Gabi Moskowitz and Miranda Berman, coauthors of Hot Mess Kitchen (Grand Central, Sept.)
Millennials, and we include ourselves in this group, are obsessed with food and food media. And yet, so many millennials didn’t grow up learning how to cook, so while they’re interested in and excited about food, actually executing it at home isn’t always easy. That means there are a lot of young people Instagramming and tweeting their food, but not necessarily doing a whole lot of cooking it. We wanted to help change that.
Between the two of us, we knew that the key to having fun in the kitchen is improving confidence. Confidence’s worst enemy is the need so many people feel to achieve perfection, so we decided to write a book for the hot mess in everyone.
The “I Created a Relationship in My Mind” cupcakes recipe opens with an essay from Miranda about the time she convinced herself she was dating someone she wasn’t actually dating. The recipe—a sweet-tart spin on classic from-scratch vanilla cupcakes—is simple and straightforward, the cupcakes are pretty to look at, and the story is an honest account of a romantic disaster, not the tale of some imaginary perfect baking goddess who never screws up anything in her perfect life.
Julia Turshen, author of Feed the Resistance (Chronicle, Nov.)
Feed the Resistance is in many ways a direct response to the current administration, but it’s truly got nothing to do with trends, neither cultural nor culinary ones. It’s a collection of personal recipes and essays from an inclusive group of contributors and is so much about the legacy of resistance and community.
I learned so much from all of my contributors, from how food can help to stop recidivism to how to make creamy vegan grits for 100 people. It’s a look back as much as it’s a look forward.
My dear friend Cheryl Day, who runs the Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Ga., gave us her recipe for chocolate espresso pie. She was inspired by Georgia Gilmore’s the Club From Nowhere, which was a grassroots group that cooked and baked and sold their goods during the Montgomery Bus Boycott to raise money. Cheryl, her recipe, and the woman who inspired it all remind us that not only are we stronger together, we are strongest when we feed each other.
Leyla Moushabeck, editor of The Immigrant Cookbook
As we find ourselves in times of great political dissolution and hostility, particularly surrounding the issue of immigration, there’s also a growing movement to honor and celebrate the wealth that diversity and intercultural communication bring our society. The Immigrant Cookbook is a celebration of the many ethnic groups that have contributed to America’s vibrant food culture. Every recipe was chosen because it means something to the chef and speaks to the chef’s personal experience.
Reem Assil of Reem’s in Oakland, Calif., gave her recipe for muhammara, a roasted red pepper–walnut dip that stems from her Palestinian-Syrian upbringing. With a background in social justice, Reem approaches food as a medium to build community, support local farms and businesses, and provide opportunities to marginalized communities through fair living wages, providing a venue for social justice work.
And one of my favorites is a take on lefse [Norwegian flatbread] by Ana Sortun. She describes an annual family tradition, in which picnic tables are set up in every room to accommodate the growing family. Families across America will relate to that, regardless of their backgrounds, which fits so beautifully with the message of unity we hope the book will convey.
Alexandra Shytsman, author of Friendsgiving (Morrow, Sept. )
Young people today need face-to-face communication and a sense of in-real-life community more than ever. It’s so easy to get sucked into the vast online space, where “liking,” “sharing,” and “commenting” are the main currency, yet real connection is rare, and I believe there’s no better way to truly bond with others than over a homemade meal. Rather than the often-stuffy and conflict-laden occasion that is Thanksgiving for many, Friendsgiving gives us an opportunity to start a more personalized tradition.
I hope to show people that home entertaining doesn’t have to be this intimidating, stressful, Ina Garten Hamptons affair—no disrespect to the queen! Really, all you need are some snacks, a pitcher of cocktails, a few of your favorite foods put together in a thoughtful way, and a couple of people you really like to share it all with.
Josh Scherer, author of The Culinary Bro-Down Cookbook (Grand Central, Sept.)
