By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com July 07 2014 4:00 AM ET
While you wait for Orange Is the New Black Presents: The Cookbook (seriously, it's coming out in October, as is In the Kitchen with Kris: A Kollection of Kardashian-Jenner Family Favorites), we offer up 20 great collections of modern grub. Most of these books have no Hollywood connection at all, just innovative and mouthwatering recipes.
Sweet Alchemy by Yigit Pura ($35, ChronicleBooks.com) is the gay sugar guru and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts’ chance to bring his passion for sweets to the masses. San Francisco locals can visit his Tout Patisserie [check] but for the rest of us this tome will serve as nice option B. Best bets: Roasted White Peaches With Olive Oil, Lavender Honey, and Sea Salt or Negroni Creamsicle.
Mayim’s Vegan Table by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon ($21.99, DeCapoPress.com) will be a hit with fans of The Big Bang Theory (Bialik plays Amy Farrah Fowler on the smash sitcom) but it should be checked out by anyone who likes eating good, plant-based dishes. The actress slash neuroscientist has raised two vegan kids so she debunks the myths about raising kids on a plant-based diet, offers basic nutritional information that’s hard to find, and (also a rarity) includes a modern twist on some classic Jewish recipes. Best bets: Spanakopita With Yogurt Dipping Sauce or Hamantaschen.
The Soda Fountain by Gia Ciasullo and Peter Freeman ($19.99, TenSpeed.com) is a mouth-watering collection of 70 recipes that recreate bygone treats like egg creams, sodas, sundaes, and floats using artisanal and seasonal ingredients. Bonus: the sibling authors — founders of the uber-hip Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, credited with helping revive the American soda fountain — go beyond the how-tos and offer stories about the history of soda fountains in cities from San Francisco to Philadelphia. Best bets: Cherry Lime Rickey and Hog on a Hot Tin Roof.
Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero ($19.99, DeCapoPress.com) debunks the myth that salads are only the warm-up act with 100 hearty salad recipes that just happen to be vegan. Best bets: Gingery Beets and Lentils with Tahini and Agave Nectar or Curry Pumpkin Collard Wraps.
Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee with Ken Koopman ($18.99, TenSpeed.com) is perfect for lovers of the protein-rich superfood brew. It offers 75 recipes for brews, fixers, elixirs, and mixers by the founder of Tazo Tea and Stash Tea. Best bets: Lavender Green Tea Kombucha or Prune, Kombucha, and Anejo [check] Tequila Ice Cream.
Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon ($19.99, TenSpeed.com) is the author of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It opportunity to show of her pickle knowledge with the sweet, salty, cured, and fermented preserves from Japan, India, China and Korea (among others). Best bests: Green Mango Pickle or Pickled Plums and Pickled Plum Vinegar.
Plants With Benefits by Helen Yoest ($18.95, StLynnsPress.com) is the uninhibited guide (both anecdotes and recipes) to aphrodisiac herbs, fruits, flowers and veggies that can be found in every garden. Best Bets: Sowing Wild Oats Granola or Ginger Shortbread.
Southeast Asia's Best Recipes: From Bangkok to Bali by Wendy Hutton ($16.95, TuttlePublishing.com) takes readers on a culinary tour of the area's most popular dishes from countries including Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam with gorgeous photographs and simple how-tos. Best bets: Lemongrass Beef with Peanuts or Famous Singapore Chili Crab.
Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier ($22.99, PerseusBooks.com) is the latest offering from the former ironman triathlete and award-winning author. Brazier’s star power is undisputable (everyone from actor Hugh Jackman to Olympic medalist Simon Whitfield are his followers) but the 150 whole food, nutrient dense recipes in this book — which rely heavily on leafy greens, hem seeds, quinoa, brown rice, and nuts — doesn’t need a celebrity endorser. Best bets: Avocado, Black Bean and Chipotle Burger or Strawberry, Goji Berry & Dark Chocolate Cheesecake.
Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu ($24.99, TenSpeed.com) is a great new collection of 100 Thai recipes that are simpler, quicker, and easy to manage than we’ve seen before. The foodie that Saveur’s dubbed the best regional cuisine blog offers a basic primer on Thai food (including kitchen staples), great classics (like Pad Thai or Pork Satay) and wonderfully simple, less known one-pot dishes. Best bets: Rice Noodles “Drunken Style” With Chicken or Mango and Mango and Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice.
