Books Worth Buying: November's Best Food and Drink Releases

The monthly guide to our favorite new cookbook releases

November 2013's Best Cookbooks
November 2013's Best CookbooksLaura Sant

We get dozens of cookbooks each week at SAVEUR, and every month we share our favorite new releases—books that, through one avenue of greatness or another, have earned a place on our over-stuffed shelves. With hearty loaves of artisan bread, chilled winter sips, rich stews, and tumblers full of whiskey, this month’s books are a veritable celebration of autumn.

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks

by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith

As a former cheesemonger, I have a soft spot for dairy cookbooks—I'm almost always looking to use up odds and ends leftover from cheese plates. But a cookbook by two of the nicest (and most accomplished) ladies in the business, photographed by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, former SAVEUR editors and the women behind Canal House? I think this book might be my soul mate. Organized by cheese type (fresh, young aged, grating cheeses, blue, and so on), the book is full of simple, straightforward recipes for everything from rustic cheese and onion galettes to fresh milk panna cotta flavored with Earl Grey—plus accompaniments and condiments, like a remarkably flavorful roasted plum-port chutney. You'll also get a basic lesson in all things cheese—the essential science behind it, how to taste it, how to store it properly, how to plan and pair a cheese course, and even how to make some cheeses in your own kitchen. The Q&A's with Peggy and Sue that salt and pepper these informative sections, as well as the stories that open each chapter, mean the book is just as interesting and enlightening for someone who has been working with cheese for years as it is for a newcomer to the cheese cave—what I enjoy most about this book, even more than the recipes and their beautiful images, is getting to know the cowgirls behind Cowgirl Creamery. I'm guessing you will too. —Cory Baldwin

Available from Chronicle Books; $35
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Sorella

by Emma Hearst and Sarah Krathen

Let's be clear: Yes, on page 53 of Sorella, the cookbook inspired by the Manhattan restaurant of the same name, there's a striking shot of co-owner and chef Emma Hearst staring directly into the camera, holding a skinned, headless rabbit in one hand and a well-loved cleaver in the other, all while wearing a skimpy but undeniably architecturally impressive bustier. It's not the only glamour shot in the book, which can at times land a little on-the-nose with the whole "food is sex" angle, but it can't be denied that the recipes on these pages—Italianate in pantry, New York in sensibility—are both sensually exhilarating and totally approachable in an awfully attractive way. It's cookable, craveable, eatable home-cooking food—but it's also faithful to the restaurant kitchen where these recipes originated. I had a near-perfect dinner at the bar at Sorella not too long ago, and when I turned to the cookbook to replicate the brilliantly lemony escarole salad with which I kicked things off, I realized that the book has the recipes for literally everything I've eaten in years of patronage. From tajarin pasta in a minty lamb ragu, to their utterly addictive broccoli fritti doused in a pickled-chile aioli and a snowy mountain of shaved parmesan, it's a remarkably faithful guide to making the restaurant's marvelous food at home. Coming out of your own kitchen, this food is delicious, it's smart, it's flavorful—and, I suppose I must admit, much like Hearst in her bustier, it's shamelessly, aggressively sexy. —Helen Rosner

Available from Olive Press; $35
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Japanese Soul Cooking

by Tadashi Ono

The boys are back. Chef Tadashi Ono and writer Harris Salat, authors of Japanese Hot Pots (2009) and The Japanese Grill (2011), joined forces again for this 241-page long ode to Japanese comfort food. Japanese Soul Cooking is a high-speed tour de force of noodle dishes such as piping hot ramen and udon, fried foods such as lemon sole tempura and tonkatsu, and the three-point jump shot of all comfort foods: donburi, a hodgepodge of fresh and crisp-fried ingredients served over a bowl of cooked rice. Chef Ono, who grew up in downtown Tokyo, honors honest, makeable dishes punctuated with graphic novel-esque photos of jolly chefs and patrons slurping soup, handy step-by-steps, and a recipe for a juicy pork-and-beef "Hamburg" that would resemble a hamburger if only it had a bun. It's surprising recipes like this Western-influenced anti-burger that make Japanese Soul Cooking induce stomach grumbling delight. Don't be surprised if some panko breadcrumbs fall from the pages as you devour this book. _—Kellie Evans

