I'm going to be honest with you. A good two-thirds of the cookbooks that come out each year are at least some degree of garbage. They either have recipes you'd never want to cook or sloppy, untested recipes. Or both.
But let's ignore those for the moment. Because the ones that are worth it? The cookbooks that change how you eat, how you celebrate, how you cook, how you live? The good ones? Those cookbooks come out in the fall.
And fall is coming.
In my world, that means stacks and stacks of cookbooks are rolling in. It's a little overwhelming. Where do you start? Which books are worth your time?
But that's not all. Restaurant books this fall include favorites like Gjelina in Los Angeles, Portland's Olympia Provisions, and New York's NoMad. Some chefs looked beyond their restaurants for cookbook inspiration: New York's Alex Stupak combed Mexico for the best foods wrapped in a tortilla for his new book Tacos, while Sweden's Magnus Nilsson explored his country's home cooking traditions for The Nordic Cookbook. And that's just a few of the awesome-looking books coming out over the next few months.
For those who love to cook, kitchen work can be so much more than a daily chore. It can be therapeutic: a way to vent, to blow off steam, to find peace in a repetitive action, to nurture yourself and others. So in 2009, when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered, its suddenly-former editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl did what anyone who loves to cook would do. She went into the kitchen.
She also, somewhat notoriously, went onto Twitter. Reichl's descriptive tweets about her life in Upstate New York and the food she cooked there garnered such a following they spawned parody accounts. This book promises to follow her year of recovering from the loss of Gourmet through memoir, recipes, and an exploration of her growing culinary community on Twitter. Random House: September 29
Where would American cooking be without Jacques Pépin? Now 80, one of the most influential chefs in American history goes back to basics: the foods he cooks for friends and family at home. This cookbook accompanies his PBS show of the same name, and features recipes for gatherings big and small.
It also features Pépin's memories of his early days cooking in New York, reminiscences of his times with Julia Child, and his culinary philosophy as developed over a long and incredibly successful career. Rux Martin/HMH: October 6
Emeril Lagasse had his moment around the turn of the most recent century. Everyone across the country was kickin' their food up a notch, and Lagasse was hawking everything from cookware to toothpaste. Everything was bam! this and bam! that.
But people forget the guy can actually cook. And his cookbook recipes always, always, always work. And that kick it up a notch thing? It's legit. Each dish always has a little something extra that actually improves it. In this latest cookbook, he shares the 130 recipes that "defined his career"—interpret that how you will—and shares the inspiration behind them. I'll admit it: I'm really pumped to see this one. Oxmoor: October 6
Here it is: the first cookbook from the folks behindLucky Peach. Taking some tongue-in-cheek inspiration from the cheapie booklets you see in line at the supermarket, 101 Easy Asian Recipes is not always super authentic but instead focuses on bold flavors. Think a variety of Asian "ragus," instructions for folding dollar dumplings, slow-cooker pho, and "mall chicken," a riff on General Tso's.
I'm sure some people will find a way to claim these aren't actually easy, but most of the recipes I looked at were at least attemptable. Even better? They're fun. Food doesn't always need to be super serious; sometimes it just needs to be super delicious. If you're a fan of Lucky Peach, this book will not disappoint. Clarkson Potter: October 27
From the man who tried to teach you How to Cook Everything comes this, a book on how to improvise in the kitchen. Kitchen Matrix is a somewhat genius concept: take an ingredient or dish (tomatoes), offer a few base recipes (salad, soup, stuffed, sauce), and some basic variations on those recipes (a BLT salad, or a tomato eggplant caponata sauce).
The goal is to get people comfortable going off book with their own cooking, and it's presented in a fun and engaging way. If you like the variations in theHow to Cook Everything books—and there are people who think those variations are the best part—here's an entire book of them.
Relax. That's the basic message of British cookbook author Nigella Lawson's new book. Don't stress in the kitchen. Make simple food. The food you'll enjoy eating.
Recipes range from quick weeknight dinners to recipes for entertaining, but they all center around the theme of enjoying your food. It seems like like an obvious idea, but in reality, it's often so hard to chill out and enjoy cooking. Well, Nigella to the rescue.Flatiron Books: November 3
Here's your big, plush, chef-y coffee table book for the year. Known for its immaculately prepared food and cocktails, it's kind of hard to believe the NoMad is actually Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's more casual restaurant. (The duo's first restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, is currently #5 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list.)
And while a cookbook from the NoMad would be great all on its own, this book has a secret: a back panel hides a second book, on cocktails, from bar director Leo Robitschek. In fact, this cocktail book might be of greatest value for home cooks than the cookbook. Looking to master some of New York's best cocktails? Get this book and get shaking. Ten Speed: October 13
By Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain, and Chris Colin
Oakland, California restaurant Camino has developed a national cult-following for its wood-fired cooking. This Is Camino does explore wood-fired food—throw those eggplants straight on the coals!— but if you're a stovetop-only kind of person, there are recipes in here for you, too.
There are definitely some keeper recipes in here, like a milk-braised pork with myrtle (instead of sage) or an eggplant, tomato and mint gratin. But this is more the kind of cookbook that you read cover to cover. Chef Russell Moore's cooking philosophy is less about following the recipe to the letter and more about trusting your instincts. Read this, get inspired. Ten Speed: October 13
Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbooks are insanely popular, both here and in the UK, where he lives. This book moves slightly beyond his usual beat of vegetarian (or at least vegetable-heavy) Mediterranean-inspired dishes, though. Nopi is Ottolenghi's fine dining restaurant, and the recipes from its chef, Ramael Scully, are a bit more refined as a result.
Don't get totally scared off, though. A lot of this food is doable for a moderately skilled home cook: think holiday and dinner party recipes. Also? Brunch recipes! And cocktails! Sumac martini, anyone? Ten Speed: October 20
True story: everyone in the Epicurious office who has opened our copy of the Gjelina cookbook has visibly swooned ever-so-slightly. This book is a stunner. The food helps: its globally-inspired, vegetable heavy, and lusciously seasoned. The photographs from Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott help, too.
But you're here for the recipes, and oh, these recipes. These are the recipes you will see at dinner parties across the country this fall. Here is a dinner party menu I literally made up just now by opening the book to random pages: Baby radishes with black olive and anchovy aioli as an app, pork and fennel sausage with fava beans and cherry tomatoes for your main, roasted beets with their tops, herbed yogurt and horseradish on the side, and a kabocha squash, olive oil and chocolate cake for dessert. See? Now you try. Chronicle: October 27
For the full list of 30 most exciting new fall cookbooks for 2015, visit Epicurious.