Wondering what to do with the vegetables you’ve planted in your backyard plot or the spring bounty that’s overflowing the stalls of your local farmer’s market? It might be time to invest in a new cookbook or two. The year’s off to a savory start, with titles from veterans like food revolutionary Jamie Oliver and early California cuisine adopter Jonathan Waxman as well as debut volumes from newcomers like It Chef Stevie Parle. Catering to the preferences of nearly every palate, this year’s crop of cookbooks is sure to please even the finickiest of the eaters. Get reading and start eating!
Check out these celebrity cookbooks.
Below, 10 of the year’s don’t-miss cookbooks:
British chef and nutrition educator Jamie Oliver brings the battle to downtown Los Angeles this spring on the second season of his hit TV series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. He celebrates with the rerelease of his manifesto, Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious Affordable Meals (Hyperion, April). Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a drag, readers will soon learn, with recipes like parsnip and ginger soup, grilled lamb chops with chunky salsa, and mega chocolate fudge cake. Great for novice chefs and seasoned cooks alike. Even if you can’t tell a stockpot from a strainer, Oliver will inspire you out of the drive-thru and into the kitchen.
Just back from your honeymoon and not sure what to do with all the kitchen equipment you received as wedding presents? Real-life couple Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione can help with that. Just Married & Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating and Entertaining Together (Scribner, May) is a delightful manual for negotiating the sticky terrain of the married couple’s kitchen. With lists for pantry essentials, meal planning tips and recipes for a host of holidays and events, and everyday advice for how to keep the magic alive in the kitchen, Kirkus found this to be “an exciting, essential volume that delivers on every front” in a starred review.
There’s more to Mexican food than tacos and refried beans. Roberto Santibanez is out to prove as much with his latest release Truly Mexican (Wiley, April). This lavishly illustrated title kicks off with an overview of the staple ingredients and basic techniques used in Mexican cuisine, and then mambas its way into a variety of fresh and authentic recipes. With sections on salsas and guacamoles (hint: keep them chunky!) as well as more advanced dishes like moles and pipianes, the book serves not only a culinary education but a whirlwind tour through regional Mexican cuisine. Óle!
You don’t have to be fork over exorbitant sums to learn from the masters of Italian cuisine. Gianni Scappin, Alberto Vanoli and Steven Kolpan team up to bring you Italian Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America (Wiley, March), an introduction to one of the world’s most beloved cuisines. Kicking off with a section on spuntini (think tapas, Italian-style), this trio of Culinary Institute professors guides readers through the nitty-gritty of homemade pasta-making, perfect risottos and ends with a mouthwatering section on dolci. Polish it all off with an Italian wine and cheese pairing, with help from the section on regional specialties.
Perhaps you’re looking for a hipper, more laid-back approach to traditional Italian cuisine? Chef and owner of New York’s beloved Barbuto, Top Chef Masters competitor and pioneer of California cuisine Jonathan Waxman can satisfy your craving with Italian, My Way (Simon & Schuster, April). The all-star chef’s simple, seasonal dishes inject fresh perspective into classic dishes with recipes like rigatoni and spicy duck ragu, oven-roasted mussels with cilantro and red chiles and caramel panna cotta. “This is my personal take on Italian food,” Waxman writes. “It adheres to the ‘keep it simple’ philosophy.” But make no mistake, there’s nothing simple about the delicacy and depth of Waxman’s flavors.
“Cooking a great meal can be just as easy as cooking a crappy meal!” according Robin Donovan and Juliana Gallin, authors of The Lazy Gourmet: Magnificent Meals Made Easy (Viva Editions, May). Want to knock the socks off your friends and family with sophisticated dishes but don’t think your kitchen skills are up to speed? Think again, say the authors. Preparing scallop ceviche with papaya and chiles is as easy as chopping, mixing and refrigerating. Spicy crab cakes are demystified in an easy- to-follow recipe that will have dinner guests clamoring for seconds. And don’t skimp on dessert. The food processor does most of the work in the authors’ version of lazy chocolate “mousse.” Donovan and Gallin will have you enjoying restaurant-style dishes in the comfort of your own home.
International It-Chef of the moment Stevie Parle debuts his culinary vision in My Kitchen: Real Food from Near and Far (Lyons Press, April). Formerly of London’s River Café and New York’s The Spotted Pig, Parle’s back in action at The Dock Kitchen in the British capital. He’s got a distinctive voice, and shares his love of food and travel with recipes from around the world. Join him as he reminisces over a weekend in Portugal with tomato, bread and mussel soup or his months at a tea plantation in Sri Lanka with Coconut Broth with Potato or Squash. Broken down seasonally month-by-month with understated illustrations by Ros Shiers, My Kitchen heralds the arrival of an important new voice in food.
Maybe you’ve got a bumper crop of tomatoes and no idea what to do with them. Or your cucumbers are growing wildly out of control and you’ve misplaced your grandmother’s pickle recipe. Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler are here to help you out with Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen (Rodale, March). You’ll find straightforward, easy-to-follow canning instructions here, and a host of recipes for traditional favorites like dilly beans and pickled pearl cocktail onions as well as more adventurous selections like kimchi and pickled fiddleheads. Don’t forget the sweets though. There’s a whole section on jams and fruit spreads (ginger cardamom nectarine jam, anyone?) that will make even the most veteran of canners’ mouth water.
For those who prefer their vegetables fresh, try Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato’s Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance (Running Press, May). From artichokes to zucchini, the authors cover all the basics, from how to purchase and prepare a variety of vegetables. Also included are charts denoting each vegetable’s nutritional value and a brief overview on growing your own greens. Carnivores will easily be persuaded by recipes like snow pea salad with walnut vinaigrette, Swiss chard and cheese frittata and grilled sirloin steak with leek and red wine sauce. A hearty guide that will help at-home chefs add a little color and a lot of nutrients to the plate.
And finally, for those wondering whether that Beaujolais will pair well with their paella (answer: yes), don’t miss Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg’s indispensable What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea—Even Water—Based on Expert Advice from America’s Best Sommeliers (Bulfinch, December 2010). Yes, you read the title right—they’ll even tell you whether Perrier or San Pellegrino pairs better with your eel avocado rolls (answer: neither, still water works best here). Easily organized so that readers can search for pairings by either beverage or food, this is an essential resource for foodies and casual diners alike—the authors know you like your McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza, so you’ll find those here too. It’s also available as an online app for on-the-go access (Hachette, January). No more wandering aimlessly down the aisles of the liquor store wondering what would work best with that roast you’ve got in the oven.