Nothing like a big, beautiful cookbook to transport you to a new place and mealtime. Here are our favorite newbies for spring.
Today's cookbooks, with their stylized covers and fashiony photographs, are as inspirational as they are handy. The best of the batch this season just so happen to be authored by a bevy of female creatives — chefs, photographers, writers, artists, and publicists — making meaning and meals and transforming our dining tables, one dish at a time.
"Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists"
Salad for President began as a conceptual project mixing media, food, art, and everyday living. Creator Julia Sherman (herself an artist and writer) collected salad recipes over interviews in the kitchen with artists and architects she admires. Included in the book are Salad Best Practices; Q&As with the likes of Alice Waters, William Wegman, and Laurie Anderson; and a whole chapter called Salad in Sweatpants. ($22)
"Simple Fare Spring/Summer: A Guide to Everyday Cooking and Eating"
It's a ritual celebrated all over the world: an end-of-the-week gathering to break bread. Six years ago, photographer and home cook Karen Mordechai began documenting the friends (then friends of friends, then strangers) who came to her dining room table every Sunday for supper. A dinner series evolved from there, as well as wholesome, simple, lovely recipes for communal meals. Some of the best examples (buckwheat bread with whipped ricotta and rose honey; charred eggplant; marinated labneh) are published in her new book, which looks like a fine Scandinavian magazine about the art of living well. ($20)
"Dinner: Changing the Game"
Chances are we want to be eating whatever it is that Melissa Clark is writing about in her New York Times column and demonstrating in her Good Appetite video series. With an easy-breezy attitude and plenty of humor, Clark makes cooking a real joy. Her new book is a collection of everyday recipes from all over the world — Colombian chicken, red lentil dhal — that are a cinch to follow and delightful to eat. For a taste, see her recipe for Turkish lamb chops. ($20)
"Back Pocket Pasta"
If Italians know how to do one thing, it’s make pasta effortless. Food publicist/writer/influencer Colu Henry translated the lessons of her immigrant forebears into easy, fresh, varied pastas that can make a meal. The takeaway? A well-stocked kitchen and a flare for spontaneity can do wonders for your weekday dinners at home. As for Henry, a well-played hashtag (#backpocketpasta) did wonders for her collection of recipes, the culmination of a hodge-podge of pantry items like capers, anchovies, bread crumbs, and beans. ($22)
"Bowls of Plenty"
Carolynn Carreño has written cookbooks for fancy Italian cooks (Nancy Silverton), eccentric diner owners (Kenny Shopsin), and French tart obsessives (Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau). (She's even written for Gentedimontagna.) Her own book focuses on the joys of one-bowl meals — the trending, whole grain, West Coasty assemblage of good-for-you farmers market foods tossed with beautiful dressings, pestos, and vinegars. There are tangy Vietnamese bowls of tofu and scallions, spicy South American bowls of quinoa and chile salsa, bowls of sorghum risotto from Italy, Korean shortib and kimchi rice bowls, and dessert bowls of Indian pudding. ($18)