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Bookshop's Cookbook Potluck, 2020

COOKBOOK POTLUCK
by Stefanie Berntson

Fall is the most glorious time of the year for any cookbook fan, as a bounty of enticing new titles are released. And while the pandemic put a wrench in our plans to hold our staff’s annual cookbook potluck, our devoted booksellers nevertheless took these books home for a spin in their kitchens and are sharing the delicious results. Looking for even more great new cookbooks? See our staff recommendations here.

HOME COOKING

Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter by Nigel Slater, TEN SPEED PRESS
Cook with Me: 150 Recipes for the Home Cook by Alex Guarnachelli, CLARKSON POTTER
The Full Plate by Ayesha Curry, VORACIOUS

Comforting, accessible home cooking is definitely on the menu these days, and we found several new books to freshen our repertoire. 

Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter is just the right book to turn to when you want to cook something warm and comforting on a cool day. Nigel Slater’s vegetarian recipes are quick and easy, and his writing is lovely. I made the Tahini, Sesame, Butternut Soup and my family loved it, but the Leek, Tomato, Pecorino Crumble really stole the show. If you’ve never cooked from his books, I encourage you to do so—and to mark your calendar for March, when Greenfeast: Spring, Summer will be released!

Jax is new to the cooking world and is just finding her groove in the kitchen. She finds recipes much easier to follow when they are connected to a memory or story or when the voice of the author feels warm and encouraging, which was happily the case with her potluck title, Cook with Me, by Alex Guarnaschelli. While not necessarily for someone brand new to the kitchen, this book is definitely designed for the home cook and Jax sees it as a great next step for anyone who has been learning about cooking during shelter-in-place.

Jenny took home The Full Plate and found Ayesha Curry’s approach to a stocked pantry and simple but delicious cooking to be right up her alley. She loved Curry’s no-rules, fusion approach to flavors and seasonings and found the book packed with go-to meals that are full of flavor without a lot of fuss. Whether you’re cooking for adults, kids, families, or gatherings (someday!), you can turn to The Full Plate for always-tasty, never-boring recipes.

 

CALIFORNIA-ITALIAN

Chi Spacca: A New Approach to American Cooking by Nancy Silverton, KNOPF 
The Barbuto Cookbook: California-Italian Cooking from the Beloved West Village Restaurant by Jonathan Waxman, ABRAMS 

For the more ambitious home cook, we tried out new books by two excellent chefs who have defined their culinary careers in California while being heavily influenced by Italy. 

Like its namesake restaurant in Los Angeles, Chi Spacca, by award-winning chef Nancy Silverton, is decidedly meat-centric, but the surprise of this book is that it has plenty of gorgeous salads and vegetable dishes as well. We loved Little Gems with Herb Breadcrumbs, Bacon Vinaigrette, and Grated Egg just as much as the Coffee-Rubbed Tri-Tip. Whether you are an experienced cook who wants to “learn the secrets of cooking like an Italian butcher,” or simply want to enjoy the recipes of an exemplary chef, this is an outstanding collection.

I was delighted to find The Barbuto Cookbook packed with simple, delicious, appealing recipes that I couldn’t wait to try and my family couldn’t wait to eat. From his famous roast chicken to gnocchi to desserts, Jonathan Waxman shares the rustic Italian, modern California dishes that made his restaurant so beloved. While probably not for the beginner cook, many of the recipes are surprisingly easy to make, and any extra effort for these is well worth it. 

 

SOMETHING SWEET

A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home by Melissa Weller
KNOPF • NOVEMBER 17TH

Jae says A Good Bake is perfect for anyone who has dived headfirst into baking during the shutdown. With its straightforward tutorials on making the croissants, tarts, and pie crusts of your dreams, this beautiful book includes step-by-step photographs and carefully detailed recipes. Melissa Weller is one of the most acclaimed bakers in the country and her book is one you will use for years to come.

 

Stefanie Berntson has had the pleasure of being the cookbook buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz for over 25 years.

 

 

 

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