Available from Ten Speed Press; $27.50
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American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye

by Clay Risen

I've been on a bit of a whiskey kick for the past year, feeling quite confident when I order my go-to drink, a Maker's Old Fashioned, at the bar. I started asking for Maker's by name mainly because if I didn't, the bartender would ask if I preferred bourbon or rye, and I had no idea what to say. I didn't know the difference; I just knew that I liked whiskey. Clay Risen's book, American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye, is a whiskey novice's best friend, describing the characteristics of American whiskey, how to taste it, and how it is produced, as well as providing a detailed history of the spirit. The book also includes reviews and photos of more than 200 American whiskeys, their tasting notes, and information on the producers. After reading Risen's guide, I now feel emboldened to order a whole list of new favorites, from woodsy Hudson Manhattan Rye to fruity and floral Russell's Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It's a book I plan on keeping around for constant reference. —Farideh Sadeghin

Available from Sterling Epicure; $24.95
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Good Stock: Life on a Slow Simmer

by Sanford D’Amato

Sanford D'Amato, founder of Milwaukee's Sanford restaurant, creates a testament to his genuine love of food and a lifetime of good meals in his memoir, Good Stock: Life on a Low Simmer. Fourteen chapters carry the reader through his culinary school stint in Hyde Park to a cramped Upper East Side restaurant and back to the frosty Wisconsin of his childhood. The book is studded with recipes that bring the chef's journey to life as I cook though them in my own kitchen—while anise-scented lentils stewed to a luxurious consistency and juices from luscious red tomatoes mingled with pancetta, I share an excited expectancy with a young D'Amato and his wife Angie during an Umbrian bike trip they took over a decade ago. Even though the chef sold his acclaimed restaurant last year, D'Amato's food will continue to nourish through his book. _— Elizabeth Childers

Available November 13 from Agate Publishing; $35
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Winter Cocktails

Edited by Maria del Mar Sacasa

I recently stumbled upon Maria del Mar Sacasa's Winter Cocktails, and luckily for my guests, that means this year's Wild Turkey Wednesday (the unofficial holiday before Thanksgiving that's celebrated with plenty of brown booze) is going to be a classy affair. This intoxicating read features over 100 cold-weather tipples, from seasonal classics to twists on the traditional. Recipes such as the New Orleans Special—a twist on a milk punch studded with bananas—are approachable, and are drinks I'd certainly serve at a cocktail party. But the chosen winner for my holiday this year is the Bloody Good Punch: A healthy dose of bourbon keeps my tradition intact, the addition of homemade blood orange sour brightens the drink, and a float of Champagne adds just the right amount of effervescence. It's one of the book's many creative winter sips that I'll be making this season. _—Anne-Roderique Jones

Available from Quirk Books; $22.95
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The Best Cookbook Ever

by Max and Eli Sussman

Max and Eli Sussman's newest cookbook is beyond approachable. Casual, flippant, and playful to the end, these two Brooklyn cooks (Eli works the line at Mile End Delicatessen; Max recently left Roberta's to start a supper club in his apartment) provide an eclectic mix of recipes, from down-home comfort foods with a spin to sophisticated but easy hors d'oeuvres for a summer party. The photographs are surprisingly elegant for the laid-back narration, and had me eager to try every recipe—favorites I tried out include their well-balanced Brussels sprouts salad with briny jewels of sopressata, feta, and olives against a bright, lemony dressing, and a comforting fall pasta dish featuring acorn squash and Camembert cheese mixed with delicate, soft gnocchi. With such accessible but fresh and interesting recipes, I'd gladly recommend The Best Cook Book Ever to less-advanced and seasoned cooks alike. —Oliver Erteman

Available November 19 from Olive Press; $25
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