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7 Best Cookbooks (Winter 2022): I Am From Here, Budmo, The Perfect Loaf

7 Best Cookbooks (Winter 2022): I Am From Here, Budmo, The Perfect Loaf
Written by Techbot

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I Am From Here: Stories & Recipes From a Southern Chef

by Vishwesh Bhatt with Sara Camp Milam

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Budmo! Recipes From a Ukrainian Kitchen

by Anna Voloshyna

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The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love From a Chinese American Family

by Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin Leung

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The Perfect Loaf: The Craft and Science of Sourdough Breads, Sweets, and More

by Maurizio Leo

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It’s been a good year for cookbooks, almost as if authors had a couple of years of pent-up brilliance just waiting to burst forth. (I wonder why?) In fact, 2022 was such a good year, I snuck in a mid-year roundup as an excuse to write about more of them. Now at year’s end, there is a pleasing continuation of the theme of what it means to be an American, along with some eye-catching and helpful design. Finally, I persuaded Celia Sack at San Francisco’s Omnivore Books to share some of her favorites—thanks Celia! Show local booksellers some love this year and buy through Omnivore or your local shop. (We’re provided plenty of links below.) Cheers!

  • Photograph: W. W. Norton

    I Am From Here: Stories & Recipes From a Southern Chef

    by Vishwesh Bhatt with Sara Camp Milam

    Up until a couple of years ago, or perhaps right up to this very moment, you’d imagine that a cookbook with “Southern Chef” in the title would mean beans and cornbread, ham hocks and collards. This particular chef grew up in Gujarat, India, cooking with his large family before moving to America, and eventually finding his place as a chef with the City Grocery Restaurant Group and chef de cuisine at their restaurant, Snackbar. At the restaurant, the menu—and this collection of recipes—feels like looking at food through Indian and Southern lenses one at a time, then together. I made chicken cafreal, marinating thighs in ingredients like cilantro, ginger, jalapeño, and garam masala, then cooked them in a skillet. Soon after, my sister and I made Bhatt’s pork tenderloin with tandoori spices alongside a sweet potato and peanut salad, serving them with some simple greens—and, man, did that dinner strike a chord. The recipes do the talking here, and for that dinner, it wasn’t just that it was particularly Southern or Indian or all that complex, but it was good food, well prepared and pleasingly adult. 

  • Photograph: Rizzoli

    Budmo! Recipes From a Ukrainian Kitchen

    by Anna Voloshyna

    I would have written about this book even if Celia Sack hadn’t sung its praises and all it contained was recipes for homemade blue-and-yellow Peeps. Yet I was surprised at how many recipe pages I dog-eared, and how much I immediately cooked from it to test, more than was strictly necessary for sure. I started with cold borscht, or kholodnyk, and even in the chilly fall, my wife Elisabeth and I devoured the wildly saturated pink soup flecked with dill, parsley, and crispy cucumber slices and topped with hard-boiled eggs and sour cream. “Eating borscht without smetana [sour cream] is a crime against borscht,” Voloshyna half-jokes. I loved making herring with pickled onions and new potatoes, the spuds lightly coated with sour cream and dill. The most fun so far has been the pickles, sauces, and drinks section that includes a dish where cooked eggplant, carrots, onions, and bell pepper ferement in sunflower oil. My single favorite recipe might be Voloshyna’s mom’s spicy and sour tomatoes, which share three days in a Ball jar with herbs, chiles, garlic, oil, and vinegar, at which point you might just sit down and demolish them in one sitting.

  • Photograph: Clarkson Potter

    The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love From a Chinese American Family

    by Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin Leung

    My memory isn’t the greatest, but I’m pretty sure I don’t recall any cookbook that needed a family timeline, along with a who’s who in its opening pages. Woks, which was born from the Leung’s beautiful, expansive blog, uses them to lay out the family history and set the stage for the food to come. Living in the United States, food is a link to their Shanghainese and Cantonese ancestors and to each other. Flip through the pages to see if you’re up to the challenge. In one motivated evening, following a trip to Seattle’s Uwajimaya Asian Market, I made an edamame and tofu stir-fry, that was simpler and more exotic than most of my stir-fries, along with a funky veg stock with kombu and fermented bean curd, and finished out with chili oil. I also threw together an easy sauce that I thought was going to be a nothing burger, but turned out to be the Royale with Cheese of dips for dumplings. In Eric Kim’s excellent Korean American, a favorite from earlier this year, you read along and get sucked right into his family story; with the Leungs’ book, you join by cooking.

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