The season’s best cookbooks


Fall is when publishers tend to drop their best and often heftiest cookbooks. This year’s collection is a terrific one.

We’ve highlighted 10 of our favorites.

“Everything I Want To Eat” by Jessica Koslow (Abrams, $40, 280 pages)

This is the first cookbook from the chef and owner of Sqirl, the relentlessly on-trend East Hollywood toast shop. Sqirl, of course, is far more than a toast shop. Koslow’s tiny restaurant articulates much of what L.A. is eating these days: beautifully orchestrated grain bowls, things-on-toast, homey dishes invariably topped with eggs or house lacto-fermented hot sauce, or the gorgeous jams that were Koslow’s gateway product and our gateway drug to toast in the first place. Koslow’s cookbook has lovely photography, lots of white-on-white design and weird-pretty compositions.

“How To Bake Everything” by Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 704 pages)

Bittman, the former New York Times food columnist, has written 20 books. His latest is in the vein of his popular “How To Cook Everything.” With more than 2,000 recipes, plenty of the variations that the author is known for, and many step-by-steps and instructive sidebars, the book is exhaustive. It’s illustrated with small black-and-white drawings rather than glossy photographs. But it’s also driven by Bittman’s folksy voice.

“Dorie’s Cookies” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 528 pages)

That sound you hear is holiday bakers clapping. Greenspan gives recipes for 170 cookies of all kinds. . This is a nice big book filled with cookie photography from Davide Luciano and lots of handy tips on techniques, gear, storing (see: holiday gifting) and what Greenspan calls “playing around.”

“Mozza at Home” by Nancy Silverton with Carolynn Carreno (Knopf, $35, 432 pages)

This is the seventh book from Silverton, the co-owner of the Mozza group of restaurants, the founder of La Brea Bakery. Her latest book is a kind of companion piece to “The Mozza Cookbook,” a collection of menus of what Siilverton likes to cook at home – or more specifically, what she cooked at her home in L.A. and her other home in Umbria as a way to reboot her love of cooking after years spent primarily cooking in her restaurants. Thus we have simple dishes built around market produce, plates of roasted grapes and charred peppers and marinated olives with cheese.

“EveryDayCook: This Time It’s Personal” by Alton Brown (Ballantine Books, $35, 256 pages)

Brown, of course, is the former host of “Good Eats” – which ran for 14 seasons on the Food Network – as well as author of eight cookbooks. His latest, Brown’s first in five years, is composed of the 100 or so recipes he actually cooks for himself. What this means is less of the MacGyver-ing that he was known for and more everyday stuff, recipes for butterscotch pudding and one-pot chicken.

“Appetites: A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco, $37.50, 304 pages)

Bourdain has been busy for the past decade. So he can be forgiven for not doing anything as mundane as writing a cookbook. This is what he’s just done, though: his first since the 2004 “Les Halles Cookbook.” “Appetites,” unsurprisingly, is not a boring book. It is a fun and irreverent read – vintage Bourdain, but with a recipe for lasagna.

“The Red Rooster Cookbook” by Marcus Samuelsson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $37.50, 384 pages)

When Samuelsson opened his restaurant Red Rooster in Harlem in 2010, it was as kind of a mission statement. Named for a neighborhood speak-easy where James Baldwin used to drink, staffed with people from the community, serving “cross-cultural soul food,” the restaurant was Samuelsson’s ode to Harlem and its culture. The cookbook that comes out of that project is a way to further it. There are recipes for brown butter biscuits, jerk bacon and baked beans, whole fried fish with grits, and Red Rooster hot sauce.

“Taste of Persia” by Naomi Duguid (Artisan, $35, 400 pages)

Duguid has won a stack of awards for her cookbooks that’s probably about as high as the stack of cookbooks she’s written: gorgeous volumes that are equal parts food and anthropology. Her books are like travelogues and have covered the cuisines of China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Duguid’s latest book is about the area that was once the Persian Empire, or more specifically: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan. The recipes are straightforward and adaptive, with enough backstory to interest historians but also accessible to fairly novice readers.

“Land of Fish and Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop (Norton, $35, 368 pages)

For Dunlop’s fifth book, we are in Jiangnan, in the Lower Yangtze region. Dunlop, who trained as a chef in China and is based in London, has written a number of lauded books on Chinese cooking, including cookbooks on Sichuan and Hunan cuisine. The recipes here are titled in English, Chinese characters and pinyin, the standard romanization of Mandarin, with lovely accompanying photographs by Yuki Sugiura and plenty of contextual narrative.

“Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables!” by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach (Clarkson Potter, $35, 272 pages)

The latest in the series of cookbooks from the Lucky Peach folks, “Power Vegetables!” comes on the heels of “The Wurst of Lucky Peach,” a cookbook devoted to sausages. Consider it a kind of corrective, or at least something to appease the vegetarians among us. This book, written with Lucky Peach editor Peter Meehan on point, divides said vegetable recipes into various camps: starters, salads, pies, soups, etc.

Lasagna Bolognese

Time: About 4 hours, plus cooling time

Serves 12 to 16

Adapted from a recipe in “Appetites: A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain.

For the béchamel sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour

1 quart milk

Salt and pepper

Pinch freshly ground nutmeg, optional

For the lasagna:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large white or yellow onion, finely chopped

2 large or 3 medium carrots, finely chopped

3 ribs celery, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound chicken livers, trimmed, finely chopped

3/4 pound ground beef chuck

3/4 pound ground veal

3/4 pound ground pork

3/4 cup tomato paste (about 6 ounces)

1 cup vermentino or other Tuscan white wine

1 1/2 cups milk

2 bay leaves

About 1 pound dry, flat lasagna noodles

4 cups béchamel sauce

3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

To make the béchamel sauce: In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it foams and subsides. Whisk in the flour and stir it well using a wooden spoon, incorporating it into the butter until a dry paste forms (a roux). Reduce the heat and continue to cook and stir, taking care not to let the mixture brown.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer, then gradually whisk it into the pan with the roux, continuing to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste, along with the nutmeg, if using. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. This makes about 4 cups béchamel.

To make the Bolognese sauce: In a medium, heavy-bottom pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper, or to taste. Cook, stirring regularly using a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are tender and have released their juices, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the livers and cook over high heat for 2 minutes, then add the beef, veal and pork, stirring and breaking up over high heat. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds pepper, or to taste. Continue to cook over high heat until the meat is brown, stirring regularly and scraping the bottom of the pan as necessary to keep the meat and vegetables from scorching.

Once the meat is browned, stir in the tomato paste over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, to marry the flavors. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook until the wine is reduced by half, then add the milk and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a bit of water (or chicken or veal stock, if you have it) to thin the sauce if it thickens too much.

Taste the sauce and season with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper, or as needed. Remove from heat and stir to release the steam and allow it to cool slightly. Skim the fat off the top with a ladle and discard.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of béchamel. Sprinkle over some grated cheese, then top with a layer of noodles. Top noodles with a layer of Bolognese sauce; repeat with the béchamel, grated cheese, noodles, and Bolognese until the pan is filled. The top layer should be Bolognese, dotted with béchamel, with thin slices of mozzarella atop.

Place the baking dish on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake in the oven until the lasagna is browned on top and beginning to bubble, about 50 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. If you must serve it the day you’ve made it, set it aside to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. For best results, allow the lasagna to cool completely and refrigerate overnight. The next day, reheat at 350 degrees, covered loosely with foil, until bubbling. Remove from heat and rest 20 minutes before serving.