Cookbooks for the Cook on Your Gift List!

Posted by Whole Earth | 11.21.2023

At the stove in a sunny kitchen!


Cookbooks for the Cook on Your Gift List!


Do you have someone who loves to cook or bake on your holiday gift list? If they enjoy trying new recipes, here are a few of our favorite new cookbooks for 2023. This has been a prime year for books focusing on Mexican, Japanese, South American and other cuisines. Find a favorite and be prepared for a delicious result!


Latinísimo by Sandra A. Gutierrez

Latinisimo: Home Recipes from the Twenty-One Countries of Latin America by Sandra A. Gutierrez

Latinisimo: Home Recipes from the Twenty-One Countries of Latin America by Sandra A. Gutierrez may well be our favorite cookbook of 2023. It's an encyclopedic survey of Latin American home cooking that includes both indigenous dishes and those that have been brought to the continent by settlers old and new as well as some marvelous recipes that represent a melding of both traditions.

The recipes are from home cooks throughout Latin America and are within the reach of their North American counterparts. The recipes are usefully divided by main ingredient rather than geographical location. After an extended chapter on essentials that touches on spice mixes and rubs, marinades and sauces, broths, stocks, vinaigrettes, and doughs, each chapter focuses on a specific ingredient: corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, chiles, achiote, avocados, garden vegetables, potatoes, plantains, rice, quinoa, fish and seafood, poultry, meats, cacao, coconut, and sugar and vanilla. Latinisimo is a pleasure to hold, to read, and to search for delicious recipes that will have your family asking for more. 


Buenos Dias The Mexican Breakfast Book - Ericka Sanchez

Buenos Dias The Mexican Breakfast Book - Ericka Sanchez

We have to love a cookbook that even before the Introduction, begins by teaching us How to Roast a Poblano Chile. For those of us who could eat breakfast any time of the day or night, Buenos Dias - The Mexican Breakfast Book by Ericka Sanchez and Nicole Presley is a treasure of possibilities. Many of the recipes have been handed down from generation to generation in the authors' immediate and extended families. Some are experiments, and some are an attempt to retrieve a faded memory of breakfasts from years ago.

Chapters include Salsas, Drinks, Salads, Soups, Savory Main, Sweet Main, Sides, and Something Sweet. Some tempting recipes to be found within are Creamy Horchata Iced Coffee, Chiles Rellenos al Horno para desayunar or Baked Breakfast Stuffed Chilies, Hotcakes de Elote or Corn Pancakes, Crepas con Cajeta y Nuez or Crepes with Cajeta and Pecans, and Wafles de Tres Leches or Three Milk Waffles. We're ready for a year's worth of special breakfasts! With Buenos Dias, we think you will be too.


Every Season Is Soup Season by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel

Every Season Is Soup Season by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel

If you love soup, we think you'll be very pleased with Every Season is Soup Season: 85 Plus Souper-Adaptable Recipes to Batch, Share, Reinvent, and Enjoy by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel.  The book has seasonal recipes for the entire year from a rib-sticking Gruyere, Cauliflower, and Potato Soup for fall to a cooling summer Tomato-Watermelon Gazpacho. This is an extremely flexible cookbook. The recipes are vegetarian but also include meat suggestions if your family has multiple expectations for dinner. Most of the soups can be made in an hour.

There are thirty-plus vegetarian base soup recipes and each recipe has one to three suggestions for dressing up or repurposing the leftover soup into new dishes. There are two types: the Quick Fix - an addition that brings out new flavors or the New Twist which uses leftover soup to create new dishes for lunch or dinner. There's a Flavor Guide that can help you learn to balance flavors and textures as well as recover from soups that are too salty, spicy, acidic, thin, or thick. Two chapters that are especially helpful are Soup Enhancers which includes recipes for vegetable broths, sauces, pickled mustard seeds, and fancy croutons. Accompaniments include salads and breads to take your soup dinner to the next level. 


CDMX: The Food of Mexico City by Rosa Cienfuegos

CDMX: The Food of Mexico City by Rosa CienfuegosWe have so many Mexican cookbooks, but there's always room for another on the shelf, especially if it's as much fun as CDMX: The Food of Mexico City by Rosa Cienfuegos. Cienfuegos is a native of Mexico City, Ciudad de Mexico or CDMX, who now lives in Sydney, Australia. She missed her home and its delicious food and so began importing Mexican ingredients to sell at market, and eventually opened a tamaleria and a very successful restaurant. Her cookbook offers recipes found in home kitchens, markets, cafes, and bars.

Cienfuegos comments are very conversational, and her recipes are friendly and generous with suggestions for alternatives. The chapters include Breakfast, Snacks and Drinks, Tacos, Soups, Set Meals, Seafood, Desserts, and Salsas. There are both traditional recipes and some genuine surprises. At the end of the book, you'll find Basics and a Food Lovers' Guide which directs you to Rosa's favorite cafes, restaurants, markets, and bars in Mexico City. Eat like a chilango or a chilanga with food from CDMX!


