Food & Drink

New Cookbooks Celebrate Spring in the South

In praise of light, bright, and fun home cooking this season, along with classic cookies and easy cocktails
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Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes, by Bryant Terry

Growing up in Memphis, Bryant Terry piled a red-and-green cabbage slaw on his plate next to fried fish, the same style of slaw served at so many rib joints in his hometown. He shares that simple Southern masterpiece along with dozens of other fresh vegetable–based recipes here, just in time for that overflowing CSA bundle at your doorstep.

The Outdoor Kitchen: Live-Fire Cooking from the Grill, by Eric Werner and Nils Bernstein

A perfect gift for anyone spending way, way more time outside at the grill, and those who enjoy cooking over a live fire. You’ll find grilled squash and corn and tomatoes, a gorgeous fried whole fish, and even a cocktail chapter with a hot little burnt blood orange and bourbon number.

Cookies Are Magic and Chocolate Is Forever, by Maida Heatter

Maida Heatter was a baking legend and James Beard Hall of Famer who died last year at her home in Miami Beach at age 102. These two books, released in her honor, collect many of her friendly, joyful tips: “I keep many cookies on hand in my freezer, individually wrapped in wax paper or plastic, for company,” she writes of the treats she would re-warm in the oven for guests. Dip into tried-and-tested recipes for her popular Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate-Covered Mints, whoopie pies, and the World’s Best Hot Fudge Sauce.

Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots: Planting Advice & Recipes from Great Dixter, by Aaron Bertelsen

The follow-up to the English countryside–based gardener Aaron Bertelsen’s best-selling The Great Dixter Cookbook, this lovely tome presents container gardening tips (Bertelsen offered some to G&G here) plus fifty recipes Bertelsen discovered on his travels, including to Texas and Tennessee. From a friend in Memphis for example, he learned how to sneak as many garden-grown greens into a bowl of soup as possible. Plus, he shared two more recipes with G&G: this gorgeous fig leaf ice cream recipe and a light and bright risotto.

Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen, by Alexander Smalls, Veronica Chambers

Alexander Smalls won both a Grammy and a Tony for his cast recording of Porgy and Bess, and he earned a James Beard Award for his 2018 cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven. Now, he brings all of his interests together in this symphony of a cookbook, which he described in a recent G&G interview: “None of the recipes in this book are heirlooms—this is not your mama’s kitchen,” he says. “I’m older, I have a view, and now I’m presenting that to you.”


Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, by Joe Yonan

Whether cooking with red beans in New Orleans or field peas in the Mississippi Delta, Southerners have long known the power of legumes. Joe Yonan, the food editor of the Washington Post and a native Texan, collects recipes spanning the globe that celebrate chickpeas, favas, and dozens of other standout beans. Don’t miss what Yonan calls “alphabet soup for grownups,” made with lady cream peas.

Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen, by Suzanne Vizethann

This is Southern comfort food perfected. Suzanne Vizethann runs Buttermilk Kitchen restaurant in Atlanta, and while folks are cozy at home, she shares her breakfast and brunch favorites (heavy on egg and waffle dishes), as well as new twists on savory classics, and, graciously, an entire chapter devoted to leftovers.

Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou, by Melissa M. Martin

Before baking these sweet potato biscuits or these pillowcase cookies, stirring this jambalaya, or gathering ingredients for any of the other delightfully Deep South recipes in this book, find a cozy chair and rejoice in the photographer Denny Culbert’s evocative images and the chef Melissa M. Martin’s poetic storytelling. “Louisiana’s coast, a thick, ever-changing blanket of marsh, is disappearing, and our wetlands and bayous are disappearing along with it,” writes Martin, the daughter of a fisherman and granddaughter of oyster farmers. “I want to make sure we put the Cajun food I grew up with and the people responsible for it on record.”

Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails, by John deBary

A generous pour of informative fun, like a conversation with your favorite bartender—whom you are probably missing right now. The takeaway point: Drink whatever makes you happy, and learn how to make it yourself, whether that’s a perfect whiskey sour or a “tacky but secretly amazing” Amaretto sour or, in a pinch of desperation, whatever you can make from your in-laws musty liquor cabinet (there’s an entire irreverent flowchart dedicated to the topic.)

A Good Meal Is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South, by Amy C. Evans and Martha Hall Foose

The beloved cookbook author Martha Hall Foose is back after a decade with this charming collection that pays tribute to old community cookbooks. Find within it these fun Delta Hot Tamale Balls, and never, ever forget that she’s the one who brought us these bacon crackers.

See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends, by Sam Sifton

The New York Times editor (and former restaurant critic) Sam Sifton has years of recipe-collecting experience from his work at the Gray Lady, and in this comforting bear-hug of a cookbook, he shares some of his most interesting and beautifully told food nuggets from his Southern friends—collard greens in potlikker, Texas chili, and Pableaux Johnson’s perfect pot of Louisiana red beans and rice included.