta Meatballs bring ease to the weeknight table; and every sweet tooth is sure to be satisfied by the spectacular Fig and Thyme Clafoutis. With more than 130 photographs, this is elemental Ottolenghi for everyone.
Zach Klein, CEO:
“I keep coming back to the River Cottage Handbooks. They’re basically little Scouting guides for adults with a separate trim little hardcover volume for every topic a self-reliant cook needs to know: bread, preserves, fermentation, curing, herbs, foraging.”
In this new addition to the award-winning collection, River Cottage master preserver Pam Corbin helps you transform the abundance of your garden (and your friends’ and neighbors’ gardens) into everything from jams and jellies to vinegars and sauces. The River Cottage farm, established by British food personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to promote high-quality, seasonal, and sustainable food, has inspired a television series, restaurants and classes, and a hit series of books. Now, with The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, learn to make everything from simple Strawberry Jam to scrumptious new combinations like Honeyed Hazelnuts, Nasturtium “Capers,” Onion Marmalade, Spiced Brandy Plums, and Elixir of Sage, plus a pantryful of butters, curds, pickles, chutneys, cordials, and liqueurs.
A thoroughly practical guide to making wine, beer, cider, and infusions at home. In this compact, handsome guide, the inimitable John Wright details exactly how easy—and fun—it is to brew beer, wine, cider, herbal spirits, and fruit liqueurs at home, with ample information, tips, and recipes for novice and advanced homebrewers alike. Each section starts with an introduction to essential techniques and methods, before sharing more than 75 recipes for delicious beverages like sparkling elderflower wine, mead, cherry plum wine, lager, blackberry whiskey, and mulled cider–with a hangover cure thrown in for good measure. With an introduction from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, full-color photographs throughout, and an authoritative, witty author leading the way, The River Cottage Booze Handbook is the ultimate modern homebrewer’s book.
In Fermentation, Rachel de Thample shines a light on one of the oldest methods of preserving food, which is just as relevant today, and shows you how to produce delicious and health-boosting ferments in your own kitchen. There are more than 80 simple recipes to make everything from sauerkraut and sourdough, kimchee and kombucha, to pickles and preserves, accompanied by thorough explanations of how the fermenting process works. With little more than yeast and bacteria, salt and time, a whole realm of culinary possibilities opens up. With an introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and plenty of helpful step-by-step photographs, this book will bring the art of fermentation to your kitchen.
Erin V. Mahoney, Community and Social Media Manager:
“Cooking has long been a joy-less task for me—that is until I watched Samin Nosrat make a bowl of oatmeal. She infuses so much joy and warmth into every dish that even the most resistant home cook will feel called to the kitchen.”
A visionary new master class in cooking that distills decades of professional experience into just four simple elements, from the woman declared “America’s next great cooking teacher” by Alice Waters. In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking by a major new culinary voice. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat has taught everyone from professional chefs to middle school kids to author Michael Pollan to cook using her revolutionary, yet simple, philosophy. Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you cook will be delicious. By explaining the hows and whys of good cooking, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach and inspire a new generation of cooks how to confidently make better decisions in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients, anywhere, at any time. Echoing Samin’s own journey from culinary novice to award-winning chef, Salt, Fat Acid, Heat immediately bridges the gap between home and professional kitchens. With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Refer to the canon of 100 essential recipes—and dozens of variations—to put the lessons into practice and make bright, balanced vinaigrettes, perfectly caramelized roast vegetables, tender braised meats, and light, flaky pastry doughs.
“Dinner and a movie looks a little different these days, but date night can still feel special with
Binging with Babish. I can think of no better time to master boeuf bourguignon and cue up Julie & Julia—it’s on Hulu.”
The internet cooking show Binging With Babish has taken YouTube by storm with views as high as 12 million per episode. For each video, Andrew Rea, a self-proclaimed movie and TV buff, teaches a recipe based on a favorite TV show or film, such as the babka from the classic Seinfeld episode, the beef bourguignon from Julie & Julia, or the timpano from Big Night. This cookbook includes these and other fan-favorite recipes. Some are so delicious that you’ll want to make them for dinner right away, like Bubba’s shrimp from Forrest Gump, while others can be saved for impressing a loved one—like the chocolate lava cake from Jon Favreau’s Chef, which the actor/director (who also wrote the foreword) asked to make during a guest appearance on Rea’s show. Complete with behind-the-scenes stories and never-seen-before photos, as well as answers to frequently asked fan questions, Binging With Babish is a must-have companion to the wildly popular YouTube show.
