Here at TLK, we love summer. We're in no hurry to leave behind the bountiful season that brings us fresh, bright palate-pleasers like ceviche, gazpacho, paletas, and aguas frescas. But by the time summer begins to yield to the season of stews and slow-cooked, one-pot meals, we'll be ready, thanks to a crop of excellent cookbooks scheduled to hit shelves this fall. Here are five titles we're already looking forward to covering with the stains of enthusiastic kitchen splatters.
Francis Mallmann has already had a big year, what with the opening of Siete Fuegos, his newest restaurant at Mendoza, Argentina's The Vines Resort & Spa, and the inclusion of his restaurant on the newly launched “Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants” list. But the Argentinean chef has at least one more accomplishment to list in his brag book before the year closes, and that's his second cookbook, Mallmann on Fire: 100 Recipes.
Not surprisingly, and as the title suggests, Mallmann on Fire is a follow-up to his first cookbook, Seven Fires; together, they summarize Mallmann's fire-focused culinary philosophy. Mallmann, a classically-trained, grew up in Bariloche, Argentina and learned fire cooking from the Mapuche. Ever since, he has been elaborating on the indigenous group's cooking traditions by devising his own tools, techniques, and recipes, all of which revolve around one essential element: el fuego.
Mallmann goes way beyond the Boy Scout sticks-and-a-flint, teepee-form fire to teach readers how to use embers and ash for cooking, as well as how to build their own parrillas and chapas. His emphasis, both with respect to techniques and tools, as well as recipes, is artful simplicity, with the goal always being to use what one has on hand for maximum effect. “When you travel,” he writes, “you cook with what is there, not with what you want to be there.” You can certainly follow his instructions to the letter, but after spending some time with this cookbook, you'll likely feel more comfortable improvising with your own local elements, too.
Recipes run the gamut, from meats and fish to simpler preparations for vegetables. There's even a dessert section and a primer on baking bread without a conventional oven. When the weather cools down, we definitely want to try his artichokes and fingerling potatoes a la plancha or his coal-roasted zucchini and Swiss chard.
When José Santaella was named Food & Wine's “The People's Best New Chef” of the Gulf Coast Region in 2013, the inevitable next step was to leverage his newfound visibility on the U.S. mainland by doing what all star chefs do: write a cookbook.
Unlike lots of star chefs, though, Santaella's Cocina Tropical: The Classic & Contemporary Flavors of Puerto Rico actually breaks some new ground and is a solid contribution to the culinary bookshelf. While other Puerto Rican chefs, including Wilo Benet, have written cookbooks, none has demonstrated the crossover potential that Cocina Tropical is likely to have.
That potential is due not only to Santaella's recipes, which include both classic Puerto Rican dishes and his lighter, more contemporary takes on traditional fare, but also to some celebrity endorsements, including a blurb by Ferran Adria and a foreword by Eric Ripert. Food photographer Ben Fink's tantalizing images, including the cover shot of plantains being pulled dripping hot from oil, ready to be pounded flat in a tostonera, don't hurt either.
Releasing in October is Richard Sandoval's latest cookbook, New Latin Flavors, accompanied by images shot by renowned food photographer Penny de los Santos. Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, New Latin Flavors is intended for passionate home cooks who love entertaining and want to up their game by experimenting with some new recipes and, perhaps, some new ingredients. Do you know, for instance, what furikake is and how you can use it? How about shichimi togarashi? While these may not be staples in most Latin kitchens, Sandoval introduces them to readers and explains how these unfamiliar condiments, which he has encountered on his travels in Peru, can be a tasty addition in Latin dishes.
In addition to his lists of staple ingredients, must-have kitchen tools, and purveyors of ingredients that may be hard to find, Sandoval presents nearly 125 food and cocktail recipes that represent the full spectrum of Latin flavor. There are plenty of ceviche dishes, as well as arepas, tacos, vegetable-based sides, and delicious-sounding desserts, like the chocolate brazo gitano. Cocktails crafted around essential Latin spirits—rum, mezcal, cachaca, and pisco-- close out the book, which includes a few non-alcoholic drinks as well.
If you want to entertain your way through the fall and winter, Sandoval's book is a fantastic addition to your kitchen bookshelf.
It's hard to imagine what hasn't already been said or written about Cuban food, but TLK contributor Ana Sofía Peláez manages to expand the Cuban culinary canon with The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History, published by St. Martin's and scheduled to be stocked on your local bookstore's cookbooks shelf on October 28. More than a hundred recipes are accompanied by cultural and historical commentary, as well as bright, engaging photos by Ellen Silverman.
If you're not familiar with Peláez, she's the writer behind the popular Latin food blog Hungry Sofia. In this cookbook, her first, she shares more than 110 recipes gathered from home cooks in Cuba and expat communities in Miami and New York. The stories and commentary that accompany them are even more interesting and engaging than the recipes themselves.
Peláez can be proud to have landed the powerhouse chef and cookbook author Maricel Presilla for her foreword, and readers who are keen to read some of the backstory of the cookbook, which was two years in the making, can scroll through the archives of her entertaining blog.