The new crop of cookbooks speaks volumes about food today. The emphasis continues to be on ingredients fresh and seasonal, as you'd expect in a world where farmers markets have practically become a religion. And we can't remember when we've seen so many vegan and vegetarian volumes fly over the transom.
They came, we saw, we read. And here are some of our favorites, listed in alphabetical order:
"The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food" by Ian Knauer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 256 pages). Former Gourmet magazine recipe tester Knauer draws inspiration from his family farm in Pennsylvania to create straightforward dishes that are greater than the sum of their uncomplicated parts. Some of the recipes came from, or were inspired by, his grandmother, and Knauer's reminiscences about her and his grandfather are poignant and sweet.
"La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life" by Beatrice Peltre (Roost, $35, 320 pages). In her first cookbook, this Boston blogger gives us creative food with big flavors that draw on her French childhood. Her writing is personal and charming. Although not advertised as a gluten-free recipe collection, it largely uses non-gluten flours. Bonus: a brush-up for your high school French, with phrases and translations scattered here and there. For example: " 'Vous resterez bien pour diner?' ('You'll stay for dinner?')" Mais oui!
"The Meat Free Monday Cookbook," edited by Annie Rigg (Kyle, $29.95, 240 pages). The Meatless Monday campaign has picked up steam as celebrities, and celebrity chefs, have jumped aboard. This book, with a foreword by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney, plans out every meal and snack for a year's worth of Mondays. You'll recognize some of the recipe contributors, who include Woody Harrelson, Pink, Kevin Spacey and Mario Batali.
"Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat With Recipes for Every Cut" by Lynne Curry (Running Press, $27, 288 pages). The author was a vegetarian until her first bite of grass-fed beef led her down a new path. Her book combines a thorough tutorial how to buy, butcher, cook and taste artisan beef with 140 recipes. The focus is on grass-fed cattle, but Curry gives permission to try her recipes with any kind of beef.
"Pure Vegan: 70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living" by Joseph Shuldiner (Chronicle, $29.95, paperback, 224 pages). No preaching, just striking, elegant food in this substantial book that organizes recipes by time of day. French toast is made with soy milk and topped with a cardamom pear compote; seared tofu is glazed with date barbecue sauce. The photo of the fig-topped polenta cake will make you want to eat the page.
"Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Quicker Smarter Recipes" by Alice Medrich (Artisan, $25.95, 288 pages). The baking maven presents simple yet inventive desserts that, in her words, "require fewer steps, less equipment, less measuring, less precision, less fuss."
"The Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy Cooking From the Garden" from the editors of Sunset (Oxmoor House, $24.95, paperback, 288 pages). The focus is on food from the garden ideally your garden. There are suggestions on what to plant, plus growing and harvesting tips. Anyone who shops at a farmers market or otherwise has access to excellent fresh produce can use these recipes, which also include plenty of meat.
"Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients" by Alice Hart (Lyons Press, $24.95, paperback, 256 pages). "You won't miss the meat" is a cliché, but here, it applies. Breakfast to dessert, these are universally appealing dishes, beautifully photographed. The author pitches the book not just to vegetarians but to all thinking of reducing their meat intake.