Chef Anita Lo’s warm, charming new cookbook Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One (Knopf $28.95) is a warm, charming testament to the pleasures of cooking (and dining) alone. Lo firmly believes that eating alone should be an act of self-love and a celebration of flavor and her recipes are uniformly inventive, elegant, and spare, influenced both by her Chinese heritage and her classical French culinary training. Perfectly accompanied by Julia Rothman’s playful illustrations, each recipe is streamlined for exactly one serving: there are no leftovers, no waste, just one complete, perfect serving. The imagining of desserts-for-one are particularly exceptional: from a caramelized banana with coconut to my favorite, the peanut-butter-and-chocolate pie, I found myself very grateful that I didn’t have to share.
Nestled in an old ESSO station in Warrenton, Virginia, and along the charming main street of Marshall are the two outposts of The Red Truck Rural Bakery. With a mix of nostalgic comfort and fresh forward-mindedness, their cakes, breads, and pies are the joy of many a Washingtonian’s roadtrip west on Route 66. Established by Culinary Institute of America-trained Brian Noyes, formerly art director of The Washington Post, this off-the-beaten path gem has landed a spot on many a list of the best bakeries in America. And now its “vernacular” joys are available to the home cook. The Red Truck Bakery Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $25) brings together many of the bakery’s most beloved Southern-twinged treats, along with evocative photographs, and stories from Noyes’s flavorful life.
A year after he enriched our kitchens with sweet delights, Yotam Ottolenghi is back with yet another brilliant cook book. Ottolenghi Simple (Ten Speed, $35) delivers exactly what it promises in the title: 130 recipes easy to make, simple in his own definition. He codes them using the title of the book as a key: S – short on time, I – ingredients (10 or fewer), M – make ahead, P – pantry, L – lazy, E – easier than you think. And every recipe has its own set of letters, so you can decide what and when to make depending on your free time and ingredients you already have. Of course, everyone who’s cooked with Ottolenghi before knows about the ten essential ingredients that make your feast Ottolenghi-fied: pomegranate molasses, rose harissa, tahini, sumac, to name a few. Take a different approach to brunch with Portobello mushrooms with brioche and poached eggs or Braised eggs with leek and za’atar. Do you want your vegetables raw or cooked—insider info—his top three this season are courgettes, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Pasta or rice, meat or fish, how about Bridget Jones’s pan-fried salmon with pine nut salsa? With this cookbook you’ll have plenty of choices that taste as amazing as they look.