December 7, 2023


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The 23 Best Cookbooks: Fall 2023

3 min read

In Scandinavian From Scratch, Accettola shares recipes for sweet and savory bakery classics from the region: open-faced sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and buns that evoke the coziness of a Scandinavian coffee shop. I enjoyed her recipe for smoked trout salad with crème fraîche and fresh dill. Her Swedish cinnamon knots (kanelbullar), warmly spiced and finished with satisfyingly crunchy pearl sugar, have become one of my favorite pastries to make at home. The dessert that lives rent free in my head, though, is Accettola’s Danish dream cake (drømmekage), which manages to be rich, tender, and fluffy at the same time. Topped with a mixture of shredded coconut, brown sugar, and butter that tastes like butterscotch, the cake is especially delicious alongside a cup of coffee.

Scandinavian from Scratch

Latinísimo by Sandra A. Gutierrez

Ambitious is the best way to describe this cookbook from Sandra A. Gutierrez, a journalist, historian, and cookbook author who has spent her entire life studying Latin American foodways. Featuring more than 300 recipes from 21 Latin American countries, Latinísimo offers a glimpse into how the region’s many cuisines have evolved through the immigrants who have made Latin America their home.

For instance, you can see traces of Japanese and Chinese influences in Peruvian cuisine, while many European baking traditions have made their way into Argentinian, Uruguayan, and Chilean kitchens. Cook your way through Gutierrez’s book, and you’ll begin to spot some of these influences yourself. Seasoned with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and toasted sesame oil, the Nikkei pickled slaw is an example of Japanese Peruvian fusion (known as Nikkei cuisine) and is crunchy, refreshing, and excellent. Kuchen de manzana, a buttery Chilean cake laden with cinnamon-spiced apples, takes after German apfelkuchen. That’s the beauty of this comprehensive cookbook: It shows how many present-day culinary traditions transcend borders. As Gutierrez writes, cuisines “have always been and continue to be in flux, changing and adapting to the many cultures that blend together in each region, city, town, and country in Latin America.”

Made Here by Send Chinatown Love

I imagine that if Humans of New York came up with a cookbook, it’d look something like this feel-good read from Send Chinatown Love. The volunteer-led organization was founded in 2020 to provide strategic and financial support for Asian businesses in New York City hit hard by the pandemic. Its self-published cookbook features many of those businesses (and restaurant friends of Send Chinatown Love) along with a recipe and an in-depth profile of the people behind the business. The stories are heartwarming and inspiring: I loved reading about how Myo Lin Thway left his 9-to-5 job to run his popular food cart, Burmese Bites, and how the owners of a Korean fried chicken restaurant in Flushing, Queens, happily taught Ruth and Bin Li how to make the dish so they could open their own spot, the now-shuttered Boc Boc Chicken Delicious.

Soak in their stories, then make their recipes. Fragrant with lemongrass and glazed in fish sauce and honey, the lamb sausage skewers from Falansai are sweet, salty, and slightly spicy. They’re in “constant rotation” on the restaurant’s menu, and I suspect they will be in my household, too. For a comforting and nourishing meal, I recommend Taiwan Bear House’s lion’s head meatballs, which are made with a succulent mixture of pork, soy sauce, and rice wine, and poached in a light, gingery broth.

Bake Smart by Samantha Seneviratne

Recipe developer, food stylist, and cookbook author Samantha Seneviratne was working on a recipe for rugelach one day when everything seemed to go wrong. The cookie wasn’t the right texture. The filling was oozing in the oven. Though she wasn’t happy with her rugelach, one person was: her son Artie. “That’s the point of making something from scratch and sharing it,” she writes. “Not the perfect texture, shape, size, or looks, but joy.” In Bake Smart, Seneviratne offers essential techniques and tips to make baking less stressful—and to help home cooks become better bakers. Cooks will find “core recipes” for basics like pastry doughs, meringue, custards, and cake batters that serve as the foundation for the other desserts in the book. Once readers have mastered those techniques, they’ll be able to riff to their heart’s desire.

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