Veg-table by Nik Sharma

Veg-table: Recipes, Techniques, and Plant Science for Big-Flavored, Vegetable-Focused Meals by Nik Sharma

If you loved The Flavor Equation, have we got a book for you! Let us introduce you to Nik Sharma's latest cookbook Veg-table: Recipes, Techniques, and Plant Science for Big-Flavored, Vegetable-Focused Meals. A scientist by training, Sharma asks many questions of vegetables such as what are they? How are they related? What are the best ways to prepare them? To store them? And how do they work together in a dish to create something delicious? The answers to all these questions can be found within the pages of this well-made cookbook. Sharma is also an excellent photographer, so his cookbooks are a visual treat as well as offering an in-depth source of information and recipes. The book's endpapers form a periodic chart of the vegetable families with quick page references to the appropriate section.

A few readers don't care for the way Sharma presents his recipes. Most cookbooks list the ingredients at the top and then go step by step through the preparation. You might say that Sharma presents his recipes in a narrative fashion. The ingredients are highlighted in bold text within the instructions, so it is still easy to make a grocery list or check the cupboards. The benefit of this method of conveying recipes seems to be that there is less likelihood for an ingredient to be left out while making the dish. Another possibility is that there are times when we cooks think we know what to do, and so we don't actually read the instructions as closely as we should. This habit has led to more than one kitchen failure.

If you're ready to learn more about vegetables and to serve them forth deliciously with an international flair, we think you'll find Veg-table a welcome addition to your cookbook collection. 


South of Somewhere by Dale Gray

South of Somewhere: Recipes and Stories from My Life in South Africa, South Korea & the American South - Dale Gray

"Walking I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands."

Any cookbook that begins with Linda Hogan’s remarkable invocation is a sure way to grab our attention. In South of Somewhere: Recipes and Stories from My Life in South Africa, South Korea & the American South, Dale Gray shares her love of family, good food, and the southern places she calls home. Her passion for food spans three continents and has given her a wonderful gift for mixing ingredients and flavors to create both traditional and non-traditional dishes.

South of Somewhere has chapters on Kitchen Staples for All Senses, Come for a Braai - South Africans love grilling and partying too!, Snacks and Drinks, Fish and Shellfish, Poultry, Beef, Pork and Lamb, Eggs, Vegetable Heavy, Sweets and Basics. Dale describes herself as a home cook, but what a cook she is. Some of her recipes will find their way into your family's regular meal rotation. Enjoy!


Rintaro by Sylvan Mishima Brackett

Rintaro: Japanese Food from an Izakaya in California - Sylvan Mishima Brackett

Rintaro - Japanese Food from an Izakaya in California by Sylvan Mishima Brackett was one of the most anticipated books of this fall's cookbook season. We're pleased to report that our hopes were fulfilled. Brackett's debut cookbook is based on recipes from Rintaro, his California restaurant and brings the comfort foods of a Tokyo izakaya to our home kitchens. An izakaya is a casual Japanese bar that serves alcohol and substantial snacks that can be shared meals. He describes his recipes as adaptations of traditional Japanese dishes that use seasonal ingredients native to the Bay Area or wherever the cook may be living. He has suggestions for substitutions for some special ingredients as well as providing master recipes for Japanese classics.

The contents include Dashi; Sashimi; Aemono, Ohitashi, and Sarada (dressed dishes); Tofu to Tamgo (tofu and eggs); Yakitori; Agemono (fried dishes); Nimono to Oden (simmered dishes); Gohan (rice); Udon; and Dezato (desserts). The recipes offer an excellent overview of Japanese cuisine and techniques. Brackett first considered pursuing a career as a pastry chef, and it shows in the dessert section. His recipe for Ichigo Daifuku – mochi-wrapped strawberries - is a beauty and offers both a traditional recipe and one that takes advantage of store-bought ingredients. If you're ready for a cooking adventure, may we suggest Rintaro


Vegan Africa by Marie Kacouchia 

Vegan Africa: Plant-Based Recipes from Ethiopia to Senegal by Marie Kacouchia

We didn't discover Vegan Africa: Plant-Based Recipes from Ethiopia to Senegal by Marie Kacouchia until earlier this year. So, while it was published in 2022, we still want to bring it to your attention now. Vegan cooking can be a challenge. It's easy to fall into a rut of convenience and familiarity. Kacouchia's recipes help us be more creative in the kitchen. She uses simple ingredients like sweet potatoes, plantains, avocados, peppers, peanuts, corn, carrots, chickpeas, mangoes, and tomatoes from which she delights in making sublime dishes.

Her recipes include Sauces, Snacks, Starters, Main Dishes, Rice, Desserts, and Drinks. There are also suggested menus for occasions such as a romantic dinner, a decadent Sunday brunch, a picnic, and pre-dinner drinks and snacks. The author is from Cote d'Ivoire and lives in Paris, so her book and recipes have a French sensibility, including her advice to clear the table, set out beautiful dishes, and take the time to appreciate the beauty of the ingredients and the food that you've prepared.







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