Books Food Recommended Vol. 25 No. 12

Holiday Gift Ideas: New Books by Chefs & Farmers


Restaurants may have remained closed or at limited capacity in 2021, but many chefs were busy releasing cookbooks in time for the holidays. There is a recurring theme among several of the latest releases of family gatherings and celebrations, something we all missed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. These remind us that cooking can be centering for the mind and nourishing for the soul

Here are some recommendations to give or to add to your cookbook shelf.

Peace, Love and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen Author: Scott Conant   Publisher:  Harry N. Abrams (240 pages, hard cover,  $35)

Peace, Love, and Pasta, Chef – Restaurateur/Chef Scott Conant’s most personal and accessible cookbook delves into the evolution of how his cooking has changed throughout his career and how his connection to food has strengthened as a result of his deep relationship with his family. The book highlights the pleasures of simple, fresh and flavorful Italian dishes. It also includes authentic Turkish recipes as an homage to his wife, Mel’s heritage, with many of the dishes being staples in their family’s home.

Together: Memorable Meals, Made Easy

Author: Jamie Oliver Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers  (360 pages, hardcover,  $35)

Best-Selling Author, Chef and TV Host Jamie Oliver delivers 130 recipes for casual gatherings, family meals and the holidays and, above all, gathering around the table together to share a meal in Together. Recipes like Sumptuous Beef Bourguignon, Pumpkin Chickpea Curry, Fennel Gratin, Banana Panettone Pudding are all designed to deliver flavor without fuss.

Gabriel Kreuther: The Spirit of Alsace, a Cookbook

Author: Gabriel Kreuther and Michael Ruhlman with photos by Evan Sung and forward by Jean-Georges-Vongerichten. Publisher: Harry N. Abrams  (368 pages, hard cover $60)

Michelin Two- Star Chef Gabriel Kreuther, owner of an eponymous restaurant in New York City, shares memories and dishes from both his native French homeland and his adopted home. Recipes include Kreuther’s take on classic Alsatian food like the delicious Flammekueche (or Tarte Flambée) and hearty Baeckeoffe (a type of casserole stew) to modern dishes like the flavorful Roasted Button Mushroom Soup served with Toasted Chorizo Raviolis and the decadent Salmon Roe Beggar’s Purse garnished with Gold Leaf. 

Co-author Michael Ruhlman  has collaborated on several bestselling restaurant cookbooks, including The French Laundry CookbookBouchon, and Alinea and is author of critically acclaimed books including Grocery (Abrams, 2017) and From Scratch (Abrams, 2019).

The Latin American Cookbook by Virgilio Martinez. Publisher: Phaidon (432 pages, hard cover, $50)

Virgilio Martinez, owner/executive chef of Central in Lima, Peru, listed on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, stretches beyond his homeland of Peru to cover the cuisines of 20 Latin American countries, featuring 600 recipes with in-depth stories, each with sections organized by food type. Take a culinary journey with Martinez to Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer Hardcover by Matthew Raiford with Amy Paige Condon. Publisher: Countryman Press (240 pages, hard cover, $30)

Bress ‘n’ Nyman means “bless and eat” in Gullah Geechee, the native language of the enslaved Africans who settled in the coastal Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Chef and farmer, Matthew Raiford, pays homage to the culture and foodways of his great-great-great grandfather in Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer with more than 100 recipes, from Hot Buttermilk Biscuits and Sweet Potato Pie to Salmon Cakes on Pepper Rice,

The Twisted Soul Cookbook: Modern Soul Food with Global Flavors

Author: Chef Deborah VanTrece. Publisher: Rizzoli (208 pages, hard cover, $35)

Owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in Atlanta, Deborah VanTrece delivers 100 recipes that honor culture, tradition and ingredients with flair in her first cookbook. VanTrece grew up in Kansas City and worked as an American Airlines flight attendant before enrolling in culinary school to become a chef. The cookbook draws upon her global travels and her personal search to define “soul food.”

Damn Good Chinese Food: Dumplings, Egg Rolls, Bao Buns, Sesame Noodles, Roast Duck, Fried Rice, and More

Author: Chris Cheung. Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (208 pages, hard cover, $25). Forward by Maneet Chauhan

Owner of East Wind Snack Shop with two locations in Brooklyn, New York, Chris Cheung takes readers on an insider’s tour of New York City’s Chinatown where he grew up. Cheung shares his technique for making his popular dumplings and more than 50 recipes for classics like potstickers, spring rolls, wonton soup, scallion pancakes, har gow (shrimp dumplings), chicken chow mein, salt-and-pepper shrimp, lobster Cantonese, egg cakes and congee.

The Chef’s Garden: A Modern Guide To Common and Unusual Vegetables with Recipes

Author: Farmer Lee Jones with Kristin Donnelly.  Forward by Chef Jose Andrés Publisher: Avery/Penguin Random House (640 pages, hard cover $60)

Farmer Lee Jones shares a wealth of knowledge from his family’s farm, The Chef’s Garden, in Huron, Ohio, which has supplied many of the nation’s top restaurants. This stunning book contains more than 500 entries, from specialty produce to herbs and edible flowers and more than 100 recipes by Jesse Simpson, head chef at The Chef’s Garden’s Culinary Vegetable Institute. Examples include: Ramp Top Pasta, Seared Rack of Brussels Sprouts, Cornbread-stuffed Zucchini Blossoms and sweets like Onion Caramel Beet Marshmallows.

And for a splurge

Modernist Pizza Authors: Nathan Myhrvold & Francisco Migoya Publisher: The Cooking Lab, (3 hard cover volumes plus kitchen manual, $425)

Modernist Pizza is the ultimate deep dive into of one of the world’s most beloved foods from the food scientist and chef who brought you Modernist Bread. Authors Myhrvold and Migoya traveled to over 250 pizzerias to learn local pizza styles for the world’s best pizzaioli and conducted hundreds of experiments to test long-standing pizza traditions. This three-volume book, weighing in at over 35.5 pounds with over 1,000 recipes, covers the global history of pizza, its culture and styles and offers both professional and home pizza makers the tools to refine their skills.  

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An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Instagram @theconnectedtable

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