The Top New Books for the Cooks on Your List

Including picks for techies, classicists, and the globally obsessed.

Alton Brown Everyday Cook The ultimate food geek, Brown sheds his quirky TV persona and gets down to business in his latest. In it, you’ll still find plenty of his science-y advice—on everything from thermometers and pressure cookers to telescopic forks and propane torches—but at its heart this book is really about the food that he loves to eat when he’s hanging out at home, much of it informed by his Southern roots, and perfect not just for meals but anytime-of-the-day snacks. Grits with shrimp, chilaquiles, turkey tikka masala, and midnight mug cake for two are just a few of the tempting, down-to-earth recipes interspersed among photos that were all taken with Brown’s iPhone. $35

Cooking for Jeffery There’s a reason you’re likely to find this book in many a food writer’s roundup this year: Ina Garten is simply America’s gourmet grande dame, and her latest cookbook is a love letter to the husband who’s made many a cameo on her Barefoot Contessa show and for whom, along with friends and family, she whips up her divine but approachable meals. Here again are ever-perfect dishes meant to not just wow guests but ultimately make them feel comforted and at-home, exuding the warmth that defines Garten herself. Filled with stunning but simple main dishes like brisket with onions & leeks, Moroccan grilled lamb, and root-vegetable gratin; party snacks like port wine prunes with Stilton and walnuts; desserts such as frozen mocha mousse; and cocktails like a limoncello vodka Collins, this is the perfect addition to an Ina library or a great first book to start a collection. $35

Food With Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings If I had to choose just one cookbook that inspired me the most this year, it’d have to be this tome from Leelya Cyd. Besides the artful photography, with its quaint and feminine style, the recipes themselves are somehow both dainty and inventive yet never too precious. I love the way Cyd celebrates less-conventional meal times, such as Happy House, Teatime, and Picnics & Potlucks, as well as the unexpected but irresistible food that they comprise: matcha egg creams, sweet-potato tortilla Espanola, purple cauliflower hummus, beets in coconut with curry leaves, rose flan. Her kale pesto is already on weekly rotation in my home, and her beet-pickled eggs, a throwback to my childhood, are must-have hors d’oeuvres this season. $25

The Adventures of Fat Rice: Recipes From the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau For the food-loving traveler with a penchant for comics and graphic novels, this unique cookbook by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo, and Hugh Amano should do. Both a literal and visual feast, complete with comic strips, outrageous illustrations, and arresting photography, it documents the specific history and culinary landscape of Macau, the melting pot of Asia, where Chinese, Portuguese, Malaysian, and Indian food all come together in singular style. The dishes, adapted from Fat Rice restaurant, include the signature arroz gordo (a fried rice dish), Portuguese barbequed seafood with Big Ben’s sambal, and porco bafassa (smothered and roasted turmeric pork shoulder). Big, bold flavors meet big, bold art in this long-awaited cookbook. $35

Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore: Dinner for Everyone at the Table If you’ve ever found yourself trying to plan a dinner for friends and family with different food imperatives (vegetarian, gluten-free, and others), then you’re sure to appreciate the latest from Anna Thomas. Starting with the premise that most of us eat fruit, vegetables, grains, and bread, the book builds around those basic blocks, adding or subtracting meat, dairy, and other ingredients to flesh out about 200 recipes that ensure a delicious, inclusive meal. With the holidays approaching, I particularly love the varied options for my Christmas and New Year’s table—from meaty entrées accompanied by hearty veggie sides to companion soups that can also stand alone as meals. Easy subheads identify each recipe like “Vegetarian or Omnivore” or “Vegan or Vegetarian”—giving you simple instructions on how to transform it either way. $35