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Best new cookbooks for hunkering down during the pandemic

October 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Every fall publishers release their latest slate of cookbooks. This year's crop includes new titles from famous chefs and personalities, including Ina Garten, Yotam Ottolenghi and Marcus Samuelsson.

Whether it's classic Thai cooking, a fusion of the flavors of southern Indian cuisine with the cooking in the US South, or a meditation on the history and impact of Black cooking, these tomes bring home cooks more than ideas about what to serve.

For Jamie Oliver's 24th cookbook, "7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week," the chef chose to focus recipes around the 18 hero ingredients that his team found in shopping baskets again and again.

The result, Oliver writes, is "the most reader-focused cookbook I've ever written. " It's a twist on the popular formula behind the affable British chef's "5 Ingredients. " Each hero is its own chapter, with seven ways listed for the star ingredient to be cooked.

As home cooks, sometimes our brains don't organize this way, so he follows that impressive chapter list of 18 hero ingredients with a thematic grouping: one-pan wonders, simple pastas, tray bakes or sheet pan dinners, soups and sandwiches.

Written with Ryan DeNicola, Chi Spacca's executive chef, and Carolynn CarreƱo, the cookbook really gets going with DeNicola's deep-dive chapter, "Grilling Class. " For anyone who's been wary of cooking meat on the grill, or cooking, this is essential reading.

The main event in this cookbook is the carne, recipes for the aformentioned bisteca, along with lamb, veal as well fish and vegetable sides (contorini), which in many households make for a fantastic dinner on their own: recipes for whole roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, eggplant are all standout and standalone meals.

Kimball says when he founded the Milk Street empire from which this latest cookbook was born, he seized onto a more global view of cooking -- that it's the ingredients that matter most.

This is a recipe collection bursting with ease, allowing a handful of key ingredients to orient a dish.

Kimball peppers the book with four options for the food item to rotate into weekly menus as you wish: recipes that present Brussels sprouts or green beans or whole cauliflower four ways -- and that's just the section on vegetables.

Kerala-born, Atlanta-based chef and author Asha Gomez has reunited with her co-author, Martha Hall Foose, for a new culinary tome, "I Cook in Color. " Their 2016 cookbook, "My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen," was nominated for a James Beard Award.

For example, her love of the Caribbean and the flavors of St. Croix, Jamaica, Antigua inspired recipes for Caribbean Fried Snapper and Crucian Curry Chicken.

Most of the recipes in the thoughtfully laid out book are approachable, their list of ingredients are ones found in most home cooks' pantries.

Indeed, for the novice or even the above-average home cook, the recipes contained in Kiin may be more than a bit daunting.

Several of the book's recipes do offer a store-bought option for an ingredient here or there, and there are often a few optional ingredients in the arms-long lists.

The Israeli-English chef, restaurateur and food writer is back with another flavor-boasting cookbook, along with cook and recipe tester Ixta Belfrage.

Nik Sharma's dedication to breaking down the science of great cooking and flavor-packed food reminds me a little of Samin Nosrat's "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. " Though it is uniquely organized, at its core, it's about understanding how different techniques and ingredients work to produce the most flavorful dishes.

In Sharma's second cookbook, the food writer and recipe developer suggests that emotions play a big role in flavor.

'The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food'

This is how chef Marcus Samuelsson begins his book, "Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food" written with Yewande Komolafe and Tamie Cook.

The authors argue that there is no American food without Black food and offer over 150 recipes to prove their point.

I tried out the coconut-flavored rice and peas recipe created for Tavel Bristol-Joseph, a star pastry Guyanese chef in Texas.

It's shameful I've never tried cooking something as simple and filling as rice and peas (learning also that peas' actually means red beans in this traditional dish. ) Sad, too, that I'd never heard of most of these chefs, but "The Rise" offers help for the ignorant like me with easy-to-follow recipes combined.

Now here I am eager to try out this book, "Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes" by Bryant Terry because, let's face it, we're killing the planet.

This book, written by Xi'an CEO Jason Wang, offers basic cooking skills for noodle-freaks like me who are adept at ordering Western Chinese food but completely inept at cooking it.

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