Around My French Table
by Dorie Greenspan, $40
The homey cover—chicken in the pot—invited me in, and the book’s convivial author got me to stay. Each recipe starts with a story. No, a conversation. It’s as though Greenspan is in your kitchen chatting about some French chef who uses Coca-Cola to baste ribs, showing you how to “rap” the bubbles out of your crème brûlée, and cheering you on when you change up the couscous salad. It’s a gorgeous, friendly addition to my library.
Photography: Anna Knott
The Very Best of Recipes for Health
by Martha Rose Shulman, $35
This earnestly named compendium contains 250 recipes that sound so tasty—spicy Tunisian carrot frittata, provençal onion pizza, Spanish-style shrimp with garlic—it’s hard to believe they are good for you. Shulman has tagged each recipe with its specific dietary attributes—vegetarian, vegan, low fat, high protein, gluten-free, and high in omega-3s—and provided a nifty dietary index to boot. If you are a proponent of healthy cooking, this is a no-brainer.
by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, $29.95
Baking does not have to be a strong suit for you to give this confection a whirl. It’s not Baking for Dummies, but neither is it an impossible Martha Stewart tome. This homage to tweaked classics—Boston cream pie cake, red-velvet whoopie pies—falls nicely between books for ambi-tious home bakers and those for designer-crowd bakeologists. Guests will swoon over the Stump de Noël, bedecked in meringue mushrooms and rosemary sprigs.
Steak with Friends
by Rick Tramonto, $35
OK, guys, this one’s for you. While waiting to get back to your grill, you can ale-braise mussels, stuff hunky artichokes with lemon-garlic bread crumbs, and knock the socks off your football friends with homemade Italian beef sandwiches. And if you read the “Steak on a Plate” chapter now, when summer comes, you steak know-it-alls will, in fact, know it all. (Hint: Read the whole chapter, and you will score some nifty rubs and sexy toppings, too.)
Reinventing the Classics
edited by Dana Cowin, $29.95
I really like recipes that come with pictures. (I want to know what the finished product is supposed to look like.) And I really like recipes that give all the pertinent information up front: number of servings, prep time, steps involved. (I want to know exactly what I’m getting into.) And I really like recipes of familiar food with a little pizzazz. Like caesar salad with tofu croutons, flatbread lasagna, and apple pie bars. And that’s why I really like this cookbook.