Every now and then you walk into the kitchen, look at a tin of chickpeas and wonder: Do I really have to make dinner?
If that’s the case, you’re not alone. New York Times columnist Tejal Rao, in his 10-page article. November: the culinary fatigue of the cooks during the Christmas period. Eight days later, Quartz attributed the increase in sales of ready meals to the collective fatigue of Americans in the face of heavy meals.
In theory, I like cooking. But I’m so, so tired of cooking, Helen Rosner wrote in The New Yorker of the 25th. November.
There are many pressing global problems, but food fatigue is a constant and daily enemy. Fortunately, cookbooks are one of the best lines of defense. Whether you’re a seasoned cook tired of the monotony of home cooking or a novice cook who’s intimidated by the idea of preparing multiple meals a day, there’s a cookbook to inspire you.
Here are 11 of our favourite options for every type of kitchen.
Hydrochloric acid fatty acid heat
Perfect for anyone looking for an encyclopaedic reference work to become a smarter, more strategic cook. Samin Nosrath’s bestseller demystifies the science of what tastes good and why. This is the ultimate requirement for both novice and experienced chefs. You’ll find tips on balancing flavours and textures, as well as marinated fried chicken and yogurt, all written in Nosrat’s charming and accessible style.
Instead of glossy photos, this beast of burden has illustrations and computer graphics. For example, there is a pesto cake flowchart to help you figure out how to exchange different herbs or nuts for your next sauce, and a flowchart to help you decide which recipe to make on a particular evening.
Vietnamese Food Daily
Preparing several meals a day can exhaust even the most dedicated cook. There are few books better suited to Vietnamese warriors than Andrea Nguyen’s book, Vietnamese Food Any Day. Award-winning author and educator James Beard creates recipes with short but meaningful shopping lists for dishes like Char Siu chicken, Umami garlic noodles and Viet Cajun seafood, all in 45 minutes or less.
If you have the holiday at hand or have a good butcher at your disposal, have a look at their smoked turkey, made with a turkey leg instead of the traditional chicken.
Even lovers of the farmer’s market sometimes need inspiration. For vegetarian (but not necessarily vegetarian) cooks who are hungry for new ideas there is Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons. McFadden, Executive Chef at Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon, recommends two additions to the four seasons: Spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, autumn and winter. With creative ideas for everything from juicy corn and tomatoes to thick-skinned fresh onions and rutabagas, McFadden recipes let even the most humble of vegetables shine.
Yasmin Khan’s celebration of Palestinian recipes and culinary traditions offers the kind of immersion that usually requires weeks of travel. It offers clear and attractive recipes such as roasted salmon with za’atar herbs, eggplant salad with chickpeas and grilled hallucinations with oranges, dates and pomegranates. The book also contains stories and photographs of Khan’s experience of cooking and eating in Palestinian communities. He divides the culinary approach into three traditions: the traditional Levantine cuisine in Galilee, the bread and butter cuisine in the West Bank and the hearty seafood cuisine in the Gaza Strip.
North End Italian cookbook
Want to learn how to make lasagna, minestrone and pork chops with pizzaiola like the Italian-American grandmother you probably never had? Get a copy of Marguerite DiMino Buonopane’s bestseller, now in its sixth edition. This is not a shiny travel story disguised as a cookbook, with pictures of Tuscan hills or Sicilian beaches obscuring the recipes. Instead, Buonopane’s friendly prose describes everything from the great recipe for red sauce with peppers and vinegar to pizza dough. There is also the osso bucco or seafood imbottito, worthy of celebration, as well as cheaper cousins such as the lobster fra diavolo, made from pieces that are sold at fish markets for a fraction of the price of whole lobsters.
Dinner at a glance
If you have an Instant Pot or other multi-purpose cooker, there’s no better companion than this collection of 75 recipes by New York Times columnist Melissa Clark. This handy book explains in detail how to make baby back ribs with tamarind glaze, sakshuka, buttered shrimp and much more, and what the possibilities are of gluten-free, vegetarian and other diets. Clark also offers inventive ways to use the appliance, for example by cooking multiple elements of a meal at the same time in the steamer, or by making puddings and other delicate desserts by turning the appliance into a hot water bath.
Contextualize American culinary traditions and conversations with Tony Tipton-Martin award-winning James Beard, who reviews some 150 cookbooks by black authors. From the Home Cookbook of 1866 to the 20th and 21st century works of Edna Lewis and Jessica B. Harris. Using photographs, annotated fragments and recipes, Tipton-Martin investigates how black cooks and food writers shaped the culinary landscape of the United States in the 21st century.
Around my French Table
Francophiles will love the elegant and accessible recipes in this book by Dorie Greenspan, an American expatriate whose passion for Paris is irresistible. Even the simplest dishes are whimsical, like Ellen’s White Salad, a combination of apples, celery, kale and mushrooms in a yoghurt dressing. Dishes such as roast chicken, beef stew and shepherd’s tail from Alsace are explained in a thoughtful and contextual way by the engaging voice of Greenspan.
Do not sleep on the stuffed pumpkin, for which Greenspan offers many possibilities, including meatless pumpkin.
I refuse to mention the mushroom bacon, Brian Terry writes in the recipe notes for inlaid trumpet mushrooms. Let it be what it is: It’s delicious! Those who want to expand their vegan repertoire will appreciate Terry’s enthusiasm for seasonal cuisine with the influence of Asian and African diasporas.
The dishes and the approach are a bit difficult (who wouldn’t want to be the one who goes to the farmer’s market every Saturday and makes creamy sandwiches with his grandchildren on Sundays). But they are also versatile and contain a light carrot and coconut soup and barbecue tofu, all wrapped in kale.
Can you chop vegetables? Priya Krishna writes in the introduction to this fascinating cookbook. You can make Indian food! Many of his recipes have been adapted from his Indian-American upbringing in Texas. Perfect for home cooks and busy weekdays, the book contains an intriguing valley with caramelized onions and a Saag Paneer-like dish of supermarket spinach and feta cheese. She explains the differences between popular South Asian herbal blends and lentils, and shares a handy flow chart for dealing with Indian flavors in mom’s house. You will also find practical tips for cooking rice, white quinoa and potatoes on the stove or in the microwave.
In the kitchen of Bibi
This book is an antidote to quarantine isolation and contains recipes from grandmothers in eight African countries bordering the Indian Ocean, and explores how food connects us to other places and people. Grandmothers, or bibis, learn the art of preparing everyday soups, bread and special dishes. They offer alternative ingredients that some home cooks find difficult to find. In short interviews throughout the book they describe how food connects them to their family, friends and homeland. With touching stories and photographs and simple recipes, it is a rare cookbook that can be found both on the kitchen counter and on the coffee table at home.
Published 16. December 2020
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