These Cookbooks Make the Best Mother's Day Gifts

Mom, this one's for you.

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May 06, 2019
By: Lygeia Grace, Alexis Pisciotta, and Xenia Fong

Mother's Day is right around the corner and we're here to help. Some moms like flowers, some like sentimental presents and for those who love spending time in the kitchen, what better gift than one of this season's best new cookbooks? Whether your mom is chocolate-obsessed or a happy hour lover, we've found a title that's just right.


BUY IT: Fiestas: Tidbits, Margaritas & More; Amazon, $13.51

Marcela Valladolid's new book reveals all the tips, tricks (and drinks!) she uses to pull off an event that's as impressive as it is fun. Serving food family style, creating a house beverage and the importance of dim lighting are just a few of the useful rules Marcela lives by. This is playful food guests crave — think Peking Duck Burritos, Caramelized Hibiscus Salsa and Coconut-Lime Cheesecake Bites. And there's an entire chapter dedicated to libations like Tamarind-Basil Mojitos and Watermelon Frose, so your party will never run dry.


BUY IT: The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List; Amazon, $14.97

Is Chinese food Jewish? Action Bronson thinks so — and he explains why, in this highly entertaining collection of essays, anecdotes and recipes on the foods "that contain the deepest Jewish significance," writes editor Alana Newhouse. There is no shortage of opinion on these pages. And after reading Michael Solomonov on Kugel, Ruth Reichl on Lamb, Molly Yeh on Macaroons and Melissa Clark on Black-and-White Cookies, your mom will be tempted to weigh in too.


BUY IT: Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook; Amazon, $19.30

Carla Lalli Music brings a message of hope to anyone who hates giant supermarket trips. Her answer: Shop online for pantry basics (eggs, oils and garlic) and reserve the in-person shopping for what she calls "the fun stuff" — scallops, steak, farmers' market produce — you know, the ingredients that can actually inspire you to cook. Likewise, dinner at home can also be stress-free when you follow Carla's six essential cooking techniques. Each requires only salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of lemon juice — almost every other ingredient can be substituted (pork chops for chicken thighs, savoy cabbage for romaine), meaning that a seemingly ambitious dish like Crispy-Skinned Black Sea Bass with Salt-and-Butter Radishes is within reach of every weeknight cook.


BUY IT: Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family; Amazon, $16.80

Like many children of immigrant parents, Priya Krishna was raised as part of two worlds — Dallas and India, but "never fully part of one," she writes. The Indian-ish recipes in this cookbook are the traditional dishes her mother, Ritu (a software programmer, wine lover and avid traveler), adapted to suit U.S. ingredients and her daughters' Americanized palates. Roti Pizza, Tomato-Cheese Masala Toast and five different types of Raita are just a few of the mouthwatering foods Ritu has served her family over the years. The vibrant, punchy photos, one-of-a-kind pop-art illustrations and humorous anecdotes make Indian-ish a pleasure to read as well as cook from.


BUY IT: Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration; Amazon, $19.49

You'll want to throw a festive get-together ASAP once you get your hands on David Burtka's lively new book. In addition to menus for 16 themed parties (start planning your Sunday Funday cookout now), the actor-turned-chef (and husband of actor Neil Patrick Harris) shares all the little details that go into a memorable gathering. From what outfit to wear and music to play to how to decorate the table and choose gifts for your guests, there's not a thing he's missed!


BUY IT: Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables; Amazon, $22.48

Take it from someone who really knows her vegetables. Chef and farmer Abra Berens learned the ins and outs of growing and cooking produce in tough Midwest conditions, where one has to make the most of ingredients quickly in their prime. She divides the book by vegetable and gives her favorite preparation technique for each, along with recipe variations. For example, under Oven Roasted Eggplant, you'll find Crispy Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Pickled Raisins and Mint. But, thanks to simple suggestions, you can easily make Ratatouille or Pickled Eggplant with Hazelnuts and Parsley instead. Abra's notes on what to look for in each kind of vegetables and how to store it make shopping uncomplicated.


