July 23, 2024

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Eat Your Food

12 best cookbooks by Black chefs and authors 2021

There are so many powerful books to read during Black History Month. Similarly, there are plenty of cookbooks out there paying homage to Black history. Award-winning chefs like Lazarus Lynch, Marcus Samuelsson and Ayesha Curry, to name a few, are all sharing their perspectives through food. Their recipes — covering the African continent, Southern comfort food, BBQ and much more — satisfy the appetite. Their stories satisfy the soul. Here are 12 new cookbooks from Black chefs to buy this month and use year-round.

Author and celebrated chef Marcus Samuelsson uses every page to share part of his story and to broaden the definition of soul food. Expect more than 150 recipes including spiced catfish with pumpkin leche de tigre, saffron tapioca pudding and steak frites with plantain chips and green vinaigrette.

Debuting in October, “The Rise” is already the 5th best-selling book on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in Soul Food Cooking, Food and Wine. It has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 1,000 reviews. In one review, The New York Times says “it reads like a response to the racial awakening that has defined the tumultuous spring and summer of 2020.”

Also released in October, “In Bibi’s Kitchen” is already a hit, taking the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers: Best African Cooking, Food & Wine section and hailed as “one of the best cookbooks of the year” by several media outlets. Author Hawa Hassan, a Somali chef, marries her rich history and cooking talents with those of award-winning food writer Julia Turshen to tell the story of the “bibis,” or grandmothers, from eight African countries. Expect to experiment with lots of spices in these 75 recipes, as these countries were critical to the spice trade. And expect to learn about everything from how to make Eritrean flatbread to what it’s like to live as a refugee of civil war.

This cookbook, which came out in September, invites readers into Ayesha Curry’s home kitchen where the entrepreneur and NBA wife — who recently lost 35 pounds — cooks her fun takes on classic recipes for her husband and three children. There are more than 100 recipes, most of which can cater to picky eaters, and all take less than an hour to make. Try the sheet pan pork chops, Caribbean lobster rolls and “rasta pasta reloaded.” Not all of the recipes are rated G, however — there are a few adults-only cocktail recipes.

Is plant-based comfort food a thing? Absolutely. Vegan chef and holistic nutritionist Nadira Jenkins-El’s new book, which was released in June, boasts 101 recipes proving plant-based folks can have their soul food and enjoy it too. It has an impressive 4.6-star average rating from more than 1,000 reviews and is already the 4th bestseller on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in Soul Food Cooking, Food & Wine. In addition to fried “chicken” and mac and “cheese,” look for a vegan spin on other soul food favorites like biscuits and gravy and jambalaya.

Though this cookbook originally came out in October 2019, it continues to hold an impressive 4.4-star average rating for its balanced take on how to eat nutritionally without skimping on flavor. This collection of recipes compiled by Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN follow the American Diabetes Association guidelines and is perfect for diabetics, or people cooking for them, who want to make their favorite Southern comfort food while keeping an eye on the carb count. The key, according to Feller, is to rely on flavorful, yet healthy, substitutions. Note: most of the recipes require a pressure cooker.

No kitchen is complete without the 2019 Southern food staple “Son of a Southern Chef.” Leave it to Lazarus Lynch, the inventive host of Snapchat’s first cooking show and two-time “Chopped” champion, to come up with a cookbook so creative and entertaining you’ll want to read it for leisure. The photography alone makes it worthy of your coffee table.

The book showcases Lynch’s love of cooking, which he inherited from his father, a soul food restaurant owner in Queens, and his Guyanese mother. It features more than 100 recipes including fan-favorites corn and green onion fritters and shrimp and crazy creamy cheddar grits.

Mark your calendars for March 16 when James Beard Award-winning chef Rodney Scott’s debut cookbook is released. Available for pre-order now, “Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ” is four decades in the making — he cooked his first whole hog at the tender age of 11. Co-written by Lolis Eric Elie, this unofficial barbecue bible shares Scott’s cooking secrets. The recipes for everything from a whole hog to smoked turkey to classic ribs, are attainable, regardless of your current pitmaster status. Moving essays about growing up in South Carolina and taking risks in the restaurant business are also included.

Since this book came out in September, there’s been no excuse to be bored by brunch. Quadruple threat Belinda Smith-Sullivan – chef, food writer, self-appointed spice blends entrepreneur and commercial pilot – unpacks her Southern kitchen, and secrets, in this unofficial encyclopedia devoted to what many believe is the most important meal of the week. The 85+ recipes included run the gamut from casseroles to egg dishes to breads and toppings. And since brunch wouldn’t be brunch without drinks, there’s a dedicated section to cocktails. We recommend the pomegranate mimosa.

First published in 2016, the recent reprint of “Cooking Solo” boasts the same 100 satisfying recipes designed for the 31 million Americans who live alone. Author Klancy Miller, a self-professed Francophile, uses her experience at Le Cordon Bleu Paris to add a subtle French flair to staple dishes. (Think shepherd’s pie but with duck confit.) Many of the reviews say a lot of the recipes call for non-traditional ingredients. But if you’re fine with shopping at a specialty store and hunting for new things, or you simply want to elevate your cooking for one, this is the perfect book for you.

There are so many ways to cook rice. This entertaining resource, written by Michael W. Twitty, breaks down everything you need to know (and then some) about one of the most popular foods on the planet. Available March 1, it features 51 recipes from around the world and stars almost as many varieties of rice. Twitty, who won the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year with his historical “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South,” also delves into the history of rice including its relationship with the African diaspora.

First published in November 2019, “Jubilee” won several cookbook of the year titles including awards from The New York Times Book Review, James Beard and the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and continues to earn praise. On Amazon it has an impressive 4.8-star rating from nearly 2,000 reviews. Author and James Beard Award-winner Toni Tipton-Martin includes more than 100 recipes and anecdotes from pioneering Black cooks. For example, she highlights enslaved chefs and offers a history lesson with each dish.

More than a cookbook, “Bress ‘n’ Nyam” pays homage to the enslaved Africans in the South and their history in farming the area and creating their own cuisine. It features Gullah Geechee-influenced recipes such as Gullah fish stew and salmon cakes on pepper rice, as well as modern classics like buttermilk biscuits and sweet potato pie. Author and sixth-generation farmer Matthew Raiford runs an organic farm in Georgia. It was established in 1874 by Jupiter Gilliard, his great-great-great grandfather, a freed slave. Available now for pre-order before its May 11 release.

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