Each fall, as the corn and tomatoes give way to apples and squash, a crop of new cookbooks arrives. This year they are right on schedule, and needed like never before. As we move back inside after a summer of hikes, bike rides, beach days, and socially distanced backyard gatherings, the kitchen once again becomes a primary theater of entertainment for those who like to cook — or are now forced to more often because of coronavirus. By some stroke of luck, these new cookbooks, long in the works, feel geared toward this time and mood.
Which is to say, they are an antidote. Some are cozy, comforting. Some evocatively conjure a place we may not be able to access, be it a restaurant or a region. Some are filled with illuminating, engrossing writing. And all are total delights to cook from, stocked with recipes for so many things you will want to make and eat.
Here are the new cookbooks that will see you through fall and winter, into an unknown future. Hunker down.
“100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen,” by Sarah Kieffer
This is a bit of a cheat for a fall cookbook list, as it came out at the end of August. But, I mean, 100 cookies! I make no apologies. Sarah Kieffer is the one who broke the Internet with her pan-banging cookies, large, chocolate-rich, and rippled like sandbars. And this book offers plenty of bangers, with a whole chapter of crinkly treats for those who like to make some noise on the way to dessert. You’ll also find everything from rocky road brownies to raspberry rye cookies to espresso cheesecake bars to gorgeously multihued Neapolitan pink-brown-and-tan rounds. Baking them all could be your winter challenge.
“The Barbuto Cookbook: California-Italian Cooking From the Beloved West Village Restaurant,” by Jonathan Waxman
This feels like such a New Yorky inclusion, but if you ever went to Barbuto, you’ll understand. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter if you never went to Barbuto. No one can resist a feel-good neighborhood place with robustly delicious food, and everyone misses that right now. This cookbook helps you re-create the experience at home. The restaurant’s famed roast chicken (350,000 served for a reason) and kale salad are here, along with other craveable dishes: pizzas and a host of other salads, carbonara and the gnocchi that are a Waxman signature, cod baked in parchment and lamb chops with mint butter, super-chocolate-y budino. Welcome to your favorite new neighborhood restaurant, conveniently located in your own home.
“Cook With Me: 150 Recipes for the Home Cook,” by Alex Guarnaschelli
This book is dedicated to the celebrity chef’s father, who passed away. It’s fueled by grief and love and longing. That comes across in the writing. The recipes themselves are joyous and full-flavored and all over the place. Spicy crab dip and pigs in a blanket. Meatless yet somehow meaty dishes like spiced ruby red cabbage “steaks” and beet and brown rice burgers. Pork chops and pad thai and poached salmon. Sheet pan dinners and red sauce fare and brownies made in a slow cooker. It’s a jubilant jumble, and I am absolutely certain Guarnaschelli’s father would have loved it.
“The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained + More Than 100 Essential Recipes,” by Nik Sharma
Maybe you’re the kind of person who delights in beautifully rendered Venn diagrams charting the overlap of ingredients among cultures, tables of common food pigments and charts about spinach oxidation, discussions of mouth feel, emulsions, and the chemical structure of aromas. Maybe you’d simply like to make a gorgeous chickpea salad with date and tamarind dressing, crab tikka masala dip, coffee-spiced steak with burnt kachumber salad, or chocolate miso bread pudding, backed by research. Whether you’re a science geek, flavor lover, or both, this book by molecular biologist and cookbook author Nik Sharma is for you.
“Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter,” by Nigel Slater
This one is all mood. It feels like puttering alone in a quiet late-afternoon kitchen, when the light is stark and clear, fixing yourself a plate of something warm to ward off the chill creeping in around the old window frames. Slater serves up compositions as much as dishes: Brussels sprouts with brown rice, miso, and Japanese pickles; roast cauliflower in a milky onion sauce; spiced lentils layered with sweet potatoes and baked until bubbling; a bright little salad of beets, blood oranges, radishes, watercress, and mint. The meatlessness of it all feels almost incidental; this food is about the season, and ingredients, and caretaking oneself and others.
“In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers From the Eight African Countries That Touch the Indian Ocean,” by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen
This book champions the often unchampioned in the world of cookbooks: older women; home cooking as a primary conveyor of culture; African cuisine, both diverse and connected. Hawa Hassan introduces us to grandmothers from Eritrea, Tanzania, South Africa, Madagascar, and more, giving the women the chance to tell their stories and share their recipes. We get chicken biryani from Kenyan grandmother Ma Kauthar, plantains with coconuts and prawns from Ma Josefina of Mozambique, and the Somali flatbread sabaayad from Ma Halima, alongside recipes the authors developed themselves: kunde, a Kenyan dish of black-eyed peas and tomatoes in peanut sauce; South African denningvleis, a sweet-and-sour braised lamb; and from Somalia a cilantro and chile sauce like the one Hassan sells through Basbaas, her line of condiments.
“Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking With Confidence,” by Claire Saffitz
Claire Saffitz, who won a cultish following as host of Bon Appetit’s “Gourmet Makes,” has written her first cookbook. It’s complicated: Bon Appetit video is reckoning with systemic racism and revelations of unequal pay for BIPOC staff, and Saffitz has spoken out about that. (“In Bibi’s Kitchen” author Hawa Hassan, who made several videos with Bon Appetit, has taken a strong stance against the company.) “I have invested and reinvested in relationships and spent a lot of time thinking about how I want the future to look professionally and personally,” she recently posted. “Dessert Person” is a step into that future. The fans who routinely say they would die for Claire from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen will thrill to recipes for apple and Concord grape crumble pie, preserved lemon meringue cake, babkallah (a babka/challah hybrid), and so much more.
