Every fall, just before the holiday shopping rush, publishers churn out hundreds of new cookbook titles. Though the spring cookbook publishing season is more muted, notable releases from popular authors and favored restaurants often hit bookstores just as cold winter weather begins to thaw and the idea of using fresh peas, springy mint, soft cheeses, and sweet berries seems imminent and, indeed, welcome.
Here are the releases to look forward to this spring, both cookbooks and narrative-driven food books better classified as guides, histories, and memoirs. There’s a gorgeous new volume by San Francisco pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine fame as well as a definitive and entertaining history of Balthazar, one of Manhattan’s most treasured restaurants. Anthony Bourdain’s publishing imprint at Ecco releases a new book this spring: It’s a reissue of California cuisine pioneer Jeremiah Tower’s 2003 autobiography, complete with a new introduction. And don’t miss the memoirs from Jen Agg, Toronto-based restaurateur and authority on equality in the hospitality business; Boston’s acclaimed chef Barbara Lynch has one out this season as well, called Out of Line. Read on for more.
Tartine All Day
Elisabeth Prueitt, Jessica Washburn, and Maria Zizka
Lorena Jones Books, April 2017
Power couple Elisabeth Prueitt and her husband Chad Robertson (both James Beard Award-winning chefs) opened Tartine, an artisanal bakery peddling morning buns, crusty loaves, and deeply flavorful cakes in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2002. Since then, they’ve expanded their purview to include a handful of other locations, including last year’s blockbuster Tartine Manufactory, an all-day cafe. The couple has also written about their craft: She published Tartine in 2006; he, Tartine Bread in 2010 followed by Tartine Book No. 3 in 2013.
Tartine All Day is Prueitt’s highly anticipated second book, written with Jessica Washburn and Maria Zizka. As the title suggests, it offers ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, and 46 of the 200 recipes are adapted to be gluten-free (Prueitt is gluten-intolerant). Other than that specification, the book brings Prueitt back to basics and to the savory side of the kitchen: Inside, find recipes for roasted chicken, salad dressings, savory bread puddings, potato gratin, and a bean salad with preserved lemon and herbs. Yes, that sticky jam recipe that graces the cover is in there, too. Tartine All Day lives in the same universe as last year’s Everything I Want to Eat by Sqirl proprietor Jessica Koslow: Produce-forward California cool never goes out of style.
The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook
Helen You and Max Falkowitz
Clarkson Potter, out now
Are there as many types of dumplings in the world as stars in the sky? This new book from the owner and chef of NYC’s Dumpling Galaxy — which received one star from the New York Times in 2014 — drills down into the Chinese tradition of jiaozi, or boiled (sometimes called water) dumplings. Proprietor Helen You, along with her co-author Max Falkowitz, shares her secrets — from how to make a broth-based, flavorful filling to instructions for sealing the deal. Those tiny pleats atop each meat-and-vegetable-filled package are crucial.
Dumpling Galaxy is a far more approachable book than last year’s trio of treatises on Chinese cookery: Fuchsia Dunlop’s gorgeous Land of Fish and Rice; Carolyn Phillips’ encyclopedic All Under Heaven; and China: The Cookbook by Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan, two authorities on Chinese cuisine. While those offered deep explorations into regional Chinese cooking, Dumpling Galaxy urges the home cook to adapt classic Chinese techniques into his or her daily routine. Included among the 60 recipes is one for You’s plump xiao long bao, or Shanghai-style soup dumplings.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Simon & Schuster, April 2017
For the past 15 years, writer, instructor, and chef Samin Nosrat has been simmering behind the scenes: She studied at Berkeley’s needle-pushing Chez Panisse with Alice Waters (and continues to be among those the shepherd of California cuisine calls on when she needs a hand), was named “the next Julia Child” by NPR, and counts how-to-eat authority Michael Pollan among her students. After years in the kitchen, the Iranian-American cook has finally written a book. “It took me over a year of cooking at Chez Panisse before it hit me: All of the cooks, all of them, were following these rules that no one had written down,” Nosrat says.
