From the Committees: Cookbooks

Correspondence concerning this column should be addressed to M. Kathleen Kern, RUSQ Editor; e-mail: RUSQEditor@gmail.com.

The CODES List: Cookbooks Committee 2018 includes Rebecca Federman, Managing Research Librarian, New York Public Library; Brian Kenney, Director, White Plains Public Library; Sarah Tansley, Branch Manager, Roden Branch, Chicago Public Library; and Neal Wyatt, contributing editor, Library Journal (chair).

The CODES List is a new initiative from CODES, and the CODES List: Cookbooks is the first list in the series. This inaugural selection of essential cookbooks—announced at ALA Midwinter—highlights titles for both avid home chefs and those just learning the rewards of making a meal. The list further supports those who appreciate the many joys of reading cookbooks, even if they rarely venture into the kitchen. As judged by librarians who cooked from them and hosted book groups about them, these are the cookbooks from 2018 that will stand the test of time, become reliable favorites, and nourish readers.

The aims of the CODES List are two-fold: first, to help public librarians responsible for collection management identify works destined to become the backbone of our most popular collections, works that serve as sure bets for readers and set the standards for their genre, and second, to create a committee that stresses collection development work and provides volunteer opportunities for librarians wishing to explore the why and how of collection building. Look for an annual list of cookbooks and more lists in the coming years addressing additional topics vital to public libraries.

Dinner Illustrated: 175 Meals Ready in 1 Hour or Less by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen: Random House. April 2018. ISBN 9781945256301. $32.99).

The perfect book for the fledgling cook, this well-organized volume provides complete menus for 175 meals, including sides. Much like the popular meal kits, every step is broken down and photographed. This global collection of recipes also includes many vegetarian options. Try the black bean and sweet potato tacos.

Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories by Naz Deravian (Flatiron/Macmillan. September 2018. ISBN 9781250134417. $37.50).

Epitomizing the best features of cookbook-as-memoir, Deravian offers stories seasoned with joy and melancholy, underscoring how food conjures home. Her wide-ranging and deeply authentic debut showcases dishes made redolent by rose petals, limes, fenugreek, and saffron. Savor the roasted squash and grapes.

Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook by Dorie Greenspan. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. October 2018. ISBN 9780544826984. $35).

Everyday Dorie is stunning and accomplished but unpretentious enough for a Monday night. Delight in discovering how to take Dorie’s classics and make them your own. Give the gingered turkey meatball soup a try.

Feast: Food of the Islamic World by Anissa Helou. (Ecco: HarperCollins. May 2018. ISBN 9780062363039. $60).

Located at the intersection of culture, cuisine, and history, Feast is as joyful and accessible as it is far-reaching and authoritative. Over 500 pages, the recipes range from pita and chapati to rich curries and fragrant biryanis to more complex dishes as Helou explores South Asian, Arab, Persian, and North African cooking. Don’t miss the Ramadan date cookies.

Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill In Seven Sauces by Bill Kim with Chandra Ram. (Ten Speed Press: Random House. April 2018. ISBN 9780399580789. $28).

Korean BBQ delivers elaborate flavors in a down to earth package that is pure Bill Kim. You don’t need a grill to enjoy these recipes, just a sense of fun and adventure. Fire up your grill for the sesame hoisin chicken wings.

Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski. (Lorena Jones Books: Random House. October 2018. ISBN 9780399579769. $34.)

Feel confident that you can make pie crust, and baked goods, with the aid of this warmly supportive cookbook. A feeling of community and empowerment flows out of charming pages that are as rewarding to read as to cook from. Roll up your sleeves and bake the honey lemon meringue pie.

Matty Matheson: A Cookbook by Matty Matheson. (Harry N. Abrams. October 2018. ISBN 9781419732454. $35).

This cookbook contains great storytelling and even better recipes from Toronto-based Matteson, a YouTube sensation and the star of Viceland’s It’s Suppertime and Dead Set On Life. While the recipes range from simple to complex, they’re all as full of flavor as Matheson is full of personality. Start with the mussel stew and end with the blackberry coffee cake.

Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. (Ten Speed Press: Random House. October 2018. ISBN 9781607749165. $35).

Simple is not a word generally used to describe Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes, but it’s an apt title to his latest cookbook. That’s not to say the recipes are all easy, but rather they hone in on the essence of the dish without fussiness. Add to the fact that many of the dishes can be made ahead of time or under 30 minutes and you’ve got a keeper. See for yourself with the Pasta alla Norma.

Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards. (Oxmoor House: Time Inc. Books. May 2018. ISBN 9780848754419. $35).

As the name of his cookbook suggests, Richards’s delivers the pure life force of southern cooking. Call your friends and family, turn up the radio, and head to the kitchen. Amp up your entertaining with the grilled peach toast with pimento cheese

Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food by Nik Sharma. (Chronicle Books. October 2018. ISBN 9781452163994. $35).

Nothing about Nik Sharma’s debut fits neatly into a cookbook category. Sharma is not a professionally-trained chef nor does the food subscribe to any one type of cuisine. But there lies its appeal: the recipes are unique, creatively (ahem) seasoned, and Sharma’s voice is passionate and inspired. A welcome addition. The Bombay frittata should convince you.

Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. October 2018. ISBN 9780544970373. $35).

This gathering of classic dishes and culinary history is a jubilant, expanding romp, as the award winners behind acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant Zahav take readers onto the streets of Israel and then urge them into their home kitchens to cook. Step-by-step directions, a litany of variations and dish toppings, and a strong point of view make the collection deeply inviting and engaging. Give the five-minute hummus a test-run.

Tiffin: 500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India’s Regional Cuisine, edited by Sonal Ved. (Black Dog & Leventhal: Hachette. October 2018. ISBN 9780316415767. $35).

Tiffin is more than just a cookbook. It’s a tour through India that sheds light on the country’s regional specialties and nuanced flavor combinations to demonstrate the culinary diversity of the country. It is as much a reference title as an indispensable cookbook. Seize the day and start with dessert; make the banana coconut bake.


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