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“Think about this: The Italians didn’t have the tomato until after 1492,” writes chef and food historian Lois Ellen Frank. “The Irish didn’t have the potato.” Let that sink in, then get a copy of Frank’s Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky: Modern Plant-Based Recipes Using Native American Ingredients. Written with Walter Whitewater, the book celebrates the “magic eight” indigenous plants of the Americas—corn, beans, squash, chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, vanilla and cacao. The recipes are accessible, budget-friendly and entirely plant-based, such as the three sisters tamale with green chile, black beans, chocolate and chipotle; baked acorn squash with maple and pecans; and green chile enchilada lasagne. In sum, this is a fantastic introduction and tribute to Native American Southwestern cuisine.

Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky celebrates the “magic eight” indigenous plants first cultivated in the Americas.
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In 2014, food historians Victoria Flexner and Jay Reifel cooked up an NYC supper club called Edible History, a perfect pairing of fine dining and intellectual stimulation. Now they’ve spun the concept into A History of the World in 10 Dinners: 2,000 Years, 100 Recipes, which includes recipes for such dishes as Trimalchio’s pig (a roasted suckling pig with sausages) from ancient Rome, and glazed whore’s farts (meringues) from Versailles. “This book will present even the experienced cook with a shocking variety of unfamiliar ingredients,” Reifel writes. “We have missed out on so many perspectives,” writes Flexner. “How do we learn about people who left nothing behind?” Their book is one intriguing answer, and I savor the thought of reading it to my teenage daughter as she makes her way through AP World History.

The chefs at New York’s Edible History share curious recipes from various periods of history in their intriguing new cookbook.
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I simply adore soup. Especially in cold weather, I could eat soup daily. I know I’m not alone. Soup lovers, let us take up our ladles and spoons and hunks of good bread: Shelly Westerhausen Worcel’s Every Season Is Soup Season: 85+ Souper-Adaptable Recipes to Batch, Share, Reinvent, and Enjoy sets us up for year-round slurping. Four seasons of soups, stews, ramen, gazpacho and more are joined by a mouthwatering assortment of garnishes—frizzled shallots, honeyed feta with black and white sesame seeds and tarragon-orange oil among them. Then there are the sides: salads, focaccia, cornbread. This winter I’m determined to try Worcel’s pumpkin and white bean soup with brown butter sage, and her sweet potato and leek peanut stew. Best of all, the soups can be repurposed into other dishes, such as a spicy noodle stir-fry made from the aforementioned stew.

Soup lovers will delight in Shelly Westerhausen Worcel’s cookbook that offers soups, stews, ramen, gazpacho and more for every season.
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Gennaro’s Cucina: Hearty Money-Saving Meals From an Italian Kitchen by Gennaro Contaldo focuses on cucina povera, the traditional cooking of rural Italy, where seasonality and a “waste not want not” lifestyle deliciously intersect. If you love to buy loaves of artisan bread but often find them stale before you can eat them up, grab this book. Numerous recipes incorporate past-its-prime bread—you’re probably familiar with panzanella, but here we’re introduced to ribollita, a Tuscan bean and bread soup; cooked bread with rocket and pancetta; and many more dishes that make me want to go out and buy a loaf just to let it sit until I’m ready to cook. But meat and fish are hardly overlooked here, nor is pasta (after all, what is it but a bit of water and flour?) and sweets such as mini ricotta doughnuts and Sardinian sweet ravioli. 

Highlighting the cuisine of rural Italy, Gennaro’s Cucina is a zero-waste cookbook that makes every scrap of food delicious.
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Sohla El-Waylly’s Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook aims to be a comprehensive, entry-level guide to cooking. It is mammoth, much like the Joy of Cooking my mom gave me when I moved into my first apartment. There’s a strong emphasis on technique—searing, poaching, browning, all the ways to prepare eggs, pastry 101—and clear indication of expertise required for any given recipe. The design reminds me of how recipes are presented on the internet: full-color, with tags and photo tutorials throughout. But many dishes feel elevated, far from basic, even when they fall under “easy,” such as watermelon chaat, jammy egg tacos and a quinoa crunch salad. I suspect a lot of newlyweds will be adding this one to their kitchen shelves. 

Sohla El-Waylly’s mammoth Start Here is a comprehensive, entry-level cookbook that elevates easy-to-master recipes.

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