“Salt, fat, acid, heat” theorizes how to enhance and balance the taste and texture of any food that goes from raw to cooked. In her new book, Nosrat breaks down that process: salt enhances flavor, fat delivers flavor and enhances texture, acid balances flavor, and heat (not an allusion to spice) determines a food’s final texture. Each chapter contains recipes, but it’s the method at the beginning of each section — what dressings pair with what leaves, the science of heat, how to layer acids, and the different cooking methods for different foods — that will be most valuable for either a beginner or a seasoned cook. Unlike similar manuals, Nosrat’s volume has hit upon a theory not only easy to remember, but also fun to learn in practice. Even more fun: the accompanying art by Wendy MacNaughton, which illustrates flavor wheels and pairing matrices.
Gonzalo Guzmán, Stacy Adimando
Ten Speed Press, April 2017
Nopalito isn’t one of San Francisco’s most famous restaurants, but it’s one of the city’s most beloved. The smell of freshly cooked tortillas and the sound of heavy glasses clinking fill the casual space, which celebrates regional Mexican cuisine through a distinctly Californian lens thanks to co-owner and head chef Gonzalo Guzmán. A Mexican immigrant from Puebla, Guzmán crossed the border when he was just 15; after working his way up the ranks in various Bay Area kitchens, he helped open Nopalito in 2013. Guzmán is a cook’s cook, widely respected among his peers: There was no time for culinary school when he was a teenager trying to convince restaurants to pay him to wash dishes.
His first book — written with Stacy Adimando — bursts with color, offering a fresh and instructive approach to the cookbook genre that celebrates regional Mexican cuisine and presents the culture’s embrace of chiles, corn, and beans in an approachable way. The restaurant’s fans will be pleased to find recipes for their favorite dishes, from red quesadillas with braised pork to tamales with red sunflower seed mole, and agua fresas, cocktails, and desserts like churros and flan round out the book. You don’t need to have been to Nopalito to want to read this: Recipes aside, it’s a vivid testament to the struggle and triumph of the American immigrant.
Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories
Randy Garutti, Mark Rosati, Dorothy Kalins; introduction by Danny Meyer
Clarkson Potter, May 2017
One of this season’s most exciting new releases is, paradoxically, a cookbook you may never actually cook from: Why make Shake Shack at home when you could visit one of the quick-service chain’s 100-plus locations now open worldwide? CEO Randy Garutti and founder Danny Meyer perhaps hope you’ll buy the book for the novelty alone, or for the behind-the-scenes stories from culinary director Mark Rosati and insights from Meyer. Garutti told Eater that recipes, business advice, and stories included in the book “capture the sincere passion of everyone who built the Shake Shack community these past 16 years.” This is a book for super fans.
On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen
Jeremy Fox and Noah Galuten; Foreword by David Chang
Phaidon, April 2017
“What if cooking responsibly isn’t just about honoring things with heartbeats?” asks Jeremy Fox, the chef at Los Angeles mainstay Rustic Canyon, in his new book. When he was the executive chef at Napa’s Ubuntu — where he was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs and was awarded a Michelin star — Fox described the place as a “vegetable restaurant,” ushering in a distinction between vegetarian and vegetable-forward cooking in America. Fox is a cerebral guy, so On Vegetables, written with Noah Galuten, offers just as much theory as instruction for the sharply flavored, softly focused, gorgeously green cookery he’s honed over the past decade. Please don’t call this a vegetable cookbook for meat-eaters.
Something Fox’s newer fans might not know is that his initial rise was followed by a fairly public fall. After burning out at Ubuntu, he was persona non grata in the food world for a while, his reputation marred by aggressive, manic outbursts. In On Vegetables, he writes of that perilous time in his life with surprising candor. For anyone who has held success and seen it fall from their grasp, the introduction alone is a must-read. In the foreword, Momofuku chef David Chang says the book “encapsulates Jeremy’s hard-earned culinary insight and sense of humor; it reminds us of the pleasures of being in the kitchen, and the life-giving power of food.”
