Despite everything, we still need to eat. And even more, we still need to dream. Thanks to the coronavirus and COVID-19, it’s going to be a while before we can get on a plane to enjoy an epic four-hands dinner or to delve deep into a local cuisine. Most of the world’s great restaurants are responsibly closed right now. To help us live well as we stay at home, here are 10 new and new-ish cookbooks that combine a delicious variety of recipes with armchair travel—let’s call it stovetop travel?
Sun and Rain by chef Ana Ros of Hisa Franko and journalist Kaja Sajovic, Slovenia
When I dined at Hisa Franko last autumn, I was blown away both by the creativity and by the staunch dedication to creating a cuisine that tasted specifically of the fairy-tale pure and gorgeous Soca Valley. Chef Ana Ros, who was named the World’s Best Female Chef and who is credited with putting Slovenian gastronomy on the menu-map, compiled Sun and Rain as a glimpse into her idiosyncratic and rebellious cooking style. The book combines recipes, photos, poems, stories and personal recollections from the chef, who is currently looking after her international kitchen brigade and providing bread and other food to the local community.
Falastin by chef Sami Tamimi of Ottolenghi and recipe writer Tara Wigley, London
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant group in London has been known for a while for celebrating Palestinian cuisine. Now, after several other books, their newest (available for preorder ahead of the July publication date) is a full-on love letter. The book is illuminated with tales of Tamimi’s childhood in Jerusalem and Wigley’s culinary travels through the region. Inspired by their collaborations with farmers and producers working in Palestine today, they use transportive photography and more than 100 recipes to bring readers to the table and to refugee camps, home kitchens, tahini mills, and family farms, offering a dual perspective of homecoming and exploration.
My Greek Table by chef Diane Kochilas, New York
Greek-American chef Diane Kochilas is about to debut the third season of her PBS show with the same name as this book. Since she was a young girl, the native New Yorker has been visiting her father’s native island of Ikaria, and falling more and more deeply in love with the gastronomy of a place that is also a Blue Zone for longevity. On Ikaria, she understood the flavor of life: “simplicity, nowness and the joy of dancing all night heedless to the shrill, staccato rooster calls that inevitably pierce every morning.” She has been a consulting chef at some of the US’s top Greek restaurants, such as Molyvos, Pylos and Committee Boston, and has become a leading ambassador of the country’s cuisine. The book is a lavish volume of photography, contemporary and classic recipes, and stories about the food and culture of Greece.
Chicken and Charcoal: Yakitori, Yarbird, Hong Kong by chef Matt Abergel of Yardbird, Hong Kong
Canadian chef Matt Abergel is considered one of the leading authorities on grilling chicken, and he put yakitori on the global culinary radar. The restaurant’s first cookbook has more than 200 illustrations by Evan Hecox, which include strong visual references to Abergel’s love of skateboarding. But mostly he shares some of the restaurant’s signature recipes, including ways to cook the bird with no need for special equipment beyond a grill.
Dishoom: From Bombay with Love by chef Naved Nasir and restaurateurs Kavi Thakrar and Shamil Thakrar of Dishoom, London
With eight locations around the UK, open from breakfast straight through until late night, Dishoom is probably the hippest Indian restaurant in the world right now (or it was before the pandemic). Their new book is part tribute to Bombay, part travel guide and part compendium of more than 100 recipes. They have included many of their most popular dishes, including masala chai, bacon naan rolls, black daal, okra fries, jackfruit biriyani and lamp raan, along with cocktails and coolers.
Tel Aviv: Food. People. Stories by chef Haya Molcho of Neni restaurants across Europe
Israeli chef Haya Molcho has spent many years outside her native country, opening dining rooms such as the Neni restaurants in several 25Hours hotels, but she has never stopped cooking her native cuisine and sharing it with the world. In this book, she had her four sons and business partners take home cooks through a vibrant melting pot of a city that is a study of contrasts, fragrances, stories and flavors. She introduces readers to local chefs, epicures, urban foragers and others and revisits the hometown recipes of her childhood, such as knafeh, green shakshuka, sarma, Israeli paella and pickled lemons.
The Turkish Cookbook by chef Musa Dagdeviren of Ciya Sofrasi, Istanbul
The no-frills counter-service restaurant Ciya Sofrasi on Istanbul’s less touristy Asian side is something of a must-visit for food-minded travelers (at least this one, every time I go to the city). At the restaurant, “food-anthropologist” Musa Dagdeviren re-creates near-forgotten regional Turkish specialties so skillfully that he has been the subject of an episode of Chef’s Table. This book is a definitive catalog of healthful, hearty Turkish cuisine, with more than 550 recipes (with clear instructions and internationally available ingredients) for everything from salads and dips to grilled meat and super-sweet pastries, plus stories about their origins.
Lisboeta by chef Nuno Mendes of Chiltern Firehouse, London, and Bairro Alto Hotel Restaurant, Lisbon
Nuno Mendes, one of the most-admired Portuguese chefs in the world, made his name in London with restaurants such as Viajante and Chiltern Firehouse. So it was a big deal when he returned to Lisbon last autumn to oversee food and beverage at the Bairro Alto Hotel.Bbefore that, it was a big deal when he released Lisboeta, a book that pays homage to the city of his birth, with references to his family’s farm in the Alentejo. The recipes—inspired by dishes that Mendes loves—take cooks through a typical day in Portugal’s City of Light, from the famous pasteis de nata (custard tarts), to lunchtime seafood such as squid sizzling in a pan or grilled sardines with roasted green peppers, to hearty dinners like lamb stew and marinated pork with black olives and parsley, and even a prego (meat sandwich) for a late-night snack.
Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexcio by chef Claudia Sandoval, San Diego
Mexican-American chef Claudia Sandoval was born in San Diego to a family from Mazatlán (where her grandparents owned a seafood restaurant) and grew up at the feet of strong female chefs. As an adult, she honed a signature style that is a modern take on Mexican coastal cuisine, which led to her winning a season of MasterChef and then becoming a judge on MasterChef Latino. She also has a successful culinary consulting and catering company in San Diego The book’s 65 straightforward recipes combine her inventions with local favorites from Mazatlan and include hibiscus poached pears, garlic shrimp, achiote rubbed pork chops, cilantro lime grilled chicken and tres leches cake. They’re complimented by anecdotes about her life and childhood.
Pastry Love by chef Joanne Chang of Flour, Boston
James Beard Award–winning pastry chef Joanne Chang is well known for her eight acclaimed Flour bakeries around Boston (and especially for her famous sticky buns). Her most recent book is a step up from the usual stress baking that might be going on around now. Pastry Love is her most personal and comprehensive yet, with 125 dessert recipes for things that are best enjoyed at home, like desserts that should be served warm of with fluffy whipped cream on top. Some are easy, while others are complex, and they’re presented along with master lessons on essential techniques for making lemon curd, puff pastry and more.