“East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes From Bangalore to Beijing,” by Meera Sodha
Meera Sodha, vegan columnist for the Guardian, offers this book of personal recipes inspired by restaurants, home cooks, and cuisines from all over Asia. Japanese onigiri are stuffed with London chef Shuko Oda’s walnut miso. There’s a beet and ginger soup from Sodha’s mum. A Burmese mango salad is a riff on a version she had at a restaurant in Mumbai. There are rice dishes, curries, and noodles. And most of all, there are vegetables, beautifully deployed. When Sodha started writing her column, she wanted to help make plant-based diets more tempting, more pleasurable. “East” is testament to her success.
“The Good Book of Southern Baking: A Revival of Biscuits, Cakes, and Cornbread,” by Kelly Fields with Kate Heddings
Truth in naming. Chef Kelly Fields, who runs Willa Jean in New Orleans, promises to bury us in cornbread and biscuits in her introduction. She follows through, with recipes for Willa Jean’s cornbread (plus variations for cornbread pancakes, waffles, fritters, and croutons) and a half-dozen kinds of biscuits. But there’s so much more to this good book: praline monkey bread, moon pies, New Orleans-style bread pudding, coconut cake, her mom’s recipe for cobbler made with peaches, blackberries, and bourbon. There’s even a recipe for dog biscuits, to make for your best friend.
“Modern Comfort Food,” by Ina Garten
If there’s a new cookbook out by Ina Garten, it’s going to be on this list. Her recipes are reliable, and a little certainty is something we could use in the world right now. Modern comfort food also sounds just right. And I’m not going to fight Ina for making her first chapter about cocktails and things to eat with them. (In April, she won hearts and minds by posting a video of herself mixing and sipping the world’s largest cosmopolitan.) Baked fish chowder, tuna melts, crispy chicken with lemon orzo, cheesy enchiladas, buckwheat crepes, and baked apples will also help get you through.
“Ottolenghi Flavor,” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage with Tara Wigley
It seems like there’s a new Ottolenghi cookbook every season, and each time I think, well, this will be the one that finally feels like a retread. But not yet. “Flavor” is the third book in the “Plenty” series, so those who were fans of the first two vegetable-focused volumes will want this one, focused on coaxing maximum taste from produce. Recipes such as hasselback beets with lime leaf butter; butternut, orange, and sage galette; and the ultimate meatless ragu show you what to do.
“Red Sands: Reportage and Recipes Through Central Asia From Hinterland to Heartland,” by Caroline Eden
Caroline Eden’s “Red Sands” follows in the footsteps of her previous volume “Black Sea.” The earlier book was a journey through Odessa, Istanbul, and Trabzon, while this new one starts in Kazakhstan by the Caspian Sea and ends in Tajikistan in the Fergana Valley. Both are pleasures to read, triangulating journalism, literary writing, and cookbookery: The recipes are part of the reporting, and Eden describes them as “edible snapshots.” Lamb plov with chestnuts, apricots, and watercress takes us to a restaurant called Barashka; meatball, lavash, and chickpea soup comes from the Hotel Cosmonaut, where returning space explorers used to stay; and dimlama, an Uzbek harvest stew made with quince, is an ideal fall dish.
“The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food,” by Marcus Samuelsson with Osayi Endolyn
This book is here to shine a light, celebrating Black food as American food, along with the cooks who shape it. It is here to bring equity, restoring Black history and contribution to the story of food in this country, to tell it truer. And it is here to put delicious, wide-ranging recipes in our hands. You’ll find illuminating profiles of figures such as David Zilber, who was director of fermentation at Noma in Copenhagen; New Orleans chef Nina Compton; and Devita Davison, director of the nonprofit FoodLab Detroit; and you’ll find mouthwatering instructions for tomato and peach salad with okra, radishes, and benne seed dressing; spiced catfish with pumpkin leche de tigre; saffron tapioca pudding with amaro-marinated strawberries; and much more.
“Sheet Pan Chicken: 50 Simple and Satisfying Ways to Cook Dinner,” by Cathy Erway
Cathy Erway delivers with this cookbook concept. In theory, we want to make so many interesting, complicated things. In reality, much of the time, we just want to put chicken on a pan, stick it in a hot oven, and wind up with dinner. This book lets us do that, a lot. Whether it’s spatchcocked chicken with lemon and root vegetables, Chinese lion’s head meatballs, or Puerto Rican-Vietnamese adobo chicken with pineapple is up to us. There are accompaniments, too, like garlicky smashed cucumbers and a citrus salad with olives, chiles, and mint.
“Time to Eat: Delicious Meals for Busy Lives,” by Nadiya Hussain
You may know Nadiya Hussain from her win on “The Great British Bake Off,” or from her cooking show, “Nadiya’s Time to Eat,” which hit Netflix during quarantine. This cookbook is a lot like that show: helpful and considerate, filled with strategies for saving time in the kitchen so one might enjoy it elsewhere. It will get you cooking in batches, stocking your freezer, and wasting less, all while eating breakfast trifles, spicy scrap soup, salmon poke bowls, and lamb with rhubarb-rosemary glaze.
“Xi’an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, From New York’s Favorite Noodle Shop,” by Jason Wang with Jessica K. Chou
Another cookbook from a beloved New York restaurant. It’s an immigrant story, tracing the journey of Jason Wang’s family from Xi’an, China, to Flushing foodie fame. Along the way, it teaches readers to prepare proper rice, embrace chile oil, and make everything from hand-ripped biang-biang noodles to pork and chive dumplings to spicy cumin lamb skewers.