With the advent of spring, we unearth the salad bowls, scrub off the grills, shoo away any subsequent animals who set up shop in there for the winter (you’d be surprised) and tuck our braisers safely away for the many gloriously warm months ahead. Yes, it’s spring cookbook time.
There are dozens of cookbook launches in the fall and spring — narrowing this very worthy crop of releases down to our 8 favorite is never an easy task. From the very best in authentic grilling to exploring the wide and wonderful world of spring and summer produce, we’ve got you covered. Put your orders in for these helpful volumes; they’ll have the Food Republic stamp of approval as soon as our stamps get here.
Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes, Nigella Lawson
Longtime TV chef and cookbook author Nigella Lawson certainly had her work cut out for her this year. Between executive producing and judging ABC’s new cooking competition The Taste and penning her new Nigellissima book packed with simple, aesthetically pleasing and most important, homestyle modern dishes inspired by the cuisine she loves most, it’s amazing how utterly stress-free her recipes are.
Try This At Home: Recipes From My Head To Your Plate, Richard Blais
What’s most surprising about Top Chef favorite Richard Blais’ Try This At Home isn’t the macaroni and headcheese or parmesan cheesecake recipes, it’s that this is his first cookbook! We couldn’t be more excited after following five years of pâté burgers, oysters with horseradish pearls and any number of other innovative dishes that would make Keller, Boulud and Adrià proud.
With a foreword by Tom Colicchio, Try This At Home is a testiment to the kind of culinary magic only a Top Chef All-Star can teach you to perform in your own kitchen. Plus it looks like Chef was literally well-seasoned on the cover. How do you not love that?
The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, Matt and Ted Lee
Ever heard of shrimp butter? Can you accurately define “smothered?” Whether you’re an experienced cook of Southern specialties or simply want to learn staples like She-Crab Soup and Pan-Roasted Okra, Corn and Tomatoes from two James Beard Award-winning masters, Matt and Ted Lee can certainly guide you on your way.
Best of all, the book pays delicious tribute to the rich cocktail culture of the South, like Loquat Manhattans, Moonshine Martinis and kumquat-infused gin. It’s just not a crab crack without a cold drink in a Mason jar.
Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes From the House That Herring Built, Mark Russ Federman
Who’s ready to learn some super-useful restaurateur Yiddish? We are! That’s why we were exceptionally excited when our copy of Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes arrived. Whether you make regular trips to the Lower East Side appetizing haven or simply admire it from afar (FYI: the shop ships all over the country), the epic success story behind the belly lox is most certainly one worth reading.
In this quick-read (trust us), Mark Russ Federman, the grandson of the founder of Russ & Daughters, Joel Russ, recounts the history of his Jewish immigrant family and shares recipes for staple dishes like the LEO (lox, eggs and onions), mushroom barley soup and herring salad. Recipes we never thought we’d see with our own eyes.
Vegetable Literacy: Cooking And Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, Deborah Madison
Here’s the great thing about vegetable-centric cookbooks: a great author like Deborah Madison can write nine of them and still have 400 pages’ worth of information, stories, recipes and general advice regarding their preparation. Her newest book, Vegetable Literacy, is a comprehensive volume divided into 12 vegetable “families.”
Get to know the Knotweeds, Goosefeet, Cucurbits and (Former) Lily families (plus what all those things mean as far as vegetables are concerned) if you can get past the garlic scape porn on the cover.
Where There’s Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling, Barton Seaver
Release date: April 2nd
Meat may be an important ingredient when it comes to grilling season, but there’s one even more important aspect without which you might as well be in the kitchen: smoke. In fact, D.C.-based chef Barton Seaver’s new book is named for it.
Learn to use natural materials like pine boughs, sticks and sawdust for adding extra smoke flavor on the grill and buy a TON of sea salt for the best grill-roasted potatoes you’ve ever eaten, and will definitely eat all spring and summer-long. We hope you like hitting the farmer’s market, cause that’s where local, heirloom ingredients for the best grilling sides come from. Who are we kidding, of course you like hitting the farmer’s market.
Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals From Our Restaurant To Your Home, Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner
Release date: April 2nd
For fans of the Union Square Cookbook and Second Helpings, those exclusive glimpses into the dishes behind Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, comes Family Table. Culinary Director Michael Romano and author Karen Stabiner explore the relatively new trend of famed restaurants feeding staff meals chefs would want to eat themselves, and wrote this cookbook full of recipes the restaurant diners never see.
Gone are the days of leftover pasta with “whatever.” In full-swing are happy cooks and servers fueled by seasonally inspired desserts after a hearty meal of lasagna, pot pie or tacos, no tweezed-on garnish of micro cilantro necessary.
Spanish Flavours: Stunning Dishes Inspired by the Regional Ingredients of Spain, José Pizzaro
Release date: May 1st
It’s hard to resist a glossy new Spanish cookbook, particularly when it’s authored by London-based Spanish chef José Pizzaro. While the recipes are simple, regional, ingredient-driven and easy enough for the home cook to pull off, we found the book’s photography incredibly appealing: outdoor market shots of head-on shrimp just pulled from the ocean, piles of exotic citrus, fruits dangling enticingly from trees and, yes a shirtless old man holding a dead pigeon by the head (don’t worry, it’s going to a great place).
Pizzaro’s book captures the spirit of Spanish cuisine from hearty peasant dishes to delicate pastries, tapas to restaurant-quality composed dishes and plenty of ways to use Ibèrico ham, baccalao, saffron, bitter oranges, squid — just name the Spanish ingredient and there’s a recipe or two in there for you.
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