All the Best Cookbooks to Gift in 2020

A new cookbook can be a wonderful, personal gift, which is why we love to give and receive them, especially during the holidays. We've cooked our way through many new cookbooks this year, and have recipes bookmarked in many more to try in 2021. If you're looking for a cookbook to gift this holiday season, these are just some of the titles Food Network staffers can't get enough of. Not only to do they cover a wide range of topics like bread-baking basics to comfort food upgrades, they’re also so full of new and delicious dishes that even the littlest of chefs will be excited to find one peeking out of their stocking.

Crisp on top and cheesy throughout, this butternut squash and apple gratin belongs on your fall table

Every fall, I sample as many apple varieties at the farmers market as I can manage. My goal: Find the most flavorful, naturally — but also the absolute firmest, too. Nothing makes me sadder than biting into a mushy apple, and therefore nothing makes me happier than finding one so firm I worry, if only for a second, that I might damage a tooth in the biting. (I never have, thankfully.)

10 Of The Best Cookbooks In 2020

2020 has been a banner year for home cooking. From the early pandemic days of stocking up on pantry staples (more dried beans, anyone?) to our collective obsession with sourdough starter and bread-making, finding comfort in our kitchens has been a reliable constant in an otherwise disorienting year. Fortunately for those of us spending more time making dinner than ever before, 2020 has also been a particularly exciting year for cookbook releases. From books that allow us to travel the world wit

I’ve Used This Cookbook More Than Any Other This Year

I need to get something off my chest: I used to be prejudiced against beans. In all honesty, for most of my life, I’ve associated them with something to be thrown into a burrito as extra filling, or refried as part of taco night, or, I have to confess, as the main subject of a schoolyard rhyme, and that was about it. But this year, beans became my favorite food. Maybe it was because in February, I stocked my pantry full of Rancho Gordo Heirloom varietals (the best beans out there). I still had

Yes, Chef: Here Are the Year’s Best Cookbooks

If you're going to try your hand at a new kind of cuisine during a pandemic, it had better be chock full o’ pleasure. In all my cooking and eating as a food and travel writer, the Indian snack food known as chaat—Hindi for “to lick”—steals the show. I've been known to base whole road trips around getting my hands on some. My favorite is bhel puri, a blast of fine-chopped fresh ingredients like herbs, onion, potato, chilis, and mango with a sprinkle of spice and a drizzling of a chutney or two.

How to make dal makhani, the most luxurious and creamy dal of all

If you’ve never had dal makhani, first, I’m so sorry, and second, let me define it for you: It’s made from whole black urad beans, a.k.a. black gram or black matpe beans. They’re sometimes mistakenly called black lentils, but they’re not lentils at all and are instead more closely related to mung beans. They’re soaked overnight, cooked until tender, then combined with a powerful sauce made of onion, tomato, spices and ghee, with cream or sometimes yogurt stirred in before serving.

This vegetarian Thanksgiving is a one-pan feast: Stuffed squash with broccolini and carrots

Turkey is usually an afterthought — if that — in my Thanksgiving planning. I’m a vegetarian married to a poultry lover, and we typically host a table of guests with similarly different dietary habits. For the past few years, because I wanted to satisfy the carnivores’ expectations while saving myself the hassle of dealing with the bird, I’ve outsourced it, ordering a smoked turkey from a D.C. barbecue joint and asking somebody else to pick it up.

This vegan Bolognese is full of familiar, comforting flavors

You may have picked up two things about me and my food tastes over the years: First, that I’m a fan of tempeh, the traditional Indonesian fermented soy cake that I think should be more popular than it is. Second, that I’m not a fan of spaghetti squash, which I have (even recently) referred to as watery and bland. Well, a recipe that uses the former got me to reexamine my thinking about the latter. And maybe it can do the same for you, whether you’re a fan of both or neither.

