Cookbooks to Spark Creativity and Explore New Recipes
Since quarantine began I have been cooking and baking up a storm. Exploring new recipes because what else do I have to do, right? Being in the kitchen and working with my hands is so incredibly therapeutic and I encourage anyone to try out new recipes during this time. Here is a list of cookbooks that explore some fun new ideas and will spark some creativity in your kitchen!
1. Recipes for a Good Time by Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate
The kitchens of Argentina are the inspiration for the sensational food at Sydney restaurant Porteño. Chefs Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz continue to wow packed houses with super-slow-cooked meats and seafood, alongside fresh and inventive vegetable dishes. This relaxed and exuberant atmosphere translates perfectly to their new book—collecting 50 of their best-known recipes from Slow-Cooked Lamb to Suckling Pig, mouth-watering crispy-fried brussel sprouts, accented by their luscious cocktails the beautiful photography will transport you to Buenos Aires by way of Sydney.
2. Momofuku Milk Bar: A Cookbook by Christina Tosi and David Chang
Momofuku Milk Bar shares the recipes for Christina Tosi’s fantastic desserts—the now-legendary riffs on childhood flavors and down-home classics (all essentially derived from ten mother recipes)—along with the compelling narrative of the unlikely beginnings of this quirky bakery’s success. It all started one day when Momofuku founder David Chang asked Christina to make a dessert for dinner that night. Just like that, the pastry program at Momofuku began.
Christina’s playful desserts, including the compost cookie, a chunky chocolate-chip cookie studded with crunchy salty pretzels and coffee grounds; the crack pie, a sugary-buttery confection as craveable as the name implies; the cereal milk ice cream, made from everyone’s favorite part of a nutritious breakfast—the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cereal; and the easy layer cakes that forgo fancy frosting in favor of unfinished edges that hint at the yumminess inside helped the restaurants earn praise from the New York Times and the Michelin Guide and led to the opening of Milk Bar, which now draws fans from around the country and the world.
With all the recipes for the bakery’s most beloved desserts—along with ones for savory baked goods that take a page from Chang’s Asian-flavored cuisine, such as Kimchi Croissants with Blue Cheese—and 100 color photographs, Momofuku Milk Bar makes baking irresistible off-beat treats at home both foolproof and fun.
3. The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook by Danny Bowien and Chris Ying
Mission Chinese Food is not exactly a Chinese restaurant. It began its life as a pop-up: a restaurant nested within a divey Americanized Chinese joint in San Francisco’s Mission District. From the beginning, a spirit of resourcefulness and radical inventiveness has infused each and every dish at Mission Chinese Food. Now, hungry diners line up outside both the San Francisco and New York City locations, waiting hours for platters of Sizzling Cumin Lamb, Thrice-Cooked Bacon, Fiery Kung Pao Pastrami, and pungent Salt-Cod Fried Rice.
The force behind the phenomenon, chef Danny Bowien is, at only thirty-three, the fastest-rising young chef in the United States. Born in Korea and adopted by parents in Oklahoma, he has a broad spectrum of influences. He’s a veteran of fine-dining kitchens, sushi bars, an international pesto competition, and a grocery-store burger stand. In 2013 Food & Wine named him one of the country’s Best New Chefs and the James Beard Foundation awarded him its illustrious Rising Star Chef Award. In 2011 Bon Appétit named Mission Chinese Food the second-best new restaurant in America, and in 2012 the New York Times hailed the Lower East Side outpost as the Best New Restaurant in New York City.
The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook tracks the fascinating, meteoric rise of the restaurant and its chef. Each chapter in the story—from the restaurant’s early days, to an ill-fated trip to China, to the opening of the first Mission Chinese in New York—unfolds as a conversation between Danny and his collaborators, and is accompanied by detailed recipes for the addictive dishes that have earned the restaurant global praise. Mission Chinese’s legions of fans as well as home cooks of all levels will rethink what it means to cook Chinese food, while getting a look into the background and insights of one of the most creative young chefs today.
4. Ample Hills Creamery by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna
Ample Hills Creamery is an ice-cream destination that attracts thousands of customers each day from near and far to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Lines wind around the block, spurred on by the chance to try one of their unforgettable flavors, and these and countless others will be dreamed up in kitchens across the country with the help of Ample Hills Creamery. Featuring recipes for the most sought-after flavors--including Salted Crack Caramel, Ooey Gooey, and the Munchies--the book is organized by mood. Are you feeling nostalgic? Try a scoop of Black Cow Float. Or maybe you need a drink? Daddy’s Sundae, made with bourbon, will set you right. For kids and kids-at-heart, stories, activities, and hand-drawn characters appear throughout each chapter, offering games, helpful tips, and inspiration for creating new flavors. With mouthwatering photography and charming illustrations, Ample Hills Creamery is a definitive, cow-filled guide to making exceptionally delicious ice cream at home.
5. The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe -- it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to creating "deliciousness" in any dish. Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements of an extraordinary meal.
Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from America's most imaginative chefs, The Flavor Bible is an essential reference for every kitchen.
Have you tried any of these cookbooks out? What are some fun recipes you have made recently? Let us know in the comments below!
By guest editor,
Alicia (IG: @thebookishpuff)
About the guest editor:
Alicia is currently the resident blogger over at The Bookish Puff and aspiring author. Raised under the southern sun she is a true eternal optimist with a deep love of history, stories, and a shameless addiction to caffeine. When she’s not on the internet writing about books, you can find her baking up a storm in her kitchen, watching true crime documentaries, sipping on coffee while chatting with friends, or getting lost in nature. She currently lives with her boyfriend and two crazy cats in Charleston, South Carolina in the United States.