Cookbooks We’re Reading: July 19, 2014

Cookbook recommendations? We’ve got ‘em. Here are the books from which our editors are drawing their kitchen inspiration this summer. (An interesting trend: almost all of the cookbooks below are heavy on Mediterranean flavors and styles.) Head to the market for some tomatoes, slice them thick, douse them with olive oil and read on.

VIDEO: A Visit to a Paris Market by David Lebovitz (YouTube) It’s like being a fly on the wall as David Lebovitz goes through his weekend routine in Paris: a croissant, a visit to the market and then lunch.

Lauren Wilson: My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz
I know — it’s been blurbed to death, and with good reason: Lebovitz’s books and blog are the crème de la crème when it comes to trusted recipe sources. He gets intimate with his dishes, and being a gifted writer, his musings can transport you, too. What I love about this book in particular is that he doesn’t glorify or romanticize bloated American stereotypes of “French gastronomy.” Instead, he shows you how his everyday cooking has been influenced by living in an evolving and globalizing Paris. He eschews tradition (when’s the last time you saw a French cookbook open with a recipe for Indian cheese bread?) and challenges snobbery while painting a modern picture of what it’s like to live, eat and cook in this storied city. Bravo, David—the next time I have rosé, I’ll try it with ice.

Rachel Wharton: Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian by Saveur editors
More than a decade ago, I picked up Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian at a thrift shop. I must have spent hours since then just slowly turning its pages, which are filled with pictures of little old men holding truffles to their noses, platters of blood oranges and sliced fennel and piles and piles of pasta. Every time I open it, I see something I want to make or to seek out in person. I own many beautiful cookbooks, at least a dozen about Italian food, but this one really transports me to another place, and always reminds me of why I became a food writer in the first place.

Gabrielle Langholtz: Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins
Admittedly, the title Olives & Oranges doesn’t exactly sound like a locavore bible, at least not on this part of the planet. But while the book covers “Recipes & Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond,” where author Sara Jenkins spent parts of her childhood, she’s been cooking in Manhattan for years now, and while sumac and zatar make appearances, the recipes are ripe with harvests grown right here. I turn to it again and again for dishes like bitter greens with anchovy vinaigrette, raw fava bean salad with pecorino, squash blossom risotto, Tuscan tomato salad with farro, spaghettini with burst cherry tomatoes, pasta with sweet corn, and my daughter’s staple, penne with summer squash and mint.  In other words, this book is my go-to for cooking from Greenmarkets that sell neither olives nor oranges.

Caroline Lange: Smashing Plates: Greek Flavours Redefined by Maria Elia
I am such a sucker for cookbook photography. I practically insist on it. Ideally, there’d be a photo on every page, in color, clearly related to the recipe and without fussy props or styling (on my own cookbook shelf, the only exceptions are Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest—but the careful hand sketches and lettering more than make up for the photos). This is a surprisingly tall order, but Maria Elia’s Smashing Plates satisfies it fully; and more importantly, the book’s beautiful recipes are also wonderful—fresh-tasting and herby and bright. So far, I’ve loved the carrot keftedes and the chocolate-anise-orange tart, which was best enjoyed cold the next day, slowly and alone.

Feature photo: Instagram/carolinelange13

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