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THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES AND WISDOM FROM (Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES AND WISDOM FROM AN OBSESSIVE HOME COOK by Deb Perelman (Knopf, $35)

Perelman, the creator of the popular blog smittenkitchen.com, makes her cookbook debut with a deeply personal collection of idiosyncratic recipes she has tested to distraction. 

Best cookbooks of 2012

A cookbook is so much more than a collection of recipes. It can be an armchair vacation to a place you've never been or a return to a favorite destination; an introduction to a new skill or a master class in one already acquired. From the scores of cookbooks published in 2012, here are eight guaranteed to whet the appetite. --ERICA MARCUS / erica.marcus@newsday.com

FROM A SOUTHERN OVEN: THE SAVORIES, THE SWEETS
(Credit: Handout)

FROM A SOUTHERN OVEN: THE SAVORIES, THE SWEETS by Jean Anderson (Wiley, $32.50)

Anderson, one of the country's most respected cookbook authors, focuses her talents on her Southern roots (she's a die-hard Tarheel) in this appealing, trend-free volume. Anything baked (from chicken casseroles to towering cakes) is fair game. With lots of photos, cooking tips and historical notes.

YES, CHEF: A MEMOIR by Marcus Samuelsson (Random
(Credit: Handout)

YES, CHEF: A MEMOIR by Marcus Samuelsson (Random House, $27)

This thrilling and eloquent account takes the charismatic chef on a journey from tuberculosis-ravaged Ethiopia to an adopted home in Sweden to the great kitchens of Europe and, finally, to Manhattan, where he made his name first at the New Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit and now owns Red Rooster, the celebrity-friendly global canteen in Harlem

THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES AND WISDOM FROM
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES AND WISDOM FROM AN OBSESSIVE HOME COOK by Deb Perelman (Knopf, $35)

Perelman, the creator of the popular blog smittenkitchen.com, makes her cookbook debut with a deeply personal collection of idiosyncratic recipes she has tested to distraction. 

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THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES AND WISDOM FROM
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES AND WISDOM FROM AN OBSESSIVE HOME COOK by Deb Perelman (Knopf, $35)

TACOS, TORTAS, AND TAMALES: FLAVORS FROM THE GRIDDLES,
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

TACOS, TORTAS, AND TAMALES: FLAVORS FROM THE GRIDDLES, POTS AND STREETSIDE KITCHENS OF MEXICO  by Roberto Santibanea (Wiley, $19.99)

In this irresistible book, the chef-owner of Fonda restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan offers a vibrant survey of Mexican street food. Both food and street scenes were photographed by Saveur magazine’s Todd Coleman. 

TACOS, TORTAS, AND TAMALES: FLAVORS FROM THE
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

TACOS, TORTAS, AND TAMALES: FLAVORS FROM THE GRIDDLES, POTS AND STREETSIDE KITCHENS OF MEXICO  by Roberto Santibanea (Wiley, $19.99)

FLOUR WATER SALT YEAST: THE FUNDAMENTALS OF ARTISAN
(Credit: Handout)

FLOUR WATER SALT YEAST: THE FUNDAMENTALS OF ARTISAN BREAD AND PIZZA by Ken Forkish (Ten Speed $35)

Forkish, owner of Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, Ore., enters a field crowded with books promising to help you make true artisan breads at home. But Forkish is a natural-born explainer, the photos are as helpful as they are attractive. His message: This is not simple, but it is doable.

JERUSALEM: A COOKBOOK by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

JERUSALEM: A COOKBOOK by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed, $35)

The authors, partners in London's Ottolenghi restaurant group, both grew up in Jerusalem, Ottolenghi in Jewish west Jerusalem, Tamimi in Muslim east Jerusalem. Here, they explore the traditions they share with one another -- and with the myriad populations that make that city one of the world's richest culinary melting pots.