Dinner: Changing the Game
Clarkson Potter, March 2017
New York Times staff writer and award-winning columnist Melissa Clark has written 37 cookbooks; here is number 38. Like living legends Ina Garten and Diana Henry, Clark’s intuition for writing a recipe that wills a tired cook off the couch and into the kitchen is almost eerie. You will open it and first exclaim, “That’s genius!” and then, maybe a little forlorn, wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Unlike her contemporaries, Clark has a good pulse on the cooking techniques du jour. In Dinner, she champions sheet pan cooking — whereby food is roasted in a single layer in a shallow pan until it’s evenly cooked and evenly crispy — and the fresh, grain bowl-grounded, acid-forward approach stemming from today’s California cooking, itself ushered into the mainstream by chefs and authors like Nancy Silverton, Jessica Koslow, and Samin Nosrat. Organized by protein, recipes like sticky tamarind chicken with crisp lettuce, herbed parmesan Dutch baby, and coconut kofte kebabs are unique takes on common proteins and techniques; the book also contains instructions for staples like pizza and polenta as well as bisque and branzino. Spoiler: There’s a recipe for the internet controversy known as pea guacamole. Of it, Clark writes, with her signature no-nonsense cheer, “There’s room in the world for more than one kind of guacamole, right?”
Memoirs, guides, and histories
Roadfood, 10th Edition: An Eater’s Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America
Jane and Michael Stern
Clarkson Potter, March 2017
This seminal book is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Decades ago, it helped catapult road warriors Jane and Michael Stern — and their immersive look into America’s most overlooked culinary landscapes — onto a national stage. There’s a reason it’s gone through so many printings: The Sterns take their work very seriously. Their system: Drive to the place where the food is made, meet the people who make it, take photos, and talk to other diners. Thanks to their complementary personalities and reporting styles — going into the kitchen, behind the counter, and under the hood — their work is a cohesive presentation of what and how we eat in America.
Praised by the Splendid Table, Gourmet, and original American gourmand James Beard, the book is both food guide and anthropological exploration of America’s mostly rural foodways. It’s also — and I say this as a person who hates driving and car rides — an extremely compelling argument to plan a road trip across a region or even the country. If you don’t already own a copy, or if yours is more than a decade old, now’s the time to put this in your shopping cart.
Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire
Atria Books, April 2017
At the top of Boston’s restaurant scene sits chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch, a self-made entrepreneur who holds numerous awards, including a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur and a Relais & Châteaux designation of Grand Chef. This spring, she releases her second book (the first, a cookbook, came out in 2009), a memoir of her hard childhood in Boston’s notoriously crime-ridden Southie neighborhood. Lynch once described her old neighborhood as “a tight-knit community and... sometimes it’s like a black hole,” and the book reveals how that experience toughened her instincts and helped fight her way to the top of a male-dominated field. The acclaimed chef never graduated from school, and she has no formal culinary education. But she learned early on to use both the good and bad of her youth to her advantage. “You’re going to laugh a lot,” she promised of the memoir, which is also interspersed with recipes, in 2013. “You’re going to cry. You’re going to want to cook the food.”
I Hear She’s a Real Bitch
Doubleday Canada, May 2017
The culinary world needs more Jen Aggs: Those who step up and aren’t afraid to speak out. Agg, one of Canada’s most prolific restaurateurs, owns and operates several popular bars and restaurants in Toronto and Montreal, including the Black Hoof, Agrikol, and Rhum Corner. But despite her brushes with media and outsized Twitter presence, she’s largely unknown in the U.S. If anything, Americans might be familiar with her championing of equal rights for women and men: In op-eds and interviews, she’s come out against harassment, unequal pay, sexism, and Donald Trump. And so of course we cannot wait to get our hands on her first book, I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, a nod to the phrase many people murmur about women who speak their mind. If you don’t know the name Jen Agg, consider this your notice: It’s time to meet her and hear her out.
At Balthazar: The New York Brasserie at the Center of the World
Gallery Books, April 2017
New York City’s Balthazar, willed into existence by owner Keith McNally, has spawned countless copies across the globe for its definitive and exacting interpretation of a French brasserie. This year, the storied space that opened in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood in 1997 gets the narrative treatment.
