The Local Palate Editors' Winter Cookbook Picks

This season’s crop of Southern-influenced cookbooks has something for everyone, from Southern food enthusiasts to dedicated bakers to armchair travelers. These are the new fall and winter cookbooks we’ll be gifting this holiday.  

Winter Cookbooks for the Southern Food Enthusiast 

The Hachland Hill Cookbook 

Hachland Hillcookbook

By Carter Hach | Blue Hill Press 

Carter Hach was raised in the kitchen. Some of his earliest memories are of baking with his grandmother, Phila Hach, a one-time flight attendant, cookbook author, television show host, caterer, and chef-owner at Hachland Hill Inn in Joelton, Tennessee, where she built a culinary reputation as the queen of what she called “country cooking,” alongside her kitchen partner, Ruth Williams. 

When Carter took over the inn in 2017, he had big shoes to fill—but he had already started brainstorming The Hachland Hill Cookbook, a medley of stories about Phila plus recipes that he has been making since childhood that reflect his unique path as the current chef at Hachland Hill. 

This cookbook is made for the entire year. Its recipes range from the familiar and everyday to the surprising and celebratory. It also provides standouts for putting together an unforgettable holiday table. These are recipes that are meant to be shared, in keeping with the eclectic Southern ethos that has been cultivated at Hachland Hill since its founding in 1956. 

Recipe we’re making: We’re adding Hach’s lebkuchen (delicious German cakes) to this year’s holiday cookie platter. 

The Way Home

The way home cookbook

By Kardea Brown | Amistad

It makes sense that Food Network star Kardea Brown, who has produced seven seasons of Delicious Miss Brown, would release a cookbook of her crowd-pleasing favorites. But fans who pick up the book will also enjoy a deep dive into the details about her early life: growing up with her mom and grandmother, and the fact that she wasn’t really allowed in the kitchen while they were cooking. It wasn’t until she hit her teens when she tried her hand, successfully, at her grandmother’s macaroni and cheese, at which point she understood the importance of carrying on her family’s heritage and how cooking could be the conduit. She also addresses a period when she faced anxiety and mental health issues, as well as her pre-television life as a social worker. 

After a few audition attempts and conversations with producers and networks, Brown eventually chased her calling by launching a pop-up catering gig, the New Gullah Supper Club. Soon, the Food Network came knocking. 

Throughout the book, Brown’s open, welcoming voice shines, as she addresses readers as cousin and shares recipes that range from New Gullah (salmon cakes, shrimp and grits, crab rice) to Breakin’ the Fast (smoked sausage and egg skillet, fried grit balls with tasso ham) to Main Dishes (Gullah gumbo, curry chicken potpie), and more.

Recipe we’re making: Brown’s buffalo blue fried shrimp blends chunks of blue cheese with crispy, spicy fried shrimp. 

For the Home Baker 

Farmhouse cookbook

The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook

By Brian Noyes | Clarkson Potter

A follow-up to 2019’s Red Truck Bakery Cookbook, this pandemic-induced project by author and baker Brian Noyes, came about when he and his husband, Dwight McNeill, retreated to a farmhouse when the world shut down. Set not far from Marshall, Virginia, where the bakery lives, the farmhouse gave Noyes an opportunity to cook what he wanted: comforting recipes made for friends and family. 

The dusted-off recipes naturally segued into a book, which also allowed Noyes a chance to share dishes that had been left out of the first cookbook. A blend of well-told stories, as well as a few guest recipes (look for Kindred restaurant’s milkbread recipe), this book is a solid mix of sweet and savory. From breakfast and breads to lunch, soups and stews, and dinner, the book is full of weeknight dishes as well as weekend projects. Don’t miss Noyes’ Oaxacan mole sauce, inspired by a weeklong cooking class he once took from chef Rick Bayless, which the author calls his “single best dish.” 

Recipe we’re making: The Lexington bourbon cake is a ginger-studded stunner and also makes a great gift. 

Winter Cookbooks for the Semi- or Full-Time Vegetarian 

Listen to Your Vegetables 

Listen to your Vegetables cookbook

By Sarah Grueneberg | HarperCollins  

We’ve seen a slew of vegetable-focused cookbooks released these past few years, but maybe none so passionate as Sarah Grueneberg’s, whose directive Listen to Your Vegetables might be our new favorite way of cooking. 

The Chicago-based chef’s love of veggies started in her grandparent’s garden in Texas where they ate what they grew and froze what they couldn’t in order to feed themselves all year long. All of this later clicked when she was working under chef Chris Shepard in Houston at Brennan’s—in the walk-in, no less. Her love for Italian cuisine came while working at Spiaggia in Chicago, where she cooked with an Italian ethos and the chefs there encouraged her to travel to the country. She later opened Monteverdi in the Windy City.

 Her first book wraps both of these passions into a love letter to vegetables—and yes, she does encourage readers to really listen, as vegetables can tell you how they want to be cooked and what they want to be paired with. She organizes the book by vegetable, making it super easy to navigate when you know what’s in season or just want to know what to do with that pile of greens, handful of potatoes, and clutch of artichokes hanging out on your counter. 