It seems like the current culinary moment is defined by breaking down all the conventions that came before it. Pop-ups, food trucks, and backyard dinner parties are now an accepted part of the cultural food lexicon. I’m not a restaurant chef. I’m not a domestic goddess, though I wish I was. I’m just some random guy who started cooking and writing down his thoughts. There’s an underground quality to it, and with that comes the chance to tell a more interesting and unique story.
I didn’t grow up with parents who cooked, I could never afford to eat at fancy restaurants, I’ve never owned a cake stand or those cool metal-tipped thingies with the frosting in them—I just messed around in the kitchen with my friends trying to make the coolest stuff possible with whatever we had on hand.
I wanted to show that getting drunk with your friends and making bread pudding out of microwaveable White Castle sliders can be just as meaningful as rolling out cavatelli from scratch with your grandma. Cheeseburger pudding is dope, too.
Helen Hollyman, coauthor, with J.J. Goode, of Munchies (Ten Speed, Oct.)
Food culture and celebrity chefs are more popular than ever. Our show Chef’s Night Out brought viewers into the unscripted, raw lives of chefs and the people they work with for one night, and we wanted to create a cookbook that showcases the food these chefs eat after the restaurant is closed and it’s just them, their staff, and their friends. But it’s not just a cookbook—it’s a storytelling index of bizarre moments from the show and culinary and beverage tips from chefs and bartenders.
On first glance, Jamie Bissonnette’s scrambled eggs and potato chips reads like the efforts of a severely hungover person. The task is simple: make scrambled eggs, and crush your favorite bag of potato chips into them. Then, you put the whole thing back into the potato chip bag, or turn it into a sandwich and garnish with hot sauce. The genius of this recipe showcases the way that Bissonnette thinks: it’s not simply scrambled eggs and potato chips, but a play on a Spanish tortilla, and a hell of a lot easier to create at home. It’s delicious, regardless of whether or not you’ve had one too many Fernets the night before.
Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, coauthors of Cherry Bombe (Clarkson Potter, Oct.)
We launched Cherry Bombe magazine as a way to support women in the food scene, and our cookbook continues our mission. It’s never been a more vibrant moment for women in the food scene, and this cookbook reflects that. We have contributions from more than 100 women—chefs, bakers, food stylists, cheese makers, editors, photographers, bloggers, even a pastry chef-slash-deejay.
We asked each woman in the book to contribute a recipe that’s meaningful and special to her and to share the story behind it. There’s a lot of love and emotion connected to these recipes.
Hawa Hassan’s maraq digaag is a fragrant Somali chicken stew made with yogurt, coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, and other spices. Hawa was a Somali refugee who was sent to America as a child, without her family. She became a model and is now a food entrepreneur whose line of Somali sauces, called Basbaas, is sold in Whole Foods. She told us all the women in her family know this recipe by heart and that it reminds her of home. Her dish illustrates how a recipe is so much more than just words and a handful of ingredients.
Sean Sherman, author, with Beth Dooley, of The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen (Univ. of Minnesota, Oct.)
The book is focused on precolonial indigenous American food. In a world that has become overcomplicated and reliant on appliances and tricky methods, we’re returning to simple preparations that enhance the bold, fresh flavors of our truly local foods.
My ancestors ate lots of wild edibles and game and were much healthier because of it. As I researched my food culture, I began discovering the key components of a truly indigenous food system and applying this knowledge to a contemporary kitchen. The duck and wild rice pemmican recipe is a fine example of how the time-honored method of drying game enhances its flavor in surprisingly contemporary ways.
The original indigenous diet is beautifully aligned with many of the dietary issues we face today. It’s hyperlocal, seasonal, and healthy: no processed foods, no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, and no high-cholesterol animal products. It’s naturally low-glycemic, high-protein, low-salt, and plant-based, with lots of grains, seeds, and nuts. Most of all, it’s utterly delicious. It’s what so many diets strive to be but fall short for lack of context. This diet connects us all to nature and to each other in the most direct and profound ways.