BUY IT: Cocoa: An Exploration of Chocolate, With Recipes; Amazon $22.48

Sue Quinn delivers a new exploration into the history, culture and flavors of the beloved treat and answers questions like what is "fine chocolate," how to taste chocolate, how to describe chocolate's flavors and more. Interspersed between educational and personal essays, you'll find both traditional and contemporary recipes like Chocolate, Chili and Lime Cornbread and Whipped Mexican-Style Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon and Almonds. The recipes demonstrate where chocolate has been, where it's going and the vast potential it has in dishes outside the norm. It's time to get your chocolate fix on!


BUY IT: Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa; Amazon, $23.66

Through its photo-filled pages of food, landscapes, architecture and scenes of daily life, Yohanis Gebreyesus's cookbook captures the essence of Ethiopia. A French-trained chef who worked in California before returning to Addis Ababa, Yohanis presents a country where eating is "a moment of sharing, of caring, and of showing respect for one another." You may recognize some Ethiopian basics, like the spice blend berbere and gluten-free staple, injera, but they're just the tip of the iceberg. Delve deeper and learn to make essentials like Spiced Clarified Butter, Gomen (Collard Greens with Onions and Fresh Ginger) and Doro Wat (Slow-Cooked Spicy Chicken with Hard-Boiled Eggs). With the addition of contemporary dishes like Teff Tagliatelle with Sprouted Fenugreek and Carrots, Yohanis is helping put Ethiopia on America's culinary radar.


BUY IT: Double Awesome Chinese Food: Irresistible and Totally Achievable Recipes from Our Chinese-American Kitchen; Amazon, $21.37

At their restaurant, food truck and catering company, the sibling trio Andrew, Margaret and Irene Li have pushed the boundaries of tradition by transforming the classic Chinese dishes of their ancestors with local ingredients found in and around Boston. Yes, they offer staples like Beef and Broccoli, Ma Po Tofu and Cranberry Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Pork. But they've also introduced innovative favorites, like the Double Awesome Sandwich (two eggs, Vermont cheddar and pesto wrapped in a scallion pancake), Pierogi Dumplings and Red Curry Frito Pies. This book gives a tantalizing glimpse into the future of Chinese-American food.


BUY IT: Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes in Minutes; Amazon, $22.48

If you spend hours binge watching the Great British Baking Show, British culinary icon Mary Berry needs no introduction. With more than 70 cookbooks under her belt, Mary is no stranger to the game — her nickname is Mary, Queen of Cakes after all! In her newest cookbook, she provides 150 recipes with an emphasis on ease and speed. It's hard to believe that almost 100 of the recipes take only 10 minutes to put together. The trick is her all-in-one method: All the ingredients go into the same vessel, then you mix and bake. Voila! A Swiss Roll worthy of a highly-coveted Paul Hollywood handshake.


BUY IT: Clodagh's Suppers: Suppers to Celebrate the Seasons; Amazon, $15.91

Focused on laid back and informal suppers, the Irish chef, TV personality and cookbook author Clodagh McKenna shows that you don't need an over-the-top five-course meal for a successful dinner party. Instead, she advises to prioritize a seasonal menu with balanced flavors, like a Summer Gathering featuring Seafood Paella and Raspberry and Rosewater Pavlova. Ambiance is key for Clodagh, and she has suggestions for every detail, from the color of the tablecloth to the ideal position of candlesticks. Her book will give a novice confidence and rekindle the joy of hosting in even an experienced cook.


BUY IT: Tortellini at Midnight: And Other Heirloom Family Recipes from Taranto to Turin to Tuscany; Amazon, $22.48

This beautiful book tells the family story of Marco, author Emiko Davies’ Italian-born husband, who’s great-great-grandparents fell in love, despite being from vastly different worlds. She was a noblewoman and he a postman. Their journey from Taranto to Turin is told through heirloom recipes set on matte, raw-edged pages. There are faded photos of family members passed down generations and intimate images of the country today. This is food you want to cook: the Mozzarella in Carozza to feed your children during the week and the Tortellini al Sugo you'll labor over for the holidays. Emiko writes her story with as much love, care and skill as her husband's family members brought to the dishes she shares with us.

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