>THE SMITTEN KITCHEN by Deb Perelman
Perelman is living the food-blogger’s dream: She quit her day job (she was, among other things, a tech reporter) to cook, photograph and share her enthusiasm for her favorite dishes. In this first book she offers a winning case for perfecting comfort food and aiming high as an amateur: You can make brioche, gnocchi and caramels. She’s now a pro, but Perelman still has some endearing lay-cook traits: She confesses to swiping and eating a cheddar bun before remembering to take a picture of the full pan.
THE TUCCI COOKBOOK by Stanley Tucci
Raised by “food obsessed” southern Italian immigrants, the actor-cook teams with northern-born chef Gianni Scappin to share wisdom from both clans: roasts, pastas, bean soups and vegetables that can become any family’s faves. Also here: the timpano, a drum of ziti, meat, cheese and eggs that starred in Tucci’s film Big Night.
BAREFOOT CONTESSA FOOLPROOF: RECIPES YOU CAN TRUST by Ina Garten
Contessa fans love that Garten doesn’t just list instructions, she lets you in on her thinking: “Pumpkin is a great base for cupcakes because it keeps the cake moist.” She’s thoughtful about menus too. For a party, she likes scallops and a potato-celery root purée made before guests arrive. In-laws coming? Start with whiskey sours, she advises.
BAKING OUT LOUD by Hedy Goldsmith
This James Beard-nominated pastry chef takes her sweets seriously. Will most of us make our own fortune cookies? Probably not. But anyone (including kids, with supervision) can replicate what Goldsmith calls her career-defining salty-sweet “junk in da trunk” cookies or her banana toffee panini—and probably should, right away.
FIFTY SHADES OF CHICKEN by FL Fowler
Did we need one more Fifty Shades of Grey send-up? Or another roast chicken variation? We did! Written from the point of view of the bird (let that sink in), this parody with real and tempting recipes—by a food expert using a pen name—demonstrates that spatchcocking isn’t merely a cheeky double entendre, it’s also good pre-oven technique.
THANKSGIVING by Sam Sifton
A New York Times editor who used to man the paper’s cooking helpline, Sifton has fierce opinions about this holiday. Among them: “You can have salad tomorrow” and “You are going to need a lot of butter.” Who could argue? Favoring a few classics over fussy trends, he has written a smart, trim book of essentials, not Fifty Shades of Gravy.