Meat of the Matter
Marissa Guggiana’s Primal Cuts (Welcome Books, $38) is proof that our obsession with butchery and whole-beast cooking hasn’t yet reached a saturation point. Filled with interviews from butchers and chefs, recipes, and charts (on topics like sharing a cow)—Guggiana’s book is a modern meat manual that celebrates the craft of old-world butchery and sustainably-raised meat without resorting to overwrought praise and glorification.
Heart and Soul
David Tanis’ second book, Heart of the Artichoke (Artisan, $35), picks up where his first, A Platter of Figs (Artisan) left off. The recipes are collected into seasonal menus and interspersed with the Chez Panisse chef’s lessons and meditations on topics such as chile peppers and squid. Written in a warm, intimate voice and lushly photographed by one-time Saveur editor Christopher Hirsheimer, the book makes you want to rush to the kitchen.
Devotees of Chad Robertson’s country bread, which emerges from the ovens at Tartine Bakery daily at 5 p.m., will love the baker’s latest book, Tartine Bread (Chronicle, $40). Beginning with a master recipe, Robertson expertly instructs newbie bakers on how to create exquisite breads in a home oven, from sourdough starter to finished loaf. Master that, and there are variations to tackle, followed by recipes that call for loaves fresh and a few days old.
Known as the “first lady of chocolate,” baking doyenne Alice Medrich, founder of the now-defunct chain of Cocolat pastry shops and prolific cookbook author, has just released her eighth irresistable book. Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy (Workman, $26) is a collection of cookie recipes, ranging from caramel cardamom elephant ears to classic gingersnaps to alfajores filled with homemade dulce de leche. Your Christmas cookies? Done.
The Italian Job
Cooking With Italian Grandmothers (Welcome Books, $40) by Jessica Theroux is as much a travelogue as it is a cookbook. Theroux spent a year in Italy, collecting recipes and stories from a dozen grandmothers. Thanks to Giovanna in Lombardy, she masters pumpkin tortelloni. Usha in Le Marche shares her plum almond tart recipe, and Maria in Sicily schools Theroux on homemade ricotta. Needless to say, this book is a must for any Nonna-less Italophile.