I’m obsessed with cookbooks — so much so that they’ve started to spill off of my bookshelf onto all other imaginable surfaces of my apartment. You’ll find them stacked on dressers, in neat little floor piles in corners of every room, sitting on dining room chairs waiting to be propped in my cookbook stand on my kitchen island. I buy them new and used, and look for all manners of types, from spiral-bound church and Junior League volumes plucked from thrift store shelves, to heavy coffee table-sized manuals written by Michelin-starred chefs.
My love knows no bounds, but like any seasoned New Yorker living in close quarters with another person and their things, I often have to self-edit and purge, deciding which books go into the donation box for someone else to love. That also goes for making new purchases — each year, I have to decide what my collection is missing and which new books will enhance my culinary prowess. This is obviously difficult for a woman obsessed, but it has to be done, and it allows me to create lists like this one. While there are way more than 10 cookbooks that came out this year that are worthy of a read, these were my absolute favorites of the year. If you’re in need of some culinary inspiration or just a great story about someone else’s food journey, the 10 best new cookbooks of 2022 are sure to satisfy.
Ixta Belfrage, Mezcla: Recipes to Excite
Ixta Belfrage is a cookbook maestro. She co-wrote Ottolenghi Flavor in 2020, and this year she blessed us with her first solo tome. Meaning fusion or mix in Spanish, Mezcla is a collection of recipes that are inspired by her upbringing in Italy and travels throughout Mexico, Brazil and beyond. Colorful, flavorful and truly original, the recipes do indeed excite, and ingredients that pack a punch — think Calabrian chile paste, dried porcini and miso — are used to dress up both everyday recipes and standout dishes for entertaining. Belfrage suggests serving roasted cabbage with mango and harissa with fried eggs for a quick weeknight meal, and the skirt steak resting over tomatoes with black lime and maple butter is going to be our go-to for next summer’s backyard dinners. We recently made the upside down plantain omelet with Scotch bonnet salsa, and the gooey, caramelized dish is going to be in the regular rotation for a long time to come.
Hannah Che, The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition
Hannah Che started her blog, The Plant-Based Wok, when she was at university as a way to destress. Now, she’s put together a collection of her beautiful recipes for her first cookbook, The Vegan Chinese Kitchen. In the intro, Che cites that vegetarian and vegan cuisine has been enjoyed in China for more than 2,000 years, and she’s been on a mission to recreate her favorite childhood dishes using plant-based ingredients. Her book reminds the reader just how complex vegetables, beans and tofu can be, especially when accompanied by the right aromatics, spices and condiments. Blistered dry-fried green beans get a kick from Sichuan pepper and pickled greens, while spicy sesame king oyster mushrooms would make even the most devout carnivore forget about the meat. Che’s mapo tofu comes together quickly in a searing hot wok, and the mix of dried shiitake mushrooms, fermented black beans and Sichuan chili bean paste delivers the kind of spicy, umami kick that can warm you on a cold day or make you sweat out anything that’s no longer serving you.
Ali Slagle wants you to stop overthinking and just start cooking. And luckily for us, she’s made it extremely easy to do just that. I Dream of Dinner (so you don’t have to) provides a low-maintenance, albeit delicious, way to think about making your next meal. Each recipe in the book takes 45 minutes or less, and most come together with fewer than eight ingredients. As you page through the recipes — which are organized by ingredient type, then subdivided into cooking method — it would be nearly impossible not to find something that can be thrown together with things that you already have in your pantry or fridge. Corn & spicy sausage orecchiette only calls for four ingredients, and gochujang shrimp & shishitos takes a mere five minutes to cook under the broiler. On a recent Sunday evening, eating the pastrami-spiced tempeh on rye (inspired by the Delaney sandwich at the legendary Tommy’s) made this writer particularly nostalgic for one of her favorite Cleveland restaurants.
Like many first generation Americans, Reem Assil grew up in two worlds: Immersed in her family’s Syrian and Lebanese cultures while at home, and working to fit into her mostly white, Massachusetts suburb while in school. Her search for identity led her to the diverse Bay Area, where she found a love for both social justice work and baking. The James Beard Award-finalist is best known for her bakery and restaurant, Reem’s California, where Arab hospitality is celebrated just as much as the food. That sentiment comes to life in Arabiyya, where you’ll find delicious recipes that satiate the body and personal essays that feed the soul. You’ll learn to hone your kneading skills by making funky red pepper and cheese flatbreads, or be the star baker with hazelnut-praline baklava rolls. Sumac-spiced chicken wraps are adapted from one of Reem’s most popular restaurant dishes and are perfect for both a solo lunch and feeding a crowd. We’re currently digging into the butternut squash-tahini spread, a brilliant celebration of fall produce that we’ll look forward to making every year.
Kwame Onwuachi, My America: Recipes From a Young Black Chef
Is there anything Kwame Onwuachi can’t do? The celebrated chef has competed on and judged Top Chef, written a memoir, run two D.C. restaurants and won a James Beard Award, all before his 34th birthday. It’s been a big year for Onwuachi, as he opened his Lincoln Center restaurant, Tatiana, and released his first cookbook, My America. Onwuachi’s America isn’t “apple pie and hot dogs,” as he explains in the intro, but it’s the diverse and flavorful cuisine of the African diaspora. He tells the story of his own family history through food, from his upbringing in the Bronx and time spent with his mother (who is also a chef) in Louisiana, to his heritage that spans Nigeria to the Caribbean. The recipes in the Pantry chapter will arm you with the ingredients to make dishes like groundnut stew and curried crab rundown, and you can learn to bake the red velvet cake that Onwuachi requested on his birthday every year. We recently jazzed up a plain tin of fish with his marinated sardines recipes, and it was luxurious in every way.
