The Holiday Bookworm: by Pete Mulvihill

Don’t forget: the books mentioned below are available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code “tablehopper” at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

It’s been a fine year for new cookbooks, so honing a list of the “best” is always hard. Personally, my favorite food and drink book of the year was The Hour, but here are six of the finest fall releases. Bon appetit!

Keys to Good Cooking

Keys to Good Cooking
Harold McGee (Penguin)

Brand new from the author of the classic On Food and Cooking is this fantastic guide to cooking every type of food in the best way possible. Harold McGee gives concise, priceless information on shopping for ingredients, basic preparation, and serving tips. Think of this as the book version of a cooking helpline—if you can’t decide which of a dozen pie recipes will turn out best, or if you forgot exactly how to prepare a poached egg, this book will give you quick, reliable information on how to proceed, and how to prepare and eat foods at their very best. Highly recommended, and utterly indispensable. A must-have for any cook. (Signed copies in-store only.)

The Essential New York Times Cookbook

The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Amanda Hesser (Norton)

Amanda Hesser has tackled the difficult task of winnowing the 150+ years of New York Times archives into 1,000 recipes, and she has conquered. This compendium of home kitchen-tested recipes covers American culinary history, really. This “doorstop” of a cookbook includes a brief (often historical) introduction to each recipe, extensive timelines of food trends in America, menu planning suggestions, and more. It’s an amazing book for the curious cook looking to (re)discover food. You can read more in the review I did for tablehopper here.

Tartine Bread

Tartine Bread
Chad Robertson (Chronicle)

From the baker of San Francisco’s most delicious and unique bread, comes this collection of thorough, accessible, reader-tested bread recipes. This beautifully photographed book includes the inspiring story of Chad Robertson’s search for the perfect sourdough loaf, plus dozens of great recipes that make use of day(s) old homemade bread so you won’t waste any of your delicious creations. (Signed copies in-store only.)

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
Rachel Saunders (Andrews McMeel)

Jam: it’s delicious. And this book will tell you everything you need to know in order to make it yourself. Rachel Saunders is truly a jam expert, and her book provides an essential, accessible explanation of how jam ‘works’, as well as detailed information about the ways in which fruits can be used and combined to reach their best flavor and texture potential. Filled with detailed instructions, beautiful step-by-step photos, and dozens of unique recipes, this is truly the essential compendium for beginning jam makers and seasoned pros alike.

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
Jessica Theroux (Welcome Books)

For those of you who were not fortunate enough to grow up with an Italian grandmother who loved to cook, I am very, very sorry. As a consolation, I give you this, perhaps the next best thing. Jessica Theroux traveled throughout Italy and met dozens of Italian women who offered up the very best of their cooking expertise—compiled here into a fantastic volume that rivals even my grandmothers’ recipes. Charming anecdotes pair with each woman’s recipes, making this a great book to read, and cook from.

Heart of the Artichoke

Heart of the Artichoke
David Tanis (Artisan)

This is an excellent cookbook of simple, high quality, delicious recipes from the head chef of Chez Panisse. Comprised of five different menus for each season of the year; an additional section on cooking for larger groups; and a section on simple cooking pleasures for one or two; David Tanis’s food philosophy and wisdom is apparent in each and every recipe. The focus here is on making the best of what’s available, which for Tanis means using local, seasonal produce to create elegant, down-to-earth cuisine.

Happy cooking, and thanks for reading.