Our favorite part of the book might be the illustrations, which cleverly personify vegetables, so that asparagus becomes a supermodel and the artichoke is a well-armored tender heart. Look out for a visual step-by-step guide to making pasta, as well as Southern touches, like the Calabrian pimento cheese.  

Recipe we’re making: White beans all’Uccelletto (or Tuscan baked beans), which are layered into a rustic roasted tomato sauce. 

Winter Cookbooks for the Armchair Traveler

Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices 

masala cookbook

By Anita Jaisinghani | Ten Speed Press

Anita Jaisinghani is a child of India who moved to Canada as a young bride and then to the US, where she landed in Houston. She has done extensive research on her home country, and shares much of it in her first book, Masala. Her backstory gives a quick but thorough history lesson, tying many of the dynastic periods to the foods that are so popular and recognized as Indian today. 

She tracks the British Empire rule to its end in the 1940s, where her own family story picks up with the separation of India and Pakistan, what was once Sindh—a division that caused both of her parents to re-root in India. Her own work to retie those strings, and also take ownership of the parts that she considers hers, brings the book and its recipes into focus. The recipes blend her home country’s cuisine with her roots in Houston with dishes like cactus curry and coconut crab dip. But there’s also a solid butter chicken recipe, grapefruit chile chutney, and stuffed paratha.

What’s more, Jaisinghani is a student of Ayurveda and incorporates much of those practices into her food. She includes a primer on chakras and the five elements that rule our human bodies, including the foods that enhance those elements. There’s a very thorough section on spices, from ajwain to mustard seeds to saffron, and how to prep them for Indian cooking, such as popping (or blooming) certain spices in oils, and it includes a handy two-page chart. She also offers a basic guide to curry to cure any confusion about the overused, misunderstood term. 

Dish to make: Mango rice pudding to honor the national fruit of India.

Masa: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple 

Masa cookbook

By Jorge Gaviria | Chronicle Books  

When Jorge Gaviria set out to craft tortillas made with ethically sourced corn, he first had to school himself on the world of masa. His journey eventually took him Oaxaca, the widely regarded birthplace of maize to learn about passed-down cultivation techniques, nixtamalization, and the milling process. Soon he was sourcing corns from the region to supply a restaurant in New York, and his company, Masienda, was born with a mission “to create a new kind of masa value chain, from origin to consumption.” 

Masienda has grown from working with about a dozen farmers to more than 2,000 across Mexico. While he shies away from calling this book “definitive,” it certainly gets close: Consider this a thorough guide to the context and history of masa, as well as a study in its modern-day use. Gaviria’s research is deep and extensive and so is the book, with chapters on corn, covering every type and style, the history and timeline of masa, and what tools and techniques to use to make your own. From the anatomy of a puff tortilla to troubleshooting your dough, Gaviria’s voice is a friendly, well-informed guide. All of the recipes involve masa, so pay attention to the “From Kernel to Masa” section (or lean on the products of Masienda to help), and dive in anywhere from pupusas to hard shell tacos to atole, a masa-based beverage. 

Recipe we’re making: The shrimp and (masa) grits starts with a rich sofrito of onion, carrot, tomatillo, poblano, and more that gets folded together with toasted chiles and tossed with grilled shrimp and cooked chorizo, which all sits atop a pile of milk-soaked masa grits. 

For the Epicurean 

Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew 

Koshersoul cookbook

By Michael Twitty | Amistad

In Koshersoul, culinary historian Michael Twitty crafts a book that is part memoir, part critical examination of the obstacle he’s encountered in his journey to affirm his queer Black Jewishness in the kitchen and the world. The epicurean result is collard greens in kreplach, brisket made with Nigerian suya, and matzoh meal fried chicken, with a recipe section organized by holidays and holy days. 

Twitty refuses to accept the cliché that “food brings people together” at face value. Instead, he addresses head-on the question: “Why can’t we just eat and enjoy food?” by illustrating how food and history are inextricable. In his exploration of “Jewish food as time machine” and soul food as the “memory cuisine” of the descendants of enslaved people, Twitty upends assumptions about what it means to be Black, Jewish, and both. 

Recipe we’re making: For Kwanzaa and/or New Year’s, the Cash Collards with a Sukuma Wiki variation are a delicious way to prepare collards with the addition of multicolored bell peppers, tomatoes, and curry powder. 

Winter Cookbook for a Stocking Stuffer 

Peach

Peach cookbook

By Amanda Greene with Shane Mitchell | The Bitter Southerner 

For any and everyone who enjoys peaches—as well as photography lovers—Peach is a sweet and stunning gifting book that successfully celebrates the mighty peach and the Southern culture that surrounds it. Amanda Greene traveled across the South to capture the moody images, which showcase everything from peaches in the field to harvest to peach stands, peach dishes, and more. A handful of recipes from the likes of Sean Brock and Claudia Martinez take up the final few pages. Available exclusively through The Bitter Southerner

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