A cookbook soars on its best recipes, but can sink on its worst. That’s why our writers and editors cooked their way through this season’s new books to come up with a list of tried-and-tested favorites.
Here, with a fascinating array of cuisines and flavors, are the fall titles we’re most excited about.
“I AM A FILIPINO: AND THIS IS HOW WE COOK”
Although Filipinos constitute one of the largest Asian immigrant populations in America, cuisines like Thai, Japanese and Korean are far better known in this country.
A desire to rectify that pushed Nicole Ponseca, a former advertising executive, to open the restaurants Maharlika and Jeepney in Manhattan. And it’s what inspired her to write her first cookbook, “I Am A Filipino” (Artisan, $35), with the chef Miguel Trinidad. “I want people to taste the pungent unctuous, real Filipino flavors,” she writes, which are confidently funky, highly acidic and coyly sweet.
The recipes run the gamut from comforting pansits, noodle dishes filled with seafood, vegetables and crunchy pork rinds; to piquant piaparan manok, a haunting turmeric-spiced chicken-wing stew with ginger and chiles; to ginataang tambo, a mildly tangy shrimp and coconut milk dish ready in 15 minutes.
— Melissa Clark
MORE GIFTS FOR THE KITCHEN
“ALMONDS, ANCHOVIES AND PANCETTA: A VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK, KIND OF”
Cal Peternell, a 20-year veteran of the Chez Panisse kitchen, always takes a sideways approach to his cookbooks.
In “Twelve Recipes,” he reduced home cooking to a dozen simple formulas. In “A Recipe for Cooking,” he devised a plan to cover all the cycles of kitchen life: dinners with friends, family milestones and so on. Now, with “Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta” (William Morrow, $25.99), he has finally embraced recipes, in a pretty little illustrated book of dishes that are “vegetable-focused,” inspiring and spiked with intensely flavored ingredients.
What it is not is a vegetarian cookbook, even “kind of” — only about a dozen of the recipes have no meat or fish at all. If you don’t mind that, and if you have an appetite for dad jokes and cannabis references along with egg-herb-anchovy toasts and eggplant al mattone with scallions and spicy peanut sauce, this is the fall cookbook for you.
— Julia Moskin
“APÉRITIF: COCKTAIL HOUR THE FRENCH WAY”
With “Apéritif” (Clarkson Potter, $18.99), the writer and food stylist Rebekah Peppler has embraced pre-dinner drinking and snacking the way it’s done in France, where “l’heure de l’apéritif” is an important part of the culture.
With a dram of humor, Peppler provides a primer with the history and uses of various apéritifs. She also breaks down what you’ll need to stock a bar for the mostly easy, low-alcohol drink recipes that she groups by weather — for when it’s sweltering, freezing or somewhere in between.
A “Bites” section includes savory recipes like tapenade bâtons, ratatouille dip and le grand aioli, meant to be enjoyed between sips.
— Mark Josephson
“BASQUE COUNTRY: A CULINARY JOURNEY THROUGH A FOOD LOVER’S PARADISE”
The hors d’oeuvre tidbits called pintxos, the seafood and the saline nature of the cooking and wines of Spain’s Basque region won me over on my first trip.
“Basque Country” (Artisan, $35), by Marti Buckley, provides fine recipes and also explains the culture of this bold, food-focused area, and it is as easy to like as skewers of anchovies, peppers and olives; chorizo in cider; and hake with clams in salsa verde, an alluring combination of garlic, parsley and seafood in a light yet creamy wine sauce.
— Florence Fabricant
“BESTIA: ITALIAN RECIPES CREATED IN THE HEART OF L.A.”
In their first cookbook, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis share the recipes that make their Los Angeles restaurant Bestia so popular.
“Bestia” (Ten Speed, $35) offers rustic Italian food driven by California markets — his pastas, charcuterie, herb-filled salads, sourdough pizzas and meaty mains, and her refined desserts, all elevated by their talent for layering herbs and spices.
It’s not for everyone: To follow nearly any of these recipes, you first have to flip to a section called “Pantry” and make lobster stock, or soffrito, or egg yolk bottarga. (This last recipe requires a food dehydrator, as do an alarming number of others.)
But for an ambitious cook, it’s a gift to have the secrets to food this good.