Eat Your Vegetables by Joe Yonan ($24.99, TenSpeed.com) offers up a great selection of vegetarian, flexitarian, and vegan recipes that are specifically sized for single portions (and can be adaptable for couples). Perfect antidote to those Army-sized recipes found elsewhere. Best bets: Oyster Mushroom and Corn Tart or the Spinach Enchiladas.
Vedge by Rich Landau and Katy Jacoby ($24.95, TheExperimentPublishing.com) presents 100 plates, large and small, that redefine vegetable cooking, from the chefs of Philadelphia’s Vedge (named one of the best restaurants by GQ and Food and Wine last year). Best bets: Roasted Cauliflower With Black Vinegar and Kimchi Cream or Fresh Chickpea “Bourdetto.”
Slow Cooking for Two by Cynthia Graubart ($19.99, Gibbs-Smith.com) reinvents the Crock Pot for the modern era with gourmand quality recipes and basic techniques for making effortless meals (yes, despite what your mom did with it, you can make more than just stew in a slow cooker, although Graubart’s recipe for Lime Pot Roast is pretty tasty). Best bets: Cornish Hen in Port Wine and Fig Preserves or Chocolate Cake.
Notes From The Larder by Britain’s foremost food writer Nigel Slater ($40, TenSpeedPress.com) is a companion to his bestselling Kitchen Diaries. It chronicles a year in the kitchen in his normally idiosyncratic jottings woven together with more than 250 recipes. Best bets: Beet Fritters with Gravlax or Pork Chops and Gooseberry Sauce.
To Eat: A Country Life by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd ($25, FSGBooks.com) was best summed up by Kirkus as “a memoir about falling in love continuously, season after season, and a lesson in caring tenderly for each other and the land.” It is at its heart a gay love story, about nature and family and the beauty of making mistakes and digging in the dirt over the decades. The fourth and final book from the couple (Wintterrowd died in 2010) is a must-read more for the storytelling then the recipes, the latter of which is woven judiciously. Best bets: Asparagus and Figpecker Patina or the Weiner Schnitzel (their son Fotios’s favorite recipe).
Nicole Hunn introduces readers of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread: Biscuits, Bagles, Buns, and More ($18.99, DaCapoPress.com) to the best option for great, gluten-free bread: bake it at home. Hunn, the author of the Gluten Free on a Shoestring series and blog, knows her stuff and there are over a 100 delicious recipes in the book to prove it. Best bets: Monkey Bread or Philly Cheesesteak.
Recipes From an Edwardian House by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall ($16, Imprints.SimonandSchuster.biz/Atria) is the kind of nostalgic cookbook perfect for Downton Abbey fans. It’s like cooking with your grandmother (which Fearnley-Whittingstall is). Best bets: Big Granny’s Chicken and Ham Pie or the British classics like Bubble and Squeak, Treacle Tart, and Ginger Beer.
My Kitchen Cure by Mee Tracy McCormick ($17.96, MeeTracy.com) is more than just its subtitle (“How I cooked My Way Out of Chronic Autoimmune Disease with Whole Foods and Healing Recipes”), it’s a treatise on food modification and the food industry, a look at both how good certain ingredients are both for your body and for the sustainability of the planet, and it’s a small memoir of one orphans journey to finding and healing herself. Plus recipes. Best bets: Thai Tofu Cakes or the Ginger-Apple-Butternut Squash Soup.
If you can get past the hunky cover photo of firefighter slash author Rip Esselstyn, you’ll find a bevy of information in My Beef With Meet: The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet ($25, HachetteBookGroup.com). Once one of the world’s top professional triathletes, Esselstyn is author of the bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet (about switching is firehouse to a plant-based diet and leading the whole team of firefighters to a dramatic weight loss). In his latest, he offers up 140 new recipes along with info on which healthy foods aren’t and why a plant-based diet might save you from a heart attack, cancer, or Alzheimer’s. Best bets: Hunter-Gatherer Rainbow Quinoa or the Lean Mean Green Split Pea Burgers.
Lastly, The Cheesy Vegan by John Schlimm ($19.99, DaCapoPress.com) helps you go vegan without giving up the ultimate comfort food: cheese. There are 25 recipes for making your own vegan cheeses at home (brie, Swiss, cheddar and more) and more than 100 other recipes for using vegan cheeses. Best bets: Four-Cheese Baked Rigatoni Gratin or Lemony Parmesan Linguini.