So many recipes, so little time... Of all the marvelous cookbooks and food writing that's crossed the desk this year, we had to choose the top 20 and it was no easy task. The final list includes books we think have something special: a unique perspective, inventive recipes, or the makings of a kitchen staple that will give home cooks a go-to guide for months of delicious meals.
Below are our top five picks for the best in cooking food and wine for 2018 so far. The complete list of all 20 can be found here.
SOUL: A Chef's Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards
Why it's our number one: The food is photographed beautifully, and Richards’ recipes are a unique hash of comfort, elegance, and creativity. Pairing one of my Southern favorites—Pimento cheese—with peaches, radish, avocado on toast? Brilliant. In SOUL, Richards introduces a recipe for classic cornbread and a few chapters later, an inventive sea urchin dish. The menus with playlists are ready-made for a good time. SOUL has personality and style to spare.
Segal combines her skills as a professional chef, a popular blogger, and a working mother in a cookbook that will become a staple in the kitchen for many in the years to come. Her recipes are healthy and mouth-watering--I pretty much want to make every single one of her dishes, from a breakfast of Savory Ham & Cheese Waffles to a beautiful platter of Ahi Tuna Poke with Avocado & Rice Crackers.
Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines
Gaines attained celebrity status with the TV show Fixer Upper, and now with her first cookbook she's entered the food world with a bang. Magnolia Table (also the name of her Waco restaurant) is good, solid, comfort food and classics with a twist. Her spin on caprese salad using peaches is ridiculously good, and the many oven hours Gaines put into perfecting the biscuit and chocolate chip cookie recipes in Magnolia Table are sure to pay off as family favorites for readers.
In the last couple of decades we've seen an explosion of celebrity chefs and a new found admiration for the men and women who preside over the kitchens of the world's best restaurants. Friedman goes back in time to the 1970s and '80s to look at the personalities and culture that shaped today's culinary point of view. A raucous and fascinating story told by the people who lived it.
Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face by Lauren Toyota
Toyota's recipes are proof that eating vegan doesn't mean we have to abandon the comfort classics we love. Toyota puts a vegan spin on everything from fried chicken (revised as Southern Fried Cauliflower) to creamy bacon mac and cheese (made with mushroom bacon and a sauce from cashews and nondairy milk) and she does it with a friend-in-the-kitchen sensibility that's as entertaining as it is informative. The photographs and recipes in this cookbook will appeal to even the most hard-core carnivore.