How a 13th Century Cookbook Was Rediscovered After Several CenturiesRevisit the history of Spain — with food
J. Kenji López-Alt, The Wok: Recipes and Techniques
As a home cook, if you ever have a question about technique, J. Kenji López-Alt is hands-down the right guy to ask. He taught us how to improve our cooking through science in The Food Lab, and now he’s back with a 658-page dedication to one of the most versatile pans. The Wok is so much more than a cookbook. The introduction is basically Wok 101 where you’ll learn about the history of the pan; how to buy, season, clean and maintain it; accessories and knives to consider; and how to stock a wok-friendly pantry. From there, you can dive into the recipes in The Science of Stir-Fries, learn how to master fried rice of all kinds and try your hand at noodle dishes like beef chow fun. López-Alt will even teach you how to properly prep and fry 18 common tempura ingredients. On a recent Saturday, we made the spicy korean rice cake stew with kimchi (gungmul tteokbokki), and it was one of the most delicious, foolproof and sinus-clearing dishes we’ve made this year.
Andrea Gentl, Cooking With Mushrooms: A Fungi Lover’s Guide to the World’s Most Versatile, Flavorful, Health-Boosting Ingredients
Andrea Gentl has always been a little bit obsessed with mushrooms. She often drew them as a kid, and their use in food has captivated her while working as a photographer for the last 30 years. Now, her passion for the fungi kingdom is realized in her first cookbook, Cooking With Mushrooms, which is funky, fun, creative and, ultimately, delicious. Gentl starts with a crash course on mushrooms and talks about the different varieties, as well as how to grow them, dry them, cook them and pulverize them into powder. Once girded with that knowledge, you can try your hand at salty sour dark rye bread with maitake and lion’s mane, roast chicken with miso mushroom butter, and shiitake kofta. Don’t skip The Sweetest Mushrooms chapter, which may sound strange at first, but take it from us — Gentl’s mushroom chocolate bark, which is infused with lion’s mane powder and sprinkled with fruit, nuts and dried mushrooms, is the simplest dessert that will wow a room full of guests.
In a country as large as India — and we’re talking about both area and population — the landscape and different cultures within create a culinary tapestry that’s both diverse and delicious. In her new cookbook, British-Indian chef and writer Romy Gill transports us to the foodways of a region that is often unsung by foreign tourism. On the Himalayan Trail takes us to the majestic mountains and verdant valleys of Kashmir, the northernmost part of India that’s bordered by Pakistan to the north and west and China to the east. The book’s recipes, which were inspired by local chefs, guides and friends that Gill met during her travels, are teeming with aromatic ingredients like chilis, cardamom and cinnamon. Take for example the tabakh maaz, lamb or goat ribs that are simmered in spices before they’re fried in ghee. The gogji, or turnip curry, put the root vegetables in our wintery produce box to good use. Sauteed in ghee, then cooked in a mix of turmeric, kashmiri chili paste, cardamom and cinnamon, it was one of the most interesting and satisfying vegan meals we’ve had in awhile.
Illyanna Maisonet, Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook
Of all the cookbooks on this list, the cover of Diasporican is the most striking and mouthwatering. A woman’s hands, with her bright orange nails and turquoise jewelry, holds a stack of arepas de coco stuffed with ensalada de pulpo. As delicious as it looks, Illyanna Maisonet reveals in the intro that she and the women in her family cooked out of economic necessity, rather than for pleasure or joy. But along the way, the recipes that were passed down from her grandmother — and influenced by immigration and colonization on the island — make up Maisonet’s beautiful dedication to the cuisine, a delicious tribute to the 5.5 million “Diasporicans” living stateside who cook the food of their homeland. In the book, she tells you to wash your rice and not worry about soaking your dried beans before patiently simmering them for hours in a big pot on the stove. There are recipes for chillo frito (fried red snapper) and mojo braised chicken, a recipe Maisonet developed after plucking ripe oranges from her California backyard trees. As far as low-effort, high-reward recipes go, Nina DeeDee’s beans is a winner. The cheesy, tender beans are comfort food at its finest when tucked into tortillas and eaten with a fried egg.
Rick Martínez, Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico
In the intro to Mi Cocina, Rick Martínez recalls growing up as a Mexican American in 1970s Austin, Texas. Even though he lived in a nice home surrounded by a loving family, his mostly white community treated him as a second class citizen. He wondered why all of the cooking shows that focused on Mexican cuisine were hosted by white people, too. But as he got older, his mother started to explore her own identity, and they would often take trips across the border to buy spices and dried chiles. Ultimately, Martínez’s mom is the reason he cooks, went to culinary school and embarked on a 2019 trip to Mexico where he visited all 32 states and 156 cities to seek out the recipes for Mi Cocina. The book is divided into two sections — the first with cooking staples like tortillas and salsas, the second filled with recipes divided by region — and he puts his own spin on the dishes and traditions he learned during his travels. Brochetas de pulpo y camarones (grilled orange, habanero-marinated shrimp and octopus skewers) recall dinner on the beach in Puerto Escondido, and poc chuc (orange- and lime-marinated grilled pork) will transport you to the Yucatán Peninsula. Camarones al tamarindo (shrimp with coconut and cashews in tamarind sauce), a specialty of Chinese restaurants in Baja California, is a true treat, especially when served to a table of friends.
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