With cafés, restaurants, and bars shuttered across the United States, Americans are finding themselves reevaluating their relationships with food.
For those who want more than a bag of chips for dinner—or a new way to pass the time—cooking and baking are excellent skills to hone while in self-quarantine. Baking, in particular, is frequently lauded for its therapeutic qualities, whether baking for yourself or for others. (And if baking yourself isn’t restorative, watching others bake might do the trick, à la The Great British Baking Show.)
Here are some of the best cookbooks published in the past year that could lift your mood and fill your stomach while staying in.
Dining In, by Alison Roman
The title really says it all. Although this one came out a few years ago, the vegetable-forward cookbook is seeing a resurgence with its casual but chic dishes that fill the void for extroverts while restaurants remain closed. Among the 125 recipes provided: four-bean salad with green romesco, sour cream flatbread, olive oil-roasted mushrooms, clam pasta with chorizo and walnuts, and Roman’s Instagram-famous salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread.
Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables, by Abra Berens
Although this book is neither strictly vegetarian or vegan, vegetables are the hero in each dish. For those looking to master how to cook with vegetables, this is a good place to start with a how-to approach for more than 29 different kinds of veggies. So if you’re homebound with a mix of carnivores and herbivores, you might be able to satisfy everyone with recipes out of Ruffage. Among some top choices are massaged kale with creamed mozzarella, tomatoes, and wild rice; turnip and potato mash with chicken legs, orange vanilla vinaigrette, and radicchio; and ramp pesto with seared chicken and radishes.
The World Eats Here: Amazing Food and the Inspiring People Who Make It at New York’s Queens Night Market, by John Wang and Storm Garner
If you can’t visit an outdoor food market—given almost all of them are probably canceled and you should be practicing social distancing—then you can pretend to be there by cooking your own takeout. Inspired by the immigrant vendor-chefs at New York City’s first outdoor night market, the Queens Night Market, recipes include Burmese tea leaf salads, different types of Pakistani and Indian kati rolls, Tibetan beef momos with hot sauce, Russian cheese doughnuts, Korean kimchi pancakes, and Nigerian brown-bean fritters.
Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes to Master and Mix, by Dominique Ansel
Not everyone can create whimsical pastries that go viral and launch a mini global empire of bakeries like Dominique Ansel. But the lauded French chef insists that everyone can bake—at least the basics, but with flair—in his new cookbook. At the very least, this collection of glamorous dessert photos will make an excellent addition to your coffee table.
The Boba Book: Bubble Tea and Beyond, by Andrew Chau and Bin Chen
After opening The Boba Guys in San Francisco in 2011, Andrew Chau and Bin Chen have since gone on to launch a chain of cafés dedicated to bubble tea from coast to coast. Boba tea is Taiwanese in origin, but Chau and Chen have pulled in a lot of flavorful influences from a variety of cultures, offering what they describe as an “all-American” menu that includes Hong Kong milk tea, a strawberry matcha latte, and a coffee-infused dirty horchata.
Drinking French, by David Lebovitz
Not all recipes have to be about food. Following his lauded My Paris Kitchen, American in Paris scribe David Lebovitz is back with a collection of cocktails. But you’re in for a lot more than just a Kir Royale (although there is a guide to all the French classics as a starting point) as Lebovitz interviewed bartenders and mixologists across France but also at French-inspired establishments in the United States. The result is a book filled with more than 160 recipes for trendy cocktails, dessert cocktails, and even some side snacks (because you’ll need to be eating something with all those drinks).