Published last year as a multi-volume set that sold for over six hundred dollars, Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, $140) has been abridged to a single book (with accompanying manual), focusing on recipes and techniques suitable for home chefs. Myhrvold, former technology officer at Microsoft, concentrates on the science of food preparation, using cuttingedge techniques. One look at these oversize color plates and daring recipes may entice adventurous home chefs to take their own repertoire to the next level.
It’s impossible to venture into the world of food blogs without finding your way to Deb Perelman’s extraordinarily popular Smitten Kitchen. All internet foodways eventually lead to Deb’s shoebox New York apartment, where she whips up every version of comfort food and then writes about it in her inimitably wry, effusive, welcoming voice. Now, with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (Knopf, $35), you don’t even need an internet connection to get to know her. Her philosophy revolves around the budgets, schedules, and kitchens of home cooks. Her recipes are often ambitious but never pretentious, and always, always tasty. What made me weak-kneed? An entire chapter on Sandwiches, Tarts, and Pizzas.
Roots (Chronicle, $40), by Diane Morgan, is an ideal testament to the hidden vegetables it celebrates: an encyclopedia of simple and clean recipes, perfect for a nourishing, elegant midweek meal. There’s no didacticism or dogma here, nor is this dinnerparty fare. Throughout, Morgan focuses on the inherent flavors of the vegetables, with seasonings added to bring out the natural taste of the roots. The author’s own Pacific Northwest culinary roots definitely shine through: there’s ease and palpable warmth in her writing. Reading Roots you can feel yourself in the kitchen with Morgan, devouring meals made with love, precision, and a little bit of dirt. Indeed, in my house her recipe for French Breakfast Radishes with Herb Butter and Sel Gris was devoured by my whole family, in happy, silent gulps.