New Cookbooks to Try and to Gift

Is it just us, or is there something about the autumn season that calls for long afternoons in the kitchen trying out new ingredients and perfecting favorite dishes? Here at the store, when a new cookbook catches our eye, we like to try a recipe or two and share it among our booksellers at our weekly staff meetings, which have been particularly tasty lately. Here, we've collected ten of our recent favorite cookbooks, each full of tasty recipes and mouthwatering pictures. Try one out for yourself as you design a menu for a family gathering, or have us wrap one up for the epicurean on your holiday list — it's the most delicious time of the year.

Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky, by Lois Ellen Frank

Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky

by Lois Ellen Frank

Years ago, I read a novel set in the Midwest in a restaurant where the the protagonist's parents had separate kitchens: One only cooked with ingredients from the "old world" and the other only cooked with ingredients from the "new world." Fast forward a few years, and I fell in love with Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass. So I was immediately drawn to this in-depth study of using native plants in cooking. Frank provides lengthy, fascinating introductions to different foods that were part of the Native diet — from the harvesting to the seed saving. From this book, we have enjoyed two healthy bowls (zucchini, quinoa, and pinon salad, and sweet potato, kale, and wild rice). Both were easy to make. My good friend Marta just recently brought us chile powder from her New Mexico trip. And I went to the intensive resource guide in the back to order Bineshii Ghost Wild Rice. What a treat. For the staff birthdays, it was pumpkin and ginger scones. Get adventurous, learn things, and eat well!


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Sweet Greek, by Kathy Tsaples

Sweet Greek

by Kathy Tsaples

Kathy Tsaples’ parents fled war-ravaged Greece for Australia with no money, no language skills, and only one suitcase. Despite hardships, they managed to make a sweet life with family gatherings centered around delicious Greek food. As Tsaples says, “My most beautiful memories are those created around the kitchen and dinner table.” After surviving a stage 3 cancer diagnosis as an adult, Tsaples took life by the reins and decided to open Sweet Greek in the Prahran Market in Melbourne to share her heritage and love of Greek food. It and this cookbook have been wildly popular in Australia. Now, a North American version has been released. Recipes from Tsaples’ mother, family, and friends are organized around feasts from the Greek Orthodox calendar, winter meals, and sweets. I made Melitsanosalata (Eggplant Dip) this week which received rave reviews from Blue Willow Bookshop staff. I will make it again… and again. Hmm… what’s next? The photography is beautiful; the recipes enticing. It will be hard to choose.


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Bruno's Cookbook, by Martin Walker & Julia Watson

Bruno's Cookbook

by Martin Walker & Julia Watson

In case you’re unfamiliar with the series of novels Bruno, Chief of Police, Bruno presides over a small village in the Périgord (Dordogne) region of southern France. He is as adept at whipping up a truffled omelet as he is at solving crimes. Foodies and Francophiles are in for a treat, because now there is a cookbook of Bruno’s favorite recipes that features beautiful photographs and stories of this region. Pair it with a novel as a gift or keep it for yourself to enjoy with a glass of French wine. Bon appétit!

—Jennifer K.

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David Atherton’s Baking Book for Kids, by David Atherton; illustrated by Harry Woodgate

David Atherton’s Baking Book for Kids

by David Atherton; illustrated by Harry Woodgate

Great British Baking Show Winner David Atherton's new baking book for children and those who like to bake with them is a winner for these two novice bakers. We've tried several recipes and have shared them at staff meetings. Recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, with charming illustrations. Many recipes contain whole grains and sweeteners other than white sugar. A tasty baking book for all ages! 

—Cathy & Caroline

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Pie Is Messy: Recipes from The Pie Hole, by Rebecca Grasley with Willy Blackmore

Pie Is Messy: Recipes from The Pie Hole

by Rebecca Grasley, with Willy Blackmore

If you’re in California, Arizona, Japan, or Saudi Arabia, you have the opportunity to visit The Pie Hole for a pie experience. If not, Pie Is Messy is a new cookbook that will give you the recipes to create that experience for yourself and endear others to you for delighting them. Born from the dream of Becky Grasley to have a little pie shop to share her love for pies, her son and his restaurant friend helped Becky set up shop in the Los Angeles Arts District. From there, it’s grown more than Becky expected. Now, with a lifetime of experience in pie baking, Becky shares 100 recipes for fairly simple, smile-inducing pies. There are old school pies like many of us grew up eating and new school pies which are more inventive and contemporary. With the basic recipe for a double crust, you can make one pie now and have a crust ready to go in the freezer for a quick pie later. Have some fun and start rolling!


