The best cookbooks of 2022 so far – San Francisco Chronicle

It’s officially the season of backyard barbecues, lakeside picnics and summer potlucks. That means it’s also time to crack open some new cookbooks for inspiration — and we have some recommendations.

Spring unleashed a flurry of titles from familiar names — from several New York Times recipe contributors to former Bon Appetit editors as well as local chefs like Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue and the late Sally Schmitt. There were books from TikTok stars and a “Great British Baking Show” contestant, plus the much-anticipated second book from recipe developer J. Kenji López-Alt, also a founder of San Mateo restaurant Wursthall.

But after initial hype faded away, a few favorites emerged — some with distinct and memorable points of view, others winning us over with approachable, reliable recipes. (Find four of those recipes below.) Here are seven of our favorite new cookbooks from spring 2022.

“A Good Day to Bake” by Benjamina Ebuehi.

“A Good Day to Bake” by Benjamina Ebuehi.

Provided by Quadrille

A Good Day to Bake

Benjamina Ebuehi, who competed on “The Great British Bake Off” in 2016, wrote her second cookbook during the COVID-19 lockdown. Throughout “A Good Day to Bake,” she channels the quiet, mindful baking energy many experienced during the earliest, longest days of the pandemic. Combined with stunning photography and a dreamy aesthetic, these recipes feel modern yet approachable. An eggy custard tart gets an earthy undertone from bay leaves while black pepper rains down on roasted strawberries over wobbly yogurt. There are savory bakes, too, like golden turmeric milk bread buns. But an early favorite is the sweet-and-savory miso white chocolate cookies that are unusually thick, rich and complex. (Find the recipe below.) — J.B.

“A Good Day to Bake: Simple Baking Recipes for Every Mood” by Benjamina Ebuehi (Quadrille; 191 pages; $39.99)

“Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” by Reem Assil.

“Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” by Reem Assil.

Provided by Ten Speed Press

Arabiyya

Bold, colorful and political — would you expect anything less from Reem Assil? In her debut cookbook, the chef and founder of Reem’s California shares the deeply personal stories behind opening her first restaurant in Oakland’s Fruitvale, rising to national acclaim and simply existing as an Arab American in the food world. The recipes are excellent too, including savory breads, luscious dips, festive entrees and spiced desserts. You’ll find recipes for Reem’s favorites like mana’eesh, the flatbreads that form the basis of Assil’s bakery, as well as spins on classics like the holiday cookie ma’moul med, which Assil converts to buttery bars with a citrusy, espresso-tinged date filling. With many of the small plates, from Reem’s staple muhammara to a tahini-laced Swiss chard spread, being make-ahead friendly, “Arabiyya” is also an ideal aid for future dinner parties. — J.B.

“Arabiyya: Recipe From the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” by Reem Assil (Ten Speed Press; 304 pages; $35)

“Korean American” by Eric Kim.

“Korean American” by Eric Kim.

Provided by Clarkson Potter

Korean American

Eric Kim devotees follow the New York Times cooking columnist for his delightful food as much as his beautifully personal writing. His debut cookbook, “Korean American,” gifts readers with both. Through recipes that unabashedly embrace his Korean and American roots, like cheeseburger kimbap and lasagna punched up with gochujang and gochugaru, he shares his journey of embracing his mixed identity. Kim wrote the book during the pandemic while temporarily living at his childhood home in Georgia and coaxing family recipes from his mother. The results are delicious. Easy, fast and fun, his sesame-soy deviled eggs offer a prime example of how Kim seamlessly adds subtle Korean touches to all-American classics. (See the recipe below.) The book is an excellent primer for anyone wanting to explore Korean home cooking at all levels. Learn the art of gyeranjjim, eggs steamed to silkiness in the microwave; or apply the best parts of yangnyeom, the finger-sticking sauce usually reserved for Korean fried chicken, to a whole roast chicken or crispy garbanzo beans for a snacky, caramelized banchan. — E.K.

“Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home” by Eric Kim (Clarkson Potter; $32.50; 288 pages)

“Snackable Bakes” by Jessie Sheehan.

“Snackable Bakes” by Jessie Sheehan.

Provided by Countryman Press

Snackable Bakes

This book is for the person who loves sweets but doesn’t think they have the skills or time to bake at home. Infectiously upbeat and breezy, Jessie Sheehan has assembled 100 remarkably easy recipes that can be assembled in 20 minutes or less. In reality, this looks like short ingredient lists, some shortcuts (such as melting butterscotch chips for a not-too-sweet butterscotch pudding), zero waiting to chill dough in the fridge and a preference for the most basic equiment. (Yes, there are one-bowl recipes.) Despite this stripped-down approach, Sheehan, a TikTok star who got her start at the famed Baked in New York, still manages to pull off satisfying classics as well as fresh-feeling originals. Think zippy, gluten-free salt-and-pepper cookies; a giant, sliceable peanut butter cup; and chewy milk chocolate-tahini bars. (The latter recipe is below.) — J.B.