Haley Heramb, Branded Content Manager:
Simple Fare: Spring/Summer is a beautifully illustrated cookbook featuring seasonal, market-driven fare that encourages readers to cook simply and intuitively. Karen Mordechai of the acclaimed Brooklyn-based food community Sunday Suppers shares her meals for cooking at home and her studio. The recipes are designed to excite and inspire, each offering 3 to 5 alternate ingredients that can be used in the same preparation. A smoked beet panzanella with purple kale, radicchio and ricotta, for example, suggests a carrot, mizuna, watercress, and yogurt adaptation or tomato, arugula, purple basil, and burrata, allowing the reader flexibility depending on what is fresh at the market. The food is approachable but decidedly nuanced, balancing unexpected flavor profiles with beautiful presentations. With 68 recipes and 97 variations, Simple Fare is an oversize, distinctively designed kitchen essential of more than 165 seasonal recipes. This book is a valuable resource for avid cooks and beginners alike.
Maris Berkowitz, Sales and Marketing Assistant:
An indispensable resource for home cooks from the woman who changed the way Americans think about food. Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods. With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable recipes chosen to enhance and showcase great ingredients, The Art of Simple Food is an indispensable resource for home cooks. Here you will find Alice’s philosophy on everything from stocking your kitchen, to mastering fundamentals and preparing delicious, seasonal inspired meals all year long. Always true to her philosophy that a perfect meal is one that’s balanced in texture, color, and flavor, Waters helps us embrace the seasons’ bounty and make the best choices when selecting ingredients. Fill your market basket with pristine produce, healthful grains, and responsibly raised meat, poultry, and seafood, then embark on a voyage of culinary rediscovery that reminds us that the most gratifying dish is often the least complex.
The Kinfolk Table puts the emphasis back on the relationships that surround eating. One-third cookbook, one-third narrative tale and one-third international adventure, The Kinfolk Table is a collection of 85 delectable recipes spread over 368 pages from creative types around the world including Brooklyn, Copenhagen, Canada and the English countryside. Filled with gorgeous photography and design you’re used to seeing in the magazine, the book will inspire your next small gathering. We traveled around the world, sharing food and collecting ideas from our growing community of chefs, home cooks, designers, bloggers, photographers and others, many of whom contributed recipes to The Kinfolk Table. Some of the suggestions are refreshingly simple, like throwing freshly harvested mussels on the grill or filling half a cantaloupe with yogurt and honey. Others may take a little more time and patience, such as Ginger Ice Cream with Kumquat Compote or perfecting a shoulder of veal. Danish, Japanese, Mexican and Korean influences make appearances too, as do fresh takes on classics such as Sweet Potato-Quinoa Burgers, Kimchi Couscous or Spiced Raw Chocolate Mousse.
One of the most respected chefs in the country, Paul Bertolli earns glowing praise for the food at California’s renowned Oliveto restaurant. Now he shares his most personal thoughts about cooking in his long-awaited book, Cooking by Hand. In this groundbreaking collection of essays and recipes, Bertolli evocatively explores the philosophy behind the food that Molly O’Neill of the New York Times described as “deceptively simple, [with] favors clean, deep, and layered more profusely than a mille-feuille.” From “Twelve Ways of Looking at Tomatoes” to Italian salumi in “The Whole Hog,” Bertolli explores his favorite foods with the vividness of a natural writer and the instincts of a superlative chef. Scattered throughout are more than 140 recipes remarkable for their clarity, simplicity, and seductive appeal, from Salad of Bitter Greens, Walnuts, Tesa, and Parmigiano and Chilled Shellfish with Salsa Verde to Short Ribs Agrodolce and Tagliolini Pasta with Crab. Unforgettable desserts, such as Semifreddo of Peaches and Mascarpone and Hazelnut Meringata with Chocolate and Espresso Sauce, round out a collection that’s destined to become required reading for any food lover. Rich with the remarkable food memories that inspire him, from the taste of ripe Santa Rosa plums and the aroma of dried porcini mushrooms in his mother’s ragu to eating grilled bistecca alla Fiorentina on a foggy late autumn day in Chianti, Cooking by Hand will ignite a passion within you to become more creatively involved in the food you cook.