Essential Pepin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40),the new book of recipes from one of the world’s best-known chefs, is not merely a collection of Jacques Pepin’s greatest hits. In assembling more than 700 of his favorite recipes, Pepin shows his evolution from classic French chef a half-century ago to “an American cook” today. Never losing sight of the essentials of great cooking—simplicity, seasonal ingredients, and exceptional taste—he has adapted and modified some of his signature dishes to match current tastes and values. Reflecting Pepin’s breadth, clarity, and inventiveness in his twin roles as culinary luminary and television teacher, the Essential Pepin is indeed an essential addition to any cook’s library—and it comes with a DVD.
Andrew Carmellini, author of the acclaimed Urban Italian as well as chef and co-owner of Locanda Verde and The Dutch restaurants in New York City, shows the breadth of his culinary influences in American Flavor (Ecco, $34.99). Recipes collected from trips all over the country reflect the diversity of our melting pot. Asian dishes like tofu stew with miso and shiitake and Korean steak are only pages away from a Hispanic dish like chicken pozole and eastern-European specialties like borscht-the-way-your-mom-made-it and pierogies. What all the dishes have in common is that they’re high on flavor and not overly complicated. The recipes are designed with home chefs in mind, calling for ingredients that can be gotten easily. The photography is excellent, making every dish look delicious.
Lidia Bastianich has long been known as one of the great masters of Italian cooking in America. Lidia’s Italy in America (Knopf, $35) celebrates, in 175 recipes, the boundless variety and quality of Italian food here in the states. Bastianich visited people and places all over the country, and here documents not just the cuisine, but the culture, humor, and spirit of Italians in America. The food ranges from soft-shell crab in Silver Spring to deep-dish pizza in Chicago; all these recipes show how native food traditions, available ingredients, and changing lifestyles have transformed what had been thought of as Italian food and created something special and unique.