Ottolenghi’s cacio e pepe comes with a wonderful Middle Eastern twist

There is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional cacio e pepe. Far from it. But — and you knew there’d be a “but,” didn’t you? — I did come across a recipe recently that makes one small addition to the classic, and it was such a beautiful complement that I knew I’d be making it this way for years to come. It’s from the great and powerful Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book with Ixta Belfrage, “Ottolenghi Flavor.” The London-based Israeli chef has brought new awareness of Middle Eastern ingredients to

The key to a better cauliflower soup: Don’t skimp on the garnish

The garnish ingredients can be raw or cooked, as long as they’re pleasant enough to eat. In the case of this recipe from Christopher Kimball’s new cookbook “Cookish,” the garnish consists of some of the almonds that you use to start off the dish by frying in oil and harissa spice blend (rather than the paste). The almonds offer richness and body to this cauliflower soup, making it creamy without cream. The spice blend gives a mild kick of heat, but don’t fret: If you can’t easily find it, you c

A sweet potato and mushroom quesadilla-pizza mash-up that’ll surprise you

At first glance, you might not think that Jacques Pépin and Haile Thomas have all that much in common. He, of course, is one of the best-known chefs in the world, an 84-year-old Frenchman whose books (including classic encyclopedias of technique) and public TV series (including with Julia Child) have made him a true culinary icon. She is the 19-year-old daughter of Jamaican immigrants who this year wrote her first cookbook, “Living Lively," focused on healthy, plant-based recipes.

A stuffed portobello only food writer Nigel Slater could design

Nigel Slater is a food writer’s food writer. The prolific British author’s famously brief recipe introductions read like haikus: “Roasted pumpkin. Smooth, silky mash.” “Autumn mushrooms, ribbons of pasta, a breath of aniseed.” “Crisp pastry. Warm banana. The scent of maple syrup.” They remind me of Ruth Reichl’s much-satirized tweets. He’s a cook’s cook, too, long advocating a season approach

Instant Pot spaghetti delivers a saucy dose of nostalgia, with little hands-on effort

My husband had just finished roasting summer squash from our garden. As he spooned the squash into a storage dish, the alarms blared: carbon monoxide, a.k.a. “the silent killer.” Before he had a chance to text me — I was traveling — he called 911, evacuated the house and waited for the firefighters to show up. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know the drill, which involves opening doors and windows, blowing a big industrial fan and using CO detectors more

Maangchi’s Korean tofu is a crunchy, sticky, spicy-sweet delight

If you’ve followed along on my ongoing efforts to create the crunchiest, most flavor-packed tofu possible, you know that I’m a fan of using cornstarch to get that crust. Last year, I found what I thought was the uber-recipe, one that calls for you to press moisture out of the tofu before marinating it in a hoisin mixture, coating it in the starch and pan-frying. As good as that was, as soon as I saw YouTube star Maanghi's

Hearts of palm fills in for the seafood in this plant-based ceviche

Los Angeles chef Jocelyn Ramirez remembers when it hit her: She and a friend were making a salad for dinner, and her friend brought out some hearts of palm. “I took a bite, and thought it had the texture and even a little bit of the taste of crab meat,” Ramirez said. She filed it away. The memory came in handy when she started moving toward a plant-based diet. She had been experiencing thyroid problems she wanted to treat through food, and she had made vegan smoothiies

Grilled Indian yogurt sandwiches offer a cooling crunch and creaminess in each bite

When Chetna Makan was growing up in central India, one sandwich showed up more often than any other in her and her classmates’ lunchboxes: a grilled number filled with cabbage, bell pepper and more, bound in yogurt. “Also, it’s so hot in India, it’s quite a cooling sandwich,” she said, adding that it gets its creaminess from yogurt rather than “mayo, which is completely unhealthy. You can add vegetables, and it’s just crunchiness you can taste.”

Beat the heat with this quick-cooking skillet of garlicky beans, broccoli and pesto

The other day, I was so excited that it was under 80 degrees for my morning walk with my dog — he’s gotten short shrift as the days have gone from hot to hellish — that I didn’t mind the light rain. Neither did he. It started out as a drizzle, but within 15 minutes the drops got larger and fell faster, and just when I was thinking we should head back home, we just … didn’t. We kept walking, it kept raining, and we had a nice, long, refreshing, meditative, wet and, most importantly, cool morning.
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