The 12 Best Cookbooks of Spring 2019 – The New York Times


Food reporters and editors from The New York Times pick their favorite new books of the season.

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By The New York Times

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When you think of Hawaii, you may imagine white sand beaches and palm trees. Those are nice, but a freshly fried malasada and a spam musubi are better. “Aloha Kitchen” (Ten Speed, $30) delves deep into the comforting flavors of Hawaiian cuisine, with a chapter devoted to culinary regions of influence. Alana Kysar, who has a popular food blog, Fix Feast Flair, grew up in Hawaii but is not ethnically Hawaiian; she explains how terrified she was to write a book that encompassed the stories and history of her favorite place in the world. But she did, and her love and respect for her home come alive on every page. If that doesn’t convince you, the pink guava cake will. KIERA WRIGHT-RUIZ

Spam musubi from “Aloha Kitchen.”CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Recipes: Loco Moco | Spam Musubi | Hawaiian Guava Cake

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I was immediately drawn to “Black Sea” (Hardie Grant, $35); its author, Caroline Eden, also wrote “Samarkand,” another cookbook with a strong infusion of history and culture that I loved. The Black Sea has had strategic importance since ancient times, and remains a gateway to the Mediterranean. But, as its waters lap the shores of many countries, the sea also provides a way of understanding the region’s diverse and compelling menu. Star billing goes to Romania, especially the coastal city Constanta, with a summery raspberry buttermilk tart, and to Bulgaria, too, known for dishes like blackened peppers with feta, tarragon and mint, and a quiche-like zelnik pie with Swiss chard and feta. Istanbul is prominent, but the Turkish cities Karakoy and Trabzon contribute dishes like warm strawberries heated with chiles and cooled with yogurt that are worth adding to the summer repertory. FLORENCE FABRICANT

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Sarah Copeland knows exactly who her new cookbook, “Every Day Is Saturday” (Chronicle, $29.95), is for. If you graze at Sweetgreen, sip at Stumptown and thrill to ideas like farm shares, alternative milks and good fats — but haven’t managed to incorporate that way of eating into your home — this book is for you. The title refers to Ms. Copeland’s conviction that the pleasures of weekend cooking are transferable to weekday meals. Maybe, but she does provide tasty, real-world recipes, like one-pot pasta with spring vegetables and instant smoky black beans for taco night. They are informed by her time as food director of Real Simple magazine, as a restaurant chef and as a parent of two young children. (She is also a New York Times contributor.) Without losing track of deliciousness, she cuts the cream in mushroom soup with puréed beans, the white flour in cookies with almond flour, and the butter in banana bread with coconut oil. It’s a worthy primer on modern, healthy family cooking. JULIA MOSKIN

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The food writer (and New York Times contributor) Priya Krishna wrote “Indian-ish” (Houghton Mifflin, $28) with her mother, Ritu Krishna, an executive at a software company who taught herself how to cook after moving from India to the United States. Ritu developed many of the recipes in this entertaining book, which is filled with Indian-American mashups like roti pizza, saag paneer made with feta, and Indian ribollita. Tomato rice with crispy Cheddar, or “pizza rice” as they call it in the Krishna family, is a pleasantly addictive rice-cheese-tomato casserole that gets a little kick from Indian green chile. Garlic-ginger-cilantro-mint chicken is a riot of flavors and colors, much like the rest of this pop-art-illustrated book. It is a joy to cook from, and just as much fun to read. MARGAUX LASKEY

Baked potatoes from “Indian-ish.”CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.
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Not all who wander are lost. Before starting her company, La Grotta Ices, in London, Kitty Travers traveled extensively, apprenticing in kitchens and eventually becoming the pastry chef at Fergus Henderson’s restaurant St. John Bread and Wine. In her joyful, quirky cookbook, “La Grotta” (Clarkson Potter, $25), she pairs simple custards and sorbets with unconventional and sophisticated flavors, like green walnut and blood peach. Others combine common ingredients in uncommon ways, like cucumber and sour cream, uniting fresh and tart. Peach is vibrant (almost loud!) and set in a creamy custard; a mango sorbet crisp, amplified by lime. For less adventurous palates, she includes classic flavors, like pistachio, mint chip and Swiss vanilla. But the world is so large. Why stop there? KRYSTEN CHAMBROT

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At her Mexico City restaurant Contramar, the chef Gabriela Cámara serves a dramatic butterflied snapper, a dish originally created to please a variety of tastes at home. One side of the fish is red, stained with a fiery paste of cascabel, ancho and guajillo chiles. The other side is green and mellow, flavored with parsley and garlic. In “My Mexico City Kitchen” (Lorena Jones, $35), written with Malena Watrous, Ms. Cámara is a precise but unfussy teacher, showing readers exactly how to build this pescado a la talla, from the red adobo to the raw salsa verde to the supremely creamy refried beans, and jumping just as easily from the topics of recycling leftovers to general taco theory. In her creative, pleasure-driven kitchen, anything can become a taco. TEJAL RAO

