Observed

Spring is here! Sort of. That means temperatures are inching upward, shots are being administered, and opportunities abound for more friends and more food.

Some of these are classics, others are brand new, and all of them inspire us to step away from the computer, open the kitchen window, and feed our bodies and souls.

A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David

2020 comfort cooking for me was revisiting my Grandma’s recipes and cookbooks. My favorite is Elizabeth David’s classic “A Book of Mediterranean Food.”

Refreshingly, most of the recipes don’t provide measurements, just a few lines on ingredients and method. Because who cares anymore? Add some garlic, tomatoes, olives and it’s going to taste good.
-Victoria Carter

Family by Hetty McKinnon

Family provided my favorite cooking experiences of 2020. It’s filled with creative, vegetarian spins on comfort food — like creamy broccoli soup topped with heaping spoonfuls of cheesy macaroni (!), and a salt-oil rice with coconut stewed spinach and tofu that makes it to my dinner table at least once a week. 

Filled with tricked-out soupy salads, punchy pastas, inventive dishes inspired by author Hetty McKinnon’s Chinese roots, and one glorious chapter all about eggs, it’s a magical collection that makes cooking feel joyful and easy.
-Amanda Aldinger

Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson is a master home cook and the recipes in this book reflect what we’re all looking for 365 days after cooking for ourselves every day: easy, delicious recipes that make excellent use of the pantry (and tired, time-starved brains) and serve up food that’s nourishing and reliable. 

Her slow-cooker chickpeas with cumin and spinach unearthed my slow cooker from a very dark place and inspired a whole new relationship with dried ones—one I turn to regularly now. And don’t sleep on her drunken noodles (spiked with frozen green peas). I love them dearly and intend to make them for all the rest of my days.
-Amanda Aldinger

Minimalist Baker by Dana Shultz

Now one of the survivors of the golden food blogger era (2004-2014, please discuss), Minimalist Baker covers all the chickpea bases, and is an incredibly reliable source for go-to meals. Accessible, fun, versatile, and worth a bookmark.
-Lucy Bonner

Modern Potluck by Kristin Donnelly

This is a great “go-to” cookbook in my collection, perfect for house parties and family gatherings. Lots of crowd-pleasers that can scale to the size group you’re serving, including options for folks who can’t do dairy, meat, or gluten.
-Jeannine Kerr

Simple by Diana Henry

This became an instant classic on kitchen bookshelves when released in the U.S. in 2016, with good reason. Simple gloriously lives up to its title, collecting recipes that deliver the most flavor (and pleasant surprises) with the minimal amount of fuss.
-Jeannine Kerr

Cuba! by Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn and Jody Eddy

I picked this up at our local cookbook bookstore Archestratus (which you should visit) and just cooked from it. It’s one of those rare collections where you want to cook (or drink) every single thing in it. Recommended: picadillo, Cuban fried rice, and an inspired take on a mojito.
-Matt Brown

Plants-Only Kitchen
Plants-Only Kitchen by Gaz Oakley

Gaz Oakley is the avantgardevegan who isn’t afraid of unconventional combinations and brave pairings when cooking. At the same time, his recipes are easy to follow and don’t call for outrageous ingredients. Beautifully designed with outstanding photography, this is an excellent gift for someone who loves plants as much as I do.
-Zuza Hicks

The Curry Guy by Dan Toombs

This one hits all the bases: a food blog and a cookbook (that I bought at McNally Jackson with the gift card Small Planet gave me when I signed on). Review pending… 🙂 
-Henry