I have rifled through every bread book we carry, and many, many more besides. Many are informative, many have eminent authors, many are utterly daunting, and Sarah Owens’ Sourdough has my heart. Her previous day job as rose gardener of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens assures 1) an amateur-friendly approach absolutely compatible with real life schedules and 2) gardening is crucial to her approach. Recipes include, yes, stunning breads, but also sourdough pastries, and cakes that circle the seasons with uncanny herb pairings, seasonal fruit, and a stunning array of savory options.
I have way too many cookbooks but The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant is one of my new favorites. Merchant started the website “how sweet eats” more than 10 years ago. Her recipes are easy to follow with ingredients that are readily available. Not only does she have 150 everyday recipes but she’s also got ideas for throwing a fun party from music playlists to creative ideas such as build your own s’mores bars with Nutella, caramel and strawberries. Her philosophy is to feed your loved ones with joy, even if it is not perfect. And if that’s not enough of a reason to love this cookbook, she has a whole chapter nourishing your body with DIY beauty recipes like sugar scrubs and homemade lip balms.
No one has transformed the way Americans think about food—its place in our individual and collective lives, and as a conveyer of our values—than Alice Waters. The founder of iconic Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, and the driving force behind the Edible Schoolyard program that has introduced tens of thousands of schoolchildren across America to the art of growing and cooking food, Waters has now written her long-awaited memoir. In Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook she describes her roots in New Jersey, her coming of age during the political tumult of the 1960s, and her ongoing crusade to make locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and “slow food” the mainstays of a new American cuisine. Throw in a few spicy love affairs, her passion for books, and a life spent intersecting with presidents and movie moguls, and you’ve got a book that is a satisfying and delicious full-course meal.