— Emily Fleischaker
“CHASING THE GATOR: ISAAC TOUPS AND THE NEW CAJUN COOKING”
Cajun chefs have been joking while cooking at least since the days of Justin Wilson, the red-suspendered 1970s PBS personality, but Isaac Toups is perhaps the first to joke and cuss with wild abandon throughout an entire cookbook.
In “Chasing the Gator” (Little, Brown, $35), he shares his recipes so casually, it’s as if he were telling you how to make duck gumbo over beers in a hunting blind.
Toups runs two restaurants in New Orleans, and his “new Cajun” approach refers to the ways you can adapt his recipes for the modern table: Use the meat gravy from his dirty rice as a base for ragù or the sauce from his pasta in purgatory for cooking poached eggs.
The boucherie chapter is empowering for a cook who loves Cajun flavors but can’t obtain regional meats like boudin. You can make it from scratch anywhere in the country, 100 cloves of garlic and all.
— Sara Bonisteel
“COOKING IN IRAN: REGIONAL RECIPES & KITCHEN SECRETS”
Najmieh Batmanglij has written eight cookbooks about the cooking of Iran (and its ancient predecessor, Persia), where she was born and lived until 1979.
But “Cooking in Iran” (Mage, $65), her magisterial new book, is the first for which she was able to return and travel freely around the country with notebook and camera.
The result is an engrossing visual feast of modern Iran, its food and its people, from fish markets in the north piled with fresh Caspian salmon; through farmlands planted with pomegranates, pistachios and crocuses for saffron; to the Indian spices of the Persian Gulf region.
With 400 accessible recipes, plus culinary history, ethnography and deep dives on ingredients like smoked rice and barberries, “Cooking In Iran” is an essential new book.
— Julia Moskin
“EMILY: THE COOKBOOK”
With “Emily: The Cookbook” (Ballantine, $30), the chef Matthew Hyland and his wife and business partner, Emily Hyland, deliver what is perhaps the first really full-throated American pizza cookbook.
Together they own the Emily and Emmy Squared restaurants in New York City and Nashville, Tennessee, where they serve ridiculously flavorful pizzas along with umami-bomb cheeseburgers, stellar fried chicken sandwiches, delicate pastas and excellent salads. You may never make Hyland’s duck confit sandwich with mayonnaise amped with hoisin and mustard powder, on pretzel buns.
But one run through his no-knead, Detroit-style pizza dough recipe, and one baking session with it to make a pie with shredded cheddar, mozzarella, vodka sauce and basil, and you may find yourself ordering special Detroit pizza pans and making Emily pies a part of your own pizza routine.
– Sam Sifton
“ISRAELI SOUL: EASY, ESSENTIAL, DELICIOUS”
In “Israeli Soul” (Rux Martin, $35), the follow-up to their 2015 cookbook, “Zahav,” Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook take a modern, accessible approach to the country’s specialties.
Chapters are grouped thematically: “In the Hand” focuses on favorites like falafel, shawarma and sabich (an eggplant and egg sandwich), while “At the Table” includes salads, soups and stews, and, of course, hummus. Unlike the famed hummus recipe in their earlier book, this version embraces canned chickpeas and is packed with tahini (a whole 16-ounce jar, in fact).
It’s packaged with two dozen toppings that can satisfy even the skeptics of serving dips for dinner. A broccoli and pine nut pesto, finished with quickly seared florets that have been spiced with paprika, coriander and Aleppo pepper, is especially delicious.
— Krysten Chambrot
“JOE BEEF: SURVIVING THE APOCALYPSE — ANOTHER COOKBOOK OF SORTS”
Will you make lobster pelmeni out of this fine cookbook from Frederic Morin and David McMillan, the merry pranksters behind the Joe Beef restaurant empire in Montreal? Will you make their recipe for soap, or burnt-ends bourguignon, or deep-fried brains over creamed peas?
(“Definitely not a weekend dish,” the authors report. You need very fresh brains.)
Will you wrap veal kidney in a duxelles of chanterelles, wrap that in caul fat and then cover it in salt crust so that you can make the finished dish look like “a young calf at rest on its flank, ruminating”? Possibly not. But there is an exciting, punk-rock aspirational hippie vibe to every page of their second cookbook, “Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse” (Knopf, $45), written with Meredith Erickson, and the relationship between the authors and their readers is as madcap, loving and strange as ever.
