Recipes, from all cuisines and of every level of complexity and thought, congest the Internet. It’s easy to Google and go. But cookbooks—with beautiful images, illustrations and life stories—counter the pellmell search engine experience with the narratives of the chefs and restaurants. These eight cookbooks are disparate, ranging from Sardinian and Slovenian recipes to Korean cuisine and American comfort foods, but every one is an arrant celebration of food and the culture surrounding it. While the dishes impress, so do the stories.
Ana Roš: Sun and Rain
Ana Roš—head chef at the world-renowned Hiša Franko in Slovenia’s Soča Valley—has just released her sublime Sun and Rain ($47), which is part cookbook, part memoir and part nature lesson. Through essays, notes, photographs and recipes, self-taught Roš tells stories about her career (which began when she was a waitress at Hiša Franko) and the abundant inspiration drawn from her surrounds in Kobarid—near the Italian border—and tales of foraging and fishing. With a foreword by Kaja Sajovic and an afterword by Andrea Petrini, the book serves as ample motivation to learn about the region, Roš and her acclaimed cooking.
Officially released 7 April, Michelin-starred chef Hooni Kim’s My Korea ($38) is based on the fundamentals of Korean cooking, specifically the cornerstones doenjang, ganjang and gochujang. Kim (who helms NYC restaurants Danji and Hanjan) explains where to buy essentials, and how to make classics like kimchi and banchan, along with elevated takes on the boundless cuisine. Beyond the recipes, My Korea (which features 100+ full-color photos) is an autobiography and an enticing introduction to Korean culture.
Bitter Honey: Recipes and Stories from Sardinia
Chef Letitia Clark’s Bitter Honey: Recipes and Stories from Sardinia ($38) begins by explaining everyday Sardinian life, creating an immediate element of accessibility. Readers are then treated to recipes for delightfully simple dishes that focus on slow-cooking and quality ingredients that make up the island cuisine’s fundamental flavors. From celery, orange, anchovy and hazelnut salad to almond panna cotta with poached apricots, the dishes are uncomplicated but entirely tempting.
The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook: Dishes and Dispatches from the Catskill Mountains
The undeniably charming Phoenicia Diner was built on Long Island in 1962 and moved to the Catskills in the ’80s, but it was in 2011 that Mike Cioffi bought it and transformed it into a beloved institution. Now he (along with chef Chris Bradley and author and professor Sara B Franklin) is releasing The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook: Dishes and Dispatches from the Catskill Mountains ($27) which is full of the restaurant’s comfort food. Drenched in Americana, the book includes classics like buttermilk pancakes and “The Perfect Bacon, Egg and Cheese” along with modernized takes such as the cider-braised duck and grits. With 85 recipes within, a comprehensive guide to preparing eggs any style, and plenty of photographs of the venue and its gorgeous surrounds, this book will have readers keen to create their own roadside diner at home.
The Vegetarian Silver Spoon
The latest in PHAIDON’s beloved Silver Spoon cookbook series (which started in 1950), The Vegetarian Silver Spoon ($50) includes 200 contemporary Italian recipes. From meat-free pasta carbonara to rice timbale, hemp sandwich bread, and fried veggie chips to sweet treats like cashew-milk cheesecake and frozen berry soufflé. Incorporating produce from outside traditional Italian ingredients, as well as surprising combinations, this cookbook offers delightful twists on classics that will impress dinner guests. Available for pre-order now.
Dimes Times: Emotional Eating
With more than 50 recipes from menus past and present at Dimes—the beloved all-day restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown—Dimes Times: Emotional Eating ($40) lets regulars (and everyone else) bring home some of their healthy, delectable dishes and signature sauces. Founded by Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner, Dimes (and later, its companion, the nearby Dimes Deli and Market, founded with Sophie Helsby) changed the culinary landscape of its neighborhood. The cookbook features snippets of conversation from inside the restaurant, captured by Wagner and Toniann Fernandez, and honors its loyal community. Mary Manning contributes numerous photographs and Erin Knutson, who co-designed the book with De Sousa, adds the abstract graphics.
Owner of Lincoln, Nebraska’s Goldenrod Pastries, baker Angela Garbacz’s first-ever cookbook Perfectly Golden ($29) collects some of her beloved dairy- and gluten-free recipes (which can also be made with butter, all-purpose flour and other alternatives, if one so pleases). More than 100 photographs accompany the recipes—which range from her grandma’s famous peach coffee cake to lemon meringue pie and chewy almond cookies. Garbacz dedicates an entire section to “Frostings + Fillings + Extras,” too. Lessons from her mother and grandmother, as well as learnings from her community bakery, all found in this book, represent an inclusive philosophy that all bakers will benefit from.
JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes
Composed around 12 recipes that define his career thus far, celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s memoir-cookbook hybrid, JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes ($27) traces his steps from trainee to world-renowned restaurateur. Insightful, humorous and delightfully warm, the book—which includes personal photography and hand-drawn sketches—caters to fans of Vongerichten’s cuisine, and anyone curious about his imagination and Michelin-starred ascent.
Hero image courtesy of PHAIDON