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Things in my kitchen have changed since “Ruffage” (Chronicle, $35) arrived. I have become a poacher of radishes and a shaver of cauliflower. I have even considered cooking sunchokes. I credit Abra Berens, a chef at Granor Farm near the Michigan-Indiana border, who built the book she wished she had when she was running a small farm 10 years ago. This organized, easygoing guide to 29 vegetables offers a few cooking methods for each one, supplemented by several variations. Shaved raw cauliflower becomes the base for a salad with whitefish, lemon and radicchio, or one with dates, chile oil and parsley. Toss roasted cauliflower with yogurt, dried cherries and pecans, or purée it with white wine and onion to make a base for a pork cutlet or salmon with orange zest. KIM SEVERSON

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The premise of “Simple Cake” (Ten Speed, $23) is a lovely one: It aims to make baking a cake the kind of thing you do to celebrate life’s little moments as well as the big ones, from a lost tooth to a milestone birthday. The author, Odette Williams, divided her book into three chapters — cakes, toppings and ways to combine them — that prompt readers to come up with their own variations. The milk and honey cake is delightful on its own, but cover it with lemony mascarpone icing and it’s dinner party fare. Or drizzle condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream over a chocolate sheet cake and top it with cinnamon whipped cream for a showstopper inspired by tres leches cake. This book is perfect for newlyweds, a new parent or anyone looking to make new traditions. MARGAUX LASKEY

Chocolate tres leches cake from “Simple Cake.”CreditJohnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich

Recipe: Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

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Enrique Olvera may be Mexico’s most renowned chef, but in his latest cookbook, he is the voice whispering encouragements as you make tamales, chilaquiles and chicken tinga at home. “Tu Casa Mi Casa” (Phaidon, $39.95), written with Luis Arellano, Gonzalo Goût and Daniela Soto-Innes, has a few big projects, though most of the book is filled with weeknight recipes, many vegetarian and gluten-free, like a vibrant green mole made with pistachios, chiles and fresh herbs, and a refreshing avocado and lemon agua fresca. Every household has one or two salsa recipes that “is theirs and theirs alone,” Mr. Olvera writes. With his help, you will soon have one, too. SARA BONISTEEL

Pistachio green mole from “Tu Casa Mi Casa.”CreditJohnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich

From how to make the richest beef broth for pho to how to properly fry cha gio (imperial rolls), nearly everything I know about Vietnamese food I learned from the writer Andrea Nguyen. In her previous books, the focus was on guiding the cook through traditional Vietnamese dishes. But she shifts gears in her latest book, “Vietnamese Food Any Day”(Ten Speed, $24.99), focusing on home cooking using supermarket ingredients and weeknight-fast techniques. Richly flavored but simple recipes dominate the pages, with versions of Vietnamese classics alongside Ms. Nguyen’s more modern takes. In her pomegranate Sriracha shrimp, tangy pomegranate molasses stands in for harder-to-find tamarind concentrate, lending pungency to the sweet shellfish. And her garlic umami noodles are a revelation — complex, tangy and deeply buttery, and all made in one pan. MELISSA CLARK

Recipe: Umami Garlic Noodles With Mustard Greens

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Carla Lalli Music, the food director of Bon Appétit magazine, is like everyone’s favorite aunt, the one who shows up and makes surprising things happen. Her superpower is that she believes in you as a cook; her new book, “Where Cooking Begins” (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), is her 250-page argument that you should believe in yourself, too. She helps with the first steps, like stocking a pantry and learning an all-purpose pastry dough. When it’s time for recipes, Aunt Carla might invent something delicious, like tahini butter on sweet potatoes or Parmesan-garlic croutons, or using crushed potato chips as a garnish — or something weird, like stir-fried celery with bacon and peanuts, and a ham sandwich with string beans on it. Either way, you want to be in the kitchen with her. JULIA MOSKIN

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The British writer Yasmin Khan first explored Palestinian cuisine while she was working in the Israeli-occupied West Bank for a human rights organization, and later amassed recipes and stories by speaking and eating with Palestinians in their home kitchens. “Zaitoun” (W.W. Norton & Company, $29.95) invites readers to explore bountiful mazzeh (or mezze) like crunchy pickles, creamy bowls of labneh, raw and cooked vegetables and Arabian flatbreads to scoop them all up, as well as spice-laden dishes like sumac roast chicken and mansaf, a Bedouin lamb dish served at Palestinian weddings and celebrations. The political purpose here is transparent: Ms. Khan named the book after the Arabic word for olive, a prominent ingredient in Palestinian cooking and a worldwide symbol of peace. ALEXA WEIBEL

Roast chicken from “Zaitoun.”CreditJohnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Susan Spungen

While all of these titles were independently chosen by editors of The New York Times, The Times may earn a commission on purchases through these links.

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A version of this article appears in print on , on Page D8 of the New York edition with the headline: The 12 Best Cookbooks of Spring. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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