So absolutely make their compound butter with barbecue-flavored potato chips and use it on, what, a pan-roasted steak? You could assemble their brilliant crème de soya as well, delicious with snails. Once you’re really into it? Make marrow pilaf, which is a project but so what. It’s perfect with Halifax lobster curry.
This sort of cooking is a way of life.
— Sam Sifton
“KOREAN HOME COOKING: CLASSIC AND MODERN RECIPES”
Korean cooking is long overdue for a “Mastering the Art” moment, and Sohui Kim’s “Korean Home Cooking” (Abrams, $35) helps fill that void. Kim, the chef and an owner of two restaurants in Brooklyn, compares Korean food to the cooking of southern Italy: Both make good use of humble ingredients.
She devotes nearly half the book to banchan, the small plates of pickled, fried and stewed bites, familiar to anyone who has ever eaten Korean barbecue. A pantry section, with photos of the packaging you’ll come across at a Korean grocery, is invaluable for novices, and the step-by-step photos show up when you need them.
Her classics passed the test: I made kongjang, a banchan of soy-braised black soybeans, for my Korean mother-in-law.
She asked for the recipe.
— Sara Bonisteel
“MILK STREET: TUESDAY NIGHTS”
Somewhere along the way, a Tuesday-night recipe became shorthand for something easy to execute after work, softball practice and piano lessons.
Often, sheet pans and pasta were involved. And often, the meal was, well, serviceable. Milk Street, the culinary enterprise Christopher Kimball invented after he defected from America’s Test Kitchen, has created a well-tested book that turns the Tuesday-night recipe on its head.
Called, appropriately enough, “Tuesday Nights” (Little, Brown, $35), the book uses bright and bold flavors and smart techniques that allow even a modestly competent cook to eat well in the middle of the week. It’s not hard to chop fish for Peruvian ceviche, glaze potatoes with gochujang or throw together a dish of Turkish eggs after a long day at work.
When the book had me rolling out yogurt flatbreads and roasting chicken with fresh za’atar and I still had time to get everyone to bed and watch a little bad TV, I knew my Tuesday-night game was never going to be the same.
— Kim Severson
“THE NOMA GUIDE TO FERMENTATION”
Very few home cooks opened “The French Laundry Cookbook” and attempted to spoon Thomas Keller’s white truffle oil-infused custard into hollowed-out eggshells. Nor did they work through all 38 pages of the recipe for Chad Robertson’s country bread in “Tartine Bread.”
Still, those cookbooks are significant markers of an ever-advancing culinary culture. This is how best to consider “The Noma Guide to Fermentation” (Workman, $40). In 450 pages of detailed instruction, René Redzepi, the chef of Noma in Copenhagen, and David Zilber, the director of the restaurant’s fermentation lab, lay out a fresh set of transformative cooking fundamentals, one in which misos, shoyus, magic molds called kojis and umami-laden garums make ferments something cooks reach for as readily as salt.
Few among us will craft a fermenter from a Styrofoam cooler. Still, we might salt blueberries and let them ferment for five days, and be very happy to spoon them over yogurt.
— Kim Severson
“NORTH WILD KITCHEN: HOME COOKING FROM THE HEART OF NORWAY”
I’ll pass on moose, reindeer, rowanberries and spruce tips, but there is much to like about Nevada Berg’s “North Wild Kitchen” (Prestel, $35), a Norwegian cookbook where I found a number of well-written recipes to add to my repertoire, including simple potato dumplings, cabbage rolls stuffed with venison and a delightfully adaptable apple cake.
I made it three times, once by the book, but also substituting peaches and then fresh figs for apples, with success each time.
— Florence Fabricant
When it comes to cooking, simple is a relative term. What’s simple for a skilled cook can be taxing for a novice.
And what’s simple for Yotam Ottolenghi — the acclaimed London chef (and New York Times Food columnist) — will certainly cause grimacing among those who are unaccustomed to picking out the tiny seeds from 12 cardamom pods. But for fans of his beloved tome “Jerusalem,” and for confident cooks looking for clever flavor combinations, his latest title, “Ottolenghi Simple” (Ten Speed, $35), is a thrill.
