Expand your own cookbook collection or get some holiday shopping done.

By Lisa Cericola
October 13, 2020
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If you’ve ever had a slice of griddled banana bread, a fried chicken biscuit, or a rich and chewy praline brownie at Kelly Fields’ award-winning New Orleans restaurant Willa Jean, you already know Fields is one of the best pastry chefs in the South. And now she’s sharing her secrets with all of us in her first cookbook, The Good Book of Southern Baking. The book covers nearly all of our region’s favorites, like biscuits, cobblers, pies, and layer cakes, as well as Louisiana specialties like New Orleans-style Bread Pudding, Creole Cream Cheesecake, and Chocolate Doberge Cake. With heartfelt storytelling and useful tips and advice scattered throughout the book, this is a fantastic title for expert and novice bakers.

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Rosie Mayes, creator of food site I Heart Recipes, has a devoted following for her soulful Southern recipes like Slow Cooker Smothered Roast, Greens with Smoked Oxtails, and Instant Pot Candied Yams. But Mayes is more than just a blogger, she’s also an excellent teacher. On her popular YouTube channel she talks through her recipes with the ease and familiarity of a favorite friend or relative. (She calls viewers “cousins,” after all.) Now, in her first cookbook, she shares more than 100 recipes for weeknight meals, celebrations, and everything in between.

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As the title suggests, Atlanta chef Asha Gomez’s second cookbook is a feast for the eyes. Gomez is known for combining techniques and ingredients from the American South with her native South India to make colorful, flavorful, and inventive dishes like Tandoori Masala Crawfish Boil, Roasted Butternut Squash with Tomato-Ginger Gravy, and Mango Cardamom Bundt Cake. Cooks looking to spice up their kitchens this fall will do no better than this vibrant book.  

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Chef Vivian Howard’s last cookbook, Deep Run Roots, is an epic love letter to the foodways of Eastern North Carolina, where she grew up and eventually returned to launch several successful restaurants. Her new book, This Will Make It Taste Good, is less regionally focused but just as personal, as it explores home cooking and ways to make everyday dishes better. Howard shares “flavor heroes” like caramelized onions, fruit preserves, and spicy pickled tomatoes she calls “Secret Red Weapons,” plus dozens of creative ways to use them. If you’re a fan of Howard’s PBS shows A Chef’s Life and Somewhere South, you’ll enjoy her charming voice in these pages as well.