Yotam Ottolenghi has done it again. Or more precisely he already did it, again. Written six years before his blockbuster, Jerusalem, but only now released in the U.S., Ottolenghi (Ten Speed, $35) presents a collection of well-tested and well-loved recipes from the chef’s eponymous London restaurants. This is a very different cookbook from Jerusalem; where that one was a document of social history and exploration, Ottolenghi offers approachable, weeknight cooking. It’s less complex but also a lot less daunting. The ingredients are more familiar, but it offers the same focus on freshness and unexpected flavor connections that thrilled home cooks in Jerusalem. And while there’s an illuminating section on the baked goods that his restaurants are famous for, the stars in Ottolenghi’s repertoire will always be the vegetables. His combinations are the best in the business, and he usually adheres to a happy trinity, with a main ingredient and two surprising counterpoints: baked okra with tomatoes and ginger, cucumber and poppy seed salad, crushed new potatoes with horseradish and sorrel.
Jamie Oliver is a food activist and a bit of a goof, but most of all he’s a chef who believes in making flavorful and nourishing food an everyday experience. In his latest book, Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes (Hyperion, $35), Jamie explores the foods of Spain, Italy, Sweden, Morocco, Greece, and France. With a focus on accessibility and levity, he cooks up a mix of local classics like Swedish meatballs and his own riffs on regional flavors, like Moroccan fish and chips. This is a great guide to the essential ingredients and dishes of the Mediterranean and an invitation to experiment with incorporating exotic flavors into familiar settings. With beautiful photography and concise and insightful descriptions of each country’s cuisine, Oliver invites us to forgo prestige cooking and have an adventure in the kitchen.
A good meal means lovingly prepared dishes that enliven the tongue, tickle the nose, and delight the belly. In short, a good meal strikes at The Heart of the Plate (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $34.99), but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Unlike other cookbooks, Molly Katzen’s spread of flavorful yet simple dishes don’t require trips to specialty food stores or a search through online cupboards for unusual ingredients. Focusing on vegetarian and vegan cuisine from soups and stews to burgers, quiches, and pizza, Katzen’s recipes allow for ample leftovers—that is, if you can limit yourself to just one helping. The full-color photographs here make every dish irresistible. Try the tomato-coconut soup with a twist of Indian seasoning, a helping of savory crispy fried lemons , and the pomegranate tabbouleh for starters, and spend the rest of the holidays mixing and matching from these two hundred recipes—or choose from one of Katzen’s thirty-five menu suggestions.