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JERUSALEM: A COOKBOOK by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

JERUSALEM: A COOKBOOK by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed, $35)

BEGINNINGS: MY WAY TO START A MEAL by
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

BEGINNINGS: MY WAY TO START A MEAL by Chris Cosentino (Olive Press, $25)

The chef-partner at Incanto in San Francisco and winner of season 4 of "Top Chef Masters" splits the difference between cocky chef-itude and real home cooking. Gutsy yet refined recipes (most of them in an Italian vein) for salads and starters are bookended by lucid buying-serving guides to cured meats and cheeses.

BEGINNINGS: MY WAY TO START A MEAL by
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

BEGINNINGS: MY WAY TO START A MEAL by Chris Cosentino (Olive Press, $25)

THE COUNTRY COOKING OF GREECE by Diane Kochilas
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE COUNTRY COOKING OF GREECE by Diane Kochilas (Chronicle, $50)

Kochilas has authored a number of great Greek cookbooks, but this is her most glorious. Her focus here is the indigenous bounty of Greece and how those vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and dairy are used to create distinct but related regional cuisines. The book is approachable but authoritative and is going to have to tide me over until my next vacation in the Peloponnese.

THE COUNTRY COOKING OF GREECE by Diane Kochilas
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE COUNTRY COOKING OF GREECE by Diane Kochilas (Chronicle, $50)

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THE FARM: RUSTIC RECIPES FOR A YEAR OF
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE FARM: RUSTIC RECIPES FOR A YEAR OF INCREDIBLE FOOD by Ian Knauer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30)

"Not another farm-to-table book," I groaned when one of my best friends drew my attention to "The Farm." But I soon fell under its spell. Knauer evinces not a spoonful of locavore self-righteousness, and many of these resolutely American recipes have been passed down for generations, like his family's Pennsylvania farm, established more than 250 years ago.

THE FARM: RUSTIC RECIPES FOR A YEAR OF
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE FARM: RUSTIC RECIPES FOR A YEAR OF INCREDIBLE FOOD by Ian Knauer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30).

THE 4-HOUR CHEF: THE SIMPLE PATH TO COOKING
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE 4-HOUR CHEF: THE SIMPLE PATH TO COOKING ANYTHING LIKE A PRO, LEARNING ANYTHING AND LIVING THE GOOD LIFE by Timothy Ferriss (Melcher/ New Harvest, $35)

Four hours? It could take four months to plow through this book, which provides a sort of grand unifying theory of learning and, secondarily, offers recipes (largely low-carb) and cooking techniques (tending toward the molecular) in addition to exegeses on guns, language and sports. A fascinating window into the mind of an obsessive polymath genius.

THE 4-HOUR CHEF: THE SIMPLE PATH TO COOKING
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

THE 4-HOUR CHEF: THE SIMPLE PATH TO COOKING ANYTHING LIKE A PRO, LEARNING ANYTHING AND LIVING THE GOOD LIFE by Timothy Ferriss (Melcher/ New Harvest, $35)

GRAN COCINA LATINA: THE FOOD OF LATIN AMERICA
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

GRAN COCINA LATINA: THE FOOD OF LATIN AMERICA by Maricel E. Presilla (Norton, $45)

Before the author opened Zafra and Cucharamama, award-winning Latin restaurants in Hoboken, N.J., she was a doctoral candidate in history. She has combined these two passions in one magisterial 900-page book that aims to "celebrate a Latin American identity without boundaries" and "search for what can be preserved of traditional ... sometimes ancient practices."

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GRAN COCINA LATINA: THE FOOD OF LATIN AMERICA
(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)

GRAN COCINA LATINA: THE FOOD OF LATIN AMERICA by Maricel E. Presilla (Norton, $45)

RIPE: A COOK IN THE ORCHARD by Nigel
(Credit: Handout)

RIPE: A COOK IN THE ORCHARD by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed, $40).

This companion volume to "Tender," his 2011 love tome to vegetables, is a doorstop of an ode to fruit. Slater, a beautiful writer with exquisite taste, here provides recipes and musings on two dozen fruits, accompanied by Jonathan Lovekin's gorgeous photographs.

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