Let’s Eat France! by François-Régis Gaudry and friends is a big—as in, six pounds big—boisterously beautiful, ingeniously designed and illustrated book that answers every question you have about French cuisine and all the questions you didn’t know you needed answers to. There’s no table of contents, no chapters, no categories. Every turn of the page invites you to delight in an eclectic, serendipitous survey of France’s edible heritage. You’ll wander from an exploration of the crunchy cornichon pickle and a consideration of the great gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, to a recipe for an amazing Sardine Pâté, a family-friendly Pot-au-Feu (that’s beef stew, to you), a classic cherry-studded Clafoutis and 372 more remarkable French dishes, plus maps, charts and anecdotes. As a flâneur in the fertile fields of French gastronomy, you’ll learn about wines, hand-crafted liqueurs, cheeses, foie gras, oysters, breads, cakes, galettes, famous chefs and hors d’oeuvres. C’est merveilleux!
If “real” cooking is on your agenda for the new year, there’s a fresh cookbook about an old technique that’s a must. Searing Inspiration: Fast, Adaptable Entrées and Fresh Pan Sauces by Susan Volland is your ticket to getting fabulous, four-star meals on the table in a flash. Using a skillet and the skills you’ll develop under Volland’s savvy tutelage, making Rib Steaks with Whiskey Béarnaise, a classic Sole Meunière or Tamarind-Glazed Chicken will be a breeze. The ingredients may vary, but the technique—sear, deglaze, embellish—is the same. You sear ingredients in a hot, oiled skillet and remove; deglaze with wine or another liquid; add the flavor-boosting aromatics you’ve chosen and prepped; re-add the seared ingredients and you’re a dinner diva.
Doug Crowell and chef Ryan Angulo, co-owners of two revered neighborhood restaurants in the restaurant-rich borough of Brooklyn, believe that the most important ingredients in any dish are kindness and salt. Their debut cookbook, appropriately titled Kindness & Salt: Recipes for the Care and Feeding of Your Friends and Neighbors, shows you how to salt early and generously to bring out the best in over 100 recipes, from Mushroom & Goat Cheese Scramble, Pommes Frites and Seared Scallops to desserts and cocktails. Though you can’t sprinkle kindness on pasta or popovers, you can serve this superbly satisfying bistro food (Duck Meatloaf, Narragansett Mussels, Banana Foster Profiteroles) with warm, cordial confidence.