MY KITCHEN YEAR: 136 Recipes That Changed My Life by Gourmet and NY Times food critic Ruth Reichl is a treasure-trove of recipes from Ms. Reichl’s past. I adored reading Tender at the Bone as well as Ruth Reichl’s other novels but I am so pleased to have a cookbook from her that is full of recipes I want to prepare, but also study. The book is organized by change of seasons following Ms. Reichl’s loss of Gourmet Magazine and her cooking her way through the pain. You will cook from this book but you will also take it to bed to read over the wonderful narratives.

THE CHEF NEXT DOOR: A Pro Chef’s Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking by Amanda Freitag is a beautiful full-color cookbook from the Food Network’s chef from the New York’s Empire Diner restaurant. Ms. Freitag helps home cooks cope with mastering restaurant recipes and demystifying them. I love the clear instructions; fun margin notes and tips, and no-nonsense style which bring you recipes like: kale and farro salad with aged goat cheese; Jersey Sunday meatballs; oven-roasted lobsters; and cocoa carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

JACQUES PÉPIN: HEART AND SOUL IN THE KITCHEN is being published this fall in honor of Jacques Pépin’ 80th birthday. Jacques Pépin has taught cooking to millions on his PBS shows and demonstrations all over the world. This book presents the simple dinners he prepares for his wife as well as elegant dinners. I particularly love his charming commentary throughout the book. After 80 years of cooking, Pépin shares a collection of recipes that he cooks at home including Parisian potage; tuna à la minute; veal chops Dijonnaise; endive gratin; and caramelized pear custard.

MARK BITTMAN’S KITCHEN MATRIX: More Than 700 Simple Recipes and Techniques to Mix and Match for Endless Possibilities by Mark Bittman is a compilation of the author’s popular New York Times Eat column, in which an ingredient or essential technique is presented with variations in an interesting matrix. The book is beautifully captured in photographs luring one to cook with abandon and enjoy. Mark Bittman’s matrices come together to create a collection of over 400 flexible recipes covering vegetables, fruits, meats and chicken, and even desserts.  The best part of the book is the flexibility for a cook to be inventive and have choices.

HAPPY COOKING: Make Every Meal Count … Without Stressing Out by Giada De Laurentiis offers about 200 recipes and lots of ideas for cooking with the ease that the author shows on her popular television shows. Ms. De Laurentiis shows her joy in the kitchen feeding friends and family with delicious Italian dishes that are also wholesome and healthfully oriented. I like this book because Ms. De Laurentiis, as a working mother, knows time constraints and offers tips on how to make cooking easier. I love the make-ahead cioppino; gluten-free pasta with butternut squash and marjoram (btw gluten-free is totally addressed in this book); roasted cauliflower and quinoa salad; and Prosecco float.

The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure by Alana Chernila, author of The Homemade Pantry, exalts the beautiful imperfections of food made at home and extends the lessons of cooking through both the quotidian and extraordinary moments of the day. Alana sees cooking as an opportunity to live consciously, not just as a means to an end. I like that the book is a fascinating read as well as a cookbook.

EDIBLE SCIENCE: Experiments You Can Eat by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant is a perfect book to give to a child aged 8 to 12. It totally encourages kids to grab a beaker, pick up a whisk and cook up some science fun. Using food as the tools or even the ingredients, culinary-minded kids become scientists in the kitchen. Popover pops illustrates gas under pressure; popcorn blast shows gas pressure explosion; and grow your own yogurt teaches cooking with bacteria. Adults and kids will have fun with this innovative new book.

SEASONS TO TASTE: Farm Fresh Joy for Kitchen and Table by Jonathan Bardzik is a seasonal take on farm to table recipes that are just plain good. There are memorable dishes with a twist and some innovative ones as well. The Asian pear pulled pork would be fabulous for the holiday season. Or, try the wild mushroom and gruyère frittata for a brunch. For lighter fare, the zucchini pappardelle pasta is simple and delicious as is the poached peaches and nectarines.

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