For years, I've published an annual cookbook roundup around the holidays, when the gift-buying frenzy overcomes the 21st-century reluctance to buy actual physical books. Especially cookbooks, which are no longer necessary or even appreciated in a kitchen environment – most cooks just refer to their phones for recipe help if needed. I must admit, I've wondered for a couple of years now whether that reluctance would cause publishers to slow down production of cookbooks but to my joy, it seems that it has instead pushed cookbooks into the format where I enjoy them most: as books to be read and savored, not instructional manuals. Now that you can indeed cook and Google simultaneously, and find a galaxy of help with technique and ingredient choices online, cookbooks are forced to be more than that – they're memoirs, art books, manifestos. And publication of these new and improved books seems to be ramping up, not winding down – to the point that once a year may not be often enough to take note. Here are just a few of the spring 2017 cookbooks worth looking at.
By Julia Sherman
available May 16
Abrams, 272 pages
Erstwhile sculptor Julia Sherman states simply, "Artists love salad," and she knows whereof she speaks – she and almost every living member of her direct family are practicing artists. This book grew out of her popular Salad for President blog, where she started out by documenting her attempts at food photography but ended up keeping a record of the recipes she cooks with various stellar members of the contemporary art community from both coasts. It's beautiful to look at and tasteful in every sense – altogether, a winning combination.
Recommended recipes: Laurie Anderson, Tauba Auerbach, William Wegman
By Maya and Dean Jankelowitz with Julia Jaksic
Blue Rider, 256 pages
The Jankelowitzes operate two New York locations of their restaurant Jack's Wife Freda (named for Dean's grandparents), and this book captures all the excitement of their food. Israeli and South African influences collide in a happy, healthy-ish explosion of color on the table. Imagine comfort and happiness somehow being glamorous, and you've got the essence of Jack's Wife Freda (both place and book).
Recommended recipes: Duck Bacon, Green Shakshuka, Malva Pudding
By Nick Korbee
William Morrow, 352 pages
You'd be forgiven for assuming that this is a book all about breakfast, but you'd be mistaken: With chef Nick Korbee, restaurateurs Demetri Makoulis and Sarah Schneider created an all-hours cocktails-and-nosh spot, and this book encapsulates the best of it. Crack it to learn how to achieve a true soft scramble, and know that it's welcome any hour of the day.
Recommended recipes: Chocolate Milk French Toast, Hangtown Fry, Rosemary Negroni
By Elisabeth Prueitt
Lorena Jones Books, 384 pages
Sometimes cookbooks by restaurant chefs that attempt to translate dishes to the home kitchen are doomed to fail – the equipment and purveyors available to civilians are just inadequate to the task. (But that's OK; those books are still fun to read.) Failure is not an option with Prueitt's second book, a volume stuffed with stews, salads, starters and sweets. That said, it is for the home cook, but it isn't for the novice – time and work are necessary to succeed with these recipes, but the payoff is worth it.
Recommended recipes: Ceci Cacio e Pepe, Ricotta Dumplings, Apple Beehive
By Joe Beddia
available April 18
Abrams, 224 pages
Philly pizzaiolo Joe Beddia is generally agreed among the food press to make and serve the best pizza in America. That's ... Kind of a Big Deal, considering how much pizza America eats. If you aren't able to visit Pizzeria Beddia in Fishtown, you can try to absorb some of Beddia's dough wisdom and killer topping combinations from this book designed by Walter Green, art director of the recently shuttered and much-missed Lucky Peach magazine.
Recommended recipe: Breakfast Pizza with Cream, Spinach, Bacon and Eggs
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