“Snackable Bakes: 100 Easy-Peasy Recipes for Exceptionally Scrumptious Sweets and Treats” by Jessie Sheehan (Countrymann Press; 240 pages; $28)

“The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani.

“The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani.

Provided by Lorena Jones Books

The Cook You Want to Be

Andy Baraghani grew up in Berkeley and started his cooking career at Chez Panisse, but he’s best known for his time as a senior editor and recipe developer for Bon Appetit. The magazine’s penchant for all things tangy, crunchy and herbaceous come through Baraghani’s debut cookbook, which is full of home cook-friendly, vibrant recipes. Charred-then-braised cabbage becomes melty tender before getting blasted with lemon zest, walnuts and anchovies. A simple pot of rice is treated like royalty with a simple yet astonishing duo of butter and seaweed. Other recipes showcase Baraghani’s Iranian heritage, like his version of kuku sabzi, an herb-packed frittata, and sticky, sweet-sour chicken braised with pomegranate molasses. (Get some of these recipes and read an excerpt here . For a hefty vegetarian pasta with chickpeas, see recipe below.) — J.B.

“The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress” by Andy Baraghani (Lorena Jones Books; 336 pages; $35)

“The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

“The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Provided by W. W. Norton & Company

The Wok

At 658 pages, “The Wok” is a giant of a cookbook dedicated to wok cookery. Author J. Kenji López-Alt, known for his scientific approach to recipe development with his previous cookbook “The Food Lab” and his work at Serious Eats, goes deep into every seemingly minute facet, guiding readers on how to choose a wok, chop vegetables for stir-fries and break up grains before attempting fried rice. While the recipes are clearly written and reliable — the mapo tofu is particularly delicious — the real reason to pick up “The Wok” is everything else. The comprehensive essays and breakdowns of techniques will give cooks of all levels a new appreciation for this workhorse kitchen tool. — J.B.

“The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji López-Alt (WW Norton; 656 pages; $66)

“Watermelon and Red Birds,” a cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor.

“Watermelon and Red Birds,” a cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor.

Courtesy Beatriz da Costa

Watermelon and Red Birds

Author Nicole A. Taylor brings Juneteenth into the 21st century with this cookbook, which is poised to become the seminal culinary reference for the holiday. The seasoned recipe writer walks the reader through the traditions — red food and drinks, check — before shattering them with updates that feel both fresh and authentic. Grilled pork chops get some Shake ‘n’ Bake-style crunch from dukkah, and miso adds depth to her Bloody Marys. Even outside of the bounds of the holiday, readers will find reasons to go back to this book, which includes some great cookout recipes — the potato salad is calling — and ironclad techniques for sauces like harissa and collard greens pesto. Her directions are easy to read and calming, which will be a boon to the frazzled party host, and her stories of Juneteenths past are tender celebrations of Black joy. — S.H.

“Watermelon & Red Birds” by Nicole A. Taylor (Simon & Schuster Inc.; 270 pages; $29.99)

Janelle Bitker, Soleil Ho and Elena Kadvany are part of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Food & Wine team. Email: [email protected]

Miso and White Chocolate Cookies from “A Good Day to Bake”

Makes 10 large or 16 small cookies

These super-thick, weighty cookies feature a savory umami hit from miso that’s contrasted with sweet, creamy white chocolate. The raw dough will seem to just barely contain the chocolate, but the baking powder and baking soda will give the cookies a puffy body in the oven. Benjamina Ebuehi writes in “A Good Day to Bake” that she prefers making 10 very large and satisfying cookies, but you can also form 16 regular-size cookies instead.

½ cup (120 grams) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup (150 grams) light brown sugar

6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar

3 heaped tablespoons (50 grams) white miso

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 egg

2¼ cups (290 grams) all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

11¼ ounces (320 grams) white chocolate, roughly chopped

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugars, miso and vanilla on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes until really pale and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway. Add the egg and beat for a further minute to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chopped white chocolate.

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Scoop the dough evenly onto the baking sheets and form into 10 large cookies or 16 smaller ones, leaving plenty of space between them for spreading. You don’t need to roll them into a smooth ball; I quite like them with a bit of a craggy top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges are set and the cookies are puffy.

Remove from the oven and let them cool before eating.

Recipe excerpted with permission from “A Good Day to Bake” by Benjamina Ebuehi, published by Quadrille, March 2022.

Sesame-Soy Deviled Eggs from “Korean American” by Eric Kim (Clarkson Potter).

Sesame-Soy Deviled Eggs from “Korean American” by Eric Kim (Clarkson Potter).

Courtesy Jenny Huang

Sesame-Soy Deviled Eggs from “Korean American”

Serves 12

These deviled eggs are the ultimate party bite: salty from soy sauce, nutty from sesame oil and full of deep savoriness from the roasted seaweed, as Eric Kim writes in “Korean American.”