I particularly adored the pasta with pecorino and pistachios, lamb with almonds and orange blossom, and baked rice with tomato confit and garlic. Many of the recipes have fewer than 10 ingredients and can be made in under 30 minutes.
While a lot of cookbooks meet these criteria, few have Ottolenghi’s far-ranging flair.
— Melissa Clark
“SEASON: BIG FLAVORS, BEAUTIFUL FOOD”
The dishes in Nik Sharma’s debut cookbook, “Season” (Chronicle, $35), trace his journey from Mumbai to his current home in California — chaat masala-grilled pork chops, curry leaf popcorn chicken, ghee-and-elderflower cake — with writing so clear that even the most timid home cooks can master his recipes.
— Mayukh Sen
“SISTER PIE: THE RECIPES AND STORIES OF A BIG-HEARTED BAKERY IN DETROIT”
Lisa Ludwinski, who honed her baking skills at Milk Bar and Four and Twenty Blackbirds in New York before opening her bakery in Detroit, has filled “Sister Pie” (Lorena Jones, $25) with 45 thrilling pie recipes, like blueberry-plum balsamic, toasted-marshmallow butterscotch and malted lime.
For the anxious pie-maker, she includes detailed instructions that are mercifully easy to follow. But it’s not all pies: Thirty recipes for equally adventurous baked goods (peanut butter-smoked paprika cookies, rhubarb blondies) round out this bursting-at-the-seams book.
— Margaux Laskey
“SOLO: A MODERN COOKBOOK FOR A PARTY OF ONE”
The chef Anita Lo makes an elegant case for cooking alone in her new cookbook, “Solo” (Knopf, $28.95), with recipes that range from the luxuriously self-caring to the bare-boned and practical. Lo’s voice — dryly funny, straightforward and occasionally tender — shines through in every recipe, which taken as a whole reflect the way a carefully stocked, international pantry makes American cooking more simple and delicious.
There are no photographs, but the pages are filled with Julia Rothman’s charming illustrations.
— Tejal Rao
“TIFFIN: 500 AUTHENTIC RECIPES CELEBRATING INDIA’S REGIONAL CUISINE”
To put together “Tiffin” (Black Dog & Leventhal, $35), a vast and vivid compendium of Indian cuisine, Sonal Ved, the food editor of Vogue India, consulted with cookbooks that specialize in regional dishes and reported with chefs, authors and other experts from all over the country.
The result is a beautifully designed and inclusively written account of modern Indian cuisine that embraces a multiplicity of tastes and techniques.
The visual glossary of ingredients will be useful for cooks who are new to Indian cooking, but even those with experience can appreciate Ved’s interstitial essays, which offer notes on history and culture.
— Tejal Rao
AND DON’T FORGET…
>> Two grandes dames return: Ina Garten covers essential tips and tricks in “Cook Like a Pro” (Clarkson Potter, $35) and Dorie Greenspan, a New York Times Magazine contributor, shares her savory and sweet staples in “Everyday Dorie” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35). Julia Turshen’s “Now & Again” (Chronicle Books, $35) focuses on dishes with leftovers in mind. And from our own Melissa Clark, a second Instant Pot cookbook offers recipes for approachable yet deluxe dinners for your Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, “Comfort in an Instant” (Clarkson Potter, $22).
>> “Carla Hall’s Soul Food” (Harper Collins, $29.99) is the latest from the chef and TV personality. The model and author Chrissy Teigen is back with “Cravings: Hungry For More” (Clarkson Potter, $29.99), and “Matty Matheson: A Cookbook” (Abrams, $35) arrives from the chef and Vice star. Marc Vetri and David Joachim cover the fundamentals in “Mastering Pizza” (Ten Speed Press, $29.99), and Naz Deravian shares her Persian recipes in “Bottom of the Pot” (Flatiron Books, $37.50).
>> Bakers can line their shelves with “All About Cake” (Clarkson Potter, $35) from the Milk Bar chef Christina Tosi; Kristen Miglore’s “Food52 Genius Desserts” (Ten Speed Press, $35); and the baking authority Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “Rose’s Baking Basics” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35). “The Nordic Baking Book” (Phaidon Press, $49.95), from the chef Magnus Nilsson, is just the tome for those who have serious ambitions for their butter and flour.
— Mark Josephson