Nadelson’s book pays tribute to the institution with a look back at its dramatic 20-year past that’s brought to life by accounts from current and former employees. Chefs, servers, bartenders, dishwashers, restroom attendants, and frequent guests add color to the story — the few who experienced the restaurant’s exciting early days remember it well. Through it all, Balthazar is a business that serves 500,000 people each year and operates 24 hours a day; Nadelson’s book is an especially entertaining look behind the scenes. Within the text are 16 new recipes — the definitive Balthazar Cookbook was published in 2003 — including one for the seasonal soft-shell crab BLT, grilled cheese a la truffle, and Saturday’s special short-rib danube. Here’s a read for anyone who has wondered why Balthazar is a constant presence on Eater’s list of New York City’s essential restaurants.
The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South
John T. Edge
Penguin Press, May 2017
As director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, which aims to preserve and celebrate the foods of the American south, John T. Edge is well-equipped to write a history of Southern foods. But this, his 10th book, traces that history to the modern day. It’s a definitive look at fried chicken, biscuits, and grits that spotlights the ways that race has shaped what and how we eat.
Edge crosses state lines to spotlight Southern stars including Colonel Sanders, Fannie Lou Hamer, Edna Lewis, Paul Prudhomme, and Craig Claiborne. He also traces the history of potlikker itself, the nutrient-dense broth at the bottom of a pot of stewed greens, from the days when slaveowners left it behind for their slaves to the ways that it’s used to flavor cuisine today. Ever relevant, the book’s cultural and human focus — from the food of slaves to the ways immigrant communities in the South affected the region’s cuisine — make it even more applicable in our modern political climate.
Start the Fire: How I Began a Food Revolution in America
Anthony Bourdain/Ecco, April 2017
Longtime followers of chef Jeremiah Tower, widely recognized in culinary circles as a champion of California cuisine, will know that this isn’t a new book. It’s a reissue of Tower’s 2003 memoir California Dish: What I Saw (and Cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution. Reissued this year under Anthony Bourdain’s imprint at Ecco, the new title removes all of the author’s humility. Today, in looking back, Tower believes he started that influential shift in American cuisine.
Unlike his contemporaries — including Michael McCarty and Wolfgang Puck — Tower’s excessively colorful journey followed the path of an unabashed, enthusiastic amateur. Sans culinary degree (but armed with one from Harvard), Tower started his career started with a fluke when he answered a job listing for the chef position at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse. It was his brash attitude that got him the job; that same demeanor led him to leave the restaurant six years later. Since then, the culinary world has been somewhat divided on the impact of his achievements, some siding more with Waters and her band of garden-to-table prophets. In Start the Fire, Tower once again lays it all out. Will this book and its companion documentary earn him a permanent place among America’s culinary greats? That’s the goal.
Other notable releases
Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly by Colu Henry. Clarkson Potter, Out now
Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy. Ten Speed Press, March 2017
Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking From New York’s West Village by Dean Jankelowitz and Maya Jankelowitz. Blue Rider Press, March 2017
Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop by Dana Cree. Clarkson Potter, March 2017
My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence in the Kitchen by Patricia Wells. William Morrow, March 2017
Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression by David Leite. Dey Street Books, April 2017
King Solomon’s Table by Joan Nathan. Knopf, April 2017.
Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life by Emily Kaiser Thelin, April 2017.
Mary Berry: Foolproof Cooking by Mary Berry. BBC Books, April 2017
Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About by Patti LaBelle. Grand Central, April 2017
Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home by John Tesar. Flatiron Books, May 2017
Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz by Kat Odell. Workman, May 2017
Sofreh: The Art of Persian Celebration by Maryam Khosrowshahi, Willem Floor, and Parviz Tanavoli. ACC Publishing Group Ltd, May 2017
Tetsuya Wakuda: Ocean Trout and Shiokonbu by Tetsuya Wakuda. Marshall Cavendish International, May 2017
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. Artisan, May 2017
Daniela Galarza is a senior editor at Eater.
Editor: Erin DeJesus
Special thanks: Chloe Reznikov
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