6 large eggs

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, plus more as needed

Black sesame seeds, for serving

2 small sheets gim (from a 5-gram packet), for garnish

In a small pot, place the eggs in a single layer and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn off the heat, cover and set your timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of steeping, pour the hot water out and place the pot under a cold running tap. The eggs should be cool enough to touch now. Crack the bottom of each egg on a hard surface, such as the sink or counter, and return to the cold water, letting them sit for a few seconds. Peel the eggs and halve them lengthwise.

Pop the yolks out into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, soy sauce and sesame oil to the yolks and whisk together until smooth and fluffy. Add more sesame oil if dry. Transfer this filling to a resealable plastic bag and snip off one corner of the bag. Pipe the filling into each egg. (If making ahead, cover the eggs and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.)

Right before serving, sprinkle some black sesame seeds atop each egg. Using kitchen shears, snip the gim into a dozen 1-inch squares and top each egg with a single square.

Reprinted from “Korean American.” Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

Tahini Milk Chocolate Bars from Jessie Sheehan’s “Snackable Bakes” (Countryman Press).

Tahini Milk Chocolate Bars from Jessie Sheehan’s “Snackable Bakes” (Countryman Press).

Courtesy Nico Schinco

Tahini Milk Chocolate Bars from “Snackable Bakes”

Makes 16 bars

This bar cookie spin on Oh Henry!® candy comes from Jessie Sheehan’s “Snackable Bakes” — and as with many other recipes in the book, it takes about 20 minutes to assemble. The bars are chewy and nutty, thanks to the tahini-laced oat base that is briefly cooked on the stovetop, baked and then topped with a chocolate glaze. Note: Microwaves vary wildly in strength, so you may need a little more time to melt the topping ingredients.

For the pan

Cooking spray or softened unsalted butter

For the base

½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter

½ cup (120 grams) tahini, well stirred

½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

¼ cup (80 grams) light corn syrup

2¼ cups (222 grams) quick 1-minute oats

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

For the topping

¾ cup (128 grams) milk chocolate chips

2½ tablespoons tahini, well stirred

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1½ tablespoons light corn syrup

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray or softened butter. Line the bottom with a long sheet of parchment paper that extends up and over two opposite sides of the pan.

To make the base, cook the butter, tahini, sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a flexible spatula, until the mixture just begins to boil. Off the heat, add the oats, vanilla and kosher salt and stir to combine. Scrape the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, creating a solid, even layer, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until the entire surface is bubbling and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the topping.

To make the topping, microwave all the topping ingredients in a small, microwave-safe bowl in two 15-second bursts, stirring after each with a fork, until melted and smooth. Pour the topping over the baked oatmeal base and, using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread it smoothly and evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until the topping is set. Remove the bars from the pan, using the parchment overhang to lift them out. Run a butter knife around the edges if there’s resistance. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, slice into squares and serve. Keep the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Chickpea Cacio e Pepe With Caramelized Lemon from “The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani.

Chickpea Cacio e Pepe With Caramelized Lemon from “The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani.

Courtesy Graydon Herriott

Chickpea Cacio e Pepe with Caramelized Lemon from “The Cook You Want to Be”

Serves 4

This recipe from Andy Baraghani’s “The Cook You Want to Be” is like a cross between cacio e pepe (the simple spaghetti with cheese and pepper) and pasta e ceci (the brothy pasta dish with chickpeas), plus a hefty dose of tart, slightly bitter lemon. Much of the magic of this dish lies in crushing the chickpeas so they release their starches and transform the pasta water into a creamy sauce. Some of the chickpeas retain their shape, whereas others turn to delicious mush. It’s a great option for a vegetarian pasta entree with some heft.

Kosher salt

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small Meyer or regular lemon, thinly sliced, seeds picked out

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 rosemary sprig, or 4 thyme sprigs

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound tubular pasta (such as calamarata, paccheri or rigatoni)

¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then throw in a handful of salt (about ¼ cup).

While the water is doing its thing, set a separate large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the lemon and cook, using tongs to flip the slices until they begin to lightly brown and shrivel up, 6 to 8 minutes. Using the tongs, transfer the caramelized lemon slices to a bowl, leaving the oil in the pot.

Dump the chickpeas into the oil and let them get a little crisp and golden, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallot and crush the rosemary to release its oil and drop it into the pot. Season with salt and lots and lots of pepper and give everything a stir. Cook until the shallot is beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until almost al dente, about 2 minutes less than what the package suggests (it’ll finish cooking in the sauce).

Just before the pasta is al dente, scoop out 2 cups pasta water. Add 1½ cups pasta water to the pot with the chickpeas and bring to a simmer, still over medium heat. (This may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will thicken once the remaining ingredients are added.) One piece at a time, stir in the butter until the pasta water and butter have become one.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the sauce. Cook, stirring often and sprinkling in the Parmesan a little at a time. (Don’t add the cheese all at once, as that can make the sauce split and turn grainy.) Keep stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta, about 3 minutes. If the sauce looks too thick, add more pasta water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to thin (but know that saucier is ideal because it will thicken as it cools). Turn off the heat and fold in the caramelized lemon. Sprinkle with an almost ridiculous amount of pepper and more Parmesan before serving.

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