Book Bites: Pantry Staples

The holidays are fast approaching, and many of us are making plans to gather with family and friends in the weeks ahead. That means lots of nice things, but let's face it: One of the things we're looking forward to most is the food. This week, we're spotlighting seven of our favorite cookbooks that came out this year — a baker's half-dozen of wonderful titles that will reinvigorate your meal planning and wow your guests. Whether you're planning a large gathering or just want to steal the show with a sensational side, you'll find plenty of inspiration within these pages. Dig in! 


The Wok: Recipes and Techniques by J. Kenji López-Alt

One of our most favored cookbooks has been Food Lab by the respected (revered) Kenji. (We go by first names because we all know him, or at least feel like we do.) The Wok is his latest, and it joins the ranks on Greg's shelf of favorite cookbooks. As he writes in his book, a good wok should be able to handle almost everything. The recipes and advice make this an invaluable resource for the cook who likes inspiration. You may not follow each recipe precisely, but you will come to understand the science and thought behind it. This is one to read while thinking about what to cook next and why.
— Valerie

READ because you're looking to understand your food and recipes more.
PASS if you don't want your dishes to taste like they are made by an expert.
Order Your Copy

Milk Street: The World in a Skillet by Christopher Kimball

In every kitchen, a skillet resides and will pair perfectly with this new Milk Street cookbook. Delicious photos and manageable recipes with easy-to-find ingredients makes this a perfect fit for the home chef that wants something simple yet worldly. Thirty-five countries are represented. If you crave a Greek-inspired dish or would like to try cooking with Moroccan flavors, grab your favorite skillet and get ready to cook!
— Liz

READ because you are an "I only want to wash one thing after cooking" kind of person.
PASS if you don't think it's cooking unless your kitchen looks like a federal disaster area.
Order Your Copy

Make Your Own Party by Kelli Lewton

Chef Kelli Lewton, owner of Two Unique event planning company, encourages casual parties that work with one's own style while offering kitchen basics, tablescaping, and 20 party blueprints with flavorful recipes. A great gift for a college grad or bridal shower or just someone who wants some guidance.
— Kimberly

READ if you're in the mood to make all your friends jealous of your hosting skills.
PASS if you prefer to be a guest — or a very charming sponge.
Order Your Copy

To the Last Bite by Alexis deBoschnek

Alexis deBoschnek grew up tending her mother's garden in the Catskills and has honed the skill of making the most of ingredients. In her beautiful cookbook, she shares contemporary, approachable recipes to more than satisfy the home cook. Yes, please!
— Kimberly

READ if you want to become a more creative, resourceful cook.
PASS if you dislike delicious food.
Order Your Copy

The Big Texas Cookbook by Editors of Texas Monthly

The editors of Texas Monthly have compiled recipes that define the state, with particular focus on barbecue and Tex-Mex and including everything from Smoked Oysters to cocktails to vegetarian meals. A great gift for Texas natives or those who got here as soon as they could.
— Cathy

READ because food is one of the very best things about Texas. (Psst! So are its indie bookstores!)
PASS if you think that the best Tex-Mex can be found in New England.
Order Your Copy

Delectable by Claudia Fleming

Legendary pastry chef Claudia Fleming has created a cookbook for the home baker as a follow up to her last, treasured classic among pastry chefs, The Last Course. Her new book, Delectable: Sweet & Savory Baking is gorgeous and easy to follow. Divided into sections: Breakfast and Breads, Doughnuts and Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Savories, Custards and Semifreddos, Fruit, and Pantry, there's more packed in than just desserts. This is worth a look and will be hard to pass up.
— Kimberly

READ because this is the perfect time of year to hone your delicious baking skills.
PASS if you're drooling looking at the gorgeous photos here — you'll make the pages stick together.
Order Your Copy

Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani

Chef Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri restaurant in River Oaks delivers a comprehensive debut cookbook full of accessible techniques, tips on cooking with whole spices, and flavorful recipes from every corner of India. Her Texas roots shine through, too, with delicious twists on Southern staples like grits, biscuits, and mac and cheese, plus cactus curry and more. Recommended for any fan of Indian cuisine!
— Noah

READ if you enjoy when your cooking transports you to another country.
PASS if the spiciest thing you can handle is a piece of arugula.
Order Your Copy