J.J. Johnson and Alexander Smalls, coauthors of Between Harlem and Heaven (Flatiron, Feb. 2018)
A.S.: The world has become a global playground feeding the overexercised appetite of culturally starved curiosity seekers of all generations and persuasions. Food has become the new language—everybody is a foodie. Our book is based on the experiences of forced-migrating African people throughout five continents, who created a food odyssey like no other. It’s a way to experience African, Caribbean, Asian, and Latin flavors—there is a trip in every recipe.
The book was written as a celebration and recognition of an unheralded people and their extraordinary gift to the culinary landscape. My personal mission is to understand and uncover the roots of the African kitchen and its influence on the foods of my heritage. I want readers to enjoy the journey, love the food, and learn the history of these noble people and their extraordinary influence on global cuisine.
J.J.J.: Alexander and I have taken our culture and put it on a plate. Being able to share this journey with readers brings me so much joy. We want readers to learn how Alexander and I view our food and our culture, in recipes like feojada, a stew with black beans and spicy lamb sausage. It’s a dish typical of the African diaspora. Cook it and share it with all.
Gabrielle Langholtz, author of America: The Cookbook (Phaidon, Oct.)
In recent decades, American food wrongly became synonymous with fast food—bland, processed, and homogenous across the country. But artisans are making craft wine, beer, cheese, and charcuterie. And people who once sought out Italian or Japanese cuisine are reveling in American culinary traditions from Boston to Austin. We’re seeing a real rediscovery of the country’s rich food roots, and a renaissance of gorgeous, place-based tastes from coast to coast.
American food has been too narrowly defined. I love meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peach pie as much as anyone—and they’re included, proudly, in this book. But I hope to help broaden the idea of our national culinary canon, and help shine a light on other foods on the American menu—everything from wild rice to fried alligator, chop suey to arepas, pot roast to carnitas, chanterelle risotto to fried pickles.
Sumac-ade, for example, is a simple drink that connects people to America’s food roots pretty literally. Native people have long prized wild sumac’s gorgeous burgundy clusters that ripen each fall. The native plant still grows from coast to coast, and [the drink] couldn’t be easier to make. It’s beautiful with anything from quesadillas to burgers.
Barton Seaver, author of American Seafood (Sterling, Nov.)
Farm-to-table [sourcing] is a fundamental aspect of the discourse regarding food, and yet when we discuss food we often fail to include seafood and the men and women who provide it for our tables. Farmers’ markets bring us into direct contact with food producers, but the nature of fisheries is that they happen beyond the horizon of our attentions. This book offers a window into the heritage and culture of one of this nation’s founding industries.
Seafood is the most diverse category of food in our diet, but all too often, a lack of familiarity can lead to intimidation and a retreat on the consumer’s part to tried-and-true favorites. This book acts as a means to explore the myriad culinary experiences to be gained from our waters. I do this both through culinary sketches of each fish landed in the United States and anthropological sketches of how these fish have long been part of our culinary repertoire. It’s exciting to discover how not new these fish are in the greater American experience.
Merly Mesa, an editor of The Ultimate Recipes Across America Cookbook (Mr. Food Test Kitchen, Nov.)
Americans love discovering local favorites, especially when it comes to food, and they’re looking for reasons to be proud of where they came from and to connect with others who come from the same places. We hope that our readers will enjoy discovering and recreating iconic recipes from places all over the country, including their hometowns.
Every recipe in this cookbook comes with the story of its origin, which serves as a conversational piece. Most importantly, our overall goal is to make sure that every reader walks away feeling confident that they can make any of the recipes in our cookbook. We wanted to provide a collection of recipes that are famous in various cities and regions across the country, so that readers can recreate them at home. It’s like getting the opportunity to “travel” the country through food.
What’s a visit to Nashville without trying the hot chicken? What makes the cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair so irresistible? What does fry bread have to do with the American Indians? These are the kinds of questions that we aim to answer.