Food experts and novices alike crave two things: food itself and the excitement of new recipes. These days, there’s a cookbook for every skill level and interest, from baking cookies to grilling steaks.
The Bride & Groom’s First Cookbook: Recipes and Menus for Cooking Together
Broadway Books, $25
By Abigail Kirsch with Susan M. Greenberg
What it is: When the honeymoon is over, it’s time for all the kitchen appliances from the wedding registry to be put to use. Here’s the 411 on surviving weeknight meals, entertaining guests for the first time, and matching sophisticated palates with not-quite-sophisticated kitchen skills. In breaking down daily entrées, even the necessary utensils are listed.
Who it’s for: Young, working couples, newlyweds, and novice chefs who need some hand-holding.
Good Things for Easy Entertaining: The Best of Martha Stewart Living
Clarkson Potter, $22
What it is: Dozens of entertaining ideas, projects, and how-tos on place cards, mood lighting, table coverings, napkins, flowers, and centerpieces. (“Cookie cutters for a napkin ring? Burlap from the local fabric store as a tablecloth? Fantastic!”) Sure to earn you kudos for the ambience, Martha also shares a few recipes for drinks, desserts, and hors d’oeuvres.
Who it’s for: Hostesses looking for festive, ooh-la-la alternatives.
The Silver Spoon
Phaidon Press, $39.95
What it is: Italy’s version of Betty Crocker, The Silver Spoon has been Italy’s best-selling cookbook for the last fifty years. Recently (and thankfully) translated into English, this cookbook’s 2,000-plus recipes share secrets behind authentic Italian dishes, though no Nona will ever admit to having any help.
Who it’s for: Italian food fanatics.
Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times
Broadway Books, $19.95
By Mark Bittman
What it is: Bittman’s collection—from his
appropriately-dubbed New York Times column “The Minimalist”—suggests 350 recipes that are big on flavor and small on effort. Simple and quick entrées coupled with versatile side dishes. (Think grilled fruit skewers with ginger syrup and minty broiled
shrimp salad.) Easy. And yum.
Who it’s for: The less-mess, time-crunched chef.
The ACE Bakery Cookbook: Recipes For and With Bread
Whitecap Books, $22.95
By Linda Haynes
What it is: The next best thing to sliced bread. This Canadian cookbook offers bread basics including tips, facts, and history. Baking bread is the first step; what to do with it after is a whole new challenge. Packed with recipes for just about every meal—breakfast, starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts—Haynes offers 100-plus things to do with a loaf.
Who it’s for: Baking beginners and carb cravers.
Paula Deen & Friends: Living It Up Southern Style
Simon & Schuster, $25
By Paula Deen with Martha Nesbit
What it is: Deen plans twenty-one menus to fit various occasions like cookie swaps, tailgates, birthday bashes, and more. She adds Southern flair to the drinks (mint juleps, plantation iced tea) and the dishes (Southern fried chicken, buttermilk cornbread), so all you have to worry about is the guest list.
Who it’s for: Southern cuisine enthusiasts.