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The Simple Art of Rice, by JJ Johnson & Danica Novgorodoff

The Simple Art of Rice

by JJ Johnson & Danica Novgorodoff

With beautiful photography and watercolor illustrations, this book takes a deep dive into that pantry staple from around the world — rice. Full of family recipes, new takes on old classics, and culturally significant dishes, this cookbook pulls recipes from around the globe to explore one of the most vibrant and lasting crops ever grown. Beginning with "Everyday Favorites" and moving through to dessert and drinks, there are so many great recipes in this book for both quick and simple meals as well as elaborate celebratory dishes that require more time in the kitchen. Two recipes jumped out at me to try immediately from this book — one a little more interesting and one a unique spin on a classic. The first, a recipe from South Africa called Geelrys, completely intrigued me. Spices, dried fruit, and brown sugar all go in the rice cooker along with chicken stock, butter and jasmine rice. What emerges is fluffed and topped with cashews and cilantro. My kids devoured it and I love that we’ve found a new side dish to keep in our repertoire! For a treat, I had to try the Coconut Tahini Crispy Rice Treats — a twist on the classic rice crispy treat. Sweetened with honey instead of marshmallows, it was nutty and delicious. This book will make a great addition to anyone's kitchen, and would even be a great coffee table book.


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Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook, by Sohla El-Waylly

Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook

by Sohla El-Waylly

The title had me expecting a starter cookbook for newbie chefs, basic recipes with minimal ingredients and easy-to-follow directions; instead, the title is more of a command, a call to culinary seriousness: she is going to show you the whys and hows behind flavorful, nuanced recipes, the equipment and processes required and guided steps to mastery. It was more scientific manual than picturesque cookbook, a bit Lessons in Chemistry with an Asian flair, and this is a very good thing. The recipes are detailed, the sections informative and the range of food options extraordinary.

—Jennifer K

So, my Girlboss hooman tasked me with reviewing this cookbook. She thought it would be funny because of the title and the fact that I don’t know how to cook. She forgot I don’t need to cook. My Uber driver hooman cooks really well, and I am cute enough and smart enough to manipulate my way into nibbles as needed. That being said, if someone would please cook something from this, I would be happy to taste it for you. Specifically, I am most interested in the Brothy Same-Day Slow-Roast Whole Chicken. The author explains the science behind how all-day braising really makes the meat break down, which is easy to manage with my three teefs. I’ll be in my office on the usual days, but I also accept home delivery. Thank you.

— Jacky Dawson, Shop Dog

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Gatherings, by America's Test Kitchen



by America's Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen's recipes are known for being delicious, solidly written, and predictably prepared. But what I really liked about this new cookbook was the format of planning whole themed meals, including mains, sides, desserts, and an adult beverage pairing, along with a timeline for preparation. One summer standout was a dessert from the book's Maine-inspired menu: lime possets with fresh raspberries. These are essentially little crust-free key lime pies served chilled in a small ramekin or jar (I suspect other citrus could be substituted with ease). These little desserts were tart, refreshing and simply perfect during our string of triple-digit days. As expected, the recipe is very exact and yields excellent results when followed to the letter. I have no doubt any of the recipes could stand very well on its own, but it is quite nice to have the guesswork taken out of what to serve alongside each one. This cookbook would make a fabulous gift for home cooks who enjoy hosting and are just looking for fresh ideas for whole menus with pretty much guaranteed results, start to finish.

—Jennifer K.

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Basics with Babish, by Andrew Rea

Basics with Babish

by Andrew Rea

Andrew Rea, who you may know from his Basics with Babish YouTube channel, has created a cookbook for cooks of all ability levels. Helpful photographs and a "How I Messed This Up" entry for each recipe make this a useable and delicious addition to your cookbook collection and a great gift for the cooks in your life!

—Zach and Sadie

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Jacques Pépin Cooking My Way, by Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin Cooking My Way

by Jacques Pépin

Sharing how to prepare “high-quality food in minimal time and with minimal effort and money” is a goal for legendary chef Jacques Pépin in his newest cookbook, Cooking My Way. Pépin started his diverse, life-long culinary career in his parents’ restaurant in France in the 1940s. Having grown up at the end of World War II when food was scarce, Pépin’s family was naturally thrifty. Since then, his accomplishments are notable, far-reaching, and touching. And while Pépin has reached the highest culinary levels, his economical approach to cooking remains at the heart of his way of life. In addition to delicious recipes that Pépin regularly makes at home, he shares some of his cheerful paintings. Smile inducing recipes and artistry; a glimpse into a master’s home kitchen… a truly delightful offering. As Jacques always says, “Happy cooking.” I took that to heart when I made his New England Clam Chowder this week. It made me feel happy.


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