This was a fantastic year for cookbooks. Not only were a large number of them published but they also came in many forms: While the traditional short-blurb-with-recipe model is still popular, there has been a new interest in cookbooks that experiment with the format. There is a lot of storytelling in cookbooks now, giving readers and recipe makers a deeper dive into the author's backstory and inspiration. Plus, cookbook art is better that ever. Here are six cookbooks on every food lover's wish list.
The Short Stack Cookbook
Inspired by vintage recipe pamphlets, Short Stack puts out small, hyper-focused cookbooks (“recipe collections” might be a better term) that deal with just one ingredient each: eggplant, say, or ginger or cherries. This cookbook collects the imprint's favorite recipes, divided by 18 ingredient categories, into one edition. It's a “best of the best” book, with art that will delight anyone who's into midcentury design.
The Red Rooster Cookbook
Marcus Samuelsson lives in New York, but his love of L.A.-style eating is apparent in his latest book. The recipes range continents (Africa, Europe and North America) both separately and whipped together, creating a collection of recipes that counts as comfort food, even if some of it is unfamiliar. Plus, the book opens with the tale of a nearly violent crime, giving it a little cinematic excitement most cookbooks simply do not contain.
Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking
Of course this local favorite made the list. Authored by Sqirl proprietor Jessica Koslow and co-writer Maria Zizka, the cookbook is a study of early–21st century California culture. Some recipes are quick three-ingredient numbers, some are days-long processes involving expensive equipment; there are dozens that fall in between. The art captures both bright images of Koslow's colorful food and candids of her East Hollywood customers, both civilian and celebrity. It's about avocado toast, but also so much more.
Mozza at Home
Nancy Silverton is a legend. The L.A.-based chef has an affinity for wheat and dough that is perhaps unsurpassed in the world, and she's put that to great use throughout her career, from Spago to La Brea Bakery to the Mozza empire, where her breads, pastas and pizzas have consistently knocked everyone's argyle socks off. This new cookbook isn't too complicated, and it's organized by menu — appetizer, main dish, mix-and-match sides — the better to get a whole dinner party off the same page. Dessert gets its own dedicated chapter, though.
Robin Ha is a fantastic illustrator and comic artist who can also cook. This book will appeal to food lovers, art lovers and history aficionados who want to look at lovely pictures and learn about Korean food culture. It's also a great option for the visual learners among us. The recipes are fun to read, but they're not secondary to the art: They're precise and well-tested, too.
A favorite of L.A. Weekly's Besha Rodell, Ashley Christensen is a bit of an accidental community organizer in addition to a James Beard Award–winning chef. She's had a huge hand in turning Raleigh, North Carolina, into a culinary and cultural destination, and continues fighting for human rights in that state, changing the restroom signage in her establishments to “People Room” after the passage of HB2. All that and she's a fantastic cook. The book plays with classic Southern diner–style food, adding tahini, goat cheese